I was a Game of Thrones hipster. I almost certainly read the books before you did, because I read them in 2003. You read them in June 2011.
The same is not true for me and Harry Potter. I didn't start reading them until 2004, so I only had to wait for two of the books to come out.
It's a funny story, actually. I was visiting my brother for Christmas in China, where he was doing School Year Abroad. Before I left, I asked him, "Do you want me to bring you anything from America?"
"Yes," he told me. "As many copies of Harry Potter in English as you can."
I did as he asked, filling all of the extra space in my checked bag and carry-on with dead trees.
Then I got on my fourteen-hour flight from Boston to Beijing and realized...
I had literally nothing to do on the plane except read these books.
It was an amazing flight.
I recently began re-reading the Harry Potter series (in addition to The Tattooist of Auschwitz, by Heather Morris; Michelle Obama's memoir, Becoming; Susan Rice's Tough Love: My Story of Things Worth Fighting For; Michael Schuman's The Miracle: The Epic Story of Asia's Quest for Wealth; and Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying -- I like to have a couple of books going at a time)... for a very similar reason.
After finding out my best friend had never experienced the wonder of the wizarding world, I felt so sorry for him, I immediately ordered a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. (And, of course, a luxurious pair of socks -- if you've read the book, you know why.)
But before I gave it to him... I couldn't help but flip through the pages.
Which turned into this.
I'm currently on Book 4. As much as I'm enjoying reliving the magic, a couple of things that bother me now that I didn't really think about before. One huge one:
Text: Severus Snape was an irredeemable scumbag who bullied, demeaned and humiliated innocent kids just because he was Friend Zoned by one of their dead mothers.
How could this abuse be allowed to go on? He bullied children as young as ten. He tried to poison Neville's pet toad. He was so awful that Neville feared him more than dragons, monsters, or other evils -- as evidenced by his boggart taking Snape's form:
Snape was a terrible person, and keeping him on the Hogwarts faculty was negligent. Harry naming his son after Snape is an insult to literally everyone else who died's memory.
Snape aside, many of my criticisms pertain to quidditch. Enjoying a fantasy novel requires you to suspend a certain amount of disbelief... but there are ways in which I simply cannot. For example:
1. There are only four teams in the whole school.
As quidditch is really the only major sport at Hogwarts, it seems like there are not nearly enough opportunities for students to get involved in sports.
There are four schools, each with one team of seven players.
That means that out of 800-ish students, only 28 get to participate in competitive athletics.
That's 3.5% of the student body.
Would it really kill them to have first-year teams? JV teams? Men's and Women's teams? A club team? Especially considering:
2. This is a sport in which 17-year-old men compete with 11-year-old girls and boys for spots on the team.
It's strange enough that these students:
Would be expected to compete with these students:
And that's just the difference between first-years and third-years.
Here they are in their would-be seventh year:
And, sure, I know that high school (and middle school) sports are more important in the US than overseas. Still. It just seems like so few opportunities -- especially for the younger kids.
I love youth sports. It's such an effective way to build friendship, teamwork, confidence, and character. It's a shame these kids were denied the chance.
3. Quidditch does not make sense as a co-ed sport.
Look -- women can't even compete with men in basketball, which is a limited contact sport with one ball that either weighs 20 ounces (women) or 22 ounces (men).
So how are women supposed to compete with men in a full contact sport with two iron balls, each ten inches in diameter and (according to HarryPotterFandom) 149 pounds? Women simply don't have the upper body strength for this to make sense.
Okay, so, realistically, women can't be beaters. Can they be chasers?
Only in fiction.
Chasers throw a twelve-inch, red leather-covered ball – the Quaffle – to one another, with the object of throwing the Quaffle through the opposing team’s hoops. Am I seriously to believe that female players can do this as well as men?
In fastpitch softball, pitchers throw the ball with an underhand motion at speeds up to 70 miles per hour for women and up to 85 miles per hour for men.
In open shot put competitions, the men's shot weighs 7.260 kilograms and the women's shot weighs 4 kilograms. Even so, the men's outdoor record is 23.12 meters, and the women's is 22.63 meters.
On senior national waterpolo teams, the fastest woman's shot is clocked at 42mph, and the fastest man's is 60mph.
Quidditch teams also have one goalie and one seeker. I can imagine a good female seeker, since being a good seeker correlates strongly with having a more expensive broom, rather than any physical attributes.
But can women compete with men as keepers?
The answer, in real life, is no.
According to Newsweek, college quidditch (played at muggle universities) is co-ed and gender equality is a "key value" in the sport...
YET. Here are some lovely quotes from the article:
It is very adorable to me how the kids in the article all swear that this co-ed game is helping bring gender equality to sports, when that is clearly not what's going on.
(Also, whotf is okay with being called a "non-male" player? That... is highly insulting. What a toxic culture they've created for themselves.)
I tried watching a few highlight reels. It was depressing. The girls basically stand near the hoops, unguarded, and hope eventually one of the non-female players decides to pass them the ball.
