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Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3



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  #961  
Old April 11th, 2012, 6:02 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by Sereena View Post
I got the same feeling and wondered why JKR made the battle so segregated when it comes to gender. The only woman on man duel is between Minerva and Voldemort and then she is only one of the fighters the other two being men. I think Rowling worried that having a man defeat Bellatrix would send the wrong the message but we're complaining anyway so... I would have had no problem with Kingsley killing Bella for example and wouldn't have considered that an issue at all. He is an Auror she is a dark witch- it fits. I don't think gender needed to come into play in that context. Also, as I said before it's problematic that Molly is the only woman who makes a powerful contribution to the war. Minerva fighting Voldemort is nice and all but since she doesn't win it can't really count, IMO. Many boys and men contribute to the war but only one woman as far as we know (on the good side that is).
I could definitely see Kingsley being the one to kill Bellatrix; Molly makes no sense in terms of probably skill level in dueling to be the one to defeat her. In terms of story and poetic justice I felt like Neville was jipped in not being the one to defeat the woman who tortured his parents into insanity. I still feel like he was capable of killing her and should have been the one to do it (in that poetic justice, bring his story full circle kind of way) but I do feel like Bellatrix was probably one of the most accomplished duelers Voldemort had on his side and that it might have taken an equally skilled dueler on the "good side" to defeat her. Kingsley, being an auror who was likely trained extensively in dueling, was a very good candidate for being the one to defeat Voldemort.

Molly, on the other hand, was a stay at home mom who probably had no more experience in dueling than what she was taught in her own time at Hogwarts - if she was even taught how to duel at all. Let's face it, she spent 90% of her time doing laundry, making meals and taking care of everyone else but herself. I'm not trying to put stay at home mothers down by saying this, I'm pointing out that Molly was probably less qualified to battle Bellatrix in terms of experience and skill level than Ginny whom she was coming to the rescue of. Ginny, after all, had been personally taught defensive magic by Harry in the DA and had spent the entire previous year making trouble for the Carrows and probably getting into skirmishes with pro-Voldemort students. Molly, in turn, probably spent that previous year doing what she had done for the last 20 years and keeping the Headquarters of the Order in tip-top shape, cooking Order members meals and generally keeping them fueled and ready for battle, a task that really gets no appreciation or recognition but none the less means you have next to no experience fighting people one-on-one.

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I don't think there were anymore. I think this says something not just about the DEs as a group but of the wizarding society in general where women seemed more interested in staying at home and raising children. I got the feeling that pureblood families have very traditional values considering the fact that Bellatrix was the only woman in her family to be a DE and one of the very few women in Voldemort's army. I would say all female characters that we meet and that have children are stay at home moms besides Tonks who dies rather quickly after giving birth
I don't think the traditional values are confined to pureblood families, it seems to me like the wizarding world as a whole is extremely conservative. Either you're a mother who stays at home and takes care of the family or you're a career woman with no children, Rita, Bellatrix, Umbridge and McGonagall being the principle examples of this (Interestingly, note that of the four principle examples, only McGonagall is free of ever being a villain character ). To a lesser extent we might include Prof. Sprout, Charity Burbage, Prof. Vector, perhaps Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff, and Madame Bones who is said not to be Susan Bones' mother but her Auntie, all career women who are not said to either have or not have children of their own. Of the mothers we have Lily and Tonks, both Order members who become mothers but whose futures are unclear, Molly, the definitive mother figure of the books, Andromeda and Narcissa, neither of which is said to have a job or not, and Neville's Gran who, if she had job at some point in her life, is probably retired and able to care for Neville as a sort of stay at home grandmother.

Am I missing anyone?

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There is nothing either feminist or unfeminist about protecting your child IMO. The issue I have with some of the mothers in HP is that their whole world revolves around their children while for the men it's not really the case. To take Lucius Malfoy as an example, he doesn't have a proper job but he is a DE and has a great influence over the Ministry. Arthur also works outside the home. With Lily, she dies so soon after having Harry that we don't even know what she would have done in the future but JKR doesn't tell us about any of her plans after finishing Hogwarts. Rita Skeeter is childless and so is Umbridge so they don't count. Minerva and some other women work at Hogwarts so they are around children almost all the time anyway.
While I agree with the point you're making I also think that in a biological or evolutionary sense women tend to want to be with and care for their children while men tend to fall into the role of protector and provider. You do get the odd ball stay-at-home-caveman and the occasssional provider-cavewoman. On the whole, though, I think the dynamic we are shown of wizarding family is a reflection of a very traditional culture with very traditional views of the role of men and women being transplanted into a modern world where the men aren't protecting their women and offspring from saber-tooth tigers but are protecting their wives and children from, I don't know, culture corruption or something.

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I agree to an extent, but I did feel as the series went on JKR started to redress this a bit - as I've said before, I felt one of the "messages" in GoF was that Barty Crouch Snr spent too much time at the office and that was a major contributor to Barty Jnr going off the rails. Also, in DH I felt Dumbledore was portrayed as making the mistake of his life by putting his "hobbies, jobs and interests" above caring for his sister - something which he spent the rest of his life regretting.
I also kind of feel like James was sort of portrayed as a very idealized father figure, from the very little we see of him. He is said to be getting cabin fever being cooped up in the house all the time but I feel like he was portrayed as a very engaged and involved father (he played with Harry on his toy broom, he blows him bubble from his wand... I think that's all we see, though ) so while he might have been the one bringin' home the bacon I don't see him being protrayed like Barty Sr or Dumbledore who both made big mistakes in how they treated their family or in their level of involvement.


