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[P]
Is Harry Potter Sexist?!

By geekgrrl in Media
Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 04:19:14 AM EST
Tags: Books (all tags)
Books

The legend that is Harry Potter has these past few years made it's way onto many children's (and adults) bookshelves and into their minds.

We have all been swept away with fairytales of witches and wizards and all things magic. Hell, Harry has even made it to the big screen in one of the most talked about films of 2001. But is Harry portraying a world where males reign supreme? Where women are nothing more than "...weak, whining, bitches." Well here is an article I came across that would suggest so...


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Recently in my travels on the net I came across the following link: http://www.advancingwomen.com/womsoc/ review_potter.html

In this article the author compares the likes of a Tom Clancy novel to the several Harry Potter stories we have seen come out over the past few years. The comparison demonstrates the apparent sexism and misogynistic attitudes taken by both authors towards women. One author, not using women at all in his stories, and the other being a women herself, writing for her child (a girl) and shedding women in such a useless and demeaning light.

Also the following link: http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2000 /01/13/potter/
A review of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by Christine Schoefer, portrays Harry Potter books to be both sexist and demeaning to women.

I am a woman. I have seen the movie and am reading one of the books at the moment and I think the above reviews/critiques of J.K. Rowlings books to be absurd. Ok, so Harry is the central character and I think it is therefore understandable that the majority of his friends and adventures are also with males. I know that when I was that age girls usually played with girls, and boys with boys. This was not a stereo-type, it was that boys had "boy germs" and girls I imagine had their own. At least Hermoine is included so as not to make the stories totally male oriented. In the first link the writer (a male) goes so far as to say "The girl is the annoying Hermione, a prissy know-it-all who already read the entire year's schoolwork before school starts and knows all the answers in class.". I think this is being looked at wrongly, yes - so she is the know-it-all, and she happens to be female, I don't think this was necessarily because she is a female, I think the character suited the stories and that particlar part just happened to be played by a female. The rest of the former article goes on to tear down the rest of the women in the books over analyzing their roles and comments made about them.

Hell, these are kids books! I dont see anything wrong with them, I think they are harmless and fun and that the portrayal of the girls/women in them is fine. Maybe I am wrong?

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Poll
Is Harry Potter sexist and demeaning to women?
o Yes 3%
o No 42%
o I hadn't taken any notice 21%
o Women belong in the kitchen anyway 21%
o All men should be shot 1%
o Who cares? They're great books, and a great movie 10%

Votes: 119
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o http://www .advancingwomen.com/womsoc/ review_potter.html
o http://www .salon.com/books/feature/2000 /01/13/potter/
o Also by geekgrrl


Display: Sort:
Is Harry Potter Sexist?! | 74 comments (70 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
who's sexist here? (3.57 / 7) (#1)
by sfischer on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 08:13:16 AM EST

I haven't read the article, nor do I intend too, but I thought I'd point out a couple of things.

One, just because a story's characters appear sexist doesn't (necessarily) mean that the author is. Some people are sexist; some people aren't. In order to present a story that people willing accept, some aspect of reality (sexist or not) need to be present. I'll not comment on Clancy due to unfamiliarity.

Two, while Hermoine may not be everyone's favorite character, she certainly is a key character in her own right. She's not just the cute girl accessory hanging on the hero's arm.

Three, there are other girls in the Potter books who are not portrayed in a sexist fashion. Look at the members of the Quidditch teams; they don't seem like frilly, weak, non-assertive waifs to me.

I'm interested to see what discussion comes of this.

-swf

The article offers a strikingly one-sided analysis (4.16 / 6) (#7)
by Ranieri on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 09:13:48 AM EST

The analysis of the characters in the article is incredibly one-sided. One only has to extend the analysis to the male characers to reach the conclusion that all characters in the harry potter books are unrealistically quirky and rather flattish. Incidentally they are also the sort of characters that childeren appear to like, judging by the reactions of my 9 year old cousin.

Harry Potter: irritating little kid that gets all kinds of preferential treatment (such as being allowed to join the Quidditch team) just because some very evil wizard was not able to kill him properly. If he were in my class i'd really hate his guts.

Ron Weasly: Hary Potter's right hand man. As with most sidekicks in popular fiction his only role is to have the protagonist speak to him (as making him think out loud would sem rather funny). As an added bonus he can also provide plot hooks with his incredibly quirky family.

Neville Longbottom: clear proof that the author has a blatant bias against geeks that are not good at sports.

Fred and George Weasly: Let's forget for a moment that the two are always seen together (and this is clearly demeaning to twins), these two reinforce the stereotype that men (boys) are no good pranksters that cannot be trusted. Obviously the author has a problem with men.

Percy Weasly: He gets called "Perfect" for a reason ..

I think it's rather obvious that by approaching a book with the mindset used in the article, you can reach any conclusion you want. Simply accept evidence to support your claim and discard the rest.

[ Parent ]

R-e-a-d C-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y (5.00 / 1) (#15)
by greyrat on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 11:34:47 AM EST

Percy Weasly: He gets called "Perfect" for a reason ..
Uh, I think you mean "Prefect"...
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

[ Parent ]
I-H-a-v-e-R-e-a-d-V-e-r-y-C-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y (5.00 / 1) (#44)
by Ranieri on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 03:56:45 AM EST

Fred and George call him the "Perfect" in jest, going even to the trouble of altering his "Prefect" badge.

[ Parent ]
T-o-u-c-h-e-! [nt] (none / 0) (#70)
by greyrat on Fri Jan 04, 2002 at 03:41:17 PM EST


~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

[ Parent ]
About Neville... (none / 0) (#29)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 06:18:39 PM EST

Neville Longbottom: clear proof that the author has a blatant bias against geeks that are not good at sports.

I have a feeling she's setting him up to be a suprise hero at some point - after all, he's working under a heavy burden - a lack of the "gift" combined with his grandmother's expectations, combined with having both his parents tortured to death by Voldemort....

He seems like a perfect character to Suddenly Save The Day When All Seems Lost.



People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
Well (none / 0) (#49)
by jayfoo2 on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 07:53:26 AM EST

Didn't Neville save the day (sorta) by getting the points that won the house cup in the first book?



[ Parent ]
Sorta... (none / 0) (#55)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 10:43:36 AM EST

But that was more or less deus-ex-machine on Dumbledore's part - sort of his way of showing off how all knowing he is about the goings on at Hogwarts.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
Neville as hero (none / 0) (#69)
by cht on Fri Jan 04, 2002 at 12:39:19 PM EST

You know, I suspect that it will be Neville who destroys Voldemort.

