Well I couldn’t help myself, another Harry Potter post is making its way to you via the Spine and Oak. Except this time I will be talking about my favourite character, and lo and behold it is not the boy who lived. For a raving feminist like myself, Hermione Granger has proven to be my ultimate hero long before Emma Watson stepped into the screen role.
This character is the ultimate breaker of stereotypes and is one of the many reasons why the HP series is a must read for impressionable children in today’s society. As a female character Hermione does not behave like other girls, which is why from the very start she is considered somewhat of an outsider. As she stumbles upon Ron and Harry in their first meeting on the Hogwarts Express it becomes very clear that Hermione is intelligent and she isn’t ashamed to be that way either. This was perhaps the first time I connected with a character who like to read as much as I did, and was unapologetic about it. In fact because she read, and because she was smart, more often than not, she was the one to save the day.
I’m positive this was a very conscious decision on the part of Jo Rowling as an author, and in the 90’s this type of female empowerment was riding on the continued momentum of girl power, the Spice Girls, and third wave feminism. Which is why it thrills me that in this particular juncture in society, where a misogynistic, bigoted and wholly unqualified individual is now President of the United States, the importance of Hermione Granger and all she stands for in terms of gender equality but also female strength, being celebrated, in a new age of Harry Potter fandom.
Just this past week I’ve encountered three separate items that are related to Hermione’s star power. First there was a video posted on Buzz Feed Books that basically parodies all seven movies highlighting the well-known fact that Hermione’s intelligence has been the true reason for the trio’s success in any of their endeavours. Titled Hermione Granger and the Goddamn Patriarchy, the video quite hilariously points out all the moments where Hermione behaved like a true hero.
Following that, a post by the HP news site, The Leaky Cauldron, stated that according to a recent Hollywood Reporter Survey, Hermione Granger had been voted the number 1 female fictional character from a list that included Liz Lemon of 30 Rock, among others. Perhaps society is realizing the importance of figures like Hermione in an age where teaching young girls that no matter what society may seem to appropriate, being an independent, fierce, and intelligent young woman is something should be strived for.
Following this trend, I was recently at an Indigo bookstore and came across a Hermione Granger: A Cinematic Guide. What is so refreshing about this, is that the majority of the photos feature the character in stances that are strong and not weak. She is not reduced to a smiling love interest or a co-star. She is a superb character in her own right, and the amount of fans who adore her is proof enough.
Coupled with the fact that the woman who has played her for over 10 year, Emma Watson, is an ambassador for gender equality with the United Nations, and you have a million more reasons to love not only the character but everything she represents. Through the HeforShe campaign, Emma Watson has used her star power to raise awareness of gender inequality around the world, and like her bookish character, has also created a book club on Good Reads that specifically focuses on books by women about women.
I’ve never been prouder to be a HP fan, and I am one of those who would loudly proclaim that Hermione Granger is their ultimate hero. For girls everywhere, reading Harry Potter, understanding the complexities of the characters, and being able to see yourself reflected in them is one of the greatest gifts that J.K. Rowling has given the literary world. With such power that words wield, it is imperative we continue to praise and celebrate characters and literature that show us what true equality can mean.