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



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  #981  
Old April 16th, 2012, 10:50 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by HedwigOwl View Post
There are implications or outright statements that imply Molly is not limited to being only interested in/capable of motherhood.
Sorry. I was referring to the comment about the Hogwarts teacers' perosnal lives or lack thereof.

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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.
Ok well don't get upset I agree that she isn't acting as a mother in that circumstance. Of course Molly agrees with Dumbledore's cause and wants to participate in the fight.

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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.
Her duelling abilities are not in question here though but rather her character development or lack theoreof.

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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.
Same here: her magical prowess is not the issue as far as my understanding goes. The problem with Molly is in my opinion that she gets no development outside of her motherly role. I agree with you that her being in the Order seems to point to the fact that there are other things important to her and other stuff she is good at but even then she gets her shining moment when she protects her daughter- again something consistent with her being the Mother of the series. I have no problem with a female character embodying motherhood per se but it's like kittling says: the context is what matters. I think motherhood is emphasized over all other things a woman can be/do which is where the problem lies for me. There is no counterweight to Molly-- oh yeah there is but she kills her

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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?
I'm guessing it's for the same reason why women in our society can achieve positions of power without it meaning the society is gender neutral. I really don't see any reason to regard the wizarding society as gender neutral though I agree that magic can be a great equalizer.


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  #982  
Old April 17th, 2012, 6:17 am
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by Sereena
Same here: her magical prowess is not the issue as far as my understanding goes. The problem with Molly is in my opinion that she gets no development outside of her motherly role. I agree with you that her being in the Order seems to point to the fact that there are other things important to her and other stuff she is good at but even then she gets her shining moment when she protects her daughter- again something consistent with her being the Mother of the series. I have no problem with a female character embodying motherhood per se but it's like kittling says: the context is what matters. I think motherhood is emphasized over all other things a woman can be/do which is where the problem lies for me. There is no counterweight to Molly-- oh yeah there is but she kills her
I don't think that Molly can be considered a lead character -- a major one in Harry's story, but not a lead (like the trio, for example); so I don't think in any book you're going to get the same depth of character development on someone outside the lead category. We mostly have information to let us know who Molly is, in addition to the scenes included that revolve around Harry's viewpoint. She is a good mother, and that's what Harry notices most. When Molly rushes forward to fight Bella, Harry doesn't know what to think, because while he knows that she's in the Order, he doesn't envision her in a role other than mother & wife because as Ron's best friend that's how he sees her most of the time.

From a feminist viewpoint, why is it necessary to us to see Molly extensively doing things other than taking care of her family? Why is that seen somehow as less than it should be? As long as we know that she's capable of other things separate from family (the Order), and no one forced her to stay home rather than pursue a Ministry career, why is it a problem?


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  #983  
Old April 17th, 2012, 3:05 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
Sorry. I was referring to the comment about the Hogwarts teacers' perosnal lives or lack thereof.
The books were presented from Harry's point of view. Harry had no interest in his teachers' personal lives - that's just not something most students would ever think about so it was the only realistic way to present it. However, Jo did find ways to demonstrate that the teachers did have lives outside of Hogwarts. For example, we know that Neville went on to teach Herbology and married Hannah Abbot. Pottermore has revealed that McGonagall was married later in life and her husband died before Harry came to Hogwarts - during her marriage, she actually lived in Hogsmeade rather than living in the castle. Hagrid dates Madame Maxime - which Harry actually did witness.

It was not possible to show these things in great detail because of the limitations of presenting the story from Harry's viewpoint, but a great deal can be inferred from what information we do have.

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Ok well don't get upset I agree that she isn't acting as a mother in that circumstance. Of course Molly agrees with Dumbledore's cause and wants to participate in the fight.
Of course she does. There was a great deal more to Molly than her role as a mother. Some may choose to ignore the rich character development we're given for Molly, but moments like this are significant to that development, IMO.

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Same here: her magical prowess is not the issue as far as my understanding goes. The problem with Molly is in my opinion that she gets no development outside of her motherly role. I agree with you that her being in the Order seems to point to the fact that there are other things important to her and other stuff she is good at but even then she gets her shining moment when she protects her daughter- again something consistent with her being the Mother of the series. I have no problem with a female character embodying motherhood per se but it's like kittling says: the context is what matters. I think motherhood is emphasized over all other things a woman can be/do which is where the problem lies for me. There is no counterweight to Molly-- oh yeah there is but she kills her
The thing is, motherhood is the pinnacle of achievement. There is no greater achievment to be made than the ability to bring a new life into the world and nurture that life. Everything else pales in comparison. How can anyone possibley top the creation and birth of a new life? It is the single greatest thing a woman can do - and only a woman can do it. Men provide genetic material, but the process or creation and birth are only possible for a woman. There is nothing that can possibly compare to that, IMO.

However, that is not all that defines any woman. It's certainly not all that defines Molly's character. She is also a sister who lost two of her brothers in the first war and grieves for them. She's also a wife who loves and supports her husband - and argues with him. She's also a loving and supportive friend. She's also a fully active member of the Order of the Phoenix who risked her life on a daily basis in the fight against Voldemort. There were many facets to Molly's character presented.

Harry's view of Molly was limited because he did not spend a great deal of time with her. He was a child without a mother and Molly became a surrogate mother to him. That's what he considered important about her. That's normal and to be expected from a child in such circumstances. It comes as a surprise to Harry when he realizes there are other facets to Molly simply because he never stopped to consider her in any other way. The reader is not so limited because there is enough information presented to understand all those things that Harry is ignoring.

Bellatrix was not a counterweight to Molly - she was the antithesis. Motherhood meant nothing to her because she did not value human life. The counterweight to Molly would be McGonagall - who chose living in the wizarding world and having a career in the Ministry over marriage. She did switch to a career in acadamia and marry later in life, but she never had children and was never a mother figure. She is more of a mentor to her students.

