Hello hi everyone! I said I would be out for about a month, and now it’s been four months, and I hate constantly apologizing but I’m back. Here, I have a fresh chapter for you, and it’s possibly the worst writing I’ve done on one of these yet (which I’ll get to in the deconstruction after the text), but I’m posting it anyway, so I hope you enjoy.
If you’re just joining us, I’m writing a (gulp) chapter-for-chapter retelling of Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire from the perspective of Hermione Granger. It’s called Hermione Granger And The Goblet Of Sexism. We’re only eight chapters in, and already we have met a lot of sexism. Ok, let’s get into it, shall we?
Hermione Granger And The Goblet Of Sexism
Chapter Eight: The Quidditch World Cup
Hermione held her program against her chest, as the whole group walked into the wood, following a lantern-lit trail. It was odd, because she could hear a massive crowd all around them, practically buzzing with excitement and anticipation, as they were in a wood, she could hardly see them at all. She imagined hundreds, maybe even thousands, of witches and wizards, all in their ridiculous “muggle” outfits, on their way to the biggest wizarding event of the year. After twenty minutes, the twins singing and Ginny loudly enumerating the many qualities of the Irish quidditch team, they emerged from the trees.
Just in front of them was the biggest stadium Hermione had ever seen in her life, and it looked as though it were made of solid gold. Ginny pointed up to the very top. Hermione heard Mr. Weasley say “seats a hundred thousand,” to Harry, who was standing next to her. “Ministry task force of five hundred have been working on it all year. Muggle Repelling Charms on every inch of it. Every time Muggles have got anywhere near here all year, they’ve suddenly remembered urgent appointments and had to dash away again… bless them.” And with that, Mr. Weasley led the group to the nearest entrance.
She had the peculiar feeling she often had when she heard witches and wizards discussing muggles. It was as though they were discussing her, but really they weren’t. Only… could she have stumbled into something like this as a child, before it was clear that she was in fact a witch? How many times had her own mind been tampered with? There was no way to know, and she tried to shake it off as they headed up the stairs of the stadium. The stairs were carpeted in a lush purple, and the walls were that odd gold color, and seemed almost to glow. They kept climbing and climbing, as the rest of the crowd headed out through doors to the stands, until they found themselves at the very top of the staircase.
They were at the very highest point of the stadium, perfectly in the center, in a small box with around twenty very fancy purple-and-gilt chairs arranged in two rows. Hermione had heard that their seats were good, but she hadn’t really thought on what that must mean until this moment. She couldn’t believe the Weasleys had invited her! Glad she wasn’t afraid of heights, she took her seat between Ron and Harry, and then she looked down.
A hundred thousand people below were taking their own seats, which rose in levels around the long oval field. Everything seemed to have a rather peculiar golden glow, similar to what she’d noticed on the staircase. She wondered what spell created that, and why, and made a mental note to look it up once she again had library access. The field was just like any muggle field set up for an important sporting event, except of course that this one was set up for a quidditch game. At either end of the field stood three goal hoops, fifty feet high. And right across from where they were sitting there was a gigantic blackboard, which seemed to be showing magical advertisements.
Hermione didn’t find that very interesting, but she kept watching the massive crowd of spectators. Most were too far away for her to see much about them, but she found she liked wondering about them anyway. Where they had come from, how long their journeys had been…
Just then, she heard Harry talking to someone. “Dobby?” he said, in a tone full of incredulity, and she turned to see where he was looking.
He was talking to a small creature seated at the end of the row behind them. It had very large ears, somewhat like a bat’s, and their legs were so short that their little bare feet stuck out on the seat in front of them. The face was hidden behind hands that were more humanlike than the rest of the features… and Hermione felt instantly sorry for the creature. It suddenly lowered its hands to look at Harry, and Hermione saw two big, sad, brown eyes.
“Did sir just call me Dobby?” the creature squeaked, in a higher voice than she could have imagined possible. Then it dawned on Hermione, this must be a house elf.
