Feminist Rant On Harry Potter…

Harry Potter Needs Some Feminism!

Owl: The Magic Bringer Of Feminist Tidings

Owl: The Magic Bringer Of Feminist Tidings

Holy crapsy how insanely irritated I get! I know I’m late to the Harry Potter party. 20 years or so. But there is apparently a reason I was not drawn to read this to be enthralled. Now I am though, reading it, not becoming enthralled! I needed to get my focus off something and since it was on the shelf I thought, what the heck, let’s do it!

Harry Potter is a boys adventure with a smart girl as a prop. I find the distinction important as it sets examples for kids of all genders. Generations are growing up with this. They will become grand parents and read it to children. And Hermione will remain a token and nothing else!  A token for generations to come!

Right From The Get Go

It starts already on page 1 with the title of the first chapter. “The Boy Who Lived”. Well, with the cover really. I mean the book is about “Harry Potter”. I know the target audience is boys nevertheless, no one would interpret that as a possible girl, or a gender bender in one way or the other.

Famous for being spared (for greater things I guess), before he’s done anything. Just as it is in real life. Boys are anticipated to do great things before they are even born. No wonder they do.

Professor McGognagall is a woman. A ruffled one. And stiff. She is one down from Dumbledore, a man, whom is the most fantastic magician of modern times, a genius and headmaster of the Hogwarts school of magic & mystery. McGognagall is after all only Deputy Headmistress. And stern. I’m at page 51 and have already had enough to be perturbed.

What’s There To Expect?

When going through the list of the student’s mandatory books to read I trace more men than women IMG_2129amongst the authors. Better count. Let’s see… 8 books, 3 supposedly female writers/experts. Sigh!

In Harry Potter boys are hanging with their noses pressed to the window looking at the latest model of brooms. Up until now I was under the impression brooms where for witches, but no. Here we are with Harry Potter and from now on the coolest models are for boys to yearn for.

Then there are boys, boys, boys and one little sister not going to Hogwart. And finally… Hermione enters with “a bossy sort of voice”. But Pe-lea-se! Leaderships skills and bossy is not the same thing. None of the boys hava bossy voices. Oh, right forgot, this is a GIRL! So she’s bossy. Next time that voice is ”sniffy” by the way…

Geography Lesson Next

Charlie’s in Romania and Bill’s in … AFRICA! Holy MOTHER! (Sorry for screaming, it just jumped out.) What country in Africa?

Either Charlie is in Europe or Bill is in Uganda, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Morocco, Tunisia, Rwanda or any other of the over 50 sovereign states and territories you can find at the continent of Africa. Later there is even some mention of an ”African” prince. Ghaaaa!!!

(This is where I realize I must have my say about this story and write something blogish.)

Alright, one more time, and I just know it won’t be the last.
Say it out loud:

Africa is a continent, not a country.

Ok?

Good!

Go educate some people.

Harry Potter's Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

In my mind Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry looks something like this.

Diversity, Color, Anyone?

We are now on page 107, and as far as I have noticed not one single person of color has appeared anywhere. At least not mentioned as such. Shall I take that as, color is so insignificant that of course all kinds of kids and teachers/grown ups are represented. Or shall we stick with the same old story, which is, they are all white?

When we finally get the token black boy (did I say boy?) we are at the sermon of initiation. His name is Thomas Dean and I’m wondering If I’ll ever hear his name again. Probably, once, since he is mentioned, and in the same house as Harry Himself. A token is always a token. A black soccer dude token in this case.

There is a tiny trace of hope early on, when the revered Dumbledore has a ”partner”, with a male name. Is this a colleague? Dear Goddess, let this be a male companion, a husband of sort, yes?? We are clasping our hand in prayer and hope!

But no, Nicolas is married and leads a quiet life with his wife, whom at least is a couple of years older than himself. Gotta love some breaking of the norm however tiny it is.

I’ve understood, though I haven’t read it, in the LAST book Dumbledore finally comes out – as an asexual gay man! Good marketing strategy. Let’s first wait, and then make sure he doesn’t have that sinful sex thing those homosexuals are so obsessed about, not to upset any bigots on our way. If he’s going tho be gay, let him at least be celibate as a good and honorable heathen. 

The Perfect Combo, Not!

And then, but not least, we have the ever so interesting combination. One girls and… Tada!!! – TWO boys! Oh, she will be intelligent, and know stuff and find out what to do, but she is the girl in the shadow of the always fascinating Harry Famous Potter e-ve-ry-one is whispering about, in awe.