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I'm guessing it's for the same reason why women in our society can achieve positions of power without it meaning the society is gender neutral. I really don't see any reason to regard the wizarding society as gender neutral though I agree that magic can be a great equalizer.
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Hogwarts was founded sometime in the 900's. In the real world, women were not even allowed to receive any kind of education at that time - let alone become teachers or be equal founding members for an academic institution. In the Potterverse, not only were the women educated, they were considered equally powerful as the men. Two of Hogwarts founders are women who were considered equally to be among the four most powerful witches and wizards of the time. One was a mother, but she is remembered for her intelligence and wisdom and her role in founding Hogwarts. Being a mother did not limit her in any way and she was not solely defined by that.

It's not just the fact that women hold positions of power and are respected for their talents and skill. It's the fact that this occurred long before such things would even have been considered in the real world. In the real world, society evolved as patriarchial because women were viewed as being physically weaker. Men were the hunter/gatherers because it was deemed that women lacked the physical strength to do such things. That would never have been an issue among witches and wizards because magic is an equalizer. They had no reason to ever consider women weaker than men because they could all do magic. Their society would have been gender neutral from the start because the role of hunter/gatherer would have been determined by magical skill rather than physical strength.

That's why real world - or muggle - circumstances and situations do not apply. These two societies evolved in completely different ways because one had magic and the other did not. In the 40's and 50's, women in the real world were primarily defined by their roles as wives and/or mothers. Career options were limited - and women were expected to quit their jobs after marriage to focus on being a wife and mother. In the wizarding world during that same time frame, McGonagall turned down a marriage proposal and forged a career in the Ministry. Her gender was never an issue - though being a half-blood did cause some problems for her with anti-muggle views.


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Last edited by Moriath; April 17th, 2012 at 5:07 pm.
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  #984  
Old April 17th, 2012, 4:51 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by HedwigOwl View Post
From a feminist viewpoint, why is it necessary to us to see Molly extensively doing things other than taking care of her family? Why is that seen somehow as less than it should be? As long as we know that she's capable of other things separate from family (the Order), and no one forced her to stay home rather than pursue a Ministry career, why is it a problem?
Itís not a problem in itself. It is a problem if motherhood is glorified over all other things women can do. There is nothing wrong with Mollyís character rather I think the issue here is the context and some of the thematic choices the author has made some of which relate to her.
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Originally Posted by meesha1971 View Post
It was not possible to show these things in great detail because of the limitations of presenting the story from Harry's viewpoint, but a great deal can be inferred from what information we do have.
Regardless of the reasons it is not possible for us readers to judge what we donít see. We can only consider what we do see.
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The thing is, motherhood is the pinnacle of achievement. There is no greater achievment to be made than the ability to bring a new life into the world and nurture that life. Everything else pales in comparison. How can anyone possibley top the creation and birth of a new life? It is the single greatest thing a woman can do - and only a woman can do it. Men provide genetic material, but the process or creation and birth are only possible for a woman. There is nothing that can possibly compare to that, IMO.
I would have to disagree that having children is the greatest achievement anyone can make. I mean no disrespect to mothers at all (or fathers) but I think there are things in life that are greater achievements. I wouldnít even call having a child an achievement. Children are born (hopefully) because parents want them and love them not out of ambition or the desire to achieve anything.
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Bellatrix was not a counterweight to Molly - she was the antithesis. Motherhood meant nothing to her because she did not value human life.
I donít really think she can be an antithesis if the two have nothing in common which I donít think they have. No DE had a particularly great regard for human life but they arenít killed by Molly Weasley. I think this is what bothers some of us. Itís not that Bellatrix is presented as evil and Molly as good. Itís that lack of respect for human life and childlessness is presented as more evil in a woman than other aspects of her character, and that it is in men. Voldemort wasnít killed by a father after all and neither was Greyback though both of them have attacked children on more occasions than Bellatrix.


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Last edited by Hes; April 17th, 2012 at 5:17 pm. Reason: quoted deleted part
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  #985  
Old April 17th, 2012, 5:54 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by meesha1971 View Post
However, Jo did find ways to demonstrate that the teachers did have lives outside of Hogwarts. For example, we know that Neville went on to teach Herbology and married Hannah Abbot. Pottermore has revealed that McGonagall was married later in life and her husband died before Harry came to Hogwarts - during her marriage, she actually lived in Hogsmeade rather than living in the castle. Hagrid dates Madame Maxime - which Harry actually did witness.
I'm personally torn by these examples because McGonagall's personal life, in particular, is definitely not in canon and is only presented to us through Pottermore's exclusive content which most posters here will likely read but the only thing we can all actually agree on is that the books are canon; everything else (Pottermore, JKR interviews, etc) is up to personal interpretation on whether it would be canon or not.

On the other hand, we are presented a very few in canon examples of teachers, indeed, "having lives" outside of teaching: Hagrid and Madame Maxime, the teachers going to the Three Broomsticks for drinks in POA which was definitely a social event for them and Ravenclaw having a daughter implies a life outside her academic career (unless she was experimenting with IVF in the middle ages... )

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It was not possible to show these things in great detail because of the limitations of presenting the story from Harry's viewpoint, but a great deal can be inferred from what information we do have.
I don't think I'd go so far as to say "a great deal can be infered." I think we can infere more than we are told, certainly (that Hagrid's and Maxime's relationship wasn't confined to the two 'dates' Harry witnesses, for instance) but the fact is that we are limited in the inferences we can make by what we are shown in the stories. Flitwick, for instance, is never shown to have a famil but socializes with the other teachers shortly before term ends for Christmas. I, personally, don't think we can infere that he did or did not have a family because he socialized with the teachers - they were his coworkers and likely his friends. On the other hand, we are never presented anything that contradicts an assumption that he does not have a family.

This is going OT... sorry.