“Sorry,” Harry was saying, “I just thought you were someone I knew.”
“But I knows Dobby too, sir!” the elf squeaked back at him. Hermione had never seen a house elf, but she remembered that Harry Potter had met one called Dobby two years ago. “My name is Winky, sir — and you, sir —” the elf’s eyes opened wider with reverence, and each ‘sir’ dripped with respect, “You is surely Harry Potter!”
Apparently, even the house elves knew all about her friend.
“Yeah, I am.” he said.
“But Dobby talks of you all the time, sir!” Winky said. Winky was wearing a tea towel draped about her, and Hermione was now fairly certain that Winky was a her, though of course she supposed not knowing much about elves, she could be wrong.
“How is he?” said Harry. “How’s freedom suiting him?”
“Ah, sir,” said Winky shaking her head, “ah sir, meaning no disrespect, sir, but I is not sure you did Dobby a favor, sir, when you is setting him free.”
“Why? What’s wrong with him?”
“Freedom is going to Dobby’s head, sir,” said Winky, looking rather sad. “Ideas about his station, sir. Can’t get another position, sir.”
House elves tended to serve a wizarding family, though Hermione didn’t know any wizards personally who had one (that she was aware of, anyway). They could only be freed by being offered proper human clothing by their masters. The elf Harry had befriended in their second year had belonged to the Malfoy family, and from what Hermione knew of the story, Harry had somewhat tricked Lucius Malfoy into freeing the elf. She didn’t know what all this business was about ‘ideas about his station’ though. She watched the elf, thinking hard.
Harry said “why not?”
“He is wanting paying for his work, sir.” she said it like it was a dirty thing to say.
“Paying? Well — why shouldn’t he be paid?” Harry said, as though he was unaware of Winky’s obvious distress.
“House-elves is not paid, sir!” Winky said in a muffled squeak. “No, no, no. I says to Dobby, I says, go and find yourself a nice family and settle down, Dobby. He is getting up to all sorts of high jinks, sir, what is unbecoming to a house-elf. You goes racketing around like this, Dobby, I says, and the next thing I hear you’s up in front of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, like some common goblin.”
She sounded utterly terrified. Harry Potter just said “Well, it’s about time he had a bit of fun!”
“House-elves is not supposed to have fun, Harry Potter! House-elves does what they is told. I is not liking heights at all, Harry Potter, but my master sends me to the Top Box and I comes, sir.”
“Why’s he sent you up here, if he knows you don’t like heights?”
“Master — master wants me to save him a seat, Harry Potter. He is very busy.” She tilted her head to the empty seat beside here. Hermione was beginning to understand why she looked so frightened. Then she said “Winky is wishing she is back in master’s tent, Harry Potter, but Winky does what she is told. Winky is a good house-elf.” and she hid her face in her hands again.
Ron, who had only been half paying attention to the exchange, said “so that’s a house-elf? Weird things, aren’t they?”
“Dobby was weirder,” was all that Harry replied. It was just like the two of them to see a frightened creature and only notice that it was a bit odd. She sighed, and opened her velvet covered program. She may as well know what was going on, after all.
“A display from the team mascots will precede the match” she read aloud.
“Oh, that’s always worth watching,” Mr. Weasley leaned towards them from several seats over. “National teams bring creatures from their native land, you know, to put on a bit of a show.”
She read the names of the players, and a bit about the history of the world cup, as the box gradually filled up around them. She was more interested in the crowd below than in the well-to-do wizards who were coming into the box, though she did notice when the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, arrived. He introduced Harry Potter to a Bulgarian Wizard, and Hermione was happy that it wasn’t her in the limelight. Then he said “ah, and here’s Lucius!” and she turned around in spite of herself.
And so it was, Lucius Malfoy, the very wizard Harry had freed that other house elf from, along with someone who looked to be his wife, and his son, Draco, who was in the same year as herself at Hogwarts. He was in slitherin house, and he particularly hated muggle-born witches and wizards, and appeared to reserve a special revulsion for Hermione herself.
