For this post I wanted to look at the ideas of fighting gender standards in other, non-superhero, literature. In class we’ve discussed women gaining power to break stereotypes. I want to make the distinction of breaking gender stereotypes, not just female stereotypes. And to do that, I want to look at one of the best and well known series ever, Harry Potter.
Yes, there are strong female characters, but none truly break away from the social norms. Hermione is super smart, but a main issue for her at the end is how to express her feelings for Ron. Both McGonagall and Bellatrix are super witches but each is subordinate to a man, Dumbledore or Voldemort.
Instead, Rowling contrasts gender norms by placing “normal” feminine characteristics onto men. It is usually assumed that women are weaker, and fighting norms is showing weak women become strong. In Harry Potter, Neville Longbottom is the weakest, most helpless character in the beginning. He, a male, is showing the power to overcome weakness, making weakness a human not a feminine trait. In the final book/movie, Neville is quite badass.
Another female quality is being overly emotional. This is not Hermione’s or Ginny’s curse, but Harry’s. Harry is super angsty, irritated or otherwise moody a lot, especially in Order of the Phoenix. Ron later takes up this quality when hunting for Horcruxes. The Malfoy men, Draco and Lucius, end up as scared and weepy. It is not the women that run from the final fight, but the original powerful Malfoy men. Even the idea of love and affection being feminine is challenged. One of the strongest love stories ever, in my opinion, is Snape’s love for Lily. It rules his every action, yet he is not considered feminine.
This makes these traits of weakness, doubt, being ruled by emotions, or anything else human personality traits, not traits associated with gender. I think this should be a major goal of the social movement to fight gender norms. Don’t have genders fight against their normal traits, instead portray all traits as simply human, not tied to any sex.