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  #962  
Old April 11th, 2012, 9:15 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by Melaszka View Post
I agree to an extent, but I did feel as the series went on JKR started to redress this a bit - as I've said before, I felt one of the "messages" in GoF was that Barty Crouch Snr spent too much time at the office and that was a major contributor to Barty Jnr going off the rails. Also, in DH I felt Dumbledore was portrayed as making the mistake of his life by putting his "hobbies, jobs and interests" above caring for his sister - something which he spent the rest of his life regretting.

So, while I do think the series fails to give as much prominence to female characters as male and it often fails to present mothers as people with interests in their own right, I think in the latter part of it, there's a suggestion that being "consumed" by parenthood is important for both mothers AND fathers and that fathers could take a leaf out of Molly's book.
I agree that JKR condemns child neglect even when it is done by men. However, neglect and having your own interests without pursuing them obsessively (as Crouch and Dumbledore did at the time) are two very different issues. Arthur is portrayed as a good father while still having both a paid job and a hobby (collecting Muggle things and so on). Xenophilius isn't just Luna's father, he is also the editor of the Quibbler and that's as much a job for him as a passion. James had his Quidditch even if he didn't become a professional player. Lucius has his Ministry connections and being a Death Eater.

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Molly, on the other hand, was a stay at home mom who probably had no more experience in dueling than what she was taught in her own time at Hogwarts - if she was even taught how to duel at all. Let's face it, she spent 90% of her time doing laundry, making meals and taking care of everyone else but herself. I'm not trying to put stay at home mothers down by saying this, I'm pointing out that Molly was probably less qualified to battle Bellatrix in terms of experience and skill level than Ginny whom she was coming to the rescue of.
I wonder why all those Aurors bothered with Bellatrix in the first place. They should have just called Molly
No but seriously speaking, I don't even get why Molly needed a kick *** scene. I felt as though the author was trying to jsutify her character and saying that she could do something other than being a stay at home mom but she chose not to. That's okay but for me quite unnecessary. I never considered Molly to be either magically weak or otherwise incompetent of performing any other job. In fact I never questioned her choice to stay at home at all. I thought she seemed frustrated at times and wondered whether she chose something that was considered proper for a woman given that in my opinion the wizarding world is rather conservative as you say. But in my view she didn't need to do anything other than what she did. I understand that motherhood is a great theme in the series and that Molly is the ultimate mother so that needed to be brought out in some way. At the same time though I would have liked her character to get some development and to have her actually join the fight for reasons other than her family being personally attacked. If she needed to fight that is.

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While I agree with the point you're making I also think that in a biological or evolutionary sense women tend to want to be with and care for their children while men tend to fall into the role of protector and provider. You do get the odd ball stay-at-home-caveman and the occasssional provider-cavewoman.
Even if that's true (and I really can't be sure that it is) there is no reason for a woman to be defined by motherhood. I would consider something like that unhealthy actually. People need to have hobbies and interests that are not related to their children even if they are stay at home parents. There is no reason in my view to have female characters defined by their relationships to their husbands, their children or their boyfriends. While Molly, Narcissa and a few other fall into the first two categories, most of the other female characters fall into the third unfortunately. In the HP books it seems as though men pursue their interests while women pursue the men...


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  #963  
Old April 12th, 2012, 12:31 am
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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There is no reason in my view to have female characters defined by their relationships to their husbands, their children or their boyfriends. While Molly, Narcissa and a few other fall into the first two categories, most of the other female characters fall into the third unfortunately.
Mmm... I must assume you're refering only to female characters who are shown in romantic relationships or with children because I wouldn't define McGonagall as being defined by her relationships or children. Rita doesn't seem defined by her relationships or children. Umbridge is arguable because of her devotion to the Minister for Magic but I think she was only devoted to him in order to acheive her own ends and gain power herself.

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In the HP books it seems as though men pursue their interests while women pursue the men...
Molly pursued knitting which I would call a hobby. (It's an activity I engage in and I consider it one of my hobbies) Knitting is an interesting hobby for a mother to have in a feminist debate, though; my personal pleaure in knitting is the act, not the result (I enjoy the act of knitting, not the scarf that I knit) so I end up knitting things and then giving them away just like Molly does. It also just so happens that knitting is often associated with domestic women. With this being said I wouldn't say that Molly isn't given any hobbies to pursue, she is just given a very feminine, domestic, motherly-associated hobby.


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Old April 12th, 2012, 4:20 am
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

I
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Originally Posted by ?Sereena
get that Molly is supposed to be the mother of all mothers but I would have liked to see her fighting for something other than her children yet again since all she ever does is for them. It would have developed her character which, despite what others have said I don't think the duel does. yes we saw another part of her in terms of her ability to use violence but it was still something she did as a mother. It seems all Rowling's female characters are consumed by motherhood while the men still have hobbies, jobs and interests.
McGonagall has a job, and is very interested in building a winning quidditch team for her house. Madam Rosmerta has a job owning & running The Three Broomsticks. Madam Malkin owns & runs a shop for custom made robes. Rita Skeeter has a job and is on her own apparently; Madam Hooch has a job; so do Professors Sprout & Trelawney; Madam Pomfrey has a job and is very good at it. Amelia Bones was Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. None of them seem "consumed by motherhood", although some may have been married. Also, quite a few women sit on the Wizengamot.


