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



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  #1  
Old October 11th, 2009, 11:23 am
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Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

Wheee, we've made it to version three! And this isn't even about Snape, ahem.

For reference: version two


Study Questions to get this discussion started
  • Would you say that female characters get the same level of attention as male characters?
  • Which characters do you consider feminist, which ones are lacking in this regard?
  • Is the Wizarding world an equal opportunity society?
  • How could DH have been more feminist, what would you have liked to see?



guidelines - IMPORTANTPlease take into account that this is a somewhat hot-button topic. To get along, please avoid blanket statements like 'There is no feminism in Deathly Hallows, why are you even discussing this?' because they do not further the discussion and are impolite to the posters who have taken part in the discussion.

Do not present your opinions as facts! Do not take things personally and engage in personal attacks! Please report posts that you feel go too far and let staff handle it. Posters who cannot abide by these rules will find themselves excluded from the discussion.



Last edited by Moriath; October 11th, 2009 at 10:37 pm. Reason: now with grammar
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  #2  
Old October 11th, 2009, 2:36 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

From the discussion in the previous thread, about why Bella is attracted to Voldemort: power, in itself, divorced from the specific ideas behind it, is ample attraction for many people. Take Berlusconi for example. He's old and unattractive. Yet he's quite the womanizer. And I doubt all those young women who visit his private parties are ardent supporters of his line of politics. Power does make a man (or a woman, for that matter) very attractive.

Of course Bella does believe in the pure-blood ideology, but that doesn't negate the theory that it's her intense attraction to Voldemort which keeps her an active Death Eater all those years.


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Old October 11th, 2009, 4:37 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoana View Post
From the discussion in the previous thread, about why Bella is attracted to Voldemort: power, in itself, divorced from the specific ideas behind it, is ample attraction for many people. Take Berlusconi for example. He's old and unattractive. Yet he's quite the womanizer. And I doubt all those young women who visit his private parties are ardent supporters of his line of politics. Power does make a man (or a woman, for that matter) very attractive.

Of course Bella does believe in the pure-blood ideology, but that doesn't negate the theory that it's her intense attraction to Voldemort which keeps her an active Death Eater all those years.
Power is a factor yet there is another thing which can even be more important than power: the pureblood ideology. Bella would never fall for a wizarding who advocated muggleborns' rights no matter how powerful he would be.

The reason I have problems with the above mentioned theory is not that it's unsupported but that there is simply no reason to doubt Bellatrix's devotion to the cause, in my opinion. She was raised in a family of bigots so there's nothing suspicious about her being one as well. The arguments so far have been that Bella mentions how devoted she is to Voldemort himself and not to the cause but I believe there is a simple explanation for this: in the minds of the DEs Voldemort is the cause. They do all sorts of things only for Voldemort, not necessarily for the cause. Stealing the Prophecy for example has nothing to with muggleborn oppression as they can oppress muggleborns just fine without it. The Prophecy was strictly for Voldemort. Killing Harry is only something that is done strictly for Voldemort as the DEs have nothing against him personally. I believe that in their minds, the cause is about bringing Voldemort to power so that he can create the world they long for. This assumption is supported by everything they do to remove all obstacles in Voldemort's way.

I don't see this as having anything to do with Bella personally since it is an attitude that all Death Eaters share, IMO. Bella wasn't the only one who went to Azkaban, nor was she the only one who committed heinous crimes in Voldemort's name. The Death Eaters' goal is to make Voldemort all powerful so that he in turn can give them what they want: power and respect for their pureblood ancestry.
Saying all this, there is no reason for me to believe that Bella's motivation for joining Voldemort is any different than any other Death Eater's which makes me wonder whether or not her motivation is questioned only because she is a woman.


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Old October 11th, 2009, 7:04 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by Moriath View Post
And this isn't even about Snape, ahem.
LOL!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by trixa
Actuallly it has to work that way or there would be no such thing as a role model just like there is no such thing as a perfect person with no undesirable aspects to them.
By that logic, famous dictators who have committed henious crimes to humanity should be honored as strong leaders in history for the general public. They were strong leaders if they were able to take over countries and their people and did whatever they wanted with them, right? I won't even deny that either. But should they serve as examples of what a strong leader should act like? Role models have faults; no one should doubt that because we're all human. But something like standing up a genocide and torture, that's just a human failing all together. Given the lack of representation of female role models in media as it is, I think we deserve better than that.


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I went in reading Deathly Hallows fearing the final end of Harry Potter, and came out an insane Sev/Lily Shipper. I don't understand it either.

