Feminism is becoming the ‘in thing’ of recent years. Suddenly, the gender pay gap, domestic violence and the atrocities of sexual assault are becoming newsworthy. Which, in my eyes, is long overdue and frankly pretty amazing. But while in the year 2015 we have the likes of Caitlin Moran, Beyonce and Taylor Swift singing the praise of equality and girl power, that doesn’t mean we’ve been lacking in years past. Once again, books and the world of fiction prevail to show that they were on top of this yeaarrrrsss ago. Below is a list of my favourite fictional feminists, and while you may not agree, I’d love for you to shout out and include your own.
I recently re-read the Harry Potter series (I’m interning at Bloomsbury in a couple of months, so it seemed like ‘necessary’ research) and it reinforced how much of a badass feminist Hermione Granger is. First, she doesn’t take smack from those girls who seem to care more about looks than brains, and when Rita Skeeter insinuates that Hermione Granger is only interested in love, she, quite literally, holds her head up high and discards it. Second, she pretty much single-handedly keeps Ron and Harry alive for the better part of seven years, not to mention she has the foresight to do things like, I dunno, research how to destroy Horcruxes. (Seriously Ron and Harry, how had that not crossed your mind for so many months?) Third, she shows that physical brawn won’t necessary save the day, and that brains, cleverness and the trusty library are all equally, if not more, important than fighting. Fourth, she makes it quite apparent to Ron and Harry throughout the series, that there are women who are just as impressive and brainy as there are men, and even more importantly, she isn’t going to get stuck with the task of domestic chores simply because she has a vagina.
Finally, in light of all that, she still had the guts to punch Draco Malfoy in the face – because sometimes, even a feminist knows that sometimes a punch in the face is what is required.
Special Mention: Molly Weasley
Though not as much as of a supreme feminist icon as Hermione Granger, I’d like to give a special shout-out to Mrs Weasley, who proves that a woman can still be a feminist even if she fits ‘traditional’ roles of a woman. Although Mrs Weasley is a homemaker and cook of the Weasley family, there is no denying that she is also the matriarch, and that her love for her family is as fierce and strong as anyone else’s out there. Plus, she killed Bellatrix Lestrange. What a badass.
Yes, Elizabeth Bennett ends up marrying Mr Darcy and living happily ever happy, but a lot happens between their first unfortunate meeting and that proposal. Elizabeth is considered the smartest and the strongest of the Bennett sisters and it shows when she resists Mr Darcy’s charms. In the 21st century it’d be pretty hard to ignore the proposal of a millionaire who looks like Colin Firth, but let’s also consider that this was 150 years ago – when women weren’t allowed to work, own property or vote, and a man was the only ticket out of the family home. Despite all this, Elizabeth holds firm to her principles and her beliefs that a woman should be treated with dignity and respect – regardless of how cute the guy is. I think a few of us could perhaps take a leaf out of Elizabeth’s book, don’t you?
Anne Shirley is perhaps my favourite character in the whole entire world. She is imaginative, feisty and strong. Anne hadn’t lived a particularly easy or nice life before she moved into Green Gables, yet it didn’t stop her from respecting herself and others. When Gilbert falls in love with her, she doesn’t fall for him (even though the rest of us did) because she felt that he didn’t treat her with respect. Even though this was written over 100 years ago, Anne is determined to be the smartest person in her class – both in Avonlea and then at university. When she has to become the homemaker that doesn’t even stop her – why should chores stop her from achieving her dreams? Finally, Anne makes a very apt remark that women should be allowed to vote, because they’re usually the ones who know what’s what. Anne the Feminist has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
This one is pretty obvious. Katniss literally sacrifices herself to save those she loves. When her father died she took on the role of breadwinner in order to keep her family alive. She’s manages to survive and win the Hunger Games, yet at the same time retain her dignity and treat others with that same dignity. She doesn’t marry the man that she’s supposed to, and she doesn’t agree with being a spokesmodel solely so she looks good. Basically Katniss Everdeen is a woman that all of us should aspire to be. She turns the stereotype of gender roles on its head and she flourishes, while still maintaining what is important to herself. Katniss Everdeen, I salute you.
I’ve included Irene Adler because she serves as a welcome feminist in a world that is rather sexist. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, though I love him, is a wee gender-biased, and 95% of the characters from the Sherlock Holmes novels show this. Yet despite this, he created a character in Irene Adler that shows that sometimes it’s a woman, despite the century or the way she looks, that can defeat even the smartest of men. After all – no man has ever defied Sherlock Holmes, but that doesn’t mean a woman hasn’t.
Who’s your favourite fictional feminists? Are you a fan of any of the above? Let me know!