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Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?



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  #81  
Old February 11th, 2007, 4:24 am
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Re: Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?

Well, but all the same, sexism is just normal in the muggle world, why shouldn't it be normal for wizards, too? I think it's quite coherent. However, I'm not saying that there's no feminism in the books, and I agree with someone out there when they said that it's in the romance. Not with everyone, but with some characters.

For instance, even if Harry and Ron are known to understand very little about it, and even if Hermione has to spoon-feed them the idea of love and actual feelings, characters like Harry for example sometimes own a very detailed description of their feelings. Harry getting so mad at Cedric for asking Cho to the ball, for instance, seemed like the perfect reaction I would have to someone stealing a date from me. I would have made it a little less dramatic.

There are other reactions which are just perfect, though. Ron's lack of understanding of his feelings is just perfect for instance. But, as I said before, the feminism lies in the way in which the way certain characters think and the story is narrated, which indicates a more feminine point of view. It does no wrong to the story, though, which is still quite perfectly told.


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  #82  
Old February 11th, 2007, 12:41 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?

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Originally Posted by Melaszka View Post
I've been re-reading the early books lately, and I've just noticed that in CoS JKR uses the taint of sexism to mark some of the "bad" characters as being "bad"

e.g. Malfoy senior tells Malfoy junior in Borgin and Burkes that he ought ot be ashamed of letting a girl of no magical ancestry beat him in the exams. It's ambiguous, but it seemed to me that being beaten by a girl is shameful in Malfoy senior's eyes, as well as being beaten by a Muggleborn.

Also, it's made clear that there are no girls in the Slytherin Quidditch team, at a time when JKR is establishing the Slytherin team as snobs, cheats and all-round bad eggs.
IMO she portrays the traditional pure blood families with more 'racistic' attitude as more 'chauvinistic'. For example the Black family, where it's the male who inherits everything, not the female.

Certain attitudes go hand in hand, and IMO it's no coincidence that the Slytherins have no girls in their quidditch team, but the Gryffindors for example have, and later they even have a female captain. It's also no coincidence that they always win against Slytherin. Maybe JKR didn't do it with such a big intention, but to portray the traditionally racistic and discriminatory groups/families as also sexistic is IMO no coincidence.

And about Slytherins, we have met the first nice Slytherin in HBP (Sluggy) and he is also the first who gives girls the same or better status than guys (Lily, Hermione)


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  #83  
Old February 11th, 2007, 2:41 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?

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Originally Posted by guad View Post
IMO she portrays the traditional pure blood families with more 'racistic' attitude as more 'chauvinistic'. For example the Black family, where it's the male who inherits everything, not the female.
Actually, this is not the case. If the Blacks had a male inheritance rule, then Draco Malfoy would have been the heir of Sirius Black, from that family's point of view. But unless Dumbledore was mistaken, that is not the case. Bella was consdiered next in line despite her sex. If her femaleness had disqualified her, next would be her kids (none), her male siblings (none), and finally the male offspring of her siblings (Draco).


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  #84  
Old February 11th, 2007, 2:57 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?

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Originally Posted by zgirnius View Post
Actually, this is not the case. If the Blacks had a male inheritance rule, then Draco Malfoy would have been the heir of Sirius Black, from that family's point of view. But unless Dumbledore was mistaken, that is not the case. Bella was consdiered next in line despite her sex. If her femaleness had disqualified her, next would be her kids (none), her male siblings (none), and finally the male offspring of her siblings (Draco).
Well, actually I meant the quote by Dumbledore in HBP
HPB, Will and Won't, p. 52(Dumbledore to Harry)Black family tradition decreed that the house was handed down the direct line, to the next male with the name of Black.
Draco is not a direct Black, nor does he have the name Black, so maybe it's in the case that there is no direct male Black left, that the rule decrees that, unless a testament is made, it goes to the next living relative, regardless of gender and name.


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  #85  
Old February 11th, 2007, 10:06 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?

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Originally Posted by zgirnius View Post
Actually, this is not the case. If the Blacks had a male inheritance rule, then Draco Malfoy would have been the heir of Sirius Black, from that family's point of view. But unless Dumbledore was mistaken, that is not the case. Bella was consdiered next in line despite her sex. If her femaleness had disqualified her, next would be her kids (none), her male siblings (none), and finally the male offspring of her siblings (Draco).
It depends what you mean by a "male inheritance rule" - if you mean a system like the Japanese royal family, where no female can ever inherit the Chrysanthemum Throne, then I agree, the Blacks don't have a male inheritance rule.

