Harry Potter Discussion Week - Day 1 - Masculinity in Harry Potter
*Questions from the Chamber of Secrets forum
1. Did you feel that overall men got a bad rap in the series? That is, do you feel their lives appeared to be more full of trauma, difficult or unsolvable issues, quandaries and hardships in comparison to men in the Muggle world (meaning our world)?
I don’t think that men got a bad wrap, nor do I think that they face more hardships than men in the Muggle world. I do think that they face more hardship than the women of the HP world. Just looking at Harry, Snape, and Voldemort (arguably the three main characters)- they all faced extreme hardship in their lives. They were all alone in their childhoods, the magical world was their home, and they all experienced some kind of hardship whether it be survival or unrequited love.
2. Do you feel that JKR used a lot of sterotyping in the portrayal of the male characters?
Yes. There is no demonizing feminine males, but there also aren’t any. Harry is the young hero-type, Dumbledore is a wise old man, Voldemort is pure evil. Of course in books each character represents something, but male stereotypes are definetely there. Just look at Mr. Weasley. He alone was the economic provider for his whole family, which is a traditional male position.
3. In as far as how the men in the series related/interacted with the women, do you feel that their behavior was distinct from what you are accustomed to? If so, do you feel that is because they were wizards?
I think that women are treated differently in the HP world. We see women occupying very high levels at the Ministry and at Hogwarts and we also see some operating businesses at Diagon Alley and Hogsmead. I think men did act differently than what I am accustomed to, but I do not think it is because they are wizards. There is a lot of discrimination in the wizarding world, but sexism does not seem to be one of them. It does seem as though men always occupy a higher position than women, but this is not because of laws that state women can’t be Minister for Magic or Headmaster of Hogwarts.
5. Do you feel that most of the most important roles in the series were doled out to men? If so, do you feel that your opinion is influenced by what was taking place in the canon ‘in the present’ or did you allow historical accounts in the book to also play into your view?
Yes, I feel the most important roles were given to men. I believe my opinion is based off the “present” canon. Harry is a man, Snape is a man, Dumbledore, Lupin and Sirius. To be honest, while all the female characters are very strong examples of women, they seem to be a token woman or to serve a purpose as a woman.
6. Most of those among the established Death Eaters - those enacting “evil” in the series that we met, were men. Recall Bella and one of the Carrows being female, but the rest were all male. Why do you feel that we were mainly introduced to male Death Eaters? Did you feel there was an underlying message?
I feel we were only introduced to male Death Eaters because they were mostly male. Perhaps this is a reflection of the stereotype that men are more ambitious than women and are more willing to do bad things to get power. Or maybe it reflects the notion that women are not evil because of their maternity. Or maybe it just reflects the statistic that more men are actually criminals than women. Again, I feel that Bella and the Carrow are token women meant to serve a part as a woman and not as their own character.
This concludes day 1. If you have any comments let me know!