In slow motion the flowers fell from my head an shattered like glass. And when I looked into the mirror, I was a beautiful milkmaid. Then I woke up crying, and I donít know why. ~Snape from Potter Puppet Pals



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Last edited by RavenStar83; October 11th, 2009 at 7:08 pm.
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  #5  
Old October 11th, 2009, 8:05 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by RavenStar83 View Post
By that logic, famous dictators who have committed henious crimes to humanity should be honored as strong leaders in history for the general public. They were strong leaders if they were able to take over countries and their people and did whatever they wanted with them, right?
I consider an evil real person way more disturbing than an evil character. Evil people cause suffering. Evil characters provide entertainment and adventure. A story without villains is a boring story. A world without villains is a peaceful world. Bella is a horrible, awful, evil character. But it doesn't make her a weak female character.

Quote:
Given the lack of representation of female role models in media as it is, I think we deserve better than that.
I agree. But in Harry Potter most women are objects of male desire, sacrificial mothers, "dragon-like" housewives, victims of the "broken heart" syndrom, cheerleaders, odd-balls and otherwise defined by the relationship they have to the men in the story. At least, this is the feeling I've got both from reading the books and from reading some of the comments posted in these threads.


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Old October 11th, 2009, 9:37 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by Trixa View Post
I consider an evil real person way more disturbing than an evil character. Evil people cause suffering. Evil characters provide entertainment and adventure. A story without villains is a boring story. A world without villains is a peaceful world. Bella is a horrible, awful, evil character.
As I've said before, representations in media are important because of how influential they are. Harry Potter is now famous all over the world. Which is why even representations of women, though they are fiction, has some importance because this story itself has made a huge impact on our culture. If not, why have a discussion topic dedicated to this subject?

Quote:
But it doesn't make her a weak female character
I don't get what you're trying to argue with me here. You even acknowledged in a past post that I agreed she is a strong female. I still agree with you. My arguement was that she isn't a good role model for women. Why are we going back to whether or not this character is weak?

Quote:
I agree. But in Harry Potter most women are objects of male desire, sacrificial mothers, "dragon-like" housewives, victims of the "broken heart" syndrom, cheerleaders, odd-balls and otherwise defined by the relationship they have to the men in the story. At least, this is the feeling I've got both from reading the books and from reading some of the comments posted in these threads.
If this is true and if all those qualities you listed are all bad, then Harry Potter fails to give a good representation of females and the role they play in the story. So why bother looking for any good role model for women if isn't there? The argument should be that in Harry Potter, there is none.

Btw, the things you listed, I've heard of those arguements on other parts of fandom. The way some in fandom seem to judge female characters is a whole other discussion.


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I went in reading Deathly Hallows fearing the final end of Harry Potter, and came out an insane Sev/Lily Shipper. I don't understand it either.

In slow motion the flowers fell from my head an shattered like glass. And when I looked into the mirror, I was a beautiful milkmaid. Then I woke up crying, and I donít know why. ~Snape from Potter Puppet Pals



"In a lot of cases I think being the canon love interest for a much-beloved male character is the female character's death sentence." ~ thirty2flavors regarding the hate of female characters in fandom




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Last edited by RavenStar83; October 11th, 2009 at 10:09 pm.
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  #7  
Old October 11th, 2009, 9:45 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

There are cheerleaders in HP? Other than the Veela for the Bulgarian National Team?

Where?


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Old October 11th, 2009, 9:48 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trixa View Post
But in Harry Potter most women are objects of male desire, sacrificial mothers, "dragon-like" housewives, victims of the "broken heart" syndrom, cheerleaders, odd-balls and otherwise defined by the relationship they have to the men in the story. At least, this is the feeling I've got both from reading the books and from reading some of the comments posted in these threads.
Like Yoana, though, I see Bellatrix as largely defined by her relationship with Voldemort (I know this is a matter of interpretation).

And, while I'm not 100% happy about the way Molly is deployed, I don't think she is entirely defined by her relationship with men. I don't for example, feel she defines her success by what Arthur has achieved - this is the big contrast with the other main stay-at-home housewife, Petunia, who appears to define her success in life by the luxury goods, cars etc that Vernon's salary provides.


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Old October 11th, 2009, 10:10 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

I don't think Hermione or Luna are defined by their relationships with men either - even though Hermione is introduced as a sidekick, I think she outgrows this narrow definition very quickly and becomes one of the most "real" characters in the books.


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Old October 11th, 2009, 11:06 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

Quote:
Originally Posted by RavenStar83 View Post
As I've said before, representations in media are important because of how influential they are. Harry Potter is now famous all over the world. Which is why even representations of women, though they are fiction, has some importance because this story itself has made a huge impact on our culture. If not, why have a discussion topic dedicated to this subject?
Wait. What are you referring to now? I've only said that I don't judge evil characters as harshly as evil people, not that characters don't have an impact on our culture.

