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Archive > Feminism in Hogwarts, and J.K. Rowling's World

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message 1: by Julie (new)

Julie (juliejuz) | 97 comments Hi. This morning, I thought it could be fun to talk about how the women and their interactions, their position in society, etc. are depicted in J.K. Rowling's world of Harry Potter.

For example, when I wan thinking about "Famous wizards" named in this world, I can't remember of a girl - always men.

Of, for the headmasters in Hogwarts - it seems they are all men no ?

But, at the same time, the girls in this books have quite an evolution !

Ginny was so shy when she first met Harry (kind of "love at the first sight"). In the Chamber of Secrets, she's clearly depicted as naive. And she became one of the strongest character of the story for me.

Hermione, kind of a little "I-know-all" (don't know if you say that in English) kind of person, not very liked. And then, at the end of the story, Harry and Ron know perfectly they wouldn't have make it without her.

So, what are your views over that ?

And maybe, Emma Watson - the only here who kind of received her acceptance letter to Hogwarts - have a view on that too :) I mean - she basically lived as a non-muggle for a big part of her life :)


message 2: by Julie (new)

Julie (juliejuz) | 97 comments (when I said "Famous wizards", I'm talking of the one that are described so, that are in the books of the library in Hogwarts and known for big facts that changed magical world. I perfectly know that Mc Gonagall, for example, is kind of a badass !)


message 3: by Helen (new)

Helen (helen2u) | 305 comments This should have been in Feminism category, really.
There's nothing wrong in being a know-it-all, especially when you want to help others, I think she had helped her classmates more than what's in the books, what's special about someone intelligent if they don't share knowledge? She did that. What bothers me is that bell hooks criticized the character of Hermione as a passive image, she's never been anything but passive throughout the films and books. Hermione is as important as the fellas, as important as Harry.


message 4: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 11 comments I first thought of Bathilda Bagshot as a famous witch, but two of the four founders of Hogwarts - Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff - were female and must be famous as well.

I can't think of any past female headmaster of Hogwarts mentioned, but there's McGonagall who's been headmaster for a short time. Oh, and I almost forgot Umbridge (out of all book characters ever, I hate her the most, that's probably why).
Outside Hogwarts, we know of at least one female headmaster (Madame Maxime).

In my opinion, there are as many badass female as male characters in HP, but I've never been thinking about it until now, so I could be wrong.


message 5: by Julie (last edited Feb 26, 2016 02:17AM) (new)

Julie (juliejuz) | 97 comments Helen - don't wanted to seem nasty about the "know-it-all" part. In my opinion, at first, JK Rowling wanted to depict that as something that annoys Ron & Harry, but it quickly evolves in something they admire ! And I wasn't sure if I could put it in Feminism part of this bookclub - maybe a more general thread about feminism in famous books sagas ? (maybe it already exists)

Jackie - Thanks. My morning thinking was a real pre-coffee thing, and you just make me feel better about it ! Of course, the two women founders are important, of course there is Madame Maxime !

And for the story of Harry Potter & co. - that I can't agree more with the fact that there must have been a will from the author to put as many strong and important female characters as men ones !

I was more thinking of the "history of this world", and I thought maybe it was also something she wanted - to show us a man's world that was evolving, as a parallel of our own evolution. But you just proved me wrong, so GOOD POINT Mrs. Rowling ! It seems that the Wizard World is more evolved ?

Oh, just thinking about it - any woman Minister of Magic ? :)

It's kind of a funny debate, pleased to see that some join me in my exploration of this fictional feminism ! =)

And for the real-life feminism, I really thank JK Rowling to have given such models to young girls : Hermione, Ginny, Luna, and the others (Mrs. Weasley, Tonks, Mc Gonagall)


message 6: by Helen (new)

Helen (helen2u) | 305 comments No, it's not nasty at all, that is how Hermione is described. And yes she's getting on some nerves a lot but because they love her. And she loves them.


message 7: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 11 comments Lol, I can understand the pre-coffee state thinking perfectly well, Julie ;) Glad I could help.

No, unfortunately, I can't think of any woman Minister of Magic either. But then again, the Ministry reminds me of Umbridge, and I push the topic aside in my head.

Btw, I love all the female characters you mentioned, and couldn't decide on a favourite - they're all just really awesome!


message 8: by Janos (new)

Janos | 34 comments Jackie wrote: "...No, unfortunately, I can't think of any woman Minister of Magic either. ..."

You only have to watch the Trailer to "fanatastic Beast and where to find them" and you will see a female Minister.


message 9: by Patricia (new)

Patricia (evenxbreak) | 12 comments Janos wrote:"You only have to watch the Trailer to "fanatastic Beast and where to find them" and you will see a fe..."