Yes, Harry's parents were killed by Voldemort. But Harry never knew his parents, there was no bonding. His parents are essentailly an abstraction to Harry.

Neville's parents, on the other hand, are still alive. Tortured into insanity by Voldemort, they are patients at an insane asylum. Where Neville and his grandmother visit them on regularly. They do not recognize their son.

Neville has "issues" with Voldemort.

Harry is a fundementally good person, as far as I recall, he hasn't killed anything, not even the spiders that shared his cupboard under the stair. When it comes time for Harry to destroy Voldemort, Harry will hesitate, Voldemort and his cronies will gain the upper hand, and it will be Neville, the young man who lives with the memory of Voldemort's evil every waking hour, the young man whose parents will never recognize him again, Neville, the young man who has a SERIOUS grudge against Voldemort, he'll be the one who does not hesitate to destroy Voldemort.

It may cost him his life, but it will be Neville that rids the world of Voldemort. Not Harry.

But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.


Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos!
[ Parent ]
Yeah, well... (none / 0) (#34)
by UncleMikey on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 10:55:11 PM EST

Neville Longbottom: clear proof that the author has a blatant bias against geeks that are not good at sports.

I don't know what school system you were privileged to attend, but just about every school system in America and, to my knowledge, Great Britain, has this same bias, either quasi-officially, or as part of its student culture. By presenting such a bias amongst Neville's class-mates and teachers, Ms. Rowling is merely reflecting the reality of life at school.

--
Uncle Mikey, Geek Who Is Not Good at Sports(tm)
Richfield, MN

[ Parent ]

Sports ... (5.00 / 1) (#45)
by Ranieri on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 04:09:30 AM EST

I don't know what school system you were privileged to attend, but just about every school system in America and, to my knowledge, Great Britain, has this same bias, either quasi-officially, or as part of its student culture.

Alas, my school was not much different. I spent a significant percentage of my first year in high school running from wet towels. Then, thanks to holland's layered education system, i ended up in a class that was composed mostly of geeks. I still hated sport class, but at least i was not under the direct threat of bodily harm ...

By presenting such a bias amongst Neville's class-mates and teachers, Ms. Rowling is merely reflecting the reality of life at school.

Please do not think that i really feel Ms. Rowling has a bias against geeks. I was merely trying to mimick the review style used in the article. Usually i sprinkle my sarcasm liberally with emoticons, but i was afraid of breaking The First Rule of Parody :)

[ Parent ]

Bugger sexism, is it any good? (4.25 / 4) (#2)
by itsbruce on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 08:17:09 AM EST

Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy is strikingly misogynist. It is also one of the best pieces of children's fantasy ever written, IMHO. She later wrote a fourth book in response to criticism of the misogyny, trying to redeem herself. That book was incredibly bad. I know which I'd rather have on my bookshelf.

I'm not sure whether Harry Potter is sexist. I do think that it is reactionary, retrograde and (most importantly of all) over-hyped mediocre crap.


--It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.


A ranking (5.00 / 1) (#4)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 08:33:01 AM EST

1) Good, non-sexist books
2) Good books
3) Non-sexist books

I want the books I read to be as high on the list as possible. So, while charges of sexism won't make me start disliking a book, I think a discussion of that topic modulo it's quality qua book is valid.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]

Hey - I liked Tehanu (none / 0) (#13)
by zakalwe on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 11:03:35 AM EST

I didn't like it much on the first reading admittedly, since it was nothing like the other earthsea books, but I quite liked Tehanu on the reread when I knew what to expect. Admittedly, my favourite of the series is still A Wizard of Earthsea - but I don't think you can call anything by Le Guin "incredibly bad."

[ Parent ]
So you're a fantasy fan (none / 0) (#23)
by itsbruce on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 04:04:23 PM EST

Few fantasy fan's complain about a book that continue a story. But I'm with Ged:

For a word to be spoken there must be silence before and after.

The trilogy was perfect in itself. Whether she was cashing in or answering allegations of misogyny, she shouldn't have done it. It was crap and tarnished the whole lot.


--It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.


[ Parent ]
I see no mysogyny here... (none / 0) (#16)
by seebs on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 12:56:15 PM EST

I've read the earthsea books repeatedly, and I wouldn't call them mysogynistic in any way. It isn't mysogyny to have some evil or weak characters who are female; it's only mysogyny to claim that this is *inherent* in them being female.


[ Parent ]
"Weak as women's magic" (none / 0) (#21)
by itsbruce on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 03:56:04 PM EST

"Wicked as women's magic."

A line she repeats several times. And it's not just a saying in the culture she describes - all the female magic in the trilogy is evil. There are only two sympathetic female characters in the trilogy: Tenar and Yarrow. Of those two only Tenar is fleshed out. All the other women are at best shallow and more often petty, malign or plain evil.

In contrast the male characters are strongly depicted, full of character, often capable of deep love for eachother and willing to make great sacrifices.

Having read a lot of Le Guin I think she just can't write women. She's not really interested in them. The characters and relationships of men are what fascinate her.

In that her writing reminds me powerfully of Mary Renault. Renault's motivation was the conflicting emotions she had about her lesbian sexuality. Don't know what Le Guin's bee is.


--It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.


[ Parent ]
So What! (3.50 / 2) (#24)
by Rocky on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 04:07:12 PM EST

All of the men's magic in the "Wheel of Time" series is evil.

Does that make the books anti-male (misandry?)


If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
- Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
[ Parent ]
Give me a break (2.00 / 1) (#25)
by itsbruce on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 04:15:09 PM EST

I made a rather more comprehensive argument than that. It's not that I'm complaining, though - I repeately stated that the trilogy is a personal favourite. I'm just explaining the criticisms (which I think are valid).


--It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.


[ Parent ]
Ridikulus! (3.33 / 6) (#3)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 08:27:57 AM EST

I'm tempted to vote this down due to the utter absurdity. There is one major female character and several minor ones, including adults.

Hermione may be a prissy know-it-all but she's far from annoying. Between her and Ron Weasley, my wife and I both prefer Hermione.

Among the female adults we have

Mrs Dursley: extremely annoying, but so is her whole family so I think we can factor that out
Mrs Weasley: A homebody type. If all the women were like her, I could see a charge of sexism standing, but one character like that (particularly a rural and conservative one) is good. She fits her family well (I mean, look at Mr Weasley.
Professor McGonagal (sp?): Weak? Whining? HAHAHAHAHAHA! She may be a bitch, but it is made clear that this is her Teacher Facade, not how she really is. Again, perfectly acceptable.

