Why It's Not OK That We All Care So Much About Which Guy Hermione Granger Ended Up With
You've all heard the arguments: Hermione should have ended up with Harry, and even J.K Rowling herself agrees. Ron and Hermione had a dangerous relationship and should never have ended up together. Actually, J.K Rowling is wrong about Hermione and Ron, who were total soulmates and a great couple. If you're an avid Harry Potter fan, you've heard every explanation under the sun for who is the appropriate romantic partner for Hermione Granger, with quotes and plot points from the books and interviews from the films' cast members to back it all up. But I think that the real problem here is not figuring out who Hermione should or shouldn't have ended up with, but why, almost 11 years after the release of the final book in the series, Potterheads — including myself — still care so much about this at all.
Hermione Granger has long been held up as a feminist icon, and for great reason. For one thing, Hermione was "the brightest witch of her age." She was unbelievably brilliant, she always had the right answer, and she was never afraid to let everyone around her know it. And she wasn't only book smart, either. She wielded her wand with as much deftness and power as the Harrys and Cedrics of Hogwarts. On top of that, she took on activist causes with gumption, not only coming up with the idea for S.P.E.W — flawed movement though it was — but for Dumbledore's Army, too, which helped change the entire trajectory of the second Wizarding War. And that's just scratching the surface of all things that make Hermione a veritable badass. So why are we all so obsessed with who she should or should not have married?
Why are we, as modern feminists ourselves, still falling back on the old trope of women needing romantic relationships, marriage and children to be completely fulfilled? Sure, ship wars are always fun and entertaining to take part in, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying romantic plots in our books, films and TV shows. But when we reduce Hermione to only one half of a romantic relationship, whether canon or imagined, we ignore all of the things that actually make her one of the most beloved and memorable characters in literary history.
In fact, I would argue that one of the reasons why Hermione's on-page wrap-up in the Epilogue should be so frustrating to us is because she ended up taking the conventional route of marriage and children in the first place. Of course, it's not at all required that a woman be single and childless to be a feminist or to do important work — far from it, actually. But, even as an admitted Ronmione shipper myself, I would not have been at all upset to see Hermione strike out on her own and make her career and activism her main priority.
And even though we do get to see Hermione take over a very influential government post in The Cursed Child, how Hermione is portrayed in the play overall is super disappointing to say the least. Spoiler alert: Hermione's romantic relationship with Ron was written as the most defining part of her character trajectory in the new material. The play implied that, if Hermione hadn't married Ron, she would have ended up as a bitter spinster who gave up on all of her dreams and became a cruel and abusive monster. Yeah, let's absorb that for a moment. The fact that Hermione would, even for a second, need a romantic relationship with Ron, Harry or any other man to make her life one of joy and fulfillment is frankly laughable.
Because the only part marriage and children should play in Hermione's life is as an enhancement of her happiness, not the sole reasons for it. And with all of the endless post-series discussion of said marriage and children, I can't help but wish that Hermione had ended up as an untethered badass instead, traveling the Wizarding World in pursuit of equality for all. But, in the end, whatever Hermione ship you've set sail on or have decidedly hoped would sink, I think it's high time for all of us to start focusing more on the real reasons we all love Hermione — her intelligence, her passion, her determination, her loyalty, her kindness, and, yes, even her independence — whether she is coupled up or not.