‘Harry Potter’ through a feminist lens
Today we’re looking back at all the times Harry Potter proved itself to be a feminist franchise. Because while the movies might deal with the fantastical world of wizardry, the films are also chock-full of feminist moments from both the heroes and the heroines of Hogwarts.
Hermione gives her two cents (and then some)
Hermione Granger (played by IRL feminist activist Emma Watson) is a feminist icon of the HP series – she’s one of the smartest witches to have ever attended Hogwarts, she’s totally badass, and she’s not afraid to call people out for objectifying behavior.
Case in point: The time Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Ron (Rupert Grint) are forced to choose partners for the Yule Ball, and Ron suggests they hurry up or else they’ll end up “with a pair of trolls”. Hermione is having none of it, telling them: “So basically, you’re going to take the best-looking girl who’ll have you, even if she’s completely horrible?”
When the boys find themselves pied by their dates, she smugly declares: “Well, I’m sure you’ll find someone somewhere who’ll have you.” You tell ‘em, girl!
Size does not equate power
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, George recognizes the power of Ginny, despite the fact she’s often teased or disregarded.
George: “Yeah, size is no guarantee of power. Look at Ginny.”
Harry: “What d’you mean?”
George: “You’ve never been on the receiving end of one of her Bat-Bogey Hexes, have you?”
As George so gloriously demonstrates, size does not equate power (and Ginny is not to be messed with!).
In love with her mind
Rather than picking out a girl who’s in it for his fame, Viktor Krum (Stanislav Ianevski) spends hours in the library in a bid to win over the affections of Hermione. Why? Because he values her intelligence and he values her mind, pointed out Bustle.
“Plus, despite the fact that he’s from a school notorious for dark magic, Krum remains honest and morally upstanding throughout his time in the Triwizard Tournament, treating all other champions and students with respect regardless of gender or school affiliation.”
Standing up for elf rights
Not only is Hermione not afraid to stand up for equality for women, but she’s also an activist for all marginalized members of society – even elves. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, after witnessing the mistreatment of Winky at the Quidditch World Cup, Hermione discovers the house-elves at Hogwarts – a group of elves cooking and cleaning for zero pay.
Obviously she’s having none of it and with the launch of S.P.E.W. (Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare), Hermione takes a stand against the enslavement of house-elves.
As she tells one of the workers: “You’ve got the right to wages and holidays and proper clothes, you don’t have to do everything you’re told,” teaching young viewers across the world the value of activism and the significance of standing up to unfair treatment, no matter where you find it.
The Half Blood Prince(ss)
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when Hermione goes in search for the previous owner of the annotated potions book Harry discovered, he assumes the author must’ve been a man. Hermione is quick to correct him, pointing out his error by stating: “The truth is that you don’t think a girl would have been clever enough.” You got told, Harry!
Wizard in the kitchen
When the domestic work is left for Hermione to sort out she joins Harry and Ron on the journey to find the horcruxes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, she declares: “I notice I’m always the one who ends up sorting out the food, because I’m a girl, I suppose,” thus pointing out the absurdity of the gender stereotype that domestic chores should be left to the woman to sort out.
Can we still be friends?
There are some stunning portrayals of friendship throughout the Harry Potter films that show you don’t have to objectify or sexualize one another just because you’re of the opposite sex.
One such example is when Harry first befriends Luna (Evanna Lynch) – Harry doesn’t use her reputation against her or hold any expectations about their friendship. He just shows the utmost respect for Luna, just like he does with all of his female peers (and when he forgets to do so, Hermione is always quick to call him out on it).
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we see Molly (Julie Walters) defeat Bellatrix (Helena Bonham Carter) in a solo duel. Despite the fact that numerous characters try to help Molly, they are told to step back and leave her to it.
As author J.K. Rowling said in an interview, she “wanted Molly to have her moment and to show that because a woman had dedicated herself to her family does not mean that she doesn’t have a lot of other talents.” Right on!