I am sure there will again be very strong female characters in Fantastic Beasts.
I also think JK Rowling did a really good job creating strong female and male characters alike. I like that no side really dominates. Well, besides The Wizarding World is a little stuck in the Middle Ages, therefore most Ministers and Headmasters were probably Men, that was no difference at that time in the Real World.


message 10: by Faby (new)

Faby Rosales | 8 comments Jackie wrote: "Lol, I can understand the pre-coffee state thinking perfectly well, Julie ;) Glad I could help.

No, unfortunately, I can't think of any woman Minister of Magic either. But then again, the Ministry..."


She's not Minister of Magic, and even thought she is not mentioned often, but Mafalda Hopkirk plays key interventions in the books: (Order of the Phoenix) She is the first to believe that Harry was fighting off dementors and was surprised to see he could do a proper Patronus... (Deathly Hallows) Hermione disguises as her when entering the Ministry so she must have had a good position and influences...


TheBohemianBookworm There is a very interesting piece written on this in "Harry Potter and Philosophy" by David Baggett. It's entitled "Feminism and equal opportunity:Hermione and the women of Hogwarts" and is written by Mimi R Gladstein. It really hits very well how the women are treated equally throughout the series and how the wizarding world appears to have no ingrained sexism.


message 12: by Mehar (new)

Mehar | 21 comments I think Harry Potter has got some strong female characters. Hermione of course is the epitome of feminism, the one without whom the boys couldn't have survived a day, truly inspiring and encouraging.........and who can forget that slap on Draco's face (in th e book). But there are other characters too who are equally powerful. Ginny, for instance plays a major role in the book and so does Luna. Then there is also Bellatrix, who is evil yet powerful. And who can forget Mc gonagall and Tonks and Mrs. weasley. they are all phenomenal.......and I think the fact that they are all so different and yet so inspiring is the best part of the series.


message 13: by Mehar (new)

Mehar | 21 comments Helen wrote: "This should have been in Feminism category, really.
There's nothing wrong in being a know-it-all, especially when you want to help others, I think she had helped her classmates more than what's in ..."


I too totally agree with fact that there is nothing wrong in being a know-it-all........Hermione uses this power of hers in the best way and she is definitely as important as her male counterparts


message 14: by Marcela (new)

Marcela Mendes | 1 comments hey Julie!
just wanted to say that this is an awesome topic for those (like us) who love both feminism and HP series!
don't take the discussion around it as proving you wrong, as it is actually really great that you brought this up!
indeed we have a lot of strong female characters in the books and it is always nice to remember and discuss them!
xx


message 15: by Katelyn, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (new)

Katelyn (katelynrh) | 836 comments Mod
Moved to Feminism folder


message 16: by Carole (new)

Carole (thegoodwitchofmarytavy) | 7 comments The minister before Fudge was a woman and one of the headmasters portraits is also a woman.


message 17: by Aglaea (new)

Aglaea | 987 comments The know-it-allism never has been popular, has it. The problem is that while it can come out in a superior manner, the origin is a thirst for knowledge. Yet kids may ridicule that thirst in other kids, quite brutally at times too. Which is sad because there is no shame in academic excellence itself. I guess it just happens to be an easy target, since Hermione was showing her hand in class a lot, and giving exhaustive replies when allowed to speak. This of course put other kids in bad light, but maybe they simply should have studied a bit harder instead of hating on her.


message 18: by Elena (new)

Elena (helenahufflepuff) | 21 comments Know-it-alls are always disliked, in particular during childhood. It's not important if they're male or female - they're just a memento for studying more ;)

I think HP saga is rich in strong female characters. For example, Artemisia Lufkin was the first female Minister of Magic, in 1798.
Two of the four founders were obviously female, and if the four were the greatest wizards of their time, we have a honest fifty-and-fifty here.
Motherly love is often presented as the most magical power, just to say... think about Lily and Tonks, ready to die to save their babies and give them their best chance.
And we can't forget the evil is present both in men and women - just think about Bellatrix Lestrange or Dolores Umbridge.
Finally, and I don't remember where I heard about it, but I think that JKR herself said that, in magical world, gender is not important, because the point it's to use your magical power properly, no matter if you're male or female.

