Hermione Granger Is The Anti-Authoritarian Heroine We Need This Year
Not sure if anyone else is in the same boat (lol), but I'm feeling a little nervy about the next four years. No, I'm not just being a crybaby because my candidate lost; I'm unnerved by talks of a Muslim ban, a slew of attacks on women's healthcare, and a campaign to delegitimize and manipulate the press. (Also, you know, racism and climate change denial and stripping millions of their healthcare and a nuclear arms race and all that.) From my point of view, things are looking a little bleak.
When I'm looking for somewhere to turn to in a world apparently gone mad, I reread Harry Potter. In times of stress or fear, it's always given me a message of hope. In 2017, it's going to give me something even better: a badass anti-authoritarian role model in Hermione Granger.
Hermione Granger is the best character in the series. That isn't even up for discussion. I've long loved her as a fellow bookworm, but now I'm looking to her for inspiration in standing up to a government that I believe does not have the best interest of the people at heart. I mean, if she can fight an evil wizard regime, I can at least go to a few protests and bother my senators a lot, right?
1. She knows what it's like to face down prejudice
In the wizarding world, prejudice comes in the form of looking down on those who don't come from wizard families (which isn't to say that the books don't have issues with diversity, but I digress). To a particularly terrible and at times murderous portion of the population, this means that anyone who isn't a "pureblood" is seen as a second-class citizen unworthy of learning magic. Despite her wits and her compassion, Hermione's status as a Muggle-born leaves her open to offensive comments and, more seriously, persecution later in the series. She never hides or acts ashamed of herself, though; she's proud of who she is and where she's come from.
2. She stands up for others oppressed by the system
While Hermione does have to deal with offensive comments from Malfoy and other nasty wizards, for most of the novels she isn't facing outright oppression as a Muggle-born. She's the smartest witch at Hogwarts and has befriended the most trouble-prone yet famous boy in the wizarding world. She's arguably sitting pretty. However, her relatively privileged position doesn't stop her from wanting to stand up for those who are mistreated by society. Her zealous pursuit of house-elf rights is often treated as a joke, but it's also a great insight into Hermione's character: she fights for equality and will stand up for those her fellow wizards consider "lesser", because she knows what it's like to face prejudice.
3. She's not worried about what the trolls say to her
I'm a female writer on the internet, which implies that I've gotten my fair share of nasty messages. And guess what? It's scary and demoralizing and sometimes makes me never want to write again. But I do it anyway, and I should keep Hermione in mind: remember when she stood up to Rita Skeeter and then had a ton of nasty stuff written about her? Which, of course, lead to a bunch of random witches and wizards sending her Howlers and curses. But did Hermione shut up? Of course she didn't, because she's stronger and braver than that. Her feelings may have been hurt, but they couldn't silence her.
4. She stands up to a tyrannical regime even though she doesn't have to
Harry has to fight Voldemort; he really doesn't have a choice in the matter. Ron is a Weasley, and apparently their form of family bonding is standing up to the Death Eaters. But Hermione doesn't really have to have skin in the game. If she wanted to, she could distance herself from Harry and keep a low profile until the war blows over. But she would never do that, because she's Hermione freakin' Granger and she won't sit ideally by in the face of injustice. Remember when she started the anti-Umbridge resistance, even though she let Harry take all the credit? She's a natural rebel.
5. She sacrifices the most for her beliefs
Again, Hermione technically doesn't have to be fighting the good fight. And yet she sacrifices everything, including erasing herself from her parents' memories and withstanding torture, all for the sake of standing up to Voldemort. Everyone makes such a big deal over Harry's "I must not tell lies" scars, but we gloss over the fact that Hermione is tortured and mutilated by Bellatrix. And while Ron fights alongside his family, Hermione must reconcile herself to the fact that her parents don't even know she exists, and that she may never see them again. She's unselfish in her sacrifice, and thinks only of the greater good and helping her friends. We should all be more like Hermione over the next few years.