On Girl Power, Hermione, and Watsons

Here's an interesting article I came across yesterday:


I found it very thought-provoking, which I always appreciate: something to mull over during the work day. I need intelligent and opinionated minds to engage with, and take that sharpening wherever I can find it. So, in the spirit of critical-thinking and mindful discussion, I would like to respond to a couple of comments bell hooks made about Hermione. There are principles here that I believe not only affect the fictional character, but have weight in our lives as well. 

Hooks takes issue with Hermione as she grows up, calling her 'passive, and 'frumpy' in the epilogue. But I think it can be argued the other way too. I don't think anyone should say that that woman on the platform is not beautiful, intelligent, and strong. The important thing is that she knows who she is, not that she always comes across perfectly. The truth is, some days you put in a full day's work and then come home to a child who throws up all night. You can't tell me she can't juggle work and family. But you also can't tell me she should come out looking as spotless as ever. Some days are hard. And I think there is great personal power in the fact that she's seeing off her children in a casual setting, but she has the brains to talk down a criminal (or duel him), mediate a debate, and possibly fix the train. I love that.

I would also like to address something hooks said about Hermione's intelligence being put in the service of boy power. For one thing, it was Hermione herself who put her talents in the service of another. That is power. You wouldn't have a problem with a man putting their talents to someone else's use, so why would you have a problem with this? Secondly, the reason Hermione puts herself in that position is not just to help a friend (although that is a worthy cause), but because it was the most expedient means to an end: defeating the greatest enemy of the wizarding world.

One more point: just because someone has remarkable intelligence and talent that shouldn't be demeaned, it does not mean they were meant to lead or even that they want to. Some brilliant minds are Watsons.* They were meant to support other minds, turning the world from a secondary position. It is their superpower. And that should be celebrated as well.

*see: Sherlock Holmes, (and no pun intended, Emma)
(& fwiw I think epilogue-Hermione/Emma looks brilliant)

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