An unabashed love letter to Ginny Weasley

Photo of Ginny Weasley wearing a capeDear Ginny,

Last week the first installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out, and that’s given me an opportunity to think even more than usual about how much I love the series. And as I was thinking about that, I realized that you, Ginny Weasley, are more awesome than Viktor Krum is surly. You are more excellent than Peter Pettigrew is cowardly. You are a badass feminist witch and I am so glad that you are around as a heroine for young women reading the Potter series.

Let’s start from the beginning. When you first got to Hogwarts, you had a huge crush on Harry Potter. You even sent him a singing valentine. Remember, “I wish he were mine, he’s really divine, the hero who conquered the Dark Lord?” Yeah, that was embarrassing. And he wasn’t interested because he was, like, 12, and despite being a hero, he’s actually kind of socially inept. Then, you were possessed by a bit of Voldemort’s soul and started petrifying people, and when that bit of soul realized it could use you as bait to get to Harry, it nearly killed you. But Harry saved you, and made sure you didn’t get expelled from Hogwarts, and things got even more awkward because that’s what happens when the boy you have a crush on saves your life but doesn’t like-like you back. Hermione noticed you were mooning over Harry and advised you to go out with some other guys, partly because she thought you might be able to loosen up around Harry if you weren’t constantly thinking about how into him you were.

So you went out with other guys. Lots of them. You even went out with one of Harry’s classmates, Dean Thomas, in your fifth year. Your older brothers gave you a hard time about dating so many guys, but you refused to let them slut-shame you. When two of them tried to hint that you were “moving through boyfriends a bit fast, don’t you think?” you told them that it was none of their business who you went out with. When Harry and Ron walked in on you kissing Dean it was a huge to-do – Harry was jealous because he’d developed a thing for you, and Ron was jealous because he’d never kissed a girl at that point. Ron said some really slut-shamey things and you were having none of it. You told him that there was nothing wrong with sexuality (well, I think the word you used was “snogging” but personally I think that sounds like a Scandinavian winter sport). When you and Harry finally got together later that year and Ron said that he could revoke his “permission” for you to date him at any time, you set him straight: you don’t need anyone’s permission to date, or to snog. And all those guys you dated, you broke with for really good reasons. You broke up with Michael Corner because he was a bad loser, and you broke up with Dean because he was always treating you like you couldn’t do things for yourself.

You’re also a great athlete. In your fourth year, you tried out for the Gryffindor quidditch team after training in secret because you were afraid your brothers would laugh at you (by the way, it must be really tough being the only daughter in a family with six brothers. I don’t know how you managed that). And it turned out that you were really good at quidditch. You even subbed in for Harry when he got kicked off the team just before the tournament final, and you led the team to victory!

You’re politically aware, too, and a bit of a rebel. In your fourth year, when the Ministry of Magic was interfering at Hogwarts and students weren’t learning how to defend themselves against dark magic, you joined Harry’s secret Defense Against the Dark Arts study group, where you learned to cast some seriously good spells. When Harry left Hogwarts, you were one of the students who kept that group going, trying to sabotage the people who were trying to take over Hogwarts, and risking punishment by torture to do it.

Finally, you’re really courageous. You weren’t afraid to stand up to the Ministry when it interfered at Hogwarts, and you threw yourself headfirst into battle with dark wizards on several occasions. Hell, when you were 16, you took on Bellatrix Lestrange, the fiercest and most deadly of Voldemort’s supporters. Well, you would have if your mother hadn’t stepped in at the last minute to finish Bellatrix off herself with that unforgettable line: “Not my daughter, you bitch!”

All that said, I’m not thrilled with the way you’ve been depicted on screen. I think they make you out to be way less self-reliant and way less gutsy than you are in the book. And I don’t know why they had you tie Harry’s shoes in the sixth movie; it was really out of place. Maybe they meant it as a fellatio metaphor, but let’s be honest: you’re Ginny Weasley. You probably give real blowjobs, not metaphorical ones.