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Of course she does. There was a great deal more to Molly than her role as a mother. Some may choose to ignore the rich character development we're given for Molly, but moments like this are significant to that development, IMO.
This and all other reference to Molly are replied to in Molly's thread since it's starting to not be a question of feminism but of her character.

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I think one has to ignore a great deal of the information presented to not see that the wizarding world was presented as being gender neutral.
...
They had no reason to ever consider women weaker than men because they could all do magic. Their society would have been gender neutral from the start because the role of hunter/gatherer would have been determined by magical skill rather than physical strength.
While this is a fictional world we're talking about and while I do think that the modern wizarding world is presented in a fairly gender neutral way I disagree that their society would have been gender neutral "from the start" because we're forgetting about basic human nature and a thing called machismo.

Regardless of how gender neutral one can think one is, testosterone does silly and stupid things to men (as estrogen does silly and stupid things to women ) Men are hardwired by evolution to be the providers, the protectors, the hunters and while I agree that magic is an equalizer I don't agree that magic would cause a completely gender neutral society simply because the factor of brute strength was taken off the table. I'm not saying that there were never women hunters, I'm saying, rather, that the role of provider and protector likely remained a predominantly male one while the role of nurturer likely remained a predominantly female one, and the role of life-bearer certainly did.

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That's why real world - or muggle - circumstances and situations do not apply. These two societies evolved in completely different ways because one had magic and the other did not.
The societies developed differently because of magic, but to extend this to evolutionary development and to throw away what humans are hardwired to do In their biochemistry and their DNA is something that I disagree with. I think where the gender neutral magical world versus the patriarchal/matriarchal muggle world split happened was in the development of civilized societies where specialized skills could be developed independant of gender.

I also think that the wizarding and the muggle worlds lived openly side by side longer than we might have thought. Ron's trip to Egypt seemed to give evidence that there might have been some knowledge on the part of ancient muggle egyptians knowing something of their wizarding counterparts; ancient gods which are half-man, half-animal might suggest ancient animagi lived or worked or were worshiped in temples, the mysticism of the ancient world might have been a product of ancient wizards living side by side with ancient muggles...


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  #986  
Old April 18th, 2012, 3:22 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

While this is a fictional world we're talking about and while I do think that the modern wizarding world is presented in a fairly gender neutral way I disagree that their society would have been gender neutral "from the start" because we're forgetting about basic human nature and a thing called machismo.
It's not just that though. I think we do have indications in the books that gender is an issue maybe not as much as in our society but I wouldn't say it doesn't matter whether you are a girl or boy. Just to take a small issue which has been dicussed before but which for me settles the matter: last names. There is no reason for a woman to take her husband's last name if the society is gender neutral nor do we have any examples of wizards taking their wives last names. Changing your last name is a very gendered social practice which to me at least indicates that cultural norms are not the same for men and women and that gender is very much an issue.

In addition to this we also have the fact that more very few women have joined Voldmeort which again implies that it is not expected of women to take such roles and fight alongside men to that extent. More men than women are Aurors. The only female Aurors we know of are Tonks and Alice Longbottom IIRC. More women than men are seen doing domestic work. Molly cooks for the Order even though Sirius is the host and he should take such responsibilities upon himself. Ginny and Tonks help her set the table but not any of the male adults (though Ron and Harry do help clean the house). Fleur also seems to do all the cooking and cleaning at her house, I don't remember Bill ever trying to help out. No men are stay at home dads while there are many women who don't work outside the home especially if they are married and have children. Mrs Black refers to the Grimmauld Place as "the house of my fathers" which may be a sign of how property rights are regarded or that the man is the head of the family.

I think the points which have been made that magic acts as an equalizer are very interesting and reasonable. But I don't see that reasoning actually reflected the wizarding society. What we ewould expect to see is not what we actually see (or at least, not what I see).


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Old April 18th, 2012, 4:58 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 not just that though. I think we do have indications in the books that gender is an issue maybe not as much as in our society but I wouldn't say it doesn't matter whether you are a girl or boy. Just to take a small issue which has been dicussed before but which for me settles the matter: last names. There is no reason for a woman to take her husband's last name if the society is gender neutral nor do we have any examples of wizards taking their wives last names. Changing your last name is a very gendered social practice which to me at least indicates that cultural norms are not the same for men and women and that gender is very much an issue.

In addition to this we also have the fact that more very few women have joined Voldmeort which again implies that it is not expected of women to take such roles and fight alongside men to that extent. More men than women are Aurors. The only female Aurors we know of are Tonks and Alice Longbottom IIRC. More women than men are seen doing domestic work. Molly cooks for the Order even though Sirius is the host and he should take such responsibilities upon himself. Ginny and Tonks help her set the table but not any of the male adults (though Ron and Harry do help clean the house). Fleur also seems to do all the cooking and cleaning at her house, I don't remember Bill ever trying to help out. No men are stay at home dads while there are many women who don't work outside the home especially if they are married and have children. Mrs Black refers to the Grimmauld Place as "the house of my fathers" which may be a sign of how property rights are regarded or that the man is the head of the family.

I think the points which have been made that magic acts as an equalizer are very interesting and reasonable. But I don't see that reasoning actually reflected the wizarding society. What we ewould expect to see is not what we actually see (or at least, not what I see).
While I agree with all the points you make I'd point out myself that through Pottermore we do see that McGonagall chose to keep her name after getting married, though we don't really know her motivations for not changing her name.

Personally, I wonder a little bit if JKR wrote that part of her history and then realized she needed to keep McGonagall's last name the same so she simply had McGonagall keep her name. Why couldn't she have changed it when she married and changed it back when her husband died? Or, if that seems insensitive , why couldn't she have changed her name personally but kept McGonagall for her profession? Many women do that.


