I have always been a huge Harry Potter fan. I sometimes wonder what I will do with my life once all of the movies have been released. It will be a sad day in my household, that’s for damn sure. I discovered the Harry Potter series the summer before I went away to college and I devoured the first four books in a way that reminded me of my youth. The one thing I loved about the books was all the strong female characters Rowling had made integral in her world. Hermione was strong, brave and extremely intelligent. Not just in book smarts but also in logic and common sense. She also had a sense of social consciousness with her organization of S.P.E.W. and her desire to give others a chance no matter what prejudices there were about them.
Professor McGonogall was the second in command to Prof. Dumbledore, confidant, intelligent, fair and powerful. Her first name is Minerva which comes from the Roman goddess of fairness and wisdom and she exhibited those qualities as well as being a fierce warrior when it came down to the final battle.
Bellatrix Lestrange, as evil as she is, is powerful and second in command to the most powerful dark wizard ever. She is a fierce solider and a formidable witch who delights in her anger and evilness in a way that strays away from the evil witch stereotype in so many Disney movies.
Ginny (quite possibly my favorite character) grows from a quiet boy-shy girl, into a beautiful sexually assured women who plays sports with boys, breaks the rules, and does not take orders from her brothers.
In this world of amazing women one women always stood out to me as strange and that was Molly Weasley. Mrs. Weasley just did not seem to fit into the dynamic. She didn’t have a job even though her family could have used the extra money. She cared about housework and behaving appropriately. She burst into tears at any emotional situation and seemed overly into the idea of a wedding and whether or not a girl was good enough for her son. I was confused and critical of her as were other feminists I met who enjoyed the books. Why was Molly Weasley such a weak women character we wondered? Then, in “Deathly Hallows”, we finally met the real Mrs. Weasley and I realized that I had made a horrible mistake in my assumptions about what Mrs. Weasley’s choices said about her.
Many feminists have often been accused of looking down at stay at home moms. It is implied that we think they are useless or unhappy and it can create a lot of tension when a woman makes that decision. I always had maintained that if a woman wanted to stay home and was content with the decision I didn’t mind as long as my desire to work was treated equally as valid. However, getting sucked into the world of Harry Potter with it’s powerful, emotionally strong, and accomplished witches I did look at Molly Weasley as a disappointment. When she was critical of Fred and George’s aspirations, when she seemed to only do magic that involved housework, when she never was around for an important event and instead was relegated to waiting at home wringing her hands, and her desire to make her daughter Ginny sit down and stay out of the action. These all made me underestimate Mrs. Weasley and I believe that part of that was Rowling’s intentions. In the last book, when Ginny is almost killed and Mrs. Weasley comes barrelling through the Great Hall, I learned a valuable lesson. To read and see in my mind Mrs. Weasley take down the most powerful witch on the dark side brought tears of joy and a fierce proudness to my eyes. It still is a paragraph I can read over and over again as it opened my eyes to a Molly Weasley I had not seen no matter how many times I read the book.
I saw a women who did not take the easy way out. I saw a woman who raised a large family to be brave and respectful individuals. I saw a woman who raised a feminist daughter. I saw a women who immediately sided with the right side and was willing to take on the role of protector to many, even if it put her family in jeopardy. I saw a women who always worked for the greater good even with her fears for her family. I saw a woman who’s son was killed yet was able to step up and fight and do what was needed. I saw a woman who encouraged acceptance of others. I saw a mother and a damn good one. I saw a powerful witch who knew that a sign of strength wasn’t how often you showcased it, but that you used it when necessary.
Why didn’t I see this before? Because I was blinded by her homemaker status in a world where women seemed to all be working. I know I am not alone and I am proud of J.K. Rowling and Mrs. Weasley for challenging assumptions and showing that the powerful thing about a women is not what she does but who she is.