Anonymous asked: Hey, Sarah! I was just wondering - people are always saying that the Harry Potter books are a great example of feminism in the YA genre, but I dont really get that because it's essentially a story all about a boy and how awesome he is. What are your thoughts?
Well, I quite like Harry Potter. ;)
But if people talk about it as the One Shining Beacon of YA Feminism, that’s kind of troubling.
I’d think the same if people were saying that about the Percy Jackson books, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, or the Demon’s Lexicon. Because, as you say, all those books star a boy.
Which isn’t to say that a book with a male protagonist can’t be feminist, because of course a book with a male protagonist can and indeed I think all the books I just listed *are* (mine too, with luck). There’s nothing wrong with writing a story about a boy—I mean, naturally I think so, since I did it. ;)
And I think Hermione, Attolia and Eddis, and Annabeth, are great characters.
But they’re not the protagonists, and seeing books starring boys much-bepraised and books starring girls… not, is worrying. When people tell me the first Demon’s Lexicon book was the best, and the focus should have remained entirely on the boys, I am always happy to see love but I worry. When I see people say that Hermione is the Best YA Lady, I worry (obviously in a less personal way…). While I love to see love for any and all fictional ladies, saying the *best* ladies are the ladies who aren’t centre stage sends a message.
That message is ‘yeah, ladies, second place if *you* please, stand by your man, and then take a step back.’
Books starring girls tend to win fewer prizes and be generally less highly regarded, as if having a girl as the centre of the story makes the whole joint less classy. Books starring girls really, really shouldn’t be regarded as less feminist as well.
So… I don’t like to see discomfort with female protagonists, and I see it too often!
But I do like Harry Potter and seeing love for its many great ladies is great: however if anyone was thinking of crowning the Harry Potter series the ultimate feminist YA, I would ask them to think of some books starring ladies as well, and give them at least equal billing.