Just found it on Pottermore: https://www.pottermore.com/collection...


message 19: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth | 82 comments Hermione coming off as kind of an annoying "know-it-all" in the first book is probably due to the point-of-view being Harry's. Even though the book is not written in the first person, Harry is like an "unreliable narrator". An unreliable pov. We are still seeing everything for the first time through Harry's eyes, and Harry's first impression of Hermione is flawed. Only when Harry comes to realize Hermione's studiousness is useful does the text change and appreciate Hermione, and not portray her as an annoying. This doesn't come off as well in the film, film is more objective by nature.


message 20: by Aglaea (new)

Aglaea | 987 comments Elizabeth wrote: "Hermione coming off as kind of an annoying "know-it-all" in the first book is probably due to the point-of-view being Harry's. Even though the book is not written in the first person, Harry is like..."

Well said.


message 21: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments Someone on another thread put me onto this video of Jo, Emma, and other actresses discussing her powerful female characters. It's awesome:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etNcs...


message 22: by Katelyn, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (new)

Katelyn (katelynrh) | 836 comments Mod
Kressel wrote: "Someone on another thread put me onto this video of Jo, Emma, and other actresses discussing her powerful female characters. It's awesome:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etNcs..."


And now I am reduced to tears.


message 23: by Joan (new)

Joan (joanjmp) | 6 comments Jackie wrote: "I first thought of Bathilda Bagshot as a famous witch, but two of the four founders of Hogwarts - Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff - were female and must be famous as well.

I can't think of a..."


Hi Jackie, I'm currently rereading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and there's a headmistress mentioned in the book. Her name is Dilys Derwent and she was a St. Mungo Healer from 1722 to 1741 and the headmistress of Hogwarts from 1741-1768.


message 24: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 11 comments Hi Joan, thanks a lot :) I didn't remember that (and it really isn't that long ago that I've reread the series)...


message 25: by Lynn (new)

Lynn Lovegreen (lynn_lovegreen) Maybe it's not accidental that Emma Watson started this group. She was immersed in feminist characters when making the HP movies. :-)


message 26: by Jenn (new)

Jenn (jennk7) I re-read the series almost every year :) I think what I've noticed this time around that applies to this conversation is how Jo is pointing out the weaknesses of the wizarding society, and how Harry/Hermione/Ron are so driven to fix those social injustices. Ron takes over helping Hermione research defenses for Buckbeak's trial, Hermione is extremely passionate about promoting the welfare of house elves. Harry (all three really) are extremely sensitive to any slights against those not considered "pureblood" ie "muggle born"/"mudbloods". We see the extreme frustration of the non-wizarding magical folk at the prejudice of wizards and witches, and how wizards/witches won't share the secrets of wand making/don't allow non-humans to have them. So it's fitting that there's also a noticeable trend of men in leadership at Hogwarts and the ministry...and how obvious that this generation is going to blast thru that along with all of the other prejudices. I love how my nieces choose their favorite characters in the series and it's the witches they love (one's fave is Luna, the other Ginny).

BTW: I can't wait to have a moment to watch that video, thanks for the post, @Kressel.


message 27: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments Kressel wrote: "Someone on another thread put me onto this video of Jo, Emma, and other actresses discussing her powerful female characters. It's awesome:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etNcs..."


This was probably me, I posted it in the thread about Emma's interview with Bell Hooks.

How dare she say, that Hermione isn't great.
She's my role model, and I swear, if I ever come to visit Hogwarts not only in the books, I become Hermione. I mean, who wouldn't want to learn about Herbology, Care of Magical Creatures, Transfiguration and Charms? And on top of it all: DADA, Defense Against Dark Arts. (Did anyone else figure out that DA - Dumbledore's Army - is just so similar to DADA?)


message 28: by Kressel (last edited Mar 03, 2016 10:52AM) (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments MeerderWörter wrote: "Kressel wrote: "Someone on another thread put me onto this video of Jo, Emma, and other actresses discussing her powerful female characters. It's awesome:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etNcsShL..."


MeederWorter, I knew it was you. I just didn't remember how to spell your name.

And bell hooks didn't say Hermione wasn't great. She just didn't like the image of her at the end, seeing her daughter off to Hogwarts.


message 29: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 03, 2016 12:40PM) (new)

MeerderWörter wrote: "Kressel wrote: "Someone on another thread put me onto this video of Jo, Emma, and other actresses discussing her powerful female characters. It's awesome:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etNcsShL..."


In my opinion while the female characters of the book are very strong, it is not always portrayed this way in the writing or in the films.

I found that the books treated minorities usually as love interests or some exotic decorations. Minorities were featured as predominantly Edit: (I forgot to finish this sentence) a minor characters.


message 30: by MeerderWörter (last edited Mar 03, 2016 12:41PM) (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments Kressel wrote: "MeerderWörter wrote: "Kressel wrote: "Someone on another thread put me onto this video of Jo, Emma, and other actresses discussing her powerful female characters. It's awesome:

https://www.youtub..."


