Was Harry Potter a Feminist?

by Kadeen Griffiths

On July 31, 1980, Harry Potter was born. Note that I'm talking about Harry Potter the man and not Harry Potter the book series, which actually came out in 1997. It has been seven years since the last Harry Potter book came out and three years since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 came out and the magic of Harry Potter is something that still has yet to fade away. The unending reign of his legacy has been proven in the way that J. K. Rowling can cause a fandom resurgence just by admitting that Harry Potter and Hermione Granger would have made more sense as a couple and in the way that #HappyBirthdayHarryPotter has been trending on Twitter Thursday morning.

Whether you consider Harry Potter to be a feminist work or not, it's undeniable that it had many three dimensional and well thought out female characters on all ends of the spectrum. That is sadly more than many other works can brag. As for Harry Potter himself, would he be considered a feminist? Such social debates didn't really have time to rage in Harry Potter what with all that pesky war stuff going on, but as a longtime Potterhead I would consider Harry Potter a character who was more or less pro-women. Sure, there were educational hiccups along the way, but that's to be expected when you're dealing with, well, an impulsive teenage boy.

Pro-Feminist: He acknowledged Hermione's intellectual skill.

Harry has been giving credit where credit is due since he was eleven years old. He and Hermione might not have been fast friends, but after the troll incident that launched a Trio that would live in infamy it seems like every other word out of Harry's mouth is something about how brilliant Hermione is. From assuring her on their quest to get the Sorcerer's Stone that he wasn't as great of a wizard as she was a witch to telling Horace Slughorn point blank that Hermione is the best in their year, acknowledging that it's Hermione that's been keeping them alive all these years is pretty effortless for Harry.

Anti-Feminist: He was weirded out by those bewildering female emotions.

Harry's track record with romantic relationships leaves a lot to be desired. He spent most of his time dating Cho Chang being put off by all of her crying and mood swings, he never knows how to react when Hermione starts crying, and one of the things that attracted him to Ginny Weasley is that she's not really a crier. Then there was the time he took Parvati Patil as his date to the Yule Ball and treated her like furniture while he gave Cho and Cedric the stink eye the whole time. In Harry's defense, however, he's never been good with emotions — other people's or his own. Plus, Cho was dealing with a lot that year.

Pro-Feminist: He didn't tolerate anyone disrespecting Professor McGonagall.

Harry Potter is the unquestioned hero of the story but that doesn't mean he's always morally in the right. One such ambiguous moment was the time that Harry used one of the three forbidden curses — specifically the torture curse — against someone else. Death Eater Amycus Carrow made the mistake of spitting at Professor Minerva McGonagall, who had been one of Harry's closest mentors and parental figures over the years, and Harry hexed him with the Cruciatus Curse so hard he slammed into a wall. Considering this is the boy who wouldn't even using the Killing Curse on Lord Voldemort himself, that really showed how highly he regarded Professor McGonagall.

Anti-Feminist: He put his mother up on a pedestal.

Harry utterly idolized his father and mother, an outlook facilitated by how much everyone else who told him about them seemed to idolize them as well, but his father's pedestal was shattered after Harry found out that James had been a huge bully as a teen. Harry's pedestal for his mother, however, remained intact throughout the entire series. To be fair, no one really had anything bad to say about Lily Potter nor did the story try to paint her in anything but a noble light, but Harry considering his mother a flawless saint does no one any favors.

Pro-Feminist: He treated everyone equally no matter what their gender.

It didn't matter if he was looking at Quidditch players, Dumbledore's Army members, or foes on the battlefield. Whether you were a man or a woman, Harry Potter was judging you equally. He never went easier on the female members of his Quidditch team than the male members or paid attention to gender when choosing his players. He never went easy on anyone he was instructing in the D.A. meetings. He certainly never hesitated to throw a hex at anyone who was throwing one at him. Harry Potter judged you on your personality first and your gender usually never and that's a fact.

Anti-Feminist: He broke up with Ginny for her own protection.

At the end of his sixth year Harry realized that he had to leave the school to go and find a way to take down Voldemort once and for all. Before he left, he broke up with his girlfriend Ginny Weasley to keep her safe from Death Eaters. In the first place, Ginny got no input on his decision that affected both of them. In the second place, does that gif make her look like a girl who can't handle herself? In Harry's defense, he tried to leave Ron and Hermione behind as well because his actions were more of a "saving people thing" than a "saving the women thing", but, seriously, Ginny gets no say in her own relationship?

My Verdict: Harry Potter is a feminist.

He may have had some bumps along the way, but I would still qualify Harry Potter as a feminist character. In the books and in the films, Harry generally treated men and women as equals and that's pretty much the basic tenet of what it means to be a feminist. He did well for a boy who was raised by a family like the Dursleys.

Image: Warner Brothers; bellamying, harrypotterdaily, petrificustotallus, angstinspace, phoebebuffay, rpgif-s, my-eyes-open/Tumblr