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Old April 19th, 2012, 6:15 am
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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
Itís not a problem in itself. It is a problem if motherhood is glorified over all other things women can do. There is nothing wrong with Mollyís character rather I think the issue here is the context and some of the thematic choices the author has made some of which relate to her.
Ok, so we agree that Molly's choice to stay home & raise her family is not a problem in itself.

But as you also seem to state that there is an issue because motherhood is foremost in her character's depiction "over all other things women can do", to me that seems to be implying that motherhood is indeed an issue.

If we assume a couple of things that seem consistent with Molly's personality -- that Molly made the choice to be a stay at home Mom freely, and wasn't made to do so against her wishes -- how can her choice be thought of as a problem, whether or not we see much of her other skills/talents (or none)? Isn't it also anti-feminist to de-value a choice because we think other choices are better, or more interesting (or more like traditional "male" roles)?


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  #989  
Old April 19th, 2012, 3:44 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by HedwigOwl View Post
Ok, so we agree that Molly's choice to stay home & raise her family is not a problem in itself.

But as you also seem to state that there is an issue because motherhood is foremost in her character's depiction "over all other things women can do", to me that seems to be implying that motherhood is indeed an issue.

If we assume a couple of things that seem consistent with Molly's personality -- that Molly made the choice to be a stay at home Mom freely, and wasn't made to do so against her wishes -- how can her choice be thought of as a problem, whether or not we see much of her other skills/talents (or none)? Isn't it also anti-feminist to de-value a choice because we think other choices are better, or more interesting (or more like traditional "male" roles)?
We've been going over this for so long that I forgot how the discussion started but I think we talked about how mothers are portrayed in HP, how women are portrayed in HP, and how the relationships characters have to their mothers/mother figures are less complex than the ones they have with their fathers /father figures.
So everything that has been said about Molly so far has been said with that context in mind. Molly's character isn't a problem in itself, I for one have never reacted negatively to Molly in any way in the books. But when you take everything you know about female characters in HP and motherhood as a theme into consideration that's when it comes across to me and a few others as though the books are emphasizing motherhood over all other things women can do and be.
This becomes obvious for me in Rowling's choice of having a face off between Molly and Bella but also in other things (this duel though has stood out to many readers so I'm taking it as a primary example).

The portrayal of women in HP is limiting in my opinion and that has nothing to do with how positively they are portrayed or how noble their choices are. It's about the fact that some female characters are defined by one thing and whatever that thing is it's problematic since the men are more diverse. I also think JKR uses motherhood to differentiate between good female characters and bad female characters while the men's relationships or opinions on fatherhood or family life in general are not relevant. To put it shortly: there is nothing wrong with being a mother. There is also nothing wrong with not being a mother.


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Old April 20th, 2012, 6:43 am
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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
We've been going over this for so long that I forgot how the discussion started but I think we talked about how mothers are portrayed in HP, how women are portrayed in HP, and how the relationships characters have to their mothers/mother figures are less complex than the ones they have with their fathers /father figures.
So everything that has been said about Molly so far has been said with that context in mind. Molly's character isn't a problem in itself, I for one have never reacted negatively to Molly in any way in the books. But when you take everything you know about female characters in HP and motherhood as a theme into consideration that's when it comes across to me and a few others as though the books are emphasizing motherhood over all other things women can do and be.
This becomes obvious for me in Rowling's choice of having a face off between Molly and Bella but also in other things (this duel though has stood out to many readers so I'm taking it as a primary example).
I thought the comparison from JKR's comments centered on power coming from love, not motherhood, and choices that are informed by love or lack of it (I'll have to look further back on the thread). Granted, Molly's love for her children is the reason she faces off with Bella and defeats her; but from a feminist view, isn't this a strong, positive characterization? Isn't this different than "she's just defending her children as a mother"? Not that I have an issue with that reason either, because it's still Molly's choice to jump into the fray. No one's forcing her to do or not do anything.

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Originally Posted by Sereena
The portrayal of women in HP is limiting in my opinion and that has nothing to do with how positively they are portrayed or how noble their choices are. It's about the fact that some female characters are defined by one thing and whatever that thing is it's problematic since the men are more diverse. I also think JKR uses motherhood to differentiate between good female characters and bad female characters while the men's relationships or opinions on fatherhood or family life in general are not relevant. To put it shortly: there is nothing wrong with being a mother. There is also nothing wrong with not being a mother.
I guess I disagree on a couple of points.

I don't think the characterization is limiting, because as long as the characters were not denied the choice of whatever path they want, for me as a feminist, I think that's not only acceptable but preferred. It's not the role per se that is the issue, but rather women's ability to choose anything they wish. Seeing any role as interesting, boring, special, complex, simple, weird, limiting, etc. is a value judgement, and various people will disagree accordingly. But it's the ability for women to say "I want to stay at home with my kids" or "I want to be an auror" and have either/both be OK and valued for what each contributes to society.

As far as it's being OK to not be a mother, of course it is. McGonagall's not a mother; it doesn't seem like Rosmerta is either, nor Rita Skeeter (not yet anyway). And yes, Bella isn't either; but Narcissa is, and she's not exactly the best role model. In my view, Bella's actions and/or beliefs toward others is what makes her so evil and cruel, and if she behaved exact the same yet was also a mother, my opinion of her behavior wouldn't change a bit. I don't like how she chooses to treat people/torture people/kill people. It has nothing to do with whether she's a mother or not, but her choices. Now -- while I don't respect her choices, technically from a feminist viewpoint, she seems to be making them freely (except where Voldemort is involved, but then she's in love with a psychopath).