Quote:
My arguement was that she isn't a good role model for women. Why are we going back to whether or not this character is weak?
Because I think that someone who is strong can be a good role model even though she is evil. She's just a character so it's perfectly acceptable to take her good qualities and leave the bad ones. As I've said before no role model is perfect or completely without undesirable qualities. I may want to have Hermione's brains and resourcefulness but I don't want her cruelty or overemotional tendencies.

Quote:
If this is true and if all those qualities you listed are all bad, then Harry Potter fails to give a good representation of females and the role they play in the story. So why bother looking for any good role model for women if isn't there? The argument should be that in Harry Potter, there is none.
There are many girls and women in HP who have aspects to them which could make them good role models, I think. But I think we need to let go of that perfect feminist role model character because she doesn't exist.

Quote:
Originally Posted by birdi86
There are cheerleaders in HP? Other than the Veela for the Bulgarian National Team?

Where?
Not actual cheerleaders but there are girls who remind me of the cheeleader type which can be found in all teenage movies. Cho, for example, is a popular and pretty girl who, if Harry Potter were a teen movie, would definitely be a cheerleader and she would probably be paired up with the hot quarterback, Cedric.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melaszka
Like Yoana, though, I see Bellatrix as largely defined by her relationship with Voldemort (I know this is a matter of interpretation).
In a way because being a Death Eater is such an important part of her life but what is most interesting and appealing about her character is the way she deals both with being a Death Eater who always has to worry about her position within the ranks, and her feelings for Voldemort. It is interesting, in my opinion, that she is the subject in that relationship and not the object as it's usually the case for the females in Harry Potter (see Lily and Ginny). The emphasis is put on her feelings towards him not on his feelings towards her (whichever those may be, I'm not in the mood for a shipping discussion now). It is her desire and lust that is important. Compare that to the H/G relationship where it's all about how Harry feels and how attracted to Ginny he is.
She is also a scray villain in her own right, not because she is Voldemort's follower.


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Old October 11th, 2009, 11:14 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by Trixa View Post
It is interesting, in my opinion, that she is the subject in that relationship and not the object as it's usually the case for the females in Harry Potter (see Lily and Ginny). The emphasis is put on her feelings towards him not on his feelings towards her (whichever those may be, I'm not in the mood for a shipping discussion now). It is her desire and lust that is important. Compare that to the H/G relationship where it's all about how Harry feels and how attracted to Ginny he is.
That is a good point. IMO, even where they appear, female sexual subjects in HP (with the exception of Tonks) are too often drawn as conduits of evil (Merope; Ginny in CoS), naive and misguided (Hephzibah Smith) or shallow (Lavender and Parvati).

But being a female sexual subject does not, in itself, make a character positive in feminist terms - if it did, Mills and Boon would be on a par with Simone de Beauvoir and Germaine Greer


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Old October 11th, 2009, 11:33 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by Trixa View Post
Wait. What are you referring to now? I've only said that I don't judge evil characters as harshly as evil people, not that characters don't have an impact on our culture.
I was referring to the fact that because fictional characters can have an impact on our culture, it's more reason to be wary of what fictional characters we consider as role models. Yes, villians do make a story more entertaining, but we're not talking about how villians benefit the story. If we don't think someone in real life who supports and enforces racism and genocide would make a good model, there's no reason a fictional character would either.

Quote:
Not actual cheerleaders but there are girls who remind me of the cheeleader type which can be found in all teenage movies. Cho, for example, is a popular and pretty girl who, if Harry Potter were a teen movie, would definitely be a cheerleader and she would probably be paired up with the hot quarterback, Cedric.
But Harry Potter isn't a teen movie, so why are we putting these labels on them based on what if's? All we know about her is that Harry thinks she's pretty and that she has friends. Cedric was a Quiditch player who was in the Triwizard Tournament just like Harry. I don't see how any of them fit these stereotypes. And if you're referring to the American teen movies, they never did a good job representing a real American highschool anyway.

ETA: Oh yea, and Cho is also a Quidditch player. Hardly the cheerleader.


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I went in reading Deathly Hallows fearing the final end of Harry Potter, and came out an insane Sev/Lily Shipper. I don't understand it either.