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  #965  
Old April 12th, 2012, 4:54 am
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

I think Sereena means all the mothers in the series are defined by their motherhood, whereas the Fathers are allowed to be portrayed as more than Fathers.


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Old April 12th, 2012, 11:03 am
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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1) The strong, rather unjust IMO, emphasis on motherhood (over fatherhood).
I think fatherhood plays a central role in the books as a matter of fact. It's present on all levels. Harry basically spends the 7 books thinking about what his father would do in his place and looking for a father substitute (Sirius - who tells him he's just like his father and ranks that as the best possible compliment - and then Dumbledore; and in a sense even Snape). Voldemort can be seen as a product of his relationship with his father to a large extent - he obviously blames him for his (witch) mother's demise and murders him to metaphorically cleanse himself from his Muggle roots. There are some very strong indications that what initially turned Snape off from Muggles and predisposed him to prioritise his pureblooded side was his abusive Muggle father. Dumbledore's father also shapes his future life when he kills the Muggle boys, ending up in Azkaban and leaving his family with a lifelong stigma that Dumbledore had to struggle against. The world of Harry Potter is full of absent fathers and I think they are what sets the tone of the main character's lives and story arcs.

In addition to this, on the secondary character levels, we have Luna's single father who's put into an impossible situation using his love for his daughter; Hagrid's fond memories of his father who brought him up and had a huge influence on who Hagrid became; Remus, who would have been one of those missing fathers if it wasn't for Harry who realises that fatherhood and family are more important for a man than more traditionally masculine ideals such as valour and fighting; and Barty Crouch Jr. whose whole persona is a result of an absent (physically and emotionally) father. Even Lucius is given scenes that focus specifically on his being a father.



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  #967  
Old April 13th, 2012, 6:41 am
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

I'm inclined to agree with you, Yoana and I did at one point but upon further reflection, I've personally come to the conclusion that in the case of Crouch Jr., while at first look, you think Jo is making a point that Crouch is a victim of his father's abandonment and abuse and lack of fatherhood and I suppose you could see it that way, I think Jo wants us to feel disgusted at Crouch Jr. She says she often speaks through Dumbledore and Dumbledore is out-rightly disgusted and unforgiving of Crouch Jr. even after he tells his full story. Dumbledore never tells Harry he pities him like he tells Harry to pity Merope for just not being strong enough. Instead Dumbledore's message at the end of GOF in relation to Crouch Jr. is about how Crouch Jr. even though he was rich and pureblood CHOSE a wrong path, making a point against bigotry and racism and arguing that evil can come from anywhere even the purest of blood and "best" of families.

So while you and I may see Crouch Jr's story as a testament against absent fathers and the importance of fatherhood, I think Jo didn't intend for that. We're not meant to sympathize with him (from her perspective), we're meant to feel that he made his choice and it was his own fault IMO (which I disagree with).


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  #968  
Old April 13th, 2012, 7:09 am
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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I think Sereena means all the mothers in the series are defined by their motherhood, whereas the Fathers are allowed to be portrayed as more than Fathers.
We don't know, though, if any of the women professors/teachers had children. They may well have. And I wouldn't say they were "defined by their motherhood". Neither was Tonks, Andromeda or even Narcissa. And I'd argue that Bella wasn't defined at all by her lack of motherhood, as her cruelty, prejudice and obsession with Voldemort seemed to consume her.


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Old April 13th, 2012, 9:23 am
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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...And I'd argue that Bella wasn't defined at all by her lack of motherhood, as her cruelty, prejudice and obsession with Voldemort seemed to consume her.
This makes me wonder if Voldemort allowed Bella to have his child, would she then be defined by motherhood? I think so, definitely. She would welcome it as either the, or one of the, proudest achievements of her life. Which in turn makes me wonder about what we ally our identities to as women. Maybe those who tether themselves to motherhood do it out of love and not out of weakness or any lack in character. (Not that this is being suggested, just thinking aloud.) Which in turn makes the outstanding characteristic of this choice a strong desire to love and devote a life to caring for another person.

Then... isn't every passion we associate our identity with the same? We're all being defined by our strongest love, which makes it all equal don't you think?

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Old April 13th, 2012, 1:34 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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We don't know, though, if any of the women professors/teachers had children. They may well have.
But that's more or less the same. All the mom's who we KNOW are moms are mostly defined by being moms. Rowling makes it clear they are moms and then has that motherhood define them.

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And I wouldn't say they were "defined by their motherhood". Neither was Tonks, Andromeda or even Narcissa.
Tonks had her fair share of character derailment from becoming a love interest alone, she wasn't a Mom long enough to be consumed by it.

Narcissa was very much defined by being a Mom and Family woman, IMO.

Andromeda, we rarely see so she doesn't really count.


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Old April 13th, 2012, 2:42 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by Goddess_Clio View Post
Molly pursued knitting which I would call a hobby.
I agree that it's a hobby but it's once again connected to motherhood as she knits mostly for her children.

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I think Sereena means all the mothers in the series are defined by their motherhood, whereas the Fathers are allowed to be portrayed as more than Fathers.
Exactly. I wasn't talking about characters who aren't mothers, of course those characters exist as well.