In the books, though, you are an inspiration. Ginny, I am so glad that I got to read about you and your adventures when I was growing up. I am so glad that other girls and young women will have you as a fictional heroine, as well as Hermione and Professor McGonagall and Luna Lovegood and all the other great women that Rowling created over the course of this series. And I’m glad that Harry ends up with you; it’s nice to see the smart, brave, unashamedly sexual, athletic girl chosen for a change.

In conclusion, Ginevra Weasley, you are a badass.

Yours, with undying love and nerdy affection,

Chloe Angyal.

Photo: Yahoo! Movies

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19 Comments

  1. Posted November 22, 2010 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    A fabulous love letter to an important feminist fictional heroine. Ginny is a total badass, and thanks for pointing out the fact that she embraces her sexuality in a way that so few characters do.

  2. Posted November 22, 2010 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Yes! Ginny kicks so much butt!

    Don’t forget where the post-Hogwarts years take her – captain of the Hollyhead Harpies, the only all female Quidditch team, from which she retired to have kids become the senior Quidditch correspondent for the Daily Prophet!

  3. Posted November 22, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Go Ginny! Nice letter.

    I feel the same way about the book and the movie. Genny’s courageousness and vivacity is dimmed down in the movies, which makes me a bit frustrated. I like her kick-ass style :) .

  4. Posted November 22, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    I completely agree. But sadly, I think many of the reasons you listed are precisely why certain sections of the fandom have such burning hate/rage for Ginny.

  5. Posted November 22, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    I love Ginny and I love this letter! I remember a few of my friends calling Ginny a slut and I told them straight up that all she is doing is dating around, playing the field, seeing who’s out there, as opposed to just sitting around and pining for Harry, for which she would undoubtedly also take a lot of abuse from fans. Rock on, Ginny. Thanks for the great post, Chloe!

  6. Posted November 22, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I loved Ginny ever since the beginning. My cousin who just watched the first film and me reading the first book, loved her and Hermione. Also it’s refreshing for a male protagonist to love girl for her bravery, she was a welcome change from the more weaker and whiny Cho Chang. Plus it’s neat that Ginny inherited her Mom’s chutzpah, who is unashamedly strong and stern.

  7. Posted November 22, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    I love the way Ginny deals with the substantial amount of slut shaming she faces in the books. She is never ashamed, never embarrassed, and never for a second shows any signs of wavering in her conviction. It’s very possible that she does feel like her critics might be right, but she never gives them even a hint that they’re pressure is having any effect on her. Ginny Weasley is truly a role model for teenagers.

  8. Posted November 22, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    My favorite thing about BookGinny is, yeah, she doesn’t put up with slut shaming, but she never comes across as dating frequently because she “needs” to be with someone. I may be projecting my own ideas about her, but it’s so obvious she has so much else going for that she just does it for her own enjoyment.

    MovieGinny, however, drives me insane. She serves as little more than a function of Harry Potter (aside from Chamber of Secrets, obviously). Her appearances are cut short, and often more for the benefit of poorly developing Harry plotlines (namely, he likes her; she’s said two sentences in the entire movie, but let’s stare at her backlit by a dusty window… yes). She’s barely memorable, let alone such a badass.

  9. Posted November 22, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    Movie Ginny hardly even exists in Deathly Hallows! She ties Harry’s shoes and asks him to zip up her dress so the audience can wink and nudge one another about the fact that she’s not wearing a bra. How annoying.

  10. Posted November 22, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Thank you…I completely agree with everything you said…including how, unfortunately, Ginny is portrayed in the movies…she was always a tough woman, who did what she wanted, and didn’t take crap for it…and I would’ve loved to seen that play out in the movies…

  11. Posted November 23, 2010 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    I love the way Rowling writes female characters; they are diverse and unique, strong but not without realistic flaws. Ginny has always been one of the most intriguing characters in the book to me, and I think a lot of girls and women can relate to her transition from a shy and fragile girl to a strong woman. The best thing about Ginny (in the books, at least) is that is truly in control of her own narrative, makes her own choices and doesn’t think for a second that it should be any other way. You’re right: she’s a feminist, a badass and a great role model for girls.