“Ah, Fudge,” said Mr. Malfoy, clearly keen to show he was on familiar terms, “How are you? I don’t think you’ve met my wife, Narcissa? Or our son, Draco?”
“How do you do, how do you do?” Fudge said, smiling like a politician, “And allow me to introduce to you Mr. Oblansk — Obalonsk — Mr. — well, he’s the Bulgarian Minister of Magic, and he can’t understand a word I’m saying anyway, so never mind. And let’s see who else — you know Arthur Weasley, I daresay?”
It was as plain as day that the two men didn’t like each other. Hermione had once witnessed them have an actual fight in a bookshop, and she wondered if Mr. Fudge knew the first thing about any of the people he was speaking with.
“Good lord, Arthur,” Mr. Malfoy said softly, looking up and down the row of seats, “What did you have to sell to get seats in the Top Box? Surely your house wouldn’t have fetched this much?”
“Lucius has just given a very generous contribution to St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, Arthur.” Fudge blundered on, “He’s here as my guest.”
“How — how nice,” said Mr. Weasley, with a very strained smile.
And then she noticed that Lucius Malfoy was looking right at her. She fought the urge to avert her eyes, though she felt herself go slightly pink and hoped no one would notice. Of course, he knew very well who she was, and who her parents were. He hated muggle born witches and wizards as much as his son did, and his stare was a reminder that no matter what she did, in the wizarding world she would always be second-class. It stung, but she was glad to have Harry and Ron beside her. Draco gave all three of them a dirty look, and then all the Malfoys sat down and the moment was over.
“Slimy gits,” Ron muttered. They all looked straight ahead at the field. Then Ludo Bagman suddenly came charging in, and nearly shouted “Everyone ready? Minster — ready to go?”
“Ready when you are, Ludo.” said Fudge.
Ludo pulled his wand from his quidditch robes, directed it as his own throat, and said “Sonorus!” and then he spoke over the roar of the crowd, his voice now magically projected, echoing over them, booming into every corner of the stands.
“Ladies and gentlemen… welcome! Welcome to the final of the four hundred and twenty-second Quidditch World Cup!”
Well, she had to give it to wizards, they certainly could keep a thing going. The spectators screamed and clapped, and it felt as though something incredible was beginning.
“And now, without further ado, allow me to introduce… the Bulgarian Nation Team Mascots!”
Applause and cheers erupted from the right hand side of the stands, which were a sea of scarlet. She heard Mr. Weasley say “I wonder what they’ve brought… Aaah! Veela!”
Something like a hundred women glided out onto the field, except she guessed that they weren’t really women, not exactly. For one thing, Mr. Weasley had said creatures from their native lands, and for another thing, the veela seemed to have extra shiny skin, and there was something wrong with their hair as well. They did a dance, which wasn’t bad, but she’d seen muggle dancers who were better.
All of a sudden, she noticed that the boys on either side of her were acting strangely. Harry looked like he was about to jump from the box, he’d already stood up and moved towards the edge, and Ron wasn’t far behind. “Harry, what are you doing?” she said, in confusion. Then the music stopped, and suddenly there was a lot of angry yelling all around. People appeared to be… protesting the end of the dance? And it seemed to be primarily the male wizards, too. Ron seemed to be shredding the shamrocks on his hat for some reason…
“You’ll be wanting that,” Mr. Weasley said, taking the had from his son, “once Ireland have had their say.
“Huh?” Ron said, stupidly.
“Honestly!” Hermione said, and she finally reached forward and pulled Harry, bodily, back into his own seat.
“And now,” boomed Ludo’s voice again, “kindly put your wands in the air… for the Irish National Team Mascots!”
Well, they were more entertaining than the weird dancing-ladies, at least. What looked like a great green-and-gold comet came zooming into the stadium, did a circuit of it, and then split into two smaller comets, each hurtling towards the goal posts. Then a rainbow suddenly sprang up and arched across the field, connecting the two balls of green and gold light. The crowd “oooohed” and “aaaahed,” and Hermione thought it was a bit like fireworks. Then the rainbow raded away, and the balls of light came back together, and merged into a great shimmering shamrock. It soared up and over the stands, and something seemed to be falling from it, something oddly metallic.