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Originally Posted by Yoana View Post
The world of Harry Potter is full of absent fathers and I think they are what sets the tone of the main character's lives and story arcs.
I'm not sure what StarryVeil meant so I'm not speaking for her/him but for me motherhood is emphasized over fatherhood in the sense that it is presented as a powerful force for good. Even evil women like Narcissa are somewhat redeemed by their motherhood (Lucius wasn't the one who saved the family after all). Fathers are shown to have complicated relationships to their children in some cases while mothers always offer love and comfort.
Harry condemns his father for his actions but Lily is not given any thought in a non-motherly context. Arthur distances himself from Percy while Molly simply cries and tries to make things right between them. Harry's relationship to Sirius is once again complicated by the fact that Sirius might see him as another James. With Molly the only problem is that she is overprotective. Dumbledore is blamed for his past mistakes and Harry questions him. I don't know if we can go so far as to call Minerva a mother figure to Harry but even if she were that relationship is also uncomplicated. Mothers are mostly presented as good and devoted to their children while the fathers/faher figures have more complicated relationships.

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This makes me wonder if Voldemort allowed Bella to have his child, would she then be defined by motherhood? I think so, definitely.
I don't think Bellatrix didn't have children because Voldemort didn't allow her to. If anything he would be encouraging her to bring more purebloods into the world. I think she simply didn't want to be a mother.

Also just because someone is a loving and good mother doesn't necessarily mean she is defined by motherhood. Or rather, it shouldn't be like that. With some of Rowling's characters it is IMO.

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Originally Posted by HedwigOwl
And I'd argue that Bella wasn't defined at all by her lack of motherhood, as her cruelty, prejudice and obsession with Voldemort seemed to consume her.
I agree to some extent, but in the end what is emphasized about Bellatrix is her childlessness and lack of family.


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Old April 13th, 2012, 3:26 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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I agree that it's a hobby but it's once again connected to motherhood as she knits mostly for her children.
Well, she is depicted as having personal interests in Celestina Warbeck's music and Gilderoy Lockhart's books, although I concede that (a) both of these interests are portrayed - through Harry's viewpoint - as being a bit fangirly and embarrassing (b) both interests are connected to romance - Warbeck's songs are emotional ballads about romantic live and Molly clearly has a big crush on Lockhart, so once again female characters' interests seem to revolve around romantic relationships (c) she is depicted as using Lockhart's books mainly for helpful hints with the housework - again, it's linked into motherhood.


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Old April 13th, 2012, 4:07 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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I'm not sure what StarryVeil meant so I'm not speaking for her/him but for me motherhood is emphasized over fatherhood in the sense that it is presented as a powerful force for good. Even evil women like Narcissa are somewhat redeemed by their motherhood (Lucius wasn't the one who saved the family after all). Fathers are shown to have complicated relationships to their children in some cases while mothers always offer love and comfort.
Harry condemns his father for his actions but Lily is not given any thought in a non-motherly context. Arthur distances himself from Percy while Molly simply cries and tries to make things right between them. Harry's relationship to Sirius is once again complicated by the fact that Sirius might see him as another James. With Molly the only problem is that she is overprotective. Dumbledore is blamed for his past mistakes and Harry questions him. I don't know if we can go so far as to call Minerva a mother figure to Harry but even if she were that relationship is also uncomplicated. Mothers are mostly presented as good and devoted to their children while the fathers/faher figures have more complicated relationships.
Yep, that's what I meant. Yoana, I have elaborated upon the sentence you quoted in subsequent posts but here's a gist of what I was trying to say: Feminists may view this as a patriarchal mindset, but the point is that, IMO, Rowling's intention was to glorify mothers over fathers. I felt that a mother's love was shown to be "stronger" than a father's. Lily's, Molly's, and Narcissa's roles as mothers were positively emphasized more than James's, Arthur's and Lucius's roles as fathers. We are given several examples of the protective qualities of a mother's love yet most of the examples of fatherhood are not that terrific. And I thought that unfair because I think James, Arthur and co. loved their kids just as much as Lily, Molly and co.

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Well, she is depicted as having personal interests in Celestina Warbeck's music and Gilderoy Lockhart's books, although I concede that (a) both of these interests are portrayed - through Harry's viewpoint - as being a bit fangirly and embarrassing (b) both interests are connected to romance - Warbeck's songs are emotional ballads about romantic live and Molly clearly has a big crush on Lockhart, so once again female characters' interests seem to revolve around romantic relationships (c) she is depicted as using Lockhart's books mainly for helpful hints with the housework - again, it's linked into motherhood.
I personally don't think there's any other way of viewing it: Molly's character is one meant to be defined by motherhood. I think that's the purpose of her character. She serves as a symbol of what Harry never had or will have and a way to contrast Harry's and Ron's backgrounds and mindsets. She was not written to represent the strengths of a feministic woman. Therefore, all her actions, hobbies, interests circle back to the same point: motherhood. JMO.


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  #974  
Old April 13th, 2012, 6:30 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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We don't know, though, if any of the women professors/teachers had children. They may well have.
These aren't real people these are the imaginings of a person who chooses whet to show and what to hold back. The author's decision on what to show and what not to in itself conveys messages and meaning.

So the fact that we don't see any female teachers in the role of mother then that conveys a message.


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Yep, that's what I meant. Yoana, I have elaborated upon the sentence you quoted in subsequent posts but here's a gist of what I was trying to say: Feminists may view this as a patriarchal mindset, but the point is that, IMO, Rowling's intention was to glorify mothers over fathers.
But is that glorifying of mothers a positive thing for womankind or not?