But it seems to me that the Blacks have a patrilineal system like that of the British Royal Family (where the eldest male child of the reigning monarch inherits, even if he has elder sisters, but if the reigning monarch has no male children, the eldest female child of the monarch takes precedence over her male uncles, cousins, nephews etc - e.g. Elizabeth II was allowed to inherit the throne when her father George VI died, because she had no brothers, but if Queen Elizabeth had died in about 1980 and Prince Charles had also died childless before marrying Diana, Elizabeth II's second child, Princess Anne, wouldn't have inherited - the throne would have passed to the third child, Prince Andrew).

This is still sexist, because it presupposes that males make better heirs, even if it does allow for female succession in some circumstances.

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Originally posted by guad
IMO she portrays the traditional pure blood families with more 'racistic' attitude as more 'chauvinistic'. For example the Black family, where it's the male who inherits everything, not the female.
Yes, I agree.

Quote:
And about Slytherins, we have met the first nice Slytherin in HBP (Sluggy) and he is also the first who gives girls the same or better status than guys (Lily, Hermione)
Hmm. I don't trust Slughorn, myself, so I wouldn't totally go along with this. I also don't think that Snape is portrayed as a sexist particularly (except that he allows his house to pick an all-male team). He belittles Hermione, but I don't think that's because of her gender - he belittles Neville and Harry, too.


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  #86  
Old February 13th, 2007, 3:15 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?

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Originally Posted by MioneBookworm View Post
Well, but all the same, sexism is just normal in the muggle world, why shouldn't it be normal for wizards, too? I think it's quite coherent.
That's a very good point. Sexim is largely spread around the world, probably the hardest to beat prejudice, and the books wouldn't be realistic if there had been no sexism in them whatsoever.


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  #87  
Old February 14th, 2007, 12:49 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?

I think there's a very fair sort of balance between all the female characters in the books. You have your Pansy's and Cissy's and Sybil's and then your Hermione's and Bella's and Minerva's. It's very realistic this way, if they were all skewed to some particular personality traits then it would seem like Jo's pushing an agenda or something.


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  #88  
Old February 14th, 2007, 1:18 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?

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Originally Posted by capella_black View Post
I think there's a very fair sort of balance between all the female characters in the books. You have your Pansy's and Cissy's and Sybil's and then your Hermione's and Bella's and Minerva's. It's very realistic this way, if they were all skewed to some particular personality traits then it would seem like Jo's pushing an agenda or something.

I agree to a certain extent. I do not think that all female characters in HP are clichéd or weak or not important enough but there are little things where the author could have put her female characters in a better position without making an obvious statement. Fleur, for instance, could have done better in the tournament. Instead, she does poorer than all the boys.


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  #89  
Old February 14th, 2007, 2:14 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?

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I agree to a certain extent. I do not think that all female characters in HP are clichéd or weak or not important enough but there are little things where the author could have put her female characters in a better position without making an obvious statement. Fleur, for instance, could have done better in the tournament. Instead, she does poorer than all the boys.
Maybe that's her "anti-French" bias showing up again.


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  #90  
Old February 14th, 2007, 2:31 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?

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Originally Posted by Madron View Post
Fleur, for instance, could have done better in the tournament. Instead, she does poorer than all the boys.
I agree there. This always annoyed me a bit in GoF. Allthough I think that it's her veela blood that made the grindilows attack her. Nontheless she could have been second in the dragon task.

On the other hand in Quidditch she makes a clear statement, there is no difference at all between female and male Quidditch players.


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  #91  
Old February 14th, 2007, 3:24 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?

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Maybe that's her "anti-French" bias showing up again.
Forgive me my ignorance, but do we have any proof of her hosting anti French bias?


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  #92  
Old February 14th, 2007, 3:35 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?

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Forgive me my ignorance, but do we have any proof of her hosting anti French bias?
It was a joke. I think it's one of the funnier things she's been accused of: "Harry Potter's creator denies her villains are anti-French," The Independent (London), November 28, 2000.


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  #93  
Old February 14th, 2007, 3:43 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?

Ok.


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  #94  
Old February 16th, 2007, 6:44 am
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Re: Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?

