One of the frustrations I have with raising a girl is finding appropriate books to read to her. Something well written. Something interesting enough so I’ll be willing to read it through (many times, more than likely).
Oh, and something that has a female main character.
That last one is harder than you’d think. And, adding to my frustration, whenever I start ranting about this with other parents or librarians, one reading suggestion inevitably comes up: Harry Fucking Potter.
“That’s not about a girl,” I say. “It’s about a boy. Named Harry Potter. His name is right there in the title.”
“But there’s Hermione. She’s a strong female character,” they reply.
“But she’s not the bloody protagonist, is she?”
“Yes, but Hermione is very clever and has a handbag that’s infinitely large on the inside.”
Wait. Let me get this straight. While all the boys are storming about with their magical phalluses what shoot bolts of energy and explode things, precious Hermione carries a vulva on a string from which she pulls useful household items?
This is precisely the kind of thing I don’t want my daughter exposed to.
Now, as I mentioned in episode two of the Ultrasonic Alarm Call (prairie dog’s podcast… you did know we have a podcast now, right?), I’ve never seen the Harry Potter movies nor read the Harry Potter books. So maybe Hermione is wicked awesome. Doesn’t change the fact that she doesn’t get her name in the title and the only time she appears on one of the book covers is on the last one.
Well, Joy Engel, of the blog Your Daily Dose Of Joy, has read the Potter books and she argues that Hermione kicks all sorts of ass — so much so that the books really should be about her. It’s a very good read. For instance:
…when Snape assigns homework, Harry is all, “Wah-Wah, there is sport tomorrow, fulfilling my responsibility will be so hard.” MEANWHILE Hermione is MOVING FUCKING TIME so she can take more classes. Because girl knows SOMETHING is happening and she needs to STUDY THE EFF UP.
When the time comes around to fight, the boys are like, “oh wow, look at this thing that happened! Isn’t that crazy?” Meanwhile Hermione is like, “idiots, I figured that out like 5 books ago. CAN YOU PLEASE FOCUS.”
Who actually forms Dumbledore’s army? Hermione. Who has the perseverance and planning to help them survive for the 1908830 thousand pages when they were just sitting in a tent in the cold? Hermione. Supes glad you mastered the patronus charm, Harry, but without Hermione, you wouldn’t even have your wand.
‘kay. Now I’m slightly more interested in reading these. But only just slightly.
And for the record, yes, I have found many books that have female protagonists. Some of them are even decently well written. (Many aren’t. Like those goddamn Our Canadian Girl books. Holy fuck.) But if anyone has any worthwhile suggestions, I’d love to hear them.