In fact, I'd say that the "Veela" storyline shows that, if anything, HP is anti-sexist.

Play 囲碁

Females in HP (4.60 / 5) (#19)
by Matrix on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 02:54:25 PM EST

Looks like this is the best place to add my own notes on the females I've seen in harry Potter...

Hermione: Easily my favorite character, and the favorite of almost everyone I know who's read the books. Not only is she talented and well-read, but she thinks her way out of problems, instead of just blundering around blindly and escaping by luck, bravery, Main Characterhood, or Trek syndrome. (Travel back in time and save yourself)

Prof McG (can't spell any better than parent post): Anyone who thinks she's weak needs to read the books again. IIRC, Dumbledore treats her as an equal and valued comrade.

Mrs. Weasley: Not exactly a homebody. Think back to Dumbledore's conversation with her at the end of book four. Sounds like she's a bit more than she appears to be, doesn't it?

What's-her-name, head of the French school of wizardry: Well, anyone who tries to make a sexist charge stand here is out of their mind. Not only could she break most of the other characters in half with her bare hands, she's obviously quite powerful and well-respected.

Some of Harry's classmates are the flightly, airhead type. Big deal. Any feminist who insists that this type of girl doesn't exist needs to get her head examined. Most of the other female professors aren't quite as impressive as Prof. McG., but they act as charicatures of their subjects. (Fortune-telling and herbology)

Generally, its my conclusion that the articles linked to are the work of some feminist trolling for a mention on a major news service.


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Are Americans magnifying glass lovers? (2.66 / 3) (#6)
by looksaus on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 09:01:32 AM EST

Gee... Ho, if I were a woman, I would certainly feel offended by this. Let's sue! What about not having to be afraid of other people misunderstanding what you're saying and sueing? I have another good one you could classify in this department: Zwarte Piet ("Black Jack") is the helper of Sinterklaas, who is somewhat the European grandfather of the American Santa Claus. And Zwarte Piet is black. He's the funny helper. It's also him who threatens to put the little children in his bag if they haven't been nice to each other last year. I'm quite sure such personage would not be tolerated in the US. Discriminatory image of black people? Not at all, if you ask me. Rather long-toed people... (Don't know if this proverb exists in English... These people's toes get stepped on easily. They get angry just as easy.)
http://MusicaLiberata.org Towards a Free Classical Music Library
Funny you should mention that... (4.50 / 2) (#9)
by Ranieri on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 09:34:21 AM EST

First of all, nobody is sueing anybody over this as far as i can tell.

Second, i think it's rather funny you choose to open the Zwarte Piet can of worms to show that that americans are oversensitive to discrimination issues.
I have been living in the Netherlands for over 15 years now and every year in december someone on the radio or in a newspaper column or on television tries to argue the point that the whole existance of Zwarte Piet is demeaning to blacks.
This usually triggers the contra-argument that Zwarte Pieten are black because of the soot, going through the chimneys depositing gifts. Considering the fact that Saint Nicholas of Bari, bishop of Myra (in turkey), lived in the 13th century (era of crusades) i think it's more than plausible he had his share Moor servants. The soot argument is, in my opinion, just politically correct revisionist garbage.

To bring us back to the original point of the previous poster: over here in europe we are by no means less "long-toed" than the people in the US. I think it would be proper to at least have a look around before casting the first stone.

[ Parent ]

Incompetent Feminists (4.16 / 12) (#10)
by ignatiusst on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 09:37:36 AM EST

The fact that Harry Potter was imagined, created, and put to ink and paper by a woman for her daughter probably won't deter the most die-hard feminist, but couple this with the fact that the world - men, women, boys, and girls - loves the story (as evidenced by the best selling books and the movie's status as top-grossing of 2001) and I can only come to the conclusion that Christine Schoefer is a troll looking for people to grab hold of some pretty fetid bait, or, at the very least, just an incompetent feminist who doesn't know how to pick a battle she can win.

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift

Sexist world, yes; But sexist book? (4.25 / 4) (#11)
by schrotie on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 09:37:50 AM EST

Hi,

Well, to write something meaningful here I went through the articles. I also read all the books and saw the film. I am not a frantic Harry-Potter fan though. I find the books just entertaining. Just that. No more merits but plain suspense and nice settings.
That said I'll now commentt on the "sexism". I think that's bogus. The book is not sexist. Hermione is the only character with some sense in her but for Dumbledore. She is by far the most mature of the kids. Without her Harry would not have survived the first book (entanglement scene near the end) or any of the other books. Besides saving Harrie's life she helps him staying at Hogwarts. Harry is couragous but most unwise. Anybody would be bothered by somebody like Hermione. She's just too bright, too mature and too morally good. If she was also popular nobody could believe in that character. Hermione also deals greatly with her being a muggle born. Much better than Ron deals with his being poor. I think she was the character worst casted in the movie. She is a wallflower in the books. Not that pretty, nasty bitch from the movie (if that were Hermione as drawn by the book I might revise my opinion about sexism).
Then there's McGonagall. She is also very bright. And she has terrific sense of fairness. That is often percieved as rigour but I think it's not. She does not want to favour her house that's all. And it's apparently also not popular. Quite realistic too. McGonnagall is also called cruel in one of the articles. Yet without her Harry would not be playing Quidditch at all.
Then there's Harrie's mother. Without her love Harry would not be there in the first place.
And female Quidditch players - nothing more to be said about that.
Ron's little sister is also critisized in one of the articles. The critic is fair. But another character is ommited. That girl from another school, I forgot her name. Harry behaves to her as Rons sister behaves to harry.
That giant teacher from the other school makes a pretty impressive character too. And I find few flaws with her.
It is also criticised that all of the bad guys are male. Well Harrie's Aunt is not. But I agree that apart of her I can't remember any bad female characters. Or only as the women of Voldemort supporters. But well. I'd say that's just realistic. Three per cent of the prisoners in real life are female. I suppose Harrie's aunt makes about three per cent of the bad characters.
As for the male characters that dominate the book ... I think most of them are pretty unrealistic. Harry is too bold. He's an iconic hero. Dumbledor is too good and too wise. Also iconic. Same goes for Voldemort - too bad.
One of the articles commented that the female animals also get humilated, presenting the cat of the housekeeper as an example. Well, the writer of article is maybe just a bit paranoid. The cat get's of no worse than the (male) housekeeper himself. The (male) rat scabbers get's off no better. In fact that rat get's off far worse than any other animal in the book.
I would agree that Harrie's world as a whole seems sexist. No women in leading positions. Few visible women at all ... True. But well, Harry Potter is not about Utopia. It is pretty realistic but for the magic. And it's realistic about sexism too. It depicts a world that is as sexist as ours. But I can't see that it promotes that sexism.