I think perhaps we need to look at the context and that for me is one of the place where real problems arise. Where else in the series do women find satisfaction and meaning? What else motivates them.

Men are allowed to be good fathers within the context of the series (although I admit that there aren’t many they are there) but they can also be brilliant thinkers, sports men, defenders of right, duellists, fighters, etc they have multiple options and they can be more than one of these women don’t seem to get the same choice as far as I can remember.

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Originally Posted by StarryVeil View Post
Lily's, Molly's, and Narcissa's roles as mothers were positively emphasized more than James's, Arthur's and Lucius's roles as fathers. We are given several examples of the protective qualities of a mother's love yet most of the examples of fatherhood are not that terrific.
And yet the mothers are only mothers, they are simple and uncomplicated and while Harry does on a couple of occasions (I can actually only think of one but I’m giving the benefit of the doubt so to speak ) show a desire for the kind of nurturing that a mother is seen as able to provide, it is his father and soragate father figures that dominate Harry’s thoughts. Eg
  • He rarely asks about Lily but constantly wants to know about James
  • Hagrid has been argued to be a father figure and he is often on Harry’s mind
  • Sirius is his godfather and again he is probably one of the most prominent father figures in his own estimation
  • Dumbledore is clearly a ‘good father’ symbol full of pride loyalty, and compassion for Harry and again very prominent.
  • Snape can be argued to be Dumbledore’s counterpart – Harry’s ‘bad father’& I think we all know that Harry spends quite alot of time thinkng & complaining about him.
The battle to integrate the ‘good father’ & ‘bad father’ actually so closely follows the process Harry undergoes to reach peace with his real father that I think this has an enormous impact on the plot of the series – let alone DH where this integration finally achieves completion. Incidentally it is reaching this integration, which allows Harry to see his own father, & the two symbolic fathers as they actually are, that is one of the main things that lends a sense of completion to the series.

I think the base line for me is that mothers are mothers (and only mothers) but fathers get to be fathers and people and because they are more complicated they impact one the story far more frequently and are dominant in it because of this. Mothers really only impact the story once and that is Lily’s sacrifice. Frankly I think it is a better option to be able to live and have a full life rather than your only role in life being to do one thing and be prepared to die if that’s not enough – or maybe I’m just being too cynical??

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Molly's character is one meant to be defined by motherhood. I think that's the purpose of her character. She serves as a symbol of what Harry never had or will have and a way to contrast Harry's and Ron's backgrounds and mindsets. She was not written to represent the strengths of a feministic woman. Therefore, all her actions, hobbies, interests circle back to the same point: motherhood. JMO.
Yes I agree but within a feminist perspective we have to look at context before we can say how this impacts on the feminism or lack there of in the book.

I think it is easy to look at individual characters with the book (or series) and try to make an assessment of how feminist that makes the book – but that kind of misses the point imo.

Context of every character and how they interact is just as important. But added to this we need to look at the world the book paints – and how much of it actually happened on page (eg there are quite a few women in the HP universe history in positions of power but none who we actually get to see on page :/) . Also what qualities and traits are used to portray good/interesting/worthy people and what qualities and traits are used to portray the people one isn’t supposed to trust.

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I'm inclined to agree with you, Yoana and I did at one point but upon further reflection, I've personally come to the conclusion that in the case of Crouch Jr., while at first look, you think Jo is making a point that Crouch is a victim of his father's abandonment and abuse and lack of fatherhood and I suppose you could see it that way, I think Jo wants us to feel disgusted at Crouch Jr. She says she often speaks through Dumbledore and Dumbledore is out-rightly disgusted and unforgiving of Crouch Jr. even after he tells his full story. Dumbledore never tells Harry he pities him like he tells Harry to pity Merope for just not being strong enough. Instead Dumbledore's message at the end of GOF in relation to Crouch Jr. is about how Crouch Jr. even though he was rich and pureblood CHOSE a wrong path, making a point against bigotry and racism and arguing that evil can come from anywhere even the purest of blood and "best" of families.

So while you and I may see Crouch Jr's story as a testament against absent fathers and the importance of fatherhood, I think Jo didn't intend for that. We're not meant to sympathize with him (from her perspective), we're meant to feel that he made his choice and it was his own fault IMO (which I disagree with).
It’s an interesting idea and in some ways I agree with you - but I don't see it as an either or scenario; I think we can quite rightly/justifiably feel pity for Crouch Jr. & say he made a bad choice. That said I don't feel that blame is particularly useful, nor do I think that it is possible to find just one person who is responsible - I see it more as a patchwork with a colour emerging as a result of a mixture of experiences and choices.


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  #975  
Old April 14th, 2012, 12:25 am
StarryVeil  Female.gif StarryVeil is offline
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by kittling View Post
But is that glorifying of mothers a positive thing for womankind or not?
Meh, well, that wasn’t the debate I was getting into. My main point was that, in a story whose main theme is love, portraying a mother’s love as “stronger” than a father’s is, IMO, favoring women and being unfair to men.

