Monday, January 23, 2012


My family and I have been watching the Harry Potter movies for the last few weeks, having missed them in theaters. I've been enjoying them tremendously, not least because of the role played by Hermione. It is great to see a smart, capable girl who is friends with the hero, with no hint of romance between them (though she and Harry each find romance in the Weasley family -- must be a red-head fetish). She is attractive but not fetishized, thin but not creepy. Often dirty. The gender equity never quite makes it up the chain of power, though. Harry's mentors and heroes are all men -- Dumbledore, Sirius Black, Remus (? the werewolf guy), Severus. Most of the female characters are only occasionally effectual -- like Maggie Smith's witch -- or evil -- like Helena Bonheim Carter's goth sister to Sirius. But what really annoyed me in the final episode -- and this is no spoiler -- is that at the height of a battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil, Mrs. Weasley suddenly dropped the first big swear in the franchise and it was, of course, "bitch," directed at another woman (Helena Bonheim Carter) under the guise of maternal protectiveness: "Not my daughter, you bitch!" This directly echoed the moment in Alien when Sigourney Weaver calls the alien "bitch," in another moment of maternal protectiveness. I suppose at these moments we are supposed to cheer and enjoy the woman-to -woman fight - "It speaks equality because women fight," or "Motherhood is powerful" -- but I just feel depressed. I don't think the good women and the evil women have to get along -- though Harry manages to reach out to his male enemies, Malvoy and Severus, and find common ground. But do they have to call each other bitch, and do they have to ask us to celebrate calling a woman bitch?


  1. Hmm. I don't have a problem with it. The c-word (I take it this is a family blog?) bothers me more. And slut-shaming bothers me even more than that.

  2. Yes, I think the c-word is worse, but so does the culture. What bothers me about Bitch is that nobody minds. I can't imagine a moment in Harry Potter, a family film after all, in which Harry says to, say, Voldemort, "You dick!" And there are a lot more songs about bitches and hos than about dicks. Yes, it has been reclaimed by feminists in Bitch magazine and in retro coffee mugs, but that is slightly different from the casual misogyny that worries me.