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Old April 21st, 2012, 4:06 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by HedwigOwl View Post
I thought the comparison from JKR's comments centered on power coming from love, not motherhood, and choices that are informed by love or lack of it (I'll have to look further back on the thread). Granted, Molly's love for her children is the reason she faces off with Bella and defeats her; but from a feminist view, isn't this a strong, positive characterization? Isn't this different than "she's just defending her children as a mother"?
I don't think it's positive from a feminist standpoint to pit women against each other and praise one woman's choices while criticizing the other's. This is related to what you are saying about how JKR gave her characters choices. Yes, she did but then she criticized those choices by emphasizing one character over another. I'm not saying Bellatrix made respectable choices, of course not, she certainly desrved to be punished for those choices. But those choices do not make her an unfit woman, IMO. Is it okay from a moral standpoint to kill people because they don't confirm to your ideals? Of course not. But it makes you a bad person not a bad woman.

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As far as it's being OK to not be a mother, of course it is. McGonagall's not a mother; it doesn't seem like Rosmerta is either, nor Rita Skeeter (not yet anyway). And yes, Bella isn't either; but Narcissa is, and she's not exactly the best role model. In my view, Bella's actions and/or beliefs toward others is what makes her so evil and cruel, and if she behaved exact the same yet was also a mother, my opinion of her behavior wouldn't change a bit.
I agree 100% and this is how it should be IMO. But I don't see that in the book. Had an Auror killed Bella I would have said it was because she was evil. Her romantic interests and lack of children would have made no difference. But as it is she is killed by someone the author sees as her opposite and who is considered to be a better woman (again, not a better person but woman).

I would also like to point out that while Bellatrix isn't the only non mother she is the only woman who is married but is not a mother and I think that makes a difference in a way. (Unless I'm mstaken of course, maybe there are other married women who are childless in HP.) To me being married and childless implies being childless by choice and I think this is what Rowling was going for as well. She wanted to show that Bellatrix had the opportunity to start a family just like her sister Narcissa, that it would have been in the interest of the pureblood supremacy ideal for her and her husband to breed, but that she made an active decision not to do so. Which is consistent with what you are saying about the author giving the characters choices--- but then she passes judgement on that choice and that is unfeminist, IMO.
(Btw I'm not assuming to know what JKR's intentions or beliefs are I'm just stating my interpretation of the books not "having a go" at her, as Ron would say


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Old April 21st, 2012, 6:50 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 don't think it's positive from a feminist standpoint to pit women against each other and praise one woman's choices while criticizing the other's. This is related to what you are saying about how JKR gave her characters choices. Yes, she did but then she criticized those choices by emphasizing one character over another. I'm not saying Bellatrix made respectable choices, of course not, she certainly desrved to be punished for those choices. But those choices do not make her an unfit woman, IMO. Is it okay from a moral standpoint to kill people because they don't confirm to your ideals? Of course not. But it makes you a bad person not a bad woman.
JKR didn't "pit" one woman against another. Bella is a Death Eater who happens to be a woman. The point of equality for women is being able to make your own decisions regarding yourself, what you do for a living, etc. Both Molly and Bella have that. This is about Bella as a person, it has nothing to do with her gender, but rather her choice to be a Death Eater.

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Originally Posted by Sereena
I agree 100% and this is how it should be IMO. But I don't see that in the book. Had an Auror killed Bella I would have said it was because she was evil. Her romantic interests and lack of children would have made no difference. But as it is she is killed by someone the author sees as her opposite and who is considered to be a better woman (again, not a better person but woman).
With respect, I think you're stuck on getting past the gender filter. Bella was killed because of her choice to be a Death Eater. To say that the reason for her being killed changes because she's killed by a woman instead of a man, is, in my opinion, anti-feminist, because it places the importance of the act on gender alone. Bella's actions are still evil, no matter who ends up killing her in battle.

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I would also like to point out that while Bellatrix isn't the only non mother she is the only woman who is married but is not a mother and I think that makes a difference in a way. (Unless I'm mstaken of course, maybe there are other married women who are childless in HP.) To me being married and childless implies being childless by choice and I think this is what Rowling was going for as well. She wanted to show that Bellatrix had the opportunity to start a family just like her sister Narcissa, that it would have been in the interest of the pureblood supremacy ideal for her and her husband to breed, but that she made an active decision not to do so. Which is consistent with what you are saying about the author giving the characters choices--- but then she passes judgement on that choice and that is unfeminist, IMO.
I find no evidence in the books to support that theory. Further, being a mother doesn't make someone a "better woman". Bella told Narcissa that: "If I had sons, I would be glad to give them up in service to the Dark Lord" (HBP, Spinner's End). The fact that Bella said if she had sons she would gladly hand them over to Voldy suggests that Bella wasn't against the idea of having children. Perhaps her obsession with Voldemort made her disinclined to be with her own husband, so no children as a result. But whether Bella's own actions (not wanting to be with her husband), or for physical reasons (infertility issues), it would either be a choice or a condition. It's not a feminist issue either way.


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Old April 21st, 2012, 7:21 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by HedwigOwl View Post
JKR didn't "pit" one woman against another. Bella is a Death Eater who happens to be a woman.
I'm sorry I got the impression you had agreed that JKR was attemtping some sort of symbolism with that fight, according to this quote:

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Granted, Molly's love for her children is the reason she faces off with Bella and defeats her
I would have to once again point out that JKR has confirmed that the fight wasn't a coincidence but rather reflected her view of Molly and Bella as two very different women. So in my view this confirms that it wasn't a matter of Bella just happening to be a woman. If you disagree that the scene has any symbolic meaning then that's alright of course but I'm afraid we are talking past each other.

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I find no evidence in the books to support that theory. Further, being a mother doesn't make someone a "better woman". Bella told Narcissa that: "If I had sons, I would be glad to give them up in service to the Dark Lord" (HBP, Spinner's End). The fact that Bella said if she had sons she would gladly hand them over to Voldy suggests that Bella wasn't against the idea of having children.
I disagree that that's what it suggests but it's irrelevant either way IMO. What we know about her is that she is a married woman who not only doesn't have children but also shows that she doesn't understand her sister's concern for her child and expresses herself in a rather anti-maternal manner, IMO. In the final battle she is killed by a woman who according to the author is meant to be her anti thesis. This implies to me that Bella's choice is devalued in the books and not because she is evil but because she is an evil woman. It is my opinion that the books approve of some choices women make and some types of femininity but not of others. This is what I was being critical towards.