Regards

Thorsten

Hermione's casting (4.50 / 2) (#41)
by ocelot on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 02:45:39 AM EST

I think she was the character worst casted in the movie. She is a wallflower in the books. Not that pretty, nasty bitch from the movie (if that were Hermione as drawn by the book I might revise my opinion about sexism).

I disagree. It's been ages since I read book 1, but I seem to recall Hermione being an annoying know-it-all bitch in the first book, especially at the start. I could understand (if not completely agree with) the accusations of misogyny after the first book. However, Hermione mellows over the course of the first book, and even moreso in future books. Or rather, she drops the bitch act as Harry and Ron accept her.

As for her looks, remember that in the books we're seeing her through the eyes of an 11 year old boy who first finds her annoying, and then becomes her close friend. By the time he starts getting interested in girls, she's more of a sister than a potential partner. There's no real indication of her looks (that I remember) until the fourth book, when Harry suddenly realizes that she's actually quite pretty.

And in the books (as in the movie), she's too outspoken to be a wallflower. Not popular, perhaps (and I don't really think she is in the movie, either), but she isn't the quiet little girl who sits in the corner and never says anything. She's smart, and has no hesitation in letting everyone know.

Other girls probably could have played the part equally well, and I do have some doubts as to how good an actor she'll turn out to be, but I don't think that she was badly casted.

[ Parent ]

huh? (3.33 / 6) (#14)
by enterfornone on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 11:06:21 AM EST

So because Hermione, a mudblood female, is considerably more magically talented than her peers, that makes the book sexist?

Perhaps it is, but certainly not in a way that most feminists would take offence to. I imagine there would be a lot more complaints if Neville was the smart one and Hermione was the tubby, stupid one.





--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
Salon.com.... (3.62 / 8) (#17)
by Elkor on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 01:59:25 PM EST

At the risk of stereotyping, I have rarely found anything resembling positive journalism from Salon.com.

Perhaps they are a couple of steps up from the tabloids that make things up, but they aren't renowned for their balanced jounralism.

As far as Hermoine goes, she is also generally the person that solves the puzzles and provides the crucial information that the boys-who-don't-read-their-books often need to solve the problem.

She was probably cast as female because, if it were a male character, he would constantly need rescuing from swirlies by the boys of Slytherin. (that, btw, is a tongue-in-cheek comment on male stereotypes, and should not be taken seriously)

Regards,
Elkor
"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
Sexist comment post (2.66 / 3) (#18)
by X-Nc on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 02:48:51 PM EST

Ok, so I am sexist. I voted this +1 just because it was written by a woman. If it has been writted by a man I would have given it 0. The only reason for the difference in the score is gender. Nothing in the content of the story matters. I always give women +1 in everything in life. And for the record, I am male.

--
Aaahhhh!!!! My K5 subscription expired. Now I can't spell anymore.
Hermione and J.K.Rowling (4.80 / 5) (#20)
by greenrd on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 03:13:45 PM EST

"The girl is the annoying Hermione, a prissy know-it-all who already read the entire year's schoolwork before school starts and knows all the answers in class.".

That's a pretty accurate description - but the interesting thing is, Hermione is actually based strongly on the personality of the author (J. K. Rowling) as a schoolgirl, as she has repeatedly said, e.g. in the BBC documentary about her this holiday. (There are transcripts of it on some of the HP fansites if anyone's interested.)


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes

Sticking up for clancy (3.00 / 4) (#22)
by karb on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 03:58:43 PM EST

I haven't read much by clancy since my 4th through 7th grade clancy phase, but to say he is a macho jerk is a bit much.
  1. Could you imagine a female author being called a macho (or feminist) jerk if she wrote a book with only women? What if it was in a setting that was conducive to an all-women cast? Clancy's setting in Hunt For Red October (people in the navy, for the most part) pretty much necessitates an all-male cast.
  2. I think the whole idea of forcing genders/races/ages into entertainment is absurd. If I were, say, a 24 year old white male author, how about the possibility of an editor telling me "oh, you should write a book that appeals to young latinas." Not only am I likely to be uninterested in writing for that market, I'm sexist/racist/ageist if I don't. And perhaps I'll gain some of those titles anyway if my book contains unflattering characters.
  3. Clancy has had a decent number of women in his book, in many non-dehumanizing ways. In fact, (now, I really think this was Red Storm Rising, but I could be mixing it up with another cold-war-heats book I read at the same time) in one book he even has a side-story about a frustrated female fighter pilot who is not allowed to fly into combat, despite the fact that she shot down a Soviet bomber while ferrying planes into combat zones.

I don't really read clancy much anymore. Grew out of it. :) It always fascinates me how many arguments I have with knowledge I garnered in elementary school or middle school.
--
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?

I have to agree. (4.00 / 1) (#36)
by kwsNI on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 11:48:09 PM EST

Clancy's subject matter usually deals with a male dominated field: war. I don't see him as a misogynist because he never puts women in really demeaning positions. Clancy gives Kathy Ryan a fairly large role in a few of his books and his Deputy Director of the CIA is Mary Pat Foley. If I'm not mistaken, there is also a female commando on the counter-terrorism team in the Op Center books.

kwsNI
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. -Jack Handy
[ Parent ]
Yes, but can't you already hear them complaining? (3.00 / 1) (#39)
by Trepalium on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 12:26:53 AM EST

The retort is, of course, that they're nothing more than token female characters to shut up the feminists, and they'd probably be right. But I don't really think that matters. All that matters is the books are entertaining or interesting to read.

[ Parent ]
As a friend of mine once said... (3.00 / 3) (#26)
by Wah on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 04:36:58 PM EST

...after being accused of being a misogynist

Miss who?
--
Fail to Obey?

Feminist? (1.50 / 4) (#27)
by darthaya on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 05:28:42 PM EST

They are the people who complain about "unfairness" whether or not given special treatment.

uhh... the author... (3.50 / 2) (#28)
by Error404 on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 05:58:38 PM EST

The author of harry potter is a woman. If it does seem to be sexist, one can be fairly sure that it was unintentional.

Why? (2.50 / 2) (#42)
by ocelot on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 03:24:46 AM EST

Not all females believe that females are equal to males. Without evidence to the contrary, there is no reason to believe that Rowling would not promote "traditional" female roles, regardless of her own gender.