Hermione is smart, prepared, observant, ambitious, decisive and gets them out of shit due to her brains. Yet she’s labeled bossy know-it-all and a night mare with her nose in the air. What does that do to a kid of any gender in regards to seeing value in a girl with any kind of brilliants? Even if it changes half through the book the message is clear. Smart girls are boooring and snotty, and no one likes them or want to be with them. Not until she sacrifices her standards, lies  at takes the guilt on herself to protect those lads do they accept her as their friend. Ugh!

And from there she looks after them and their homework… The mothering caretaker, anyone?

Your turn!

I have more to say, but now it’s your turn, what do you think? Could Harry F. Potter have been such a ginormous success had a girl been the main character and target audience? Write your musings in the comment field below. Be polite and try to have a good day! 😉

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4 thoughts on “Feminist Rant On Harry Potter…

  1. Thank you Amy! It always feels good with some confirmation. 😉
    I’ve been an identified feminist since I was 13 and a colored girl since birth. Lesbian too… Let’s say my eyes for those oppressive subtleties has always been keen.

    Best to you!

  2. Great post, Stella. I have read all the Harry Potter series, and must concede both the lack of diversity and rigidity of gender roles, save a few nods to token progressiveness, throughout. At the time I immersed myself in the books and movies, I consumed those hidden messages unconsciously and without critiquing them. Since that time, I have been awakened by both experience and observation to the subtle ways the dominant groups in society reinforce oppressive norms, and how that affected me. I’d like to think it possible for a strong, magical female in a hero role to succeed as a franchise, but I don’t think Rowling believed it. Like I was, she may have been unconscious to it, and she wrote what she knew about. Nonetheless, she created a patriarchal world much like our own, where yes, there are high ranking women, but many more high ranking men, and the highest ranking of all is always male. It is a world where minorities are stereotyped, where clearly competent women have to take care of men who would utterly fail without their input, and yet the hero of the day is ultimately the man. The Hunger Games lead, Katness, seems to be breaking through that hero barrier of late, but I’m standing by to see how it will play out with the male supporting playing opposite her.

  3. Hi Daniella and many thanks for taking the time for reading my whole rant and also leaving a comment with your opinions. (Not answering my question though, but that s ok. 😉 ) I really appreciate you and your commitment!

    I find it very fitting to review a book when it first comes out. This book was reviewed all over the place 19997, and positively so before anyone had read the coming sequel. In fact, they were not even written then. Therefore, I do think I can air my opinions on this work, without having read any of the other books and without being ”unfair”, as I’m only referring to Harry Potter, the sorcerer’s stone.

    And it is from that perspective Im seeing it. Whatever happens of clarifications in the coming works does not change anything. What if Rowling had died? Then we would only have one hugely popular book, with the very messages I’m referring to. With the first book the tone is set and until the ”clarifications” show up, that first story is what is roaming around in people’s heads. Africa becomes a ”nothing-blur”.

    About diversity. The only colored person is mentioned twice in the book, not more. He mentions soccer which does nothing for bringing the story forward. I still find it fair to call that a token, and not insulting at all. Feel free to ask any other colored person, apart from me, if they feel ”represented” by the way Dean Thomas appears. I could have a whole rant on only colored boy = sports, by the way.

    Having been a highly intelligent girl myself, I know exactly how it feels to constantly hear you are too dominating, too know it all, too fast, too bossy. It has followed me through my life to this day. Even if Rowling herself experienced that, wouldn’t it be wonderful for a young girl to once in a while get another message from her peers, at least through a book?

    Wishing you a wonderful day! 🙂

  4. It is unfair to judge an entire book series on the first (shortest!) book. FYI: Bill was in Egypt. The Weasley family go on holiday to visit him in the second book. Also, Ginny was the only Weasley child not going to Hogwarts because she was too young,not because she’s a girl. She went there in the second book. The series is not hugely diverse (it is set in the UK in the 80’s/early 90’s) but it is not devoid of important POC characters like Dean Thomas (calling him “token” is insulting), Angelina Johnson (later becomes captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team), Lee Jordan, Padma and Parvati Patil (classmates of the main characters) and Kingsley Shacklebolt (works at the Ministry of Magic and is an undercover agent for a group fighting against Voldemort and his followers). Also, throughout the series while people her own age call Hermione “bossy”, the teachers and adults recognise and publicly acknowledge her intelligence and resourcefulness time and time again. JK Rowling, the author, based Hermione on how she was as a young girl. I recommend that you read the series. I’m in my late 20’s and I still enjoy them.

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