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Forgive me my ignorance, but do we have any proof of her hosting anti French bias?
Could it also be a reference to the...er, subtle accent she gives to Fleur?


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  #95  
Old February 16th, 2007, 10:54 am
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Re: Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?

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Could it also be a reference to the...er, subtle accent she gives to Fleur?
I theenk zat 'er accent is quite cute.

Actually regarding JKR and France, I doubt it has anything to do with french or not, actually she could have taken any other european country, but she chose France to have one of the three best Wizarding Schools in Europe.

Anyway and back on topic *cough*, I think that the books are not feministic, but that JKR tries to make a balance between realistic portraying of female roles and a 'idealistic' view how it should be.

I mean, there are women who are housewifes (Molly, Narcissa), but on the same time they are portrayed as strong women.
There are women in powerful positions (Umbridge, McGonnagal) but on the same time they have a male boss. (Fudge and Dumbledore respectively).

I believe that she also tries to portray the women and girls equally powerful to boys and men, but sometimes she stays a bit behind (Fleur doing poorly in the Triwizard).


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  #96  
Old February 16th, 2007, 11:12 am
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Re: Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?

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I mean, there are women who are housewifes (Molly, Narcissa), but on the same time they are portrayed as strong women.
There are women in powerful positions (Umbridge, McGonnagal) but on the same time they have a male boss. (Fudge and Dumbledore respectively).

I believe that she also tries to portray the women and girls equally powerful to boys and men, but sometimes she stays a bit behind (Fleur doing poorly in the Triwizard).
Um, is Narcissa ever referred to as a housewife? I severely doubt she works, but I'm not sure staying in your mansion with the house-elf to do the laundry is quite the same as being a housewife. Socialite, perhaps?

To be honest, sometimes I get a little irked that Rowling has to make mention of the Quidditch teams being unisex, or do other little things of that nature just to make sure we understand that girls can do everything boys can. You'd have thought that would just be a natural assumption for the vast majority of readers.


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  #97  
Old February 16th, 2007, 12:15 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?

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Um, is Narcissa ever referred to as a housewife? I severely doubt she works, but I'm not sure staying in your mansion with the house-elf to do the laundry is quite the same as being a housewife. Socialite, perhaps?
Well, maybe I expressed wrongly. I meant that in the Weasley and Malfoy marriage, the man is the one who is in charge of doing the 'official' work (or bribing in Lucius case), while the women seem to be more connected to the house (Molly doing housework and Narcissa probably having tea in her mansion with random pureblood ladies)

Both marriages have traditional structures, but in the same time both women are strong willed in their own way.


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  #98  
Old February 16th, 2007, 10:58 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?

But you have a point, guad. Narcissa does rarely appear in society. It's Lucius who has connexions and influence. Narcissa only steps out of the shadows after Lucius went to prison. And even then, she asks a man for help. Narcissa is certainly not an independent woman (which I do not criticise since she symbolises an obsolete lifestyle).


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  #99  
Old February 17th, 2007, 3:04 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?

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But you have a point, guad. Narcissa does rarely appear in society. It's Lucius who has connexions and influence. Narcissa only steps out of the shadows after Lucius went to prison. And even then, she asks a man for help. Narcissa is certainly not an independent woman (which I do not criticise since she symbolises an obsolete lifestyle).
Well, in this case asking a man for help is more an illustration of the general situation in the books (more male characters with big roles to play in the story) than of something about Narcissa, I would say. The man she asks is the person of either gender most likely and able to help. He's a Death Eater at Hogwarts, where her son has to complete his mission. As far as we know, he is the only Death Eater, male or female, there.

It looks to me like her sister is also helping - she appears to be the person who trained Draco. Was this at Voldemort's orders. or because Cissy asked her, or because Bella just decided it was a good idea? We don't know.


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  #100  
Old February 18th, 2007, 9:02 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?

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Narcissa is certainly not an independent woman (which I do not criticise since she symbolises an obsolete lifestyle).
This has been mentioned previously, that the more 'traditional' families with obsolete lifestyles are also those who have more chauvinistic lifestyle. (Blacks, Malfoys).

But for instance, we have also a family on the good side (Weasleys) who have a similar traditional structure. Nontheless, it might be a generational thing: I for example couldn't picture Ginny becoming a housewife, but I could see Draco wanting his wife to stay at home. (don't know if that made sense )


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