Is the Weasley Family From Harry Potter Feminist?

The best answer to any question.
Jan. 1 2014 10:23 AM

Is the Weasley Family From Harry Potter Feminist?

Weasley Family
Feminists?

Photo by Murray Close/Warner Brothers

This question originally appeared on Quora.

chartmann

Advertisement

Let's look at what feminism actually means. The dictionary tells us that feminism is the "advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, economic, and social equality." The talk of equality sounds all well and good, but things get messy in the application.

You'll get a lot different ideas and opinions on how to be a feminist. Some people will say that every woman must prove herself to be as good—if not better—as a man in everything, even peeing standing up. Others will say that women are naturally gifted in different things than men and that should be respected. It's sort of a revival of the separate-but-equal idea. Most people are somewhere in between these two extremes.

The following criteria capture what I think is the heart of feminism and feminists. You can take it or leave it.

  • Agency—feminists encourage women to act on their beliefs without bringing in gender. Under this analysis, a woman's particular occupation is irrelevant, as long as she chose it willingly.
  • Respect—a feminist respects a woman's opinion on a equal standing as a man's. A caveat is that respect, regardless of gender, is earned, not owed.
  • Individualized judgment—feminists don't paint women with a single brush. You would never hear feminists say, "All women are X," since they would consider each woman as an individual with her own strengths and weaknesses.

With these criteria sussed out, let's look at the Weasleys. Since Molly and Ron raised the most questions regarding their feminism, I'll focus on these two first.

Molly Weasley

Molly's status as a stay-at-home mom isn't a strike against her feminism. In fact, she exhibits deep commitment to her children and motherhood, suggesting that she wanted to be a mother. Molly's work as a stay-at-home mom was a tough one, with Charlie's dangerous job, Fred and George's tricks, as well as managing seven kids on a meager salary. She did her job well, with all of her children achieving success and happiness in their lives.

During the Second Wizarding War, Molly, along with her husband, was an active member of the Order. The books never tell us the precise nature of her involvement, but she stood up for what she believed in: keeping the Wizarding world safe from Voldemort. Even though it is her traditionally feminine characteristic of overprotectiveness that motivates her involvement, Molly followed through with her own beliefs.

Molly is certainly a flawed character. She's somewhat gullible, overprotective, and risk-averse. Flaws don't make a female character anti-feminist. Women are imperfect creatures, just like men. To show their imperfections alongside men's is positively feminist in my book (and good writing).

Ron Weasley

One important thing to remember about Ron before we get into his feminism (or lack thereof) is his immaturity. Throughout the series, Ron shows himself to be impulsive, insecure, and jealous. He improves with age, but these flaws are still there.

He gets annoyed with Ginny because he's somewhat overprotective and shocked that his sister is kissing someone. Ron, true to his personality, overreacts and gets angry at her. There's certainly a small element of sexism, since I doubt Ron would've been as overprotective if it had been Gil, a younger brother. Still, a bigger factor in this scene was Ron's general idiocy and jealousy that everyone was getting kissed except for him.

Moreover, he eventually ends ups with Hermione, a powerful wizard and a brainiac. At first, Ron exhibits jealousy and resentment toward Hermione, but it had nothing to do with gender. His jealousy had everything to do with his feeling of inferiority and his inability to deal with these feelings. To end up with Hermione, Ron overcomes his immaturity and self-pity to be with the woman he loves. Nothing anti-feminist about that.

The rest of the Weasley family

Most of the Weasley men don't show any indication of anti-feminist thoughts. They listen to and respect women's opinions. The women they marry are strong, opinionated, and powerful wizards in their own rights. There's no overt sign that anyone—even the stick-in-the-mud Percy—in the Weasley family actively hinders women's freedom and agency. If anyone hates a woman, it's usually well-deserved (like Umbridge).

Ginny Weasley, for the most part, is free to pursue her own interests (which include Harry Potter and Quidditch). By all accounts, she's a liberated woman who doesn't consider herself beneath men.

In conclusion, there's no evidence that the Weasley family is sexist. In fact, the Weasley family seems to respect and judge women as individuals, which is quite feminist.

More questions on Harry Potter:

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?