Feminism: J. K. Rowling, ‘The Women of Harry Potter’.

How would you describe J. K. Rowling?

A Novelist?

Imaginative?

An inspiration?

A Feminist.

“I don’t like the marginalisation of women when the fighting breaks out; you know we get to fight too.”

J. K. Rowling is widely known for her successful series, Harry Potter. Through these books, children grow up reading about courage, magic, bravery, friendship and family – messages that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives. And if there is one thing a growing child can take with them, especially growing girls is the strength of women. In an interview on ‘The Women of Harry Potter’, the author and actresses expressed their views on women, feminism and the attributes of the female characters. Let’s take a look at some examples.

  • Hermione Granger

“They couldn’t get through a day without her. She really is the brains, she’s the best at spells, and she’s always two steps ahead. She’s very much part of the action.” – Emma Watson.

Hermione is a character who many girls while growing up can relate to. She represents intellect, someone who never abandons her friends, never backs down and proves to be the equal of any other. On top of that, she’s a normal girl. J.K. Rowling reflects upon this, saying that Hermione is a “role model” and is “a girl who was a heroine but she wasn’t sexy, nor was she the girl in glasses who’s completely sexless she’s a real girl. She is who she is.” J. K then goes onto say, “I think writing about the time in Hermione’s life that I write about – growing from childhood into womanhood, literally, I think it brought back to me how very difficult it is. So much is expected of you as you become a woman, and often you are asked to sacrifice parts of you in becoming a girl, I would say. Hermione doesn’t. She doesn’t play the game if you like.” Hermione is a role model for these reasons. She proves that being intelligent is not a bad thing and you shouldn’t change that for anyone. Furthermore, she speaks to girls who aren’t extremely extrovert, who aren’t particularly popular but are happy with that. They are content with who they are and by seeing Hermione, they will also see that they do not have to sacrifice parts of themselves in growing up.

  • Ginny Weasley

Ginny is an “incredibly powerful, stubborn, intelligent, quick witted woman”,says Emma Watson and that she is the “girl power figure” who is “true to herself no matter what.” From the little shy girl, who was manipulated by Tom Riddle, to a feisty woman fighting in Dumbledore’s Army, any girl reading or watching this series would admire her. Even when Harry breaks up with her she doesn’t become depressed because she no longer has a boyfriend. No, she along with Neville reform Dumbledore’s Army, she tries to steal the sword of Gryffindor and she fights in the battle of Hogwarts. Bonnie Wright says, “Obviously as Ginny’s character develops you really see her as very independent, and I think people portray female characters as very loud and chatty and needing to show their female sexuality although it’s not really needed. So, that’s what I think makes Jo Rowling’s characters very strong, because they’re a bit more naturalistic, and a bit more down to earth.” Ginny is true to herself, which is a very important message to girls. There’s a lot of pressure on young girls to fit in, be a certain size, wear certain clothes, act in a certain way, none of the girls in J. K’s world do this, showing girls that there’s no need to change to fit in.

  • Luna Lovegood

On describing Luna, Emma Watson says, she’s this “airy, fairy, kind of in her own world character” but “still has this amazing convection in her beliefs and she’s still incredibly smart and she’s very emotionally clever.” If there is one character in the Harry Potter world who teaches girls to just not care what other people think of them, it’s Luna Lovegood. As J. K says, “The key to Luna is, that she has that unbelievably rare quality of actually not giving a damn about what anyone thinks of her. Now, if we as adults say honestly how many people we’ve known like that, I think very many of us would say, ‘umm, none’. And Luna’s like that, she doesn’t actually care. She’s so comfortable with being different, she’s fearless. It’s sometimes very difficult as a woman to say ‘well, actually this is who I am and I’m not going to pretend otherwise.’ But that’s the only way to be truly happy, so that’s what I would want to say to girls particularly.”

There isn’t really much else to say. Incredibly smart and witty, plus having her share of action in D.A and the battle of Hogwarts, Luna also represents the power of uniqueness. Literally everything about her is different and yet she never changes that to be like other girls. People even go as far as calling her “loony Lovegood” but it never affects her. She just has an incredible ability to stick to her beliefs and she’s completely happy that way.

  • Professor McGonagall

Professor McGonagall is someone who many of the students see as a strict teacher but as a kind hearted and understanding woman. She embodies the power of knowledge. However, she also fights Severus Snape, she takes part in the battle of Hogwarts, she protects the school with everything she has and becomes Headmistress of Hogwarts when the battle is over. What does this show to women and girls? Well, that even in the darkest times, if you step up and show what you’re made of, you’ll get through whatever struggle you are faced with.

  • Mrs Weasley

Anyone who has read or watched the Harry Potter series will know Mrs Weasley as the feisty, protective mother. J. K. Rowling shared her views on the character, “very early on in writing the series, I remember a female journalist saying to me that Mrs Weasley, ‘Well, you know, she’s just a mother.’ And I was absolutely incensed by that comment. Now, I consider myself to be a feminist, and I’d always wanted to show that just because a woman has made a choice, a free choice to say, ‘Well, I’m going to raise my family and that’s going to be my choice. I may go back to a career, I may have a career part time, but that’s my choice.’ Doesn’t mean that that’s all she can do. And as we proved there in that little battle, Molly Weasley comes out and proves herself the equal of any warrior on that battlefield.”

Mrs Weasley is not just a motherly figure or a housewife because she decides to raise a family – that is her choice, a free choice, no one told her to do so. She proves that having a family does not hinder a woman’s ability to do other things – she is a member of the order, she fights in the battle of Hogwarts (killing Bellatrix), proving herself to be the equal of any other. Women and girls can take a message from this – that just because you are a female, does not mean you have to get married or raise a family, or be a housewife for a man and that is all you are. No, it proves that you can be who you want and do what you want with your life, work, study, be a policewoman, go into the army, navy, anything, and if you want a family too, then that is your choice, no one else’s.

Now, despite all of this and J. K’s phenomenal success, some writers believe otherwise. Lynn Shepherd says “if J. K. Rowling cares about writing she should stop doing it” and give other authors “room to breathe”. Of course, this comment is completely untrue! J. K’s writing has inspired and touched so many lives. Her books have brought together a generation of people all around the world and it doesn’t matter what age, gender, race, religion, language, or country you’re from. If she stopped writing we wouldn’t have amazing characters like those above to admire and if this quote doesn’t explain it all, then I don’t know what does.

“There was a girl who came up to me on the street the other day, she just bloomed out of the pavement in front of me, and she must have been in her early twenties, and she said to me ‘You are my childhood.’”– J. K. Rowling.

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2 thoughts on “Feminism: J. K. Rowling, ‘The Women of Harry Potter’.

  1. Pingback: The Girl Who Reads

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