“Excellent!” Ron yelled as the shamrock went over their heads. Heavy gold coins were falling from it, and when she looked up (careful to dodge the falling coins) she saw that the shamrock itself was actually composed of tiny bearded figures, each with a lamp of gold or green. So, they were leprechauns.
Ron was stuffing fistfulls of gold into Harry’s hand saying “There you go, for the Omnioculars! Now you’ve got to buy me a Christmas present, ha!”
Even in the wizarding world, matters of money could be so uncomfortable.
Eventually the shamrock dissolved, and the leprechauns drifted down onto the field. Far below on the grass, on one side sat the leprechauns, and on the other side the veela, each ready to watch their own team in the match, she supposed.
Ludo Bagman’s massive voice was filling the whole stadium again, saying “And now, ladies and gentlemen, kindly welcome — the Bulgarian National Quidditch Team! I give you — Dimitrov!”
And he went through all the players names, booming them out as they raced onto the field. When he said “Krum” Hermione heard Ron practically screeching “that’s him that’s him!” and he wasn’t the only one, either. No doubt, Krum was a crowd favorite.
Then Bagman introduced the Irish National Quidditch Team, with the same pomp and circumstance, and then the referee, who was called Hassan Mostafa, and was from Egypt. Then the match finally began.
Hermione knew all the rules of Quidditch, she knew the history of the sport better than any wizard, and she never missed a Gryffindor match at Hogwarts, yet she just couldn’t get as excited as the others about the game. She wasn’t sure why, but she just couldn’t. She found everything about this match to be interesting, and she certainly appreciated how much different it was from a school match, it really gave her a feel for the scope of the thing. But beyond that… she wasn’t sure, but at least when it was her friends and classmates playing, she could care about them doing well. But these players were strangers… Still, this was the World Cup! She tried to make herself focus. She took a moment to acquaint herself with the many options on her Omnioculars, and then was able to zoom in to see some rather complicated flying formations done by the Irish team.
Before long, one of them scored, and Hermione found herself cheering along with the rest. Harry said “What? But Levski’s got the Quaffle!” in a confused voice, and she knew at once that he’d slowed down his Omnioculars.
“Harry, if you’re not going to watch at normal speed, you’re going to miss things!” she reminded him.
It was an intense match. The Irish team was nearly unstoppable, they worked in a tight formation and scored goal after goal. Before long is was thirty to zero, and the Bulgarian team was playing aggressively too, whacking bludgers at the Irish ferociously, forcing them to break formation. Finally, one of the Bulgarian chasers managed to score a goal, and Mr. Weasley bellowed “fingers in your ears!” as the veela started to dance in celebration. She hoped the boys would keep their sense.
Then something extraordinary happened. The two Seekers, Krum and Lynch, plummeted through the center of the Chasers, faster than she had ever seen anyone fly before. They looked as though they were going to collide with the ground and almost without being conscious of it she heard her own voice shout “they’re going to crash!”
Well, she’d thought she wasn’t emotionally invested in quidditch.
The Irish Seeker, Lynch, did fly straight into the ground with a dull thud, but the Bulgarian Seeker, Viktor Krum, did not. He pulled out of the dive at the exact last second.
“Fool!” moaned Mr. Weasley, “Krum was feinting!”
“It’s time-out!” Bagman’s voice boomed, “as trained mediwizards hurry onto the field to examine Aidan Lynch!”
“He’ll be okay, he only got ploughed!” Charlie Weasley said reassuringly to Ginny, who looked positively horror-struck at the scene below. “Which was what Krum was after, of course…”
Yes, it was a bit different than Hogwarts Quidditch, Hermione thought.
Soon the match began again, and it was, if possible, more furious than before. Hermione couldