The Women of Hogwarts

Normal_harryaw51101102mp_2I was beginning to get a little impatient with "If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts".  (See my previous post here.)  Normally, when reading a secondary source type of book, I like it to give me some insight into the primary book--maybe point out a few things I hadn't noticed before.  The first three chapters of "Aristotle" weren't necessarily doing that.

But then I started Chapter 4--"Feminism and Equal Opportunity:  Hermione and the Women of Hogwarts" by Mimi R. Gladstein.  Having read negative feminist critiques of HP before, I was interested to read an essay that was supportive of Jo's use of female characters in the series.  And it really pointed out something I hadn't picked up on--possibly because, as the essay suggests, it's not something that's there, but rather something that's not there:

"Rowling creates male and female characters across the moral spectrum.  We have the incompetent Trelawney and the fake Gilderoy Lockhart.  We have Umbridge and Lestrange and Lord Voldemort as villans.  And, of course, we have Dumbledore, McGonagall, Harry, and Hermione as heroes.  In the world Rowling has created, sex is, as it should be, irrelevant to the question of one's moral fiber.  It is never a big deal that women play Quidditch, are in the Triwizard Tournament, are great teachers and poor teachers, or are the heroes and the villaina.  Each character is judged individually by what kind of person he or she is, and each character is given the opportunity to be either good or evil.  It is the individual characters' choices that make them what they are--not their gender."

As I said, this isn't something I'd noticed before, but it's very true.  As an example that's used, there are women playing Quidditch, even in the World Cup, however it's never said--oh, by the way, two of the Irish chasers are female.  You wouldn't even know they were female if not for the later use of the pronoun "she".  The characters of Hogwarts aren't male or female first, they're people.

And as the essay concludes:

"Such a world makes for a wonderful story, but it is one we Muggles should strive to make a reality as well."