[ Parent ]
Feminism vs. "realism" (4.75 / 4) (#30)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 07:01:16 PM EST

Ok, so Harry is the central character and I think it is therefore understandable that the majority of his friends and adventures are also with males. I know that when I was that age girls usually played with girls, and boys with boys. This was not a stereo-type, it was that boys had "boy germs" and girls I imagine had their own.

But you are describing crucial parts of the social institution of gender, which is the locus of sexism. This is part of a whole system of separate socialization of boys and girls in preparation for different roles as adults.

Hell, these are kids books! I dont see anything wrong with them, I think they are harmless and fun and that the portrayal of the girls/women in them is fine. Maybe I am wrong?

The fact that the books are for children is crucial. A huge part of childhood is the socialization of children into gender roles.

You need to get a wider scope view of what "sexism" is. In the most popular usage of the word, let's call this "folk sexism", it a used as a characteristic of individuals, individual actions or statements: "John is a sexist", "John did something really sexist by harassing Mary with porn pictures", "John said something sexist when he said women belong in the kitchen, barefoot, bearing children". There can also be an element of willfulness in the conception: people are sexist when they do certain things.

But in technical usage in feminist literature, definitions of "sexism" are about the way society is organized into (generally two) genders on the basis of their genitalia, the culture elaborates the difference beyond what is biologically given, and the result is the cultural hegemony of one of the genders. The members of each gender are socialized differently and inculcated with different values, but the values of one of the genders are in many ways dominant. Cultural values are not visible to the participants as such; either they are thought of as "natural" or "the way things are" or "normality", or they are not even noticed.

So, a basic tenet of feminism is that we live in a sexist society. This means that sexism is pervasive; we all have been socialized with sexist values since our birth. In this sense, as opposed to the folk sense, we are all sexist to some degree. Even if enlightened with regard to gender issues, a man still derives benefits from being a man, and women suffer corresponding disadvantages, through circumstances beyond of the personal control of either. And without even recognizing this situation.

Defending a work like Harry Potter from a plausible analysis as instantiating sexist cultural values by countering that it mirrors "reality", like you do, is not much of a defense, given that "reality" (in quotes because this "reality" has a strong, unrecognized cultural component) *is* organized in a sexist manner in the first place. Feminism has to oppose, as a matter of principle, *uncritical* portrayal of sexist social relations, on the grounds that such repetition entrenches this sort of relation in our culture and our minds.

The criticism of such portrayals, as the articles you link do, is part of the political project of feminism. It brings to conciousness how the "normal", "natural", "realistic" portrayals are gender biased.

BTW, if I were to explain the term "racism", I would do it pretty much the same way.

--em

*Ism is what you make of it (4.00 / 1) (#40)
by jasonab on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 02:16:44 AM EST

So, a basic tenet of feminism is that we live in a sexist society. This means that sexism is pervasive; we all have been socialized with sexist values since our birth.
And this is why I think this view of racism/sexism is junk. If you define *ism as "pervasive" and "ingraned" instead of defining specific actions or views, you can apply the term to anything that suits you. Don't like a book? Sexist. Don't like a political view? Racist. The word loses its meaning and simply becomes "I don't agree with it." This view means you need no evidence of any wrongdoing. A person's very existance means that every thought and action is suspect. In the end, you simply bash people over the head with terms to guilt them into accepting your view of the world.

I'll repeat what I said a few months ago: if you look hard enough, you will always find *ism. This is especially true if you want to find it.

[ Parent ]

a brain is a terible thing to waste (5.00 / 1) (#51)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 08:20:22 AM EST

And if you define sexism or racism so that they cannot possibly be "ingrained and pervasive", then what do you do when they are, in fact, ingrained and pervasive"?

Oh yeh, you "repeat what you said a few months ago" and continue to pretend that the elephant on your doorstep is just a big grey milk bottle.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Huh? (5.00 / 2) (#63)
by aphrael on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 08:27:05 PM EST

If you define *ism as "pervasive" and "ingraned" instead of defining specific actions or views, you can apply the term to anything that suits you.

*laugh*. Of course you can, if that's the only defining characteristic of the term. But it *isn't* .... at least not when the word is used in a rigorous fashion by academics. :)

Seriously, though, this is an important concept: how we act and what we are able to think is influenced by the culture in which we are raised. This is true regardless of which culture we hail from, although the degree to which it is true varies from individual to individual. Saying that something is pervasive and ingrained can be a perfectly valid observation when it's true. :) Example: all evidence seems to indicate a pervasive and ingrained racist mentality within the Los Angeles Police Department. :)

[ Parent ]

Privledged few (none / 0) (#64)
by jasonab on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 08:48:15 PM EST

Seriously, though, this is an important concept: how we act and what we are able to think is influenced by the culture in which we are raised. This is true regardless of which culture we hail from, although the degree to which it is true varies from individual to individual.
No question. My point was that EM is using this to set himself up as some sort of acolyte where only certain, special people can define racism/sexism, since the rest of us are far too tainted to be able to see clearly.

If you define racism/sexism/*ism in the form of actions or attitudes, it can be judged independently. Instead, when EM claims it's "pervsive," he sets up a regime where the term becomes a club to justify one's own views and belittle others.

[ Parent ]

more folk sexism (5.00 / 2) (#66)
by Estanislao Martínez on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 10:32:16 PM EST

And this is why I think this view of racism/sexism is junk. If you define *ism as "pervasive" and "ingraned" instead of defining specific actions or views, you can apply the term to anything that suits you.

Nope. You can only apply it to things that meet the description, i.e., cultural institutions that create male hegemony, and persons who conciously and willingly act to keep them in existence for their own good.

Don't like a book? Sexist. Don't like a political view? Racist. The word loses its meaning and simply becomes "I don't agree with it." This view means you need no evidence of any wrongdoing.

The problem is that taking "sexism" to be merely a kind of "wrongdoing" simply serves to obscure the cultural relations by which millions of innocent or even well-intentioned acts and omissions result in male hegemony.

A person's very existance means that every thought and action is suspect. In the end, you simply bash people over the head with terms to guilt them into accepting your view of the world.

You are assuming a sort of "folk *ism" here: that when one talks about *ism, one is talking about a property that some bad people, *ists, possess, which leads them to act in mean ways. This is the folk theory which equates "sexism" with "demeaning to women", who holds that feminism is "the denunciation of sexist people" (if charitable, and not "an attack on males/society/whatever"), and not with the way the everyday social world is stuctured so as to deny women a series of advantages men freely enjoy. The sort of folk theory that holds that "racism" is nothing more than what the KKK does, or what an employer does when he lets race be a conscious factor when firing an employee.

