Sexism: Defined by Harry Potter Can a reader honestly expect a series of stories for children to be filled with sexism? Didn’t think so. Sexism, defined as “prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex,” has found its way into one of today’s most popular series of books. Christine Schoefer, who is the mother of three die-hard female Harry Potter fans, has managed to depict and illustrate obvious gender bias occurring in these stories.
Throughout her piece, “Harry Potter’s Girl Trouble,” the reader is reminded as to how the author of the series is obviously discriminating against women. Schoefer makes a convincing argument as to why “Harry’s fictional realm of magic and wizardry perfectly mirrors the conventional assumption that men do and should run the world” (par. 2). Is it right to expose our children to this sort of world, where women are not viewed as equals? I hope that none would think so. Throughout the essay, Schoefer attacks author J.
K Rowling, who wrote the Harry Potter series, with many examples that are often difficult to reject. Because the books are published, her evidence is up-to-date and completely verifiable. Schoefer begins to prove her position early on where she uses specific examples. Hermoine, the female lead and supposedly the smartest student at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, is shown being just a smart goody-goody character whose only role in the story is to annoy the boys.
She is only useful in parts of the story until the critical situations begin to happen. At this point, she is shown being the weakling in comparison to the boys in the face of adventure and danger (par. 3). Schoefer then explains that even though Hermoine becomes respected and loved, she remains a “constant source of irritation, becomes ill humored, and ultimately leads to her being oblivious to her surroundings” (par. 5). Schoefer makes it very clear as to why women would have a problem with this series as she presents and array of examples.
As Schoefer continues, she presents other female characters to her argument in hopes of strengthening her point. Minerva McGonagall, described as the only female authority, who is a professor of transfiguration and also deputy headmistress of Hogwart’s, is another female character who loses herself in emotions because she lacks the vision of a superior. She is depicted in the story as a female who is once one of the head authoritative figures but then eventually breaks down and speaks weakly in the face of other domineering men.
Schoefer tends to use this approach in almost every one of her examples. She presents these points as her main argument instead of using facts, statistics or expert opinions to support her claim, which leads to believe that her argument is one of opinion and reason. Schoefer tends to stack her examples on top of each other in an attempt to not only keep the reader’s interest, but to also appeal to their emotions. It is an excellent way of presenting her argument as the examples prove to be strong evidence for her claim and provide ample backing to prove it.
As she goes on, she sufficiently covers many different positions such as in paragraphs 6, 8 and 9, where she uses examples of women who eventually become subordinates and become pushovers in comparison to the men. The accumulating examples tend to convince the reader of her experience in the area and further their relevance to the overall argument. Schoefer seems to address a neutral audience. She presents a slightly slanted argument where she doesn’t talk about the opposing side all too much. She spends most of the time building her argument with numerous examples and ties her points to personalize the issues to the readers.
She relies heavily on the reader’s ability to form his or her own conclusion based on the evidence given. In one instance, she anticipates a possible objection that one could make and partially agrees with it (par. 3). She asks a question that an opponent would ask to set herself up to respond to another viewpoint. Her strategy continues to work after she starts to contest the opposing viewpoint with situational examples that the reader can relate to. Only towards the end of her essay does Schoefer start to prove her point. She starts using rhetorical questions to keep the readers thinking and engaged in the argument.
After asking questions, Schoefer attacks the author’s credibility. She states that she “remains perplexed that a woman (the mother of a daughter, no less) would write a book so full of stereotypes” (par. 11). Her method of argument proves to be successful as she goes on to summarize her argument in paragraphs 12 and 13. As Schoefer ends her essay, she discloses another opposing viewpoint where she reveals that parents regard her as a “heavy-handed feminist with no sense of fun” (par. 13). She gives her argument to contradict the opposition and then effectively leaves the reader to question her claim over again.