Imagine all the opportunities that would open up for women if the sport were divided by gender! They could play all of the positions. They would make all the plays. They would be featured in all the highlight reels.
The most sexist quote in the entire Newsweek article was the last one:
"This is the unfortunate truth, but being able to show the world that our sport involves big, athletic men making big hits can bring a sense of legitimacy to quidditch when it may otherwise be shrugged off as a game played by a 'bunch of nerds,'" Monteiro said. "Another concern of mine would be that with separate leagues, attention would shift all the way to the men's league and away from the women's."
Err... what about big, athletic women? Are they just... not legitimate? Or...?
So, long story short, I just couldn't accept that girls and women would be expected to compete with boys and men in a sport with 100+ pound balls, full contact, and strength requirements.
4.The way to win is by having the most expensive broom.
Not only is quidditch agist and sexist, but it's also classist and elitist.
Was Harry Potter really a better seeker than Cho Chang? Or did he just have a Firebolt, while Cho could only afford the Comet Two Sixty?
There are obviously sports in the real world that you win by having more money: race car driving, horse sports, etc.
But at least in equestrian competitions, you are randomly assigned a horse, so the rich kids don't just always compete on better horses.
It just seems like a shady way to win.
5. "Why do you need a permission slip to go to Hogsmeade, but not to play a dangerous sport where people die?"
This excellent point was made by my amazing friend, Nathan Monti.
I mean, I get that helicopter parenting is ruining children's emotional, physical, and social health... but jeez!
What bugged you about Harry Potter as an adult that didn't bother you the first time? What bothered you the first time? Let me know in the comments!
12/16/2019 02:46:35 pm
Christopher Hitchens points out some bothersome parts:
12/21/2019 04:06:43 am
I love HP but there are tons of flaws. Plot holes a mile wide (why did Crouch not just turn a pen into a portkey, invite Harry to his office and ask him to pass it to him); the question of why these kids don't study maths and English; why the sacking of a gamekeeper who routinely brings dangerous animals into the school grounds is controversial. I've always wondered what a Hogwarts Ofsted inspection would look like (Ofsted is the schools regulator, although since Hogwarts is in Scotland it would be covered by Education Scotland instead) and a quick Google search shows that many others have had the same idea. There's a Twitter account called Hogwarts Ofsted. You would appreciate the criticism that in book 4 the Quidddich tournament is cancelled and replaced by a sport that only 4 pupils can compete in (it was supposed to be 3 an only 1 of those from Hogwarts).
12/21/2019 01:12:22 pm
I love Harry Potter and always will, but there are definitely some plot holes and "omg why would it be like that" moments. Have you been seeing the news about the JK Rowling "controversy" over her "hateful" beliefs? I think you could have a field day dissecting that one!
12/24/2019 12:32:31 pm
I second that. (I have a degree in the law of England and Wales so I might be of assistance if you are unsure about the legal side).
1/23/2020 05:21:55 pm
Jadzia, I'd love to hear your thoughts from the legal side -- especially from England! From what I've read, it sounds totally bonkers over there...
1/23/2020 05:20:39 pm
Oh, would I! I feel like the real bigots are people who see goblins running a bank as an allegory for Jews, and house elves who choose to remain in captivity as an allegory for black people. (I... definitely didn't read it that way. I thought the house elves were an interesting way to show one of Hermione's few intellectual weaknesses. Number one was, of course, her rigid and rote approach to potions -- I feel like if she had a solid conceptual and applied understanding of potions, she would have been able to think of tricks like, "Crush the beans instead of chopping them," instead of rejecting them. But it also really irked me that she was so rigid in her views about house elves. Obviously they deserve rights and people should treat them well, and legislation around that is something probably worth supporting... but to TRICK them into freeing themselves, even after several have personally, passionately told you they don't want to be freed, then going on to criticize Hagrid for "freeing" Grawp from the giants and removing his agency or choice in the matter -- just goes to show. No one is perfect!)
1/23/2020 05:25:13 pm
2/11/2020 02:53:02 pm
If you haven't already, check out Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality: www.hpmor.com
5/28/2020 08:33:05 pm
I agree completely with all your given points. Perhaps the most crucial, to me, is the fact that Quidditch is hardly a skill-based game - it's based only on money. The best broom wins any day. Hogwarts has already shown that they have sufficient brooms for all the students, so why can't they mandate the same broom?
9/30/2020 05:58:51 am
I think Quidditch is designed to make no sense. JKR created the rules of the game to "infuriate men" after an argument with an old boyfriend.
7/22/2021 01:25:01 pm
I hope this doesn’t sound rude the article but actually woman do get to be apart of Quidditch. If you have seen the first movie, you may have seen that during the first Quidditch match in the movie you would see that there are woman playing the game as well. So I hope this doesn’t sound like an insult but Quidditch isn’t only meant’ for men.
7/24/2021 10:24:13 am
Yeah... I have seen the movies. As I mentioned in the article, in fiction, women can compete equally with men at any position. That was in the movie. In real life, though, women and men are physically different and cannot compete at sports. The only position women can play in real life is chaser. The other positions are almost completely dominated by men.
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Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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