But the fact remains that serious consideration about gender and race can't just stop there; it would barely scratch the surface of the inequalities if it did. You just want to close off inquiry into the root causes of the surface events that you admit are "*ist". Why?

--em
[ Parent ]

Folk is what you make of it (none / 0) (#67)
by jasonab on Fri Jan 04, 2002 at 03:46:14 AM EST

The problem is that taking "sexism" to be merely a kind of "wrongdoing" simply serves to obscure the cultural relations by which millions of innocent or even well-intentioned acts and omissions result in male hegemony.
And that is precisely my point! You can interpret anything I think, say, or do as racist, sexist, or anythingist! A black person walks toward me and I don't move off the sidewalk? I'm establishing my superiority by not giving way. If I do move away? I'm showing my subconscious fear and hatred toward black people.
But the fact remains that serious consideration about gender and race can't just stop there; it would barely scratch the surface of the inequalities if it did. You just want to close off inquiry into the root causes of the surface events that you admit are "*ist". Why?
I'm not trying to stop discussion. I'm trying to prevent a witch hunt. This entire analysis reminds me of revisionist literary critics who make every classic literary character gay. It's a complete fabrication to advance a political agenda. You look for racism and sexism in everything, and find it on the slightest predication because you want to find it.

It's this exact kind of thinking to leads to foolishness like "herstory" and "womyn." I wouldn't be surprised if you decided my coffee table is sexist because it has four nobby posts sticking up.

In the end, eliminating racism and sexism is a question of respect. Reverse discrimination won't invoke that respect, neither will demeaning "oppressors." Victory, in my mind, will come when we can all agree that, whatever archaisms may exist in our socity or language, that we will not visit the sins of the fathers upon the sons, and instead will agree to move forward together.

[ Parent ]

No, the definition imposes clear restrictions. (none / 0) (#71)
by Estanislao Martínez on Fri Jan 04, 2002 at 11:41:41 PM EST

And that is precisely my point! You can interpret anything I think, say, or do as racist, sexist, or anythingist! A black person walks toward me and I don't move off the sidewalk? I'm establishing my superiority by not giving way. If I do move away? I'm showing my subconscious fear and hatred toward black people.

Unless we are talking about a pattern of behavior over some class of incidents which reveals race to be a significant variable in the way you respond, nothing is established. Very little can be inferred from individual incidents, unless there are strong cultural conventions under which you would conventionally have been held to have acted in a racist manner in your culture.

In the end, eliminating racism and sexism is a question of respect. Reverse discrimination won't invoke that respect, neither will demeaning "oppressors." Victory, in my mind, will come when we can all agree that, whatever archaisms may exist in our socity or language, that we will not visit the sins of the fathers upon the sons, and instead will agree to move forward together.

Your spiel about "respect" and "moving forward together", frankly, as far as I can see only mystifies gender and race relations. Crucially, only a reduced group of people, overwhelmingly white, male, and economically secure, get to set what "forward" is.

And *ism, as I have set it out, is not a matter of "disrespect towards people from other *s". First of all, there is the fundamental problem of agreeing on what "respect" is. Second, given some such definition of "respect", could there be a culture where *s are "respected", but in which still there exist systematic cultural relations which make one group of people dominant?

In fact, historically there have been people who have argued for such a society. Specifically, many racists have proposed a society where whites are dominant (because of a belief in racial superiority) but still believe in the "dignity" of inferior races and on "respecting" them. So to say, "they are good chaps, it's not their fault that they are inferior, and they deserve our guidance". This was a dominant kind of ideology in the US until relatively recently.

--em
[ Parent ]

re: Feminism vs. "realism" (5.00 / 1) (#46)
by ocelot on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 04:18:27 AM EST

But you are describing crucial parts of the social institution of gender, which is the locus of sexism. This is part of a whole system of separate socialization of boys and girls in preparation for different roles as adults.

While I agree with your argument, I think Rowling does a decent job of not encouraging seperate socialization.

Of the three main characters, two are male and one is female. Unbalanced, but that's inherent when you have 3 characters. I recall Harry and Ron's objections to her being due to her attitude, rather than her gender, and their friendship is not portrayed as unusual because it is mixed-gender.

Of the secondary characters, strengths and weaknesses are pretty evenly distributed between the males and females.

The only sexual division we see is seperate dorms for males and females. Beyond the dorms, everything (even sports) is gender neutral.

On the other hand, while there are strong adult females, they do seem to be underrepresented outside the teaching/housekeeping profession.

However, the Harry Potter world seems to be largely one where gender is not an issue. The main prejudice confronted in the books (so far, anyways) is race, not gender. I wouldn't say that the books are feminist in nature, nor would I say it portrays a realistic view of gender relations between children today. Gender relations simply isn't the issue at hand, so it's largely idealized and ignored.

[ Parent ]

Turning on its head. (3.00 / 4) (#32)
by Signal 11 on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 08:50:01 PM EST

Firstly, sexism is one of those things that if you look hard enough, you're going to find. While the author of this article is making noise to draw attention to the marginalized role of some of the minor female characters of a children's book, they completely fail to see any sexism in the hero's role... and if we're going to discuss sexism, perhaps we should look at both sexes in doing so? I have no particular objections to discussing sex roles, so long as proper attention is given to both. Salon is a liberal magazine, and as a result it's practically a given that they have a contingent of feminists... which unsurprisingly fail to evaluate sexism against men. Let us rebalance the matter now by portraying the other side...

Historically, people who have practiced magic wound up dead. I understand quite a few people died in the Spanish Inquisition as a result of practicing magic - most of them were men. Most of our mythical stories from ancient history (a time when magic was taken seriously) are of heroes who set out on great quests - Ulyssus and the Golden Fleece, etc. Almost invariably these were men. What most stories don't tell you is that the hero has an absurdly high mortality rate... afterall, what do you expect when you constantly place yourself in mortal danger? Boys of that time were also encouraged (often required) to join the military. Much of the work of becoming a hero (or an adult male, historically) means braving many hazards and accepting the idea that you are a servant - a soldier, or someone on a quest, or controlled by fate, etc. It means that you have to accept the idea that you are not valuable and replaceable - a key factor in every combat training program.

