My favorite character in Harry Potter is another inspiring female, Luna
Lovegood, but Luna plays second-fiddle to Hermione. (I could, and may, write a
blog on Luna as well-don’t take this as Luna-bashing in any way! Her story may
come out in another blog…) As a writer at Huffington Post said, Hermione has
rocked [our] princess-and-glitter-obsessed world.
She is brilliant, funny, loving, a great friend, a proud Mudblood, a grassroots organizer, and a wonderful ally. Her charms go on and on, even her annoying traits, like being the first to answer in every class, endear her to us. While Hermione is a landmark in fictional feminist icons, she thankfully is not alone. Let’s look at some other women between here and there.
We all grew up with Disney Princesses, to a point of nausea. Even the Kingdom Hearts game, much to my personal dis-satisfaction, choose to follow the princess theme. As time has progressed, we’ve seen princesses come past the kissing-me-while-asleep phase to the more independent Pocahontas and Mulan, who stand up for their beliefs (and their men). In 2009 we saw the first Black princess, about a million years overdue. A more recent movie, Tangled, showed another princess figure as a self-saving princess. Disney is moving forward, but still kicking and screaming about it.
Xena and Buffy are hardcore women, no doubt. And while Buffy is possibly more so, neither woman is what many consider “mainstream.” I do vaguely remember Xena having a Barbie doll when I was younger, but I only remember it because of the scandal involving her clothing…or lack thereof. Fans of 1990s TV and Josh Wheaton know these leading ladies, but I encountered someone last week who’d never seen an episode of Buffy, and had never even heard of Angel.
Books Beyond the Pale
A very short list of characters I’ve loved but who have little or no attention, but could easily be fantastic feminist role models:
- Katniss from
the book series by Suzanne Collins, the first book being called The
Chase from the book series by Rick Riordan, the first book being called
The Lightning Thief (NOT the movie. The movie was not even worth
mentioning, except to tell people to avoid it.)
- Gemma Doyle
from the book series by Libba Bray, the first book being called The Great
and Terrible Beauty
- Rain from
the book The Foretelling by Alice Hoffman
It’s clear that Hermione is not directly evolved from The Little Mermaid, but still her presence is more mainstream and accepted than maybe any other current female role model. I won’t even bother comparing Hermione and Bella from the Twilight series, because I don’t have time for the slut-shaming, isolating, and short-sighted ideals in the Twilight travesty. Just take my word for it that Hermione is miles beyond Bella is damn near every possible way.
Hermione is great for girls today for many reasons. I think if I took the time to re-read all the books, I could probably write my own documenting her every greatness and how we, as women and girls today, could learn from her example. Instead I’ll be highlighting what stands out most from the memories I have of the book series.
1) She’s a great student. In a world where we were groomed centuries ago that women didn’t need or want school, to decades ago when women couldn’t be corporate leaders or scientists, Hermione has triumphed over all the education boundaries that she faced. To using a magical device so she could take every class open to her, and conning teachers to letting her into the restricted section so she could make advanced potions, Hermione has re-defined “claiming an education.” I daresay that Adrianne Rich would be proud.
2)She’s not boy-crazy, but not a nun either. Hermione walks that fine line between whore and prude. She has boys in her life, from Viktor Krum to Ron Weasley, and a few in-between. She has “snogged” and is not an untouchable female. She also can dress-up, and at one point yells at Ron for forgetting she is a girl. I think the Girlie Feminist movement would accept Hermione, even though lipstick is not always of importance, Hermione does set a standard for “tomboy only.”She isn’t in need of a drastic transformation to be pretty at a school dance, she just puts on a dress as the other girls do. Chapters aren’t devoted to her learning how to style her hair and feel good about walking in heels; she just does it, and then goes back to life as if it didn’t change her. Because it didn’t change her-Hermione can be fancy and free, as she chooses. She can date or be single, and is happy either way. Of course she does carry a torch for Ron, but she doesn’t ever attempt suicide (again, not going into Bella from Twilight) when Ron dates another girl. She cries-expected, normal-and then learns to deal. That’s an example I could’ve learned from when I was in high school.
3) She follows her convictions. S.P.E.W. is Hermione’s effort to end House-Elf Slavery. Despite Ron and Harry’s basic indifference to House-Elves, with the exception of Dobby, Hermione is dedicated and driven to do something about the situation. She doesn’t fall back because the boy she likes doesn’t feel passionately, or because her best friend isn’t gung-ho about the issue. She is upset, she sees injustice, and she goes forward to change it. Let it also be noted that her actions and group does lead to success, at least at Hogwarts. Her efforts are rewarded after a few books of hard work, which she does in addition to saving Harry and Ron’s asses repeatedly and maintaining top grades.
As I said before, there are probably countless examples of Hermione’s generally badass feminist lifestyle. She turned her purse into a magical carry-all bag, for crying out loud! If we used the purse as a symbolic vagina, her vagina holds the key to everything in the last
book! The woman is a rock star, and she is someone that we-me, you, our daughters, our grandmothers, can all learn something from.
If you haven’t seen the newest Harry Potter movie, I highly recommend it. I also recommend that you bring a tissue, and a girlfriend. Then on the way home tell one another how you each resemble Hermione traits, and let’s celebrate our glorious girlishness, in whatever age in we find ourselves.