I see Bellatrix as having made her own choices of marrying a man she doesn't love, of being a DE, of lusting after Voldemort and of not starting a family. However, these choices are presented, in my view, as unnatural for a woman. The male DEs are also killed or imprisoned but their families, or lack thereof, or their romantic interests are never relevant. With Bellatrix they are. Even if not everyone agrees (and again I want to state that this is an entirely legitimate interpretation even if it's not the one intended by Rowling) that the duel between Molly and Bellatrix has any symbolism we can still discuss the author's intentions according to which it was meant to be seen that way. Those intentions alone are problematic IMO.


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Old April 21st, 2012, 8:09 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 would have to once again point out that JKR has confirmed that the fight wasn't a coincidence but rather reflected her view of Molly and Bella as two very different women. So in my view this confirms that it wasn't a matter of Bella just happening to be a woman. If you disagree that the scene has any symbolic meaning then that's alright of course but I'm afraid we are talking past each other.
I think we have very different views when we approach interpretation of the characters in terms of feminism. Here's my view when I look at Molly & Bella: A short, if incomplete, summary of feminism is to have a society that allows everyone to choose their path in life, having equal opportunity to pursue a living/occupation/profession etc., with gender playing no role in their ability to do so. So when I look at Bella and Molly, I see two people who have had the freedom to choose what they wished within the wizarding world. So as I move through the books, gender has fallen away when I consider the characters' actions and choices. Bella, a Death Eater, who was trying to kill 3 young people in battle, was confronted and killed by Molly, an Order Member. That one of the young people is also one of Molly's children is an additional motivation for Molly. But it has nothing to do with gender, they are two people on opposite sides of the war, fighting for the cause they believe in.

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I see Bellatrix as having made her own choices of marrying a man she doesn't love, of being a DE, of lusting after Voldemort and of not starting a family. However, these choices are presented, in my view, as unnatural for a woman.
Sorry, but I don't see any evidence that these are presented as "unnatural for a woman". Bella is a Death Eater, married, committed to Voldemort's pursuit of power. All of that is simply stated, not editorialized on page as natural or unnatural. My own view as I look at those choices is that Bella, and most of the DE's, are prejudiced, power hungry and in many cases cruel and/or evil (I see Draco differently). And my views are based on the actions of these characters, not whether they're male or female -- gender is really only an indication of physical roles in reproduction.


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Old April 30th, 2012, 5:37 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 don't think it's positive from a feminist standpoint to pit women against each other and praise one woman's choices while criticizing the other's.
Leaving aside the gender issue, isn't this exactly what happens when it comes to Harry and Voldemort? One person's choices are praised and the other's choices are criticised. The fact that they are both male or both female does not come into it. Bellatrix did horrific things, I don't think it's anti-feminist to point out that she was a malevolent sadist who did horrific things to others.
We have one character who cares for others and fights against horrific evil, and we have another who treats people as playthings and commits horrifc evil. I fail to see what is antifeminist about criticising the crazed fanatic in this scenario.

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This is related to what you are saying about how JKR gave her characters choices. Yes, she did but then she criticized those choices by emphasizing one character over another. I'm not saying Bellatrix made respectable choices, of course not, she certainly desrved to be punished for those choices. But those choices do not make her an unfit woman, IMO. Is it okay from a moral standpoint to kill people because they don't confirm to your ideals? Of course not. But it makes you a bad person not a bad woman.
I agree, Bellatrix's choices made her a bad person. But, why does her sex come into it? If a male character had killed Bellatrix, we would now be faced with the argument that it was anti-feminist that it took a male character to defeat Bellatrix, especially as she had killed Tonks.

Quote:
I would also like to point out that while Bellatrix isn't the only non mother she is the only woman who is married but is not a mother and I think that makes a difference in a way. (Unless I'm mstaken of course, maybe there are other married women who are childless in HP.) To me being married and childless implies being childless by choice and I think this is what Rowling was going for as well. She wanted to show that Bellatrix had the opportunity to start a family just like her sister Narcissa, that it would have been in the interest of the pureblood supremacy ideal for her and her husband to breed, but that she made an active decision not to do so. Which is consistent with what you are saying about the author giving the characters choices--- but then she passes judgement on that choice and that is unfeminist, IMO.
Or, perhaps Bellatrix didn't continue the pureblood lines because she was locked up for thirteen years. Perhaps she was unable to have children. Perhaps she wanted to wait until her master was more securely in power. It's not made clear.
However, I imagine that Bellatrix would have been honoured to have pureblood children that she could indoctrinate with fanatacism and press into the Dark Lord's service -she says as much to Narcissa. She has a sense of duty to her ancient and noble bloodline - it's possible that she would have seen continuing that bloodline as her duty if she had been at liberty to do so.

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Originally Posted by HedwigOwl View Post
With respect, I think you're stuck on getting past the gender filter. Bella was killed because of her choice to be a Death Eater. To say that the reason for her being killed changes because she's killed by a woman instead of a man, is, in my opinion, anti-feminist, because it places the importance of the act on gender alone. Bella's actions are still evil, no matter who ends up killing her in battle.
I agree, and I would add that her actions are evil and would also be evil if she were a male character.

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Perhaps her obsession with Voldemort made her disinclined to be with her own husband, so no children as a result.
I think if she had been at liberty, she would have had children, if only to raise more pureblood servants for her master.