In slow motion the flowers fell from my head an shattered like glass. And when I looked into the mirror, I was a beautiful milkmaid. Then I woke up crying, and I donít know why. ~Snape from Potter Puppet Pals



"In a lot of cases I think being the canon love interest for a much-beloved male character is the female character's death sentence." ~ thirty2flavors regarding the hate of female characters in fandom




~I'm Lily's best friend because she doesn't have one.~

Last edited by RavenStar83; October 12th, 2009 at 1:24 am.
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Old October 12th, 2009, 9:24 am
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

I'm going to agree with RavenStar83. I'm not sure what the point is in stripping Cho of her humanity and characterization just to wedge her into a stereotype.


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Old October 12th, 2009, 10:34 am
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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
But being a female sexual subject does not, in itself, make a character positive in feminist terms - if it did, Mills and Boon would be on a par with Simone de Beauvoir and Germaine Greer
I would always admire an evil but strong female character more than a good but weak female character. Sorry, but I have quite enough of bimbos, stupid and unambitious female characters, passive types, damsels in distress and so on. I'm not saying that the women in HP are that way, just that women are unfortunately very often portrayed that way in other medias.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RavenStar83
But Harry Potter isn't a teen movie, so why are we putting these labels on them based on what if's? All we know about her is that Harry thinks she's pretty and that she has friends. Cedric was a Quiditch player who was in the Triwizard Tournament just like Harry. I don't see how any of them fit these stereotypes.
Unfortunately, teenagers are basically portrayed the same no matter where we find them, whether it's literature, movies, ect, it doesn't matter. Cho reminds me a great deal of Lana Lang from Smalville and no, it's not because she is Asian. She is the popular pretty girl, surrounded by other giggling girls and whom the hero is afraid to approach but of course he has no reason to because she is sweet as sugar and kind. There are variations but it's basically the same character. If some grown-ups from Harry Potter are stereotypes then I don't see why at least some of the teens wouldn't be too. I could be wrong though so if anyone thinks Cho doesn't fit the bill then it would be interesting to know why.


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Old October 12th, 2009, 11:01 am
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Unfortunately, teenagers are basically portrayed the same no matter where we find them, whether it's literature, movies, ect, it doesn't matter.
I've seen some pretty diverse portrayals of teens which would also depend on which culture and/or country the story is from.

Quote:
Cho reminds me a great deal of Lana Lang from Smalville and no, it's not because she is Asian. She is the popular pretty girl, surrounded by other giggling girls and whom the hero is afraid to approach but of course he has no reason to because she is sweet as sugar and kind. There are variations but it's basically the same character. If some grown-ups from Harry Potter are stereotypes then I don't see why at least some of the teens wouldn't be too. I could be wrong though so if anyone thinks Cho doesn't fit the bill then it would be interesting to know why.
I'm not trying to argue that teenagers can't be stereotyped, but Cho IS NOT a cheerleader, she's a Quidditch player. She's also playing against her boyfriend at some point since they play for different houses. That's goes totally against the cheerleader stereotype who stands by the sidelines cheering for her boyfriend.


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I went in reading Deathly Hallows fearing the final end of Harry Potter, and came out an insane Sev/Lily Shipper. I don't understand it either.

In slow motion the flowers fell from my head an shattered like glass. And when I looked into the mirror, I was a beautiful milkmaid. Then I woke up crying, and I donít know why. ~Snape from Potter Puppet Pals



"In a lot of cases I think being the canon love interest for a much-beloved male character is the female character's death sentence." ~ thirty2flavors regarding the hate of female characters in fandom




~I'm Lily's best friend because she doesn't have one.~
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Old October 12th, 2009, 11:26 am
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

As an avid watcher of Smallville and an HP fan, Lana and Cho are nothing alike aside from being Asian and pretty.

Lana was actually a cheerleader who dated the star quaterback, was the girl every guy (literally) liked and went through so many upgrades and revisions that I can't even summarize her character in a short paragraph. But basically, Lana was meant to be the dream girl (until Lois arrived) that Clark had mooned over forever when the show started.

Cho was a Quidditch Seeker, just like her boyfriend Cedric and just like Harry. She did not stand on the sidelines cheering for them, she played against them. That right there is a huge difference and speaks to the kind of boys Cedric and Harry were that they would not be intimidated by that but attracted to it.

Also, Cho had a legitimate tragedy. Not that Lana losing her parents wasn't a tragedy but it had happened thirteen years prior when she was a year old and she was raised by a doting aunt whom she complained about constantly. That's gives her more in common with say Harry or Neville except her aunt was very nice to her - unlike Petunia.

Cho, had her boyfriend suddenly murdered and was still depressed about that a few months later and guilt-stricken about moving on. That was a much more reasonable reaction compared to Lana's prolonged moping.


