Girl Talk: How I Learned About Feminism And Motherhood From Molly Weasley
I was eight years old when I first picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at an elementary school book fair. My mom bought me a hardcover copy to take home and read at my leisure. Instead of tuning into the Disney Channel I devoured all 309 pages of Harry’s first adventure in one night. As time passed, I continued to keep up with Harry Potter. I read all seven books upon their immediate release. I went to midnight showings of each film, sitting alongside my fellow Harry Potter Heads with their broomsticks and faux-lightning scars. I even visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Theme Park in Orlando, Florida, this past January, courtesy of the best Christmas gift ever. Both the 90-minute line to get into Ollivander’s Wand Shop and the hour-long wait for a meal at The Three Broomsticks were well worth it.
I’m sad that my childhood journey with Harry will come to an end on July 15—fourteen years after my initial HP experience—with the opening of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.” Some kids read the Harry Potter books and learned about Azkaban, love potions, and chocolate frogs. I learned about feminism and motherhood, thanks to one of the series’ most underrated characters:
Molly is the mother of Ron, Harry’s best friend at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, as well as six other Weasley children. Her husband, Arthur, works at the Ministry of Magic and leaves her as the designated homemaker. Her character is short and plump, with flaming red locks that match the rest of the Weasley clan. She rules the roost and wears many different hats—caregiver and expert pie maker, activist and one of the only female members of the Order of the Phoenix, and participating fighter in the Second Wizarding War to name a few. In “Deathly Hallows,” Molly will go toe-to-toe with Bellatrix Lestrange, chief Death Eater and Lord Voldemort’s right-hand-woman, during the Battle of Hogwarts. In case you haven’t read the books, she plays a pivotal role.
She welcomes other children into her family and treats them like her own. Despite her lack of financial resources, she always comes up with a decent Christmas feast for all guests invited. While Molly upholds the traditional stereotype of being a stay-at-home mom, she is a new kind of mom that’s revolutionary in children’s stories. She is not a submissive character by any means; instead, she uses her role as “mother of many” as a means of power and accomplishing great tasks.
Molly Weasley’s unique, badass mothering reminds me of my own mom. Their similarities struck me at a young age through basic, minor details; specifically when Molly sent a Christmas package to Harry Potter during their first year at Hogwarts because she knew he was an orphan and wouldn’t get many presents. My mom always buys my friends her own Christmas presents, too, I thought to myself.
On a more serious note—Molly’s ability to aggressively stare down any problem facing her family, no matter what the cost or sacrifice, confirmed my suspicions that she shared more than a few characteristics with my own mom.
Like Molly Weasley, my mom stayed at home, but redefined the traditional role in her own ways. She’s never failed to encourage my progressive thoughts, urging me to pursue my most radical opinions over a cup of Lipton tea and piece of homemade bread pudding. My mom raised my siblings and I to never assume just because she stays home with us all day, she’s responsible for doing the dishes after dinner—my brother, sister, and I are very familiar with a sponge and dishwasher detergent.
It was a form of magic to see the same qualities play out between this made-up mother character in my favorite books and my real mom. My views on modern motherhood were inherently affected by witnessing both mothers nurture all children who need them, not just their own blood; manage to hold their families together under any and all circumstances; have unconditional love and support, even in the most frustrating moments; and partake in empowering, female-friendly movements that positively influence their daughters and sons alike.
J.K. Rowling didn’t only provide a source of entertainment for readers through Harry Potter; her works of fiction serve as critical tools in shaping the ways in which we perceive real-life experiences. Underneath the Death Eaters and Floo Powder are characters, themes, and metaphors filled with a deeper understanding. The Wizarding World might be a whole world away from reality, but its underlying messages hold true. I’m just so grateful that my mom bought me my first Harry Potter hardcover at that book fair. My feminist consciousness wouldn’t have been the same without it.