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Originally Posted by Sereena View Post
I disagree that that's what it suggests but it's irrelevant either way IMO. What we know about her is that she is a married woman who not only doesn't have children but also shows that she doesn't understand her sister's concern for her child and expresses herself in a rather anti-maternal manner, IMO.
IMO, this callous disregard for life is painted as a negative coming from male and female characters throughout the series. I don't think Bellatrix lack of understanding for Narcissa's concern is portrayed as a negative because she's a woman, but because she's a human being, and lacks empathy.

Quote:
In the final battle she is killed by a woman who according to the author is meant to be her anti thesis. This implies to me that Bella's choice is devalued in the books and not because she is evil but because she is an evil woman. It is my opinion that the books approve of some choices women make and some types of femininity but not of others. This is what I was being critical towards.
The books disapprove of fanatic torturers - I don't think that has anything to do with Bellatrix's sex. I think it's to do with her choices. Personally, I would not want to read a book that portrayed being a sadistic torturer and murderer as a good thing simply because a woman chose to do so.
I guess I just don't see what's anti-feminist about criticising Bellatrix's choices and actions and the negative portrayal of her in the series.

Quote:
I see Bellatrix as having made her own choices of marrying a man she doesn't love, of being a DE, of lusting after Voldemort and of not starting a family. However, these choices are presented, in my view, as unnatural for a woman. The male DEs are also killed or imprisoned but their families, or lack thereof, or their romantic interests are never relevant. With Bellatrix they are.
Bellatrix's husband seems to be little more than a blip on her radar, whereas we do see Lucius' family.

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Originally Posted by HedwigOwl View Post
So as I move through the books, gender has fallen away when I consider the characters' actions and choices. Bella, a Death Eater, who was trying to kill 3 young people in battle, was confronted and killed by Molly, an Order Member. That one of the young people is also one of Molly's children is an additional motivation for Molly. But it has nothing to do with gender, they are two people on opposite sides of the war, fighting for the cause they believe in.
I agree. Plus, it makes a difference that Bellatrix's cause is fanatacism, torture and murder.


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Sorry, but I don't see any evidence that these are presented as "unnatural for a woman". Bella is a Death Eater, married, committed to Voldemort's pursuit of power.
I agree. Male or female, being committed to supporting Voldemort does not say anything good about any character.


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Old April 30th, 2012, 6:24 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by FurryDice View Post
I agree, Bellatrix's choices made her a bad person. But, why does her sex come into it? If a male character had killed Bellatrix, we would now be faced with the argument that it was anti-feminist that it took a male character to defeat Bellatrix, especially as she had killed Tonks.
For me, sex comes into it because in the denouement, Molly Weasley is the only female character shown being effective and actually taking out a Death Eater once and for all. She happens to take out the only female Bad Guy remaining in the fight. So to me it does look like The Girl Fight. I don't think it would be an issue at all if any of the other female characters were shown to be effective in the finale, but they weren't. Why didn't Padma or Cho or Hermione or Sprout or any of the other female characters get a moment to shine just like the many male characters who were mentioned effectively fighting the Death Eaters at the end? If the only time in the finale that women are shown taking effective and decisive action is limited to a single fight between two women, I think the criticism about sex is fair.


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  #997  
Old April 30th, 2012, 7:27 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Leaving aside the gender issue, isn't this exactly what happens when it comes to Harry and Voldemort?

In a way yes but I believe that the fight between Voldemort and Harry is more because of their history and Harry's desire to play the hero and avenge his parents. If Molly and Bellatrix had had some kind of history together maybe the message would have been a different one.

Quote:
I agree, Bellatrix's choices made her a bad person. But, why does her sex come into it? If a male character had killed Bellatrix, we would now be faced with the argument that it was anti-feminist that it took a male character to defeat Bellatrix, especially as she had killed Tonks.
I can't speak for anyone else but I personally would have no problem with Bellatrix being killed by an Auror, by Tonks or by Neville. That would have emphasized her evilness and bigotry which are much more important than her childlessness and lust for Voldie, IMO.
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I think if she had been at liberty, she would have had children, if only to raise more pureblood servants for her master.
Bellatrix was already in her 30s by the time she was locked up so she would have had plenty of time to have children especially as wizards seem to get married younger than Muggles. She would have had at least five years to procreate.
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I don't think Bellatrix lack of understanding for Narcissa's concern is portrayed as a negative because she's a woman, but because she's a human being, and lacks empathy.
Yet no male character makes any comment about giving their children to Voldemort or is killed by a father figure.
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The books disapprove of fanatic torturers - I don't think that has anything to do with Bellatrix's sex. I think it's to do with her choices. Personally, I would not want to read a book that portrayed being a sadistic torturer and murderer as a good thing simply because a woman chose to do so.
I think you misunderstood me. I wasn't saying Bellatrix should be portrayed as kind or as being in the right. She deserves to be locked up and have the key thrown away. I was arguing against the portrayal of her as an unfit or inappropiate woman and the Madonna/w**** binary that she has going on with Molly.

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Originally Posted by HedwigOwl View Post
I think we have very different views when we approach interpretation of the characters in terms of feminism. Here's my view when I look at Molly & Bella: A short, if incomplete, summary of feminism is to have a society that allows everyone to choose their path in life, having equal opportunity to pursue a living/occupation/profession etc., with gender playing no role in their ability to do so. So when I look at Bella and Molly, I see two people who have had the freedom to choose what they wished within the wizarding world. So as I move through the books, gender has fallen away when I consider the characters' actions and choices.
But Molly and Bellatrix are still female characters and the author can still compare them and portray one as a better "woman" than the other. I would even argue that the fact that they made a choice is necessary for the duel as the message would not come across as well if either had been a victim of circumstances. To not take gender into consideration simply because women are allowed to make choices is problematic IMO. In our society women can make their own choices but not all choices are equally acceptable. Women are still judged based on those choices even if the choices themselves are available to them. The same applies to a story where the author allows her female characters to make choices only to devalue these choices afterwards.
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Sorry, but I don't see any evidence that these are presented as "unnatural for a woman". Bella is a Death Eater, married, committed to Voldemort's pursuit of power. All of that is simply stated, not editorialized on page as natural or unnatural.
It is simply stated but those characteristics are attributed to an evil woman. No good woman is married and childless in the HP world. No good woman is portrayed as anti maternal or as disliking children. In this aspect Bellatrix is unique and contrasted to all female characters on the good side. She has no equivalent on the good side.