You could just cut my nickname short as another member did today. MW. MeerderWörter translated means: sea of words. I used goodreads for my blog about reading (in German) initially, so I just copied the name of the blog.




I like that minorities were featured predominantly, 'cause it's the only book series I know doing so.

But it seems to be in Jo's writer's DNA, since she wrote about hermaphrodites in The Casual Vacancy. I love her for doing so. They really should get some attention, these hermaphrodites.


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm so sorry! I didn't finish my setence. I find that minorities were only portrayed as minority characters and not as major characters. Sorry for confusing you MeerderWörter.

Especially in the film, Lavender Brown is changed into a white girl once she becomes a love interest for Ron, Kingsley Shaklebolt is dressed in stereotypical clothing, the Patil twins wear ghagra cholis.

The casting of a black Hermione Granger for the Cursed Child has also led to a lot of criticism online.

I know that there are quite a few persons of colour in the Harry Potter universe but I find that within the main characters there were few and far between in the books and the movies.


Every Single Word Spoken by a Person of Color in the Entire 'Harry Potter' Film Series



message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

I don't say J.K. Rowling discriminates minorities but they are described different in comparison to the 'norm'.

I thought this short story was very interesting. Harry Potter And The Imbalance of Race


message 33: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments Anja, I don't have a problem with a black Hermione, since yesterday I imagine her to be a hermaphrodite. *Oh, that fanfiction really did restart my brain* I don't know which of these imaginations is worse for our "lovely" fellows, the FPÖ and AfD or FDP. I think they lose their shit on both images. Equally.


But I hate it when roles are whitewashed.


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

MeerderWörter wrote: "Anja, I don't have a problem with a black Hermione, since yesterday I imagine her to be a hermaphrodite. *Oh, that fanfiction really did restart my brain* I don't know which of these imaginations i..."

That's interesting. I agree with you whitewashing is annoying as can be. However, I don't think that Hermione was "black-washed" because the books never really mention her skin colour. I think it's just a different interpretation.


message 35: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments As long as we're talking about minorities, although Cho Chang wasn't an especially strong character, I thought Katie Leung portrayed her magnificently, especially when she cried at Cedric's death. Amazing for a young woman who had no prior acting experience.


message 36: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 11 comments Kressel wrote: "Someone on another thread put me onto this video of Jo, Emma, and other actresses discussing her powerful female characters. It's awesome:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etNcs..."


Kressel, I've finally watched that video today, and it really is awesome! I didn't know how much thought Jo gave to creating strong female characters...


message 37: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments Jackie wrote: "Kressel wrote: "Someone on another thread put me onto this video of Jo, Emma, and other actresses discussing her powerful female characters. It's awesome:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etNcsShL..."


Well, Jo was thinking for FIVE years what the characters were capable of.:)

About feminism:
When Hermione complains because she always has to cook, Ron is answering (if my memory isn't tricking me), that she has to do it because she's the best at magic. No mentioning of gender.

And for everybody who read Cursed Child already: (view spoiler)


message 38: by James (new)

James Corprew Helen wrote: "What bothers me is that bell hooks criticized the character of Hermione as a passive image, "

Interesting, I thought i was the only one who picked up on that. That comment by her kind of bothered me to. She did seem to kind of under appreciate the impact that Hermione had in the books/movies. She made it kind of seem like since Hermione wasnt the focal point that she was somehow not the same kind of hero that Potter was which i found baffling.


message 39: by Ross (last edited Jan 04, 2017 08:46AM) (new)

Ross | 1444 comments Always thought HP universe was gender equal women and men study, work even sport was always gender balanced

Always thought Hermione was the focus myself but admit not the most objective judge


message 40: by Robin (last edited Jan 04, 2017 04:50AM) (new)

Robin (z_rob) | 128 comments I don't know if JK Rowling made it on purpose, but there are very interesting female characters in the HP series. Hermione Granger is a role model, for sure. But there are also great women at Hogwarts, like Minerva McGonagall, who is a great leader, or Luna Lovegood. To me, the character of Luna Lovegood is also a proof that women can achieve great things by being themselves (when one looks at Luna's personality, she's a bit uncommon). Even Narcissa Malfoy, who "betrays" Voldemort in the movies, saying Harry's dead, is a sign of courage and can be interpreted as a behavior against male domination and oppression.