Quote:
Men are allowed to be good fathers within the context of the series (although I admit that there aren’t many they are there) but they can also be brilliant thinkers, sports men, defenders of right, duellists, fighters, etc they have multiple options and they can be more than one of these women don’t seem to get the same choice as far as I can remember.
Well, there are plenty of women in the series who have concerns other than raising their kids. Molly, I’m not counting since, as I said, I think her character was written to function primarily as a motherly symbol. Throughout HBP we see Slughorn gushing on about Lily’s vivaciousness and skill at Potions. Both, she and James were fighting for the Order and had both defied Voldemort thrice. Tonks is introduced primarily as Moody’s eccentric protégé and an Auror-in-training and secondarily as Remus’s love interest and mother of his baby. Petunia and Narcissa are, I would say, the epitomes of “trophy wives” so I don’t think they are supposed to be portrayed as participating in a lot of activities that are independent of their husbands. Rowling has, I think, shown her disapproval of this sort of a wife. In contrast to Narcissa, Andromeda was shown to rebel against her family’s bigoted views and is, thus, seen in a positive light. Hermione’s mom is a dentist. Neville’s mom was an Auror. Luna’s mom was a “mad scientist” of sorts.

Quote:
He rarely asks about Lily but constantly wants to know about James
Honestly, I was surprised at the lack of interest Harry showed throughout the series in both his parents. Only once can I remember him asking something about James just for the sake of knowing something about his dad and that was when he starts asking Lupin what James’s Animagus form was in PoA. In SWM, he didn’t actively look for his dad – Professor Flitwick happened to be passing James when he called out to the hall and Harry, looking up, noticed him walking by James. (But, yeah, it was weird that he didn’t look for his mom in the exam hall.) When Harry looked into the Mirror of Erised, though, he first notices his mom and looks mostly at her. Even in the Resurrection Stone scene, he can’t take his eyes off Lily and specifically asks her to stay close to him. It seemed to me like Harry (and the rest of the wizarding world, really) emotionally placed more importance on his mother’s sacrifice than his father’s. (I say emotionally because Lily's was technically more important. I'll also add that this is one of those glorification-of-mothers instances, IMO.)

Quote:
  • Hagrid has been argued to be a father figure and he is often on Harry’s mind
  • Sirius is his godfather and again he is probably one of the most prominent father figures in his own estimation
  • Dumbledore is clearly a ‘good father’ symbol full of pride loyalty, and compassion for Harry and again very prominent.
  • Snape can be argued to be Dumbledore’s counterpart – Harry’s ‘bad father’& I think we all know that Harry spends quite alot of time thinkng & complaining about him.
Aside from Sirius, I think the rest of them are just elderly male presences in his life, the result of the prevalence of male characters in the HP series. I don’t really view them as fatherly symbols to Harry. Hagrid is more of a warm, bumbling friend, DD is the wise mentor, and Snape is the teacher every student loves to hate and the guy who loved Harry’s mom. I don’t really count any of these three as symbols of fatherhood in the HP series.

Quote:
The battle to integrate the ‘good father’ & ‘bad father’ actually so closely follows the process Harry undergoes to reach peace with his real father that I think this has an enormous impact on the plot of the series – let alone DH where this integration finally achieves completion. Incidentally it is reaching this integration, which allows Harry to see his own father, & the two symbolic fathers as they actually are, that is one of the main things that lends a sense of completion to the series.
Err…sorry, you’ll have to help me out here. I don’t think I understand what you’re trying to say so I’ll refrain from making a comment.


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  #976  
Old April 14th, 2012, 4:27 am
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by kittling View Post
These aren't real people these are the imaginings of a person who chooses whet to show and what to hold back. The author's decision on what to show and what not to in itself conveys messages and meaning.

So the fact that we don't see any female teachers in the role of mother then that conveys a message.
I don't view it that way, as telling all the details of every secondary character's life would needlessly bog down the story. Also, we don't see any of the teachers' personal lives (except Hagrid, who isn't a teacher most of the time), and I think it's normal in general for teachers to NOT talk about their personal lives with students. So they very well may have children and/or grandchildren. Just because we don't see it in this story (mostly seen from Harry's experience) doesn't mean we can definitely conclude they had no other life away from school. It's similar to working at a large corporation; you don't really know details of most of your colleague's lives, and wouldn't know if they had kids, or how many -- but not knowing doesn't mean they don't exist.

I don't think Molly is "defined" by motherhood. She had a life before that, and she participated in the Order. Molly gets page time because she's Ron's mother, Ron is Harry's best friend (and a mother figure to Harry), but that's not the only thing Molly is. She's very committed to caring for her family, but is more complex than that; every person is. I think the point of a feminist viewpoint is recognizing that women are not defined by any one thing.


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Old April 15th, 2012, 1:52 am
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

Hi. I'm new to these forum (this is indeed my first post). I've read quite a few of the previous pages and have been really enjoying the quality of the argument. It may have been raised before but I'll throw in my two bobs' worth on the topic of Molly.
To me she is a character of her time, born in 1949, a child of the 50s, at Hogwarts in the 60s and married and having children in the 70s. Like so many of that era she is a woman being a mum and a housekeeper which was at that time the role that society had for women. In that sense she pre-dates the second wave feminism of the late 20th century. I'm old enough to remember the shock and outrage of Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, and more so the explosions of wrath that Greer's The Female Eunuch inspired. I doubt that Molly, in the conservative wizarding world, would have been exposed to such ideas. And yet she is a character of considerable strength: her support for a rebel organisation, her willingness to stand up for her opinion - to fight her corner - and not least her powerful magic when duelling Bellatrix all, for me, mark her as a very strong individual. My concern in discussions about Molly is that she is seen as just a mum/mom. In the words of Germaine Greer (when speaking of Betty Friedan)
"Women don't get the respect they deserve unless they are wielding male-shaped power"
Molly may be a modest woman living a pretty ordinary life (though in un-ordinary circumstances) but she wields power, power of a different form. She has, again to quote Greer: "The freedom...to be a person, with dignity, integrity, nobility, passion, pride that constitute personhood. Freedom to run, shout, talk loudly and sit with your knees apart."
That to me is Molly.


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Old April 15th, 2012, 3:14 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by kittling View Post
And yet the mothers are only mothers, they are simple and uncomplicated and while Harry does on a couple of occasions (I can actually only think of one but I’m giving the benefit of the doubt so to speak ) show a desire for the kind of nurturing that a mother is seen as able to provide, it is his father and soragate father figures that dominate Harry’s thoughts. Eg
Simple and uncomplicated yes. I wonder if this is a symptom of the fact that female characters are in general less complicated than the male. I'm not sayng they are less interesting since I think this is subjective but it seems to me that female characters are either bad or evil while men are sometimes in between. I can't actually think of any woman who is in the grey area while there are plenty of men there (Snape, Dumbledore even Sirius and the Marauders). The only woman who might fit is Petunia but I'm not sure about her either. The other are either good (Molly, Hermione, Ginny, Tonks, Minerva) or evil (Umbridge, Bellatrix, Narcissa) with less shades of grey. The men are often flawed but good but women, even if they have flaws are often seen as somehow "better" than the men unless they are the ultimate evil.

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Originally Posted by HedwigOwl View Post
I don't view it that way, as telling all the details of every secondary character's life would needlessly bog down the story.
It's impossible for an author to show us everything that doesn't happen in a story though. JKR has never shown us that Draco doesn't have a little sister or that Voldemort doesn't have a crush on Dumbledore or that Ron never went out with Millicent Bulstrode (just to take a few ridiculous examples). Does that mean all of these things are possible? If we aren't shown something we can simply assume that that particular thing didn't happen, IMO.

Quote:
She's very committed to caring for her family, but is more complex than that; every person is. I think the point of a feminist viewpoint is recognizing that women are not defined by any one thing.
But is there more to Molly than motherhood? Do we ever see her in another role. I take the points about Lockhart and Celestina but those things are too small to count as character development. She seems to be on good terms with Tonks but that relationship is also very underdeveloped. Whenever Molly does something proactive she is driven by motherhood. There's nothing wrong about that but I personally would have liked to see more sides to her.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JackIanto View Post
Molly may be a modest woman living a pretty ordinary life (though in un-ordinary circumstances) but she wields power, power of a different form. She has, again to quote Greer: "The freedom...to be a person, with dignity, integrity, nobility, passion, pride that constitute personhood. Freedom to run, shout, talk loudly and sit with your knees apart."
That to me is Molly.
Yes, it's possible that Molly has chosen her path in life instead of it being "forced" upon her by tradition, though I do think the pureblood families were very conservative so this is a possible interpretation as well, IMO. However to me she seems relatively powerless. She seems to get angry a lot and while she is right many times the people around her either ridicule her, ignore her or write her off as being overprotective. When the male characters say something or want to protect the children it is seen as noble and taken very seriously. Molly spends so much of her time worrying and the only time she takes matters into her own hands is in the final battle. She doesn't seem particularly empowered to me.


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Old April 15th, 2012, 8:54 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by StarryVeil View Post
Meh, well, that wasn’t the debate I was getting into. My main point was that, in a story whose main theme is love, portraying a mother’s love as “stronger” than a father’s is, IMO, favoring women and being unfair to men.
Sorry, this being a thread about feminism I thought your point would refer back to that subject – and personally I think it is an important issue in its own right as well as in ascertaining whether or not the positioning of a mother’s love as “stronger” than a father’s is in fact fair or unfair to men – after all if the positioning constrains women and men are therefore left ‘free’ it could easily be argued that men’s position is in fact much fairer rather than the opposite.

Quote:
Well, there are plenty of women in the series who have concerns other than raising their kids.
As this point refers to the series, as opposed to just Deathly Hallows I’ll answer it on the Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?

Quote:
Err…sorry, you’ll have to help me out here. I don’t think I understand what you’re trying to say so I’ll refrain from making a comment.
As this point refers to the series, as opposed to just Deathly Hallows again I’ll answer it on the Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel?

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Originally Posted by HedwigOwl View Post
So they very well may have children and/or grandchildren. Just because we don't see it in this story (mostly seen from Harry's experience) doesn't mean we can definitely conclude they had no other life away from school. It's similar to working at a large corporation; you don't really know details of most of your colleague's lives, and wouldn't know if they had kids, or how many -- but not knowing doesn't mean they don't exist.
No, its not like working in a large corporation – your workplace is real, as are your colleagues; the characters in a book are not real the have no existence out side of the confines of the page. They don’t have hobbies unless the author chooses to show them participating in or frothing about a hobby; they don’t even have a past unless the author chooses to show us a past. Yes logically someone doesn’t just get to 40 without experiences but that’s a real person yes Molly hypothetically did stuff before the book starts but unless JKR puts it in the book it doesn’t happen because it’s a fiction not reality.

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Originally Posted by JackIanto View Post
Hi. I'm new to these forum (this is indeed my first post).
Hello JackIanto, Good to hear from you

Quote:
To me she is a character of her time, born in 1949, a child of the 50s, at Hogwarts in the 60s and married and having children in the 70s. Like so many of that era she is a woman being a mum and a housekeeper which was at that time the role that society had for women.