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Old May 1st, 2012, 12:52 am
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by FurryDice View Post
IMO, this callous disregard for life is painted as a negative coming from male and female characters throughout the series. I don't think Bellatrix lack of understanding for Narcissa's concern is portrayed as a negative because she's a woman, but because she's a human being, and lacks empathy.
I agree. To me, throughout the course of the series Bellatrix did not come off as a bad woman; she appeared to be a bad person. I donít think any man who showed the same callousness was cut some slack just because he was a man and it was, therefore, alright for him to not be compassionate.

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Yet no male character makes any comment about giving their children to Voldemort or is killed by a father figure.
This, for me, is the crux of the issue. For me, the gender issue came in only during the Bellatrix-Molly duel. I didnít like it that Molly, the ultimate symbol of motherhood in the series, would be the one to finish her off in a fit of maternal rage. Arthur is shown to be dueling Pius Thicknesse alongside Percy Ė there is nothing particularly paternal about his emotions and actions there. He is simply a warrior fighting the bad guys. With Molly, however, her motive to duel Bellatrix is her love for her children. She throws aside her cloak and, with all her maternal ferocity, defeats Bellatrix.

This can be read in two ways: For some, Mollyís glorification in her role as mother will seem unfeminist, as if a woman can have no greater motive for fighting than to diminish any threat towards her children. Others (I fall here), will find the glorification of Mollyís role as mother Ė while Arthur or any other father doesnít receive the same glorification in their paternal role Ė will seem unfair towards men because, in a story whose theme is love, glorifying a motherís love over a fatherís IS, IMO, unfair to men. Whatever way you look at it, I think gender issues do come up in regard to the final battle.

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No good woman is married and childless in the HP world.
Well, as revealed recently on Pottermore, McGonagall is a childless widow. And sheíd had three years to procreate if she wished, but she didnít.

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No good woman is portrayed as anti maternal or as disliking children.
Well, personally, I do think disliking children is sort of a negative trait and I think JKR is of the same belief. Children are precious and innocent and I feel that any antipathy displayed towards them is abominable.

Not being very maternal, however, is a different matter. Madam Amelia Bones is shown to be a good witch who doesnít have kids. Tonks, herself, didnít strike me as a very maternal type until the very end when she has Ted (though we donít even get to see her in her role as mother). On the other side of the spectrum, women in majorly maternal roles such as Narcissa and Aunt Petunia are shown in a not-very-positive light (although, yes, Iíll also point out that Narcissaís maternal love is presented as her only redeeming quality).


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Old May 1st, 2012, 7:14 am
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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
In a way yes but I believe that the fight between Voldemort and Harry is more because of their history and Harry's desire to play the hero and avenge his parents. If Molly and Bellatrix had had some kind of history together maybe the message would have been a different one.
I can't speak for anyone else but I personally would have no problem with Bellatrix being killed by an Auror, by Tonks or by Neville. That would have emphasized her evilness and bigotry which are much more important than her childlessness and lust for Voldie, IMO.
In my opinion, that's viewing things with a gender filter. Harry and Voldemort are both male, both at polar opposites of choice. Yet I see no objection here that the author has "pitted" a good man against an evil man. Most generally see that as a fight between a good person and an evil person. The fight between Molly and Bella is no different except in the way it's being interpreted. The facts are the same. They would be the same between Tonks and Bella; Tonks is also a wife and mother -- why would that be OK and non-gender related, but Molly's is?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sereena
Yet no male character makes any comment about giving their children to Voldemort or is killed by a father figure.
I'd argue that Lucius pushed Draco to cooperate against his will in order to reinstate his own favored position with Voldemort.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sereena
In our society women can make their own choices but not all choices are equally acceptable. Women are still judged based on those choices even if the choices themselves are available to them. The same applies to a story where the author allows her female characters to make choices only to devalue these choices afterwards.
There is a difference between a society allowing everyone to make choices concerning their own lives, and consequences for people who make choices to torture/kill/control others. This has nothing to do with gender; killing is equally reviled no matter if it is a man or woman who murders or tortures.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sereena
It is simply stated but those characteristics are attributed to an evil woman. No good woman is married and childless in the HP world. No good woman is portrayed as anti maternal or as disliking children. In this aspect Bellatrix is unique and contrasted to all female characters on the good side. She has no equivalent on the good side.
Professor McGonagall has no children; nor Madame Rosmerta. And I'd suggest that Bella is NOT portrayed as disliking children. She is proud of Draco and teaches him occlumency, and wishes she had sons to serve Voldemort.


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Old May 1st, 2012, 1:42 pm
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Re: Feminism in Deathly Hallows - or the lack thereof v.3

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Originally Posted by OldMotherCrow View Post
So to me it does look like The Girl Fight.
Not only that, but the scene also contains a thinly veiled allusion to Ripley battling the Alien Queen. (Which is one of my favourite cinematic confrontations ever. )

However: I don't think it is anti-feminist to include a female character who is all-round bad, like Bella.

Also: whilst I do tend to be in the 'Harry Potter is hardly the most feminist series on the planet' camp, I will point out that Rowling has Tonks, a mother, fight and die alongside her husband in battle, both of them having left their baby son at home.

It's a difficult choice to have to make, but people do have to make decisions like that, in wartime. Tonks and Remus were fighting for Teddy's future and Teddy's world, so you can't accuse either of being selfish.

So, you know, there's that.


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