International Women’s Day: Women of “Harry Potter” Who Refuse to Apologize for Who They Are
Harry Potter may be the story of a boy, but that doesn’t make the women of Harry Potter any less present or important. They’re not unattainably perfect characters but real, emotive people who face their own hardships and struggles. They’ve provided so much inspiration and support to women across the fandom because of this humanity and proved that everything that makes you different is something to be proud of and to embrace. In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’d like to take a look at our favorite females of the series and what makes them so special.
There’s a reason why Hermione Granger has made it onto many lists of strong literary females – she’s a great role model. She’s the brains behind the operation, saving Ron’s and Harry’s necks so many times; she’s definitely not some token sidekick or love interest. She doesn’t shy away from making her voice heard, whether it’s in class, within her school community on behalf of house-elves, or standing up to the Minister of Magic himself. Plus, she made being a bookworm cool, so what more can we say?
Molly provides a strong case for the courage of mothers. You don’t have to have some high-end job or endeavor to change the world to prove your worth; the love and devotion that Molly Weasley brings to her family and Harry himself proves her strength ten times over. She is so bighearted that she takes a small orphan boy into her already large and demanding family without a second thought. Being such a devoted mother also makes her a formidable foe, as Bellatrix discovered to her detriment.
‘He’s not your son,’ said Sirius quietly.
‘He’s as good as,’ said Mrs. Weasley fiercely.” (OotP 85)
Fleur might come across as privileged or snotty at first, but her true personality couldn’t be further from this image. She’s talented and courageous enough to represent her school in the Triwizard Tournament and always fights fiercely for those she loves. As a young witch building her way up in this society, she experiences her share of hardships, but it only strengthens her resolve. If you get the chance to really know Fleur, there’s nothing Phlegm about her!
In Luna, we see the strengths of being uniquely yourself. She’s a dreamer, quirky, and a little eccentric – and often these make her into somebody the wider wizarding society looks down upon or passes by. Yet “Loony Luna” never tries to change herself to fit into society’s standards or expectations, standing for all those girls who sometimes feel as if they don’t belong.
Narcissa Malfoy is an interesting case, presented with a difficult decision of loyalties to her ingrained political beliefs or to her family. As sister to Bellatrix Lestrange and wife to Lucius Malfoy, Narcissa’s position within Death Eater circles has always seemed crystal clear. However, her courage to stand for her son rather than for a cause that she supported her whole life has always seemed to take a special kind of bravery in my mind, especially since it leads her to lie barefaced to Voldemort in order to save Harry.
Although we see little of Tonks throughout the series, she reflects some key messages that are all too important. She’s an Auror (no mean feat) and a rule-breaker – and although she has the ability to change her appearance at will, she never lets this undermine her personality, preferring to use her powers as an extension of herself with lurid, punk-like styles. She’s fiercely loyal to those she loves, and not too bad at shaking sense into those who need it! This badass Hufflepuff certainly has our admiration.
Woe to any who get on McGonagall’s bad side. Seriously, this Transfiguration teacher is intimidating in every witch way. She’s a member of the Order of the Phoenix, she’s a fantastic teacher, and she isn’t afraid to stand up to bullies like Umbridge, the Carrows, or Snape. She plays a very active role in her students’ education, from allowing Harry to play Quidditch in his first year to procuring a Time-Turner for Hermione. While often firm and strict, she also has a compassionate and supportive side that she’s not afraid to show.
Professor McGonagall sat down behind her desk, frowning at Harry. Then she said, ‘Have a biscuit, Potter.’” (OotP 223)
Youngest and only girl in a large family, Ginny has often been overlooked. However, she’s never let anything or anyone stop her, and this can be seen clearly in her resistance efforts at Hogwarts during Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Like Harry, her early traumatic experiences at the hands of Voldemort only strengthen her resolve to fight against him.
Raise a glass to these fantastically complex and interesting women – women who are unique, courageous, and strongly compassionate. It’s refreshing to have such vivid characters who are unashamedly themselves and to have those values as the norm from which to build a range of female characters who relate to us in different ways.