Quote:
I doubt that Molly, in the conservative wizarding world, would have been exposed to such ideas.
Your identifying the wizarding world as conservative (a statement incidentally that I personally agree with whole heartedly ) is a fairly contentious one. Some people it seems see a lot of what I would call the background detail or set dressing (a history where women have been Minister of Magic, or where the main sport is a unisex one, for example) as proof that the wizarding world in fact a very progressive world where gender equality exists.

While I strongly disagree with this conclusion I can see how one might get that impression from the ‘set dressing’ - and where it allowed to permeate the story we actually see on page I might agree with it. However it doesn’t seem to and so I feel a rather mixed message is given.

Quote:
My concern in discussions about Molly is that she is seen as just a mum/mom.
That sort of is my concern too; not that we discus Molly as if she is only a mother but the fact that the author chooses to only show us that side of her except on 2 occasions (one of which is a simple one line reference to her being ‘on duty’ for the Order which is so small it is almost swept under the carpet, the other being during the end battle.

Quote:
In the words of Germaine Greer (when speaking of Betty Friedan)
"Women don't get the respect they deserve unless they are wielding male-shaped power"
Here again Molly springs to my mind. It feels to me as if Molly’s big fight with Bellatrix is used in exactly that way – it is only when she turns her wand from use for mothering and uses it as a metaphorical gun that she is seen as something more than ‘just a mother’. There is a feeling I think that the incident is used by the author to show Molly has strength and/or power when in fact JKR has had six books in which to demonstrate this with resorting to Molly ‘wielding male-shaped power’ but has singularly failed to do so

This leads me to think about the way gendered qualities and behaviours are used in the series but again I’ll answer it on the Harry Potter: A Feminist Novel? as it applies to more than just the last book.

Me, trying to resurrect another feminism thread? Never.
Quote:
Molly may be a modest woman living a pretty ordinary life (though in un-ordinary circumstances) but she wields power, power of a different form. She has, again to quote Greer: "The freedom...to be a person, with dignity, integrity, nobility, passion, pride that constitute personhood. Freedom to run, shout, talk loudly and sit with your knees apart."
That to me is Molly.
Out of curiosity where do we see this in the books?

Surely if we take your concept that Molly is a product of her era – then she is not a housewife & mother through free choice but because that was the main or only option society provided her with.

I don’t have a problem with Molly, or her role within the book per se it is the context with which I have a problem. The predominance of motherhood as the option for women, for the only female characters who as adults don’t become mothers they either take on a surrogate mother role (ie one that provides them the opportunity for continual contact with children whom they can nurture and mould such as teaching) or they are nasty people. It feels to me as if the lack of desire for motherhood is used to portray a basic unpleasantness, even unnaturalness – that for me is another problem.


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  #980  
Old April 15th, 2012, 9:13 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by Sereena View Post
It's impossible for an author to show us everything that doesn't happen in a story though. JKR has never shown us that Draco doesn't have a little sister or that Voldemort doesn't have a crush on Dumbledore or that Ron never went out with Millicent Bulstrode (just to take a few ridiculous examples). Does that mean all of these things are possible? If we aren't shown something we can simply assume that that particular thing didn't happen, IMO.
There are implications or outright statements that imply Molly is not limited to being only interested in/capable of motherhood.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sereena
But is there more to Molly than motherhood? Do we ever see her in another role. I take the points about Lockhart and Celestina but those things are too small to count as character development. She seems to be on good terms with Tonks but that relationship is also very underdeveloped. Whenever Molly does something proactive she is driven by motherhood. There's nothing wrong about that but I personally would have liked to see more sides to her.
At the end of GOF, Molly is the first Dumbledore asks to join up to fight Voldemort, and Molly accepts for herself & Arthur with no hesitation. I'm pretty darn sure she's not volunteering because of motherhood. Molly takes guard duty at the Department of Mysteries -- that is clearly referred to in the books. By implication, if Molly is assigned to what is considered dangerous duty for the Order, she no doubt does other work for them as well. This knowledge implies that Molly has a skilled level of competency or Dumbledore would not have asked, and gives a basis to support Molly's dueling capabilities.

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Originally Posted by kittling View Post
No, its not like working in a large corporation – your workplace is real, as are your colleagues; the characters in a book are not real the have no existence out side of the confines of the page. They don’t have hobbies unless the author chooses to show them participating in or frothing about a hobby; they don’t even have a past unless the author chooses to show us a past. Yes logically someone doesn’t just get to 40 without experiences but that’s a real person yes Molly hypothetically did stuff before the book starts but unless JKR puts it in the book it doesn’t happen because it’s a fiction not reality.
It's not all hypothetical. She attended Hogwarts and received proper training, and we see the types of classes in the books, so we may accurately assume Molly's background there. She's asked to join the Order by Dumbledore, which implies that Dumbledore thinks she's up to the task, so I think we can accurately assume she is. My view still is that we're shown enough information by the author to show Molly's other talents. Not that motherhood alone would be an anti-feminist statement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kittling
Surely if we take your concept that Molly is a product of her era – then she is not a housewife & mother through free choice but because that was the main or only option society provided her with.
I think you're thinking of our product of those times, not the society set up in the magical world. Magic is a helpful leveler for equal opportunity. If we take your opinion about Molly not having a choice, how do you explain women older than Molly holding high positions in academia or the Ministry? Or 2 of Hogwarts' founders being women?


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