  12. Posted November 23, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    …Eh, to each their own. Honestly, Ginny got on my nerves in book six. People just kept talking up her beauty and popularity, I got kind of tired of hearing how wonderful she was. *shrug*
    I love basically every other female female character in the series, but Ginny, not so much. She read like a “prize”, the perfect little prom queen to date the hero.

    • Posted November 23, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

      That comment is both incredibly predictable – really every anti-Ginny comment reads the same – but also, like 99% of Ginny comments out there, is incredibly sexist? Prize? Prom queen? Is Harry a prom queen? Is Ron a prom queen? Is the popular, handsome, and beloved by practically everyone Cedric Diggory a prom queen. No, they’re athletes but you single out a female character as a prom queen just for being conventionally attractive and popular.

      Your comment is very telling and sadly, it’s saying nothing good about how you view other women both real and fictional.

      • Posted November 24, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

        Cedric definitely is, Harry is arguable. I don’t think viewing certain characters as unrealistically flawless (and finding them somewhat irritating for it) is sexist. The word “prom queen” was a bad choice, I’ll admit.
        But really, I’ve seen this argument happen a million times, and I don’t feel like rehashing what others have said.

        • Posted November 28, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

          You can’t walk this back. Prom queen was not a bad word choice, it was sexist. Plain and simple.

          But really, I’ve seen this argument happen a million times, and I don’t feel like rehashing what others have said.

          What others have said is thoughtless sexist bullshit (she’s a Mary Sue, she’s a bimbo, she’s a bitch, she’s a cheerleader, she’s a prom queen) and utter nonsense that shows a complete inability to grasp books written for children and a total bitterness that Harry didn’t wind up with the character they projected all over (usually Hermione, Luna, or Draco, for some ungodly reason).

          . I don’t think viewing certain characters as unrealistically flawless

          And how is Ginny unrealistically flawless. Unlike Harry she has to work for her Quidditch ability. She just doesn’t appear out of nowhere, never having heard of the sport before and being naturally gifted at it. Unlike Harry she is not so exceptionally gifted at magic that she can perform complex spells like the Patronus Charm at 13 or throw off the Imperius Curse – something even a trained Auror like Mad-Eye Moody couldn’t do – at 14. Ginny is merely above average with a specialty for one little spell and not a very impressive one at that. And, like the Twins, Ginny is shown to have a cruel sense of humor and like Molly and Hermione, she is mean to Fleur. And like he is with the Twins, with Hermione, and with Molly, Harry generally overlooks these flaws because he likes Ginny and because that’s his flaw and we’re seeing things through his eyes.

          So, yeah, I don’t get your point at all.

  13. Posted November 23, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I liked both Ginny and Luna, maybe because they both seemed at first like lightweights but later turned out to have more substance. I felt like Ginny didn’t really get her due (in the books) because she was overshadowed by the Big Three. I would love to have read what exactly a “bat bogie hex” is.

    As for the movies: I think they went downhill after Goblet of Fire. My kids refused to go to see Half-Blood Prince, and after I saw it, I decided they were smarter than I was. The director seemed more interested in getting some sort of art movie award than telling a story.

  14. Posted November 24, 2010 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Meh. I’ll have to disagree with you. Ginny, for me at least, always served as a tease for Harry Potter, following him around with whatever activities he was doing.

    Nymphadora Tonks = best feminist character in the HP books/movies. Hell, I’ll even rank Bellatrix above Ginny.

  15. Posted November 24, 2010 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    I’m an unabashed Tonks fan, though she might have won that debate due to my Animorphs phase and her ability to change her appearance at will. :)

    Maybe it’s just me, but I really feel like the movies worked more to develop the trio. The books had the ability to develop them, but also took the time to really build the character of many of the Hogwarts students.

  16. Posted November 28, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Excellent post. There’s a lot of Ginny-hate in fandom, mainly because people just refuse to get the point of the books, think they’re terribly edgy for wifing the Slytherins (because you can tell how cool someone is if they like the bad guys in a children’s book), or are still bitter because Harry didn’t marry [insert character here].

    The scary thing is these are all adults too. Fandom, I just don’t know.

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