There's something to be said for raising young boys on fictional stories like this which exemplify the hero role. Heroes are often portrayed as having either exceptional strength or mental faculty - the latter being a necessity for practicing magic in many books and stories. Most stories incorporate an element of "... and he came from amongst the masses!" The bible is filled with stuff like this. The unconscious message we're sending to these boys is that they can (and should) try to be heroes. And with it its attendant risk of being creamed.

That being said, I'll reiterate what everyone else is thinking: IT'S A CHILDREN'S BOOK FOR CHRISSAKES! This is as ludicrous as a CAPAlert or "minority rights groups" complaining that Jar-Jar was racist. *groans* Comeon people...


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.

ah, happy new year Siggy (2.50 / 2) (#52)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 08:22:57 AM EST

I understand

As usual, next to nothing

quite a few people died in the Spanish Inquisition as a result of practicing magic - most of them were men

This isn't true and any decent book on the subject could have prevented your error. The Inquisition killed both women and men, there is no information which might suggest a preponderance of one sex over the other, and the charge of "magic" in any case usually referred to heresy.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

You've been naughty. (none / 0) (#62)
by Estebann on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 07:46:24 PM EST

You have been rude. I, the Fairy of Politeness hereby issue you an official repremand.

---
I'll look to like if looking liking move...
[ Parent ]
ridiculous (none / 0) (#68)
by streetlawyer on Fri Jan 04, 2002 at 06:27:32 AM EST

Rude? "Siggy" is an affectionate diminuitive, "happy new year" is a salutation and "as usual, next to nothing" is a statement of fact. You need to recalibrate your instruments.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
"it's just a childrens book" is an insip (2.50 / 2) (#33)
by delmoi on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 10:04:09 PM EST

Well, I think the author's argument is that all the female characters are portrayed with heavy emphasis on the 'negative' aspects of stereotypical femininity. I don't know, I haven't read the book.

But I don't understand what exactly you're trying to say by "it's just a children's book". The fact that it is a children's book, especial a very popular one like Harry potter means that it deserves much heavier scrutiny. No one is going to become a sexist after reading a Tom Clancy novel, their minds are already going to be made up. Small children are still going to be impressionable. Their opinions on men and women are yet to be formed. If Harry potter is actually sexist (which I don't know having not read it)
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
True, but that's not entirely the point. (4.00 / 1) (#37)
by Trepalium on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 11:59:13 PM EST

I agree with the assertion that "it's just a children's book" is a poor argument. However, most of those articles single out certain stereotypical negative attributes in certain characters, ignoring any and all positive and negative attributes that aren't typical stereotypes all to prove their point. It's nothing new, and has been discussed in more detail below, and most people who have an agenda to further do the same thing.

From what I can tell from other people posting on this, the main female character may, in fact, be the strongest characters in the books. I've known know-it-alls that have been both female and male. I think if they had made the hero's sidekick female, there would've been even more outrage because he's rather, well, stupid. If we were to take the extractions of stereotypes to the same level with the male characters, we'd also have to assume that the author is also misandrist, because many of the major or minor male characters exhibit stereotypical male characteristics.

Some people are just plain looking for a fight and a reason to hate something.

[ Parent ]

"just a children's book." (1.50 / 2) (#47)
by gromm on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 05:45:47 AM EST

Making detailed analyses of childrens books is silly. True, they may be deeply influential and stick with us for the rest of our lives, but it's not like the subject matter is really deep, with the use of obscure metaphor and hidden double-meanings nine layers thick. This is children's literature. The author says what she means, and means what she says. Often the hidden intention (if there is one at all) is to make the children interested enough to actually finish the damn book, and to read other books because they might be as interesting as this one.

No, I'm afraid you'd have to be a heck of a lot more specific about your sexism to make your kids sexist.
Deus ex frigerifero
[ Parent ]

Did you ever read (4.00 / 2) (#50)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 08:16:07 AM EST

"Uncle Tom's Cabin"? "To Kill A Mockingbird"? "La Morte d'Arthur"? Struwwelpeter?

Strikes me you don't know much about children's books, or children, or books.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

While I agree... (none / 0) (#61)
by pqbon on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 06:23:51 PM EST

Your general point is good... However, Uncle Tom's Cabin isn't a childrens book. It was basically a pulp book by a woman for a woman... kind of like the Bronte Sisters or anything by Jane Austin. I beleive that La Morte d'Arthur was not a childrens book either but intended for courtly subjects much like Godfrieds Tristan. To Kill A Mockingbird definatly is a childs book... ;-) I would add to your list The Bridge to Terribithia, and even Charlot's Web. Most "Clasic" childrens books would fit what you are looking for.


"...That probably would have sounded more commanding if I wasn't wearing my yummy sushi pajamas..."

-Buffy Summers
[ Parent ]

No, but how many times have you read... (none / 0) (#72)
by gromm on Sat Jan 05, 2002 at 02:08:58 AM EST

Green eggs and ham? The stories of the smurfs? Clifford? Curious George? Hell, even The Hobbit. These are books that are meant to be fun, not analysed for your PhD. (and more than a few such analyses are pretty silly anyway) I'm saying that Harry Potter is the same way.
Deus ex frigerifero
[ Parent ]
Yes and No (4.50 / 6) (#35)
by UncleMikey on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 11:00:55 PM EST

Hell, these are kids books! I dont see anything wrong with them, I think they are harmless and fun and that the portrayal of the girls/women in them is fine. Maybe I am wrong?

On the one hand, I agree with the author that Ms. Rowling is not being deliberately sexist in her storytelling and characterizations -- at least, based on the movie of ...The Sorcerer's Stone; I've not read the books, yet. For one thing, I noticed that two of the prominent teachers were women, and presented in what I thought were quite favorable light.

On the other hand, I think the argument, "These are kids books!" is a terrible one. I remember books I read as a child far more clearly than I remember what I had for dinner yesterday. Our favorite books stick with us, and the 'lessons' they teach us stick with us.
--
[ Uncle Mikey | Radio Free Tomorrow ]

Magic is afoot. . . . (4.20 / 5) (#38)
by IHCOYC on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 12:18:27 AM EST

The one fellow called Tom Clancy's novels "war-porn," as if it were something bad. While Mr. Clancy's version of adventure probably does represent a rather limited and repetitive taste, this claim, of course, means to suggest that there's something vaguely wrong about enjoying them. Can't we just leave each other alone about stuff like this, anymore?