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Old October 12th, 2009, 11:35 am
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

Quote:
Originally Posted by RavenStar83 View Post
I'm not trying to argue that teenagers can't be stereotyped, but Cho IS NOT a cheerleader, she's a Quidditch player. She's also playing against her boyfriend at some point since they play for different houses. That's goes totally against the cheerleader stereotype who stands by the sidelines cheering for her boyfriend.
Also, Cho is a Ravenclaw. I can't see any cheerleader types in Ravenclaw House, sorry.

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Originally Posted by Melaszka View Post
And, while I'm not 100% happy about the way Molly is deployed, I don't think she is entirely defined by her relationship with men. I don't for example, feel she defines her success by what Arthur has achieved - this is the big contrast with the other main stay-at-home housewife, Petunia, who appears to define her success in life by the luxury goods, cars etc that Vernon's salary provides.
I agree with this. I'm not 100% happy with Molly's portrayal either, but I think this is a fair point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoana View Post
I don't think Hermione or Luna are defined by their relationships with men either - even though Hermione is introduced as a sidekick, I think she outgrows this narrow definition very quickly and becomes one of the most "real" characters in the books.


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Old October 12th, 2009, 3:43 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by Yoana View Post
I don't think Hermione or Luna are defined by their relationships with men either - even though Hermione is introduced as a sidekick, I think she outgrows this narrow definition very quickly and becomes one of the most "real" characters in the books.
I agree, and I think both are great role models.

As an adult woman role model in the series, I prefer Madam Bones. She had a strong personality and was devoted to justice, but was not under the thumb of Voldemort, Fudge, or Dumbledore. I like women who are independent thinkers, regardless of whether their background is student, housewife, or professional. I was disappointed that her role was so small, and then she was killed off .

I can see the attraction of Bellatrix; I think she is one off the better drawn villains in the series, like a vicious fruitcake a few slices shy of a loaf. But even with her power and prestige, she's still under Voldemort's thumb and desires to be there, so I can't see her as an independent thinker.

Narcissa at the end of DH interests me, even though her motives are purely selfish and she acts as "The Mother" (*yawn*) protecting her child, because she at least acts consciously. She has her own goals, comes up with her own plan, successfully impliments it, and actually influences the course of events as she intended. I don't think many women are shown doing this in HP.


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Old October 12th, 2009, 6:55 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by RavenStar83 View Post
I've seen some pretty diverse portrayals of teens which would also depend on which culture and/or country the story is from.
Ok, well there may be three or four teenage movies that don't feature stereotypes but that doesn't negate my point at all. Generally speaking, teenage movies are more stereotyped than other movies. Sadly.

Quote:
I'm not trying to argue that teenagers can't be stereotyped, but Cho IS NOT a cheerleader, she's a Quidditch player.
I have already said that she isn't a cherleader. She is the cheerleader-TYPE, in my opinion. That is, the popular, pretty girl which I'm sure we all recognize from other movies or books.

Quote:
Originally Posted by birdi86
But basically, Lana was meant to be the dream girl (until Lois arrived) that Clark had mooned over forever when the show started.
Isn't that what happened in Harry Potter as well? Cho was his dream girl before Ginny.

Quote:
That right there is a huge difference and speaks to the kind of boys Cedric and Harry were that they would not be intimidated by that but attracted to it.
The way I read it, Harry was attracted to her prettiness, not her Quidditch skills. It is her looks he mentions, I believe.

Quote:
Cho, had her boyfriend suddenly murdered and was still depressed about that a few months later and guilt-stricken about moving on. That was a much more reasonable reaction compared to Lana's prolonged moping.
I didn't think she moped all that much. But anyway, of course there will be differences between the two characters simply because they did not share a creator. My point is though, that these diffrences are not earth-shattering. Comparing Cho to Lana is in my opinion more reasonable than comparing her to Chloe, right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pearl_Took
Also, Cho is a Ravenclaw. I can't see any cheerleader types in Ravenclaw House, sorry.
I never understood why she was a Ravenclaw. She never proved to be as smart as Hermione or as skilled at magic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldMotherCrow
I agree, and I think both are great role models.
The way I see it Luna believes all her father tells her so if you admire women who are independent thinkers than why do you consider her a good role model?



Last edited by Trixa; October 12th, 2009 at 7:20 pm.
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Old October 12th, 2009, 7:13 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by Trixa View Post
The way I read it, Harry was attracted to her prettiness, not her Quidditch skills. It is her looks he mentions, I believe.
When he lists all the reasons why she's too awesome for him in his head, he does mention the fact that she's a good seeker. So he definitely considered it a part of her "credentials".


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