There are also detestable women like Bellatrix Lestrange, as long as there are very detestable men like (obviously) Voldemort or Pete Pettygrew.


message 41: by Kiri (new)

Kiri | 2 comments I've always found it interesting how JK Rowling has brilliantly utilized each of the magical schools to reflexively mimic the temporal norms of each society they function in as a whole - even while maintaining the muggle/magical differences. This would account for many of the Hogwarts Headmasters being male, it's cultural.


message 42: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments Robin wrote: "I don't know if JK Rowling made it on purpose, but there are very interesting female characters in the HP series. Hermione Granger is a role model, for sure. But there are also great women at Hogwa..."

I think it's so cool, because in Harry Potter there are so many great female role models. Hermione, Luna, Ginny, my favourite Harry Potter girls, but also Molly, and McGonagall, Sprout. And shan't forget Lily, who seemed to be an eager student (not unlike Hermione in some of her traits). But there's also evil with Bellatrix, which I also think is important. Oh, and Tonks, Tonks is actually one of my favourites either.

James wrote: "Helen wrote: "What bothers me is that bell hooks criticized the character of Hermione as a passive image, "

Interesting, I thought i was the only one who picked up on that. That comment by her kin..."


That gives me the itchies too. She totally forgets (or doesn't acknowledge at all, which is actually horrible to think of) that without Hermione, no Chamber of Secrets could ever have been written. Ron and Harry would have been strangled to death by the devil's snare.


message 43: by Sascha (new)

Sascha | 391 comments This may be interesting for some of you:

If Hermione Were The Main Character In “Harry Potter”
Hermione Granger and the Goddamn Patriarchy

https://www.buzzfeed.com/danieldalton...

And I also like that someone visualized this fine quote by madlori with the characters of Harry Potter:

http://rebloggy.com/post/ginny-weasle...


message 44: by ℓуηη, ℓσкιѕℓутнєя¢ℓαω (last edited Jan 04, 2017 01:47AM) (new)

ℓуηη, ℓσкιѕℓутнєя¢ℓαω | 6 comments I think HP is full of strong women, most of whom have already been mentioned in previous posts, and that there's equality between the genders in school, sports, and business. Minerva McGonagall, always one of my favorite professors, is one of the toughest AND she becomes Headmistress of Hogwarts after Snape. As someone pointed out even Narcissa Malfoy was brave enough to lie outright to Voldemort, and her sister Bellatrix is definitely a woman you don't want to mess with. Lily Potter defying the Dark Lord out of love for her son, as well as being one of the most gifted witches, which Slughorn states numerous times. Dear Mrs. Weasley, Luna, Ginny, they're all strong in their own ways, and grow stronger throughout the series.

And Hermione is the unequivocal foundation of the friend trio. Without her they would have been defeated long ago. So many of the tough situations throughout this series are solved by Hermione and her impressive capacity for knowledge. She's saved Ron's & Harry's lives countless times, and Harry would never have been able to defeat Voldemort without her helping him along the way. She is by far the most powerful character in this series, in my opinion. Her character is by far my favorite, seconded only by Snape, and she (as well as Emma Watson herself) are my role models for life.


message 45: by Steffi (new)

Steffi (steffidenys) | 22 comments I never looked at the books in that way, but if you start to think about it you can see it. I think it's not just Hermione or Mrs. Weasley ... etc, but also Helga Hufflepuff and Rowena Ravenclaw as they founded a school which was probably not done at the time.


message 46: by Robin (new)

Robin (z_rob) | 128 comments Kiri wrote: "I've always found it interesting how JK Rowling has brilliantly utilized each of the magical schools to reflexively mimic the temporal norms of each society they function in as a whole - even while..."

Did not think it that way! It's interesting! But you 're also right @MeerderWörter, there are many great female role models, which I forgot to mention.


message 47: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments Steffi wrote: "I never looked at the books in that way, but if you start to think about it you can see it. I think it's not just Hermione or Mrs. Weasley ... etc, but also Helga Hufflepuff and Rowena Ravenclaw as..."

And what would Hogwarts be without Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw. Jo's daughter, who wasn't sorted into Hufflepuff, once mentioned to Jo, that "we should all want to be Hufflepuffs."

@Robin: It's not important to mention all of them, I just wanted to show that there are many, and I love all of them (except Umbridge and Bellatrix, but they are an issue to discuss another time)


message 48: by Kara (new)

Kara | 2 comments Hermione became Minister of Magic. : )


message 49: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments Kara wrote: "Hermione became Minister of Magic. : )"

Exactly. She's right at the top! And McGonagall became Headmistress:)

I will never forget this one scene in CC when Hermione flooed to the Headmistress' office and more or less shouted at McGonagall about her nephews.


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