The Salon comment was even loopier. It claims that divination and fortunetelling, like tarot cards and tea leaves, is part of an "intuitive" female domain. This kind of stereotypical bunk is "sexist" except when practised by a self-proclaimed feminist. Worse, that author seems to imply that these techniques for looking into the future might be something other than a complete waste of time. The fact that she believes that you can receive omens of future events by scrutinising the random patterns in the dregs of your teacup seems to me to cast doubt on her judgment generally.
--
"Complecti antecessores tuos in spelćis stygiis Tartari appara," eructavit miles primus.
"Vix dum basiavisti vicarium velocem Mortis," rediit Grignr.
--- Livy
Every work of fiction should be banned (3.25 / 4) (#43)
by krogoth on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 03:54:23 AM EST

From the complaints I hear, every half-decent story is discriminatory or is actually trying to pass a subliminal message of hate. It's probably inevitable that a story not told from a completely neutral view will hurt some people's feelings or have strange parallels with real-world discrimination situations. -1
--
"If you've never removed your pants and climbed into a tree to swear drunkenly at stuck-up rich kids, I highly recommend it."
:wq
First post supporting the article! (1.25 / 8) (#48)
by madenosine on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 06:32:15 AM EST

I actually agree with the article, for the most part. While I am sure it was not intentional, I do belive that the movie is sexist (but very subtily.) Although not a female, I can recognize stereotypes as a minority. Hermione did, in fact, seem to be the product of a stereotype, in fact, I cannot think of any scene in which she was not portrayed as a know it all who whines, and is concerned only with school. The other character mentioned in the article, Mrs. McGongall, was not as bad, but does not have as much of an influence on most viewers, obviously, as Hermione. I don't think that the article should be dismissed as ludacris, but considered; it is obvious that Hermione acted in a different way than most males, but the question is whether it was actually detrimental (IMO, movies like this have more effect on kids than most people seem to think.)

Is sexism wrong? (3.00 / 6) (#53)
by pkesel on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 09:40:48 AM EST

My wife won't clean the cat box, simply because she doesn't want to. As a woman, it's her right to be that way, I guess. She also feels its her right to ask me to do dozens of other menial things that she simply doesn't want to. Especially if it's involving anything dirty, anything to be carried, or anything outside. She gets upset when I ask why I should do it rather than her. She knows she's trying to be manipulative.

Women in the office are the same. They won't add paper to the copier or printer. They're women and they simply invoke their priveleges. They also feel no shame at trying to manipulate men into doing the harder portions of their work. They don't want to think, so have a man do it. When they're pressed for performance they call on men to support them.

I'm not saying that all women are this way, but it's simply true that women do these things and get away with it far more often than men.

Women, some of them at least, like being weaker and taking advantage of it. As long as those women keep that trend every woman will be suspect, and all will suffer for it.

Just as with other aspects of a child's fantasy book, the characterization of women in the story has been stereotyped and augmented for their easy grasping of the notion. The sexism in the book is probably accurate but exagerated.

you chump (5.00 / 2) (#57)
by turmeric on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 12:20:12 PM EST

stand up for your rights, damn dude.

[ Parent ]
that is, to say (5.00 / 1) (#58)
by turmeric on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 12:25:49 PM EST

you are sitting there whining about how 'women are making you change the paper and the toner'. . well how about the next time you just say 'no, thats sexist'? would that be so friggin hard? in my opinion, you are always doing this crap you dont want to do, and over time it has mutated your brain into some kind of 'women are x y z' weirdo mode. bollocks bollocks bollocks.

[ Parent ]
Ya know... (none / 0) (#54)
by jabber on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 09:45:41 AM EST

I'm sure there are people out there who are so bored and unchallenged in their lives that they would go as far as calling Naomi Woolf sexist, just to draw attention to themselves.

As a friend of mine wisely said a while back, "Too many people make a handsome living exploiting prejudice/pride for it to ever go away".

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Already been rebutted at Salon.com ... (5.00 / 1) (#56)
by dnaworks on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 11:35:58 AM EST

Please check out the following article

Hands off Harry Potter!

The original article cited claiming sexism skews almost everything that happens in the books, as is usually the case with someone who has a weak arguement.

hmm (none / 0) (#60)
by nodsmasher on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 03:39:21 PM EST

that articled on salon kinda makes this thing pointless
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[ Parent ]
Now I am not... (2.00 / 1) (#59)
by debolaz on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 02:52:26 PM EST

a woman or particulary interested in "women righs", but I've never felt that forcing them onto the world does anyone any good. Like demanding that things like Harry Potter has a certain positive view on women, or that 25 percent of the board in a company are women.

I suppose few agrees with my point of view on this, but oh well, its just my opinion.


As we all know... (none / 0) (#65)
by The Sophist on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 09:05:52 PM EST

...literary criticism is the most rock solid branch of human inquiry as it's founded on 100% reliable principles that never fail. As a result I think it's entirely reasonable to accuse authors of sexism based on a textual analysis of their work. I mean - have you ever known two lit. critics ever to disagree with each other?

Is Whitey Potter Racist? (3.00 / 2) (#73)
by wagadog on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 06:01:48 PM EST

Or course it is. So is LOTR, where the bad black Orcs do their hair in a traditional maori style, and the good elves are tall, thin, blonde and blue-eyed.

Oh, maybe we could have a Poll and have one of its entries be "All niggers belong in the cottonfields" -- just like the poll ridiculing a feminist perspective on Harry Potter has as an entry "All women belong in the kitchen."



the answer is simple (none / 0) (#74)
by irispollens on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:37:52 PM EST

The answer is simple, but you have to know how to see beyond the know-it-all pose of dear Hermione. Beyond the bossy appearance of Professor McGonnagal. Women in Harry Potter books have a very special role, a very feminine one. Let's start with Hermione, bossy, know-it-all, buck theethed Hermione. She is the more mautre one, she takes care of her boys. There is some sweetness about her that can make the reader easily love her or hate her. Harry is the main character, i know. Is it now a sin to put a boy as the hero. Rowling, i think has done a very good work with her characters. She knows exactly where to guide them, what to reflect. Profssor McGonnagall. Is she as cold as everyone think? Oh, no. Profssor is able to cry when necessary. I'm a 14 year old chilean girl. I've read the books thousends of time each one. Wouldn't it have bodered me, if there had been any sexism in the books? No, there is none. This book is very popular with teens, because Joanne has given us a beautiful gift. This book has opened me a lot of doors. Please, you feminist psychos...don't ruin it for me...please don't ruin the magic. Sometimes , when you are 14, magic is the only thing left. sincerely, Camila (Excuse my bad english. I have never taken english classes^^)

Is Harry Potter Sexist?! | 74 comments (70 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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