Friday, July 20

No Spoilers - Harry Potter - Hermione and Feminism

The final Harry Potter book will be released this weekend - a frenzy that will no doubt be the "top story" in every media I was wondering....did J. K. Rowling work against gender stereotypes in her latest Harry Potter?

As countless faithful readers come to the end of the blockbuster Harry Potter series and given the widespread influence of the films and books...........I am hoping that (for our sons and daughters) Hermione will not be sidelined as a romantic character and will remain a protagonist rather than fall into a damsel-in-distress role.

Obvious disclaimer: Rowling is a novelist, not a feminist writer and she has yanked countless children away from their television sets and computers long enough to flip through thousands of pages of text on real paper - we should ALL be grateful . But darn it - children's literature - saturated with gender stereotypes - could have benefited from a strong feminist character ..............

Feminists comment on the depiction of Hermione Granger:
  • "Hermione is repeatedly the truth-sleuth, comfortable in the library, who finds the clue that makes sense of the mystery at hand. She is always the one standing at a crossroads pointing the way"
  • "While she is one of the main characters, her personality is depicted as bossy, conservative, and a busybody. She is very intelligent, yet the other lead characters, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, constantly refer to her as uptight. "
  • Hermione is repeatedly described as shrieking, squeaking, wailing, squealing and whimpering. Verbs that are not applied to any of the male characters in the book, I might add.
  • “[g]ender roles are stereotyped, with boys out for action and the one salient girl character forever urging caution – this despite the fact that Hermione, of the three, possesses the richest store of magical knowledge

LINK: MuggleNet
LINK: BitchMag


Charles J said...

Psh, we shouldn't praise a writer just for getting kids to read. After all, in reality it wasn't the writing that kept kids interested, it was the marketing dollars behind the Harry Potter empire.

Rowling isn't all that progressive, in fact she's working on a formula that's worked for decades (re: Roald Dahl). Bottom line -- This series isn't the big deal it's made out to be (again, by the marketing engine behind it) -- and like all fads it'll be forgotten about in five years.

I know, I sound like a downer but seriously, you can sell anything to kids with the right marketing. And if you're a kid, it's really easy to persuade your parents to buy you books when the other options are video games etc.

Anonymous said...

REX MURPHY shares your sentiments charles

From Saturday's Globe and Mail

The Harry Potter juggernaut has been in hyperdrive for most of this week — juggernaut, in this case, being perfectly rendered in Merriam-Webster's definition as "a massive inexorable force, campaign, movement, or object that crushes whatever is in its path." There is really nothing that compares any more to the power, concentration, ubiquity and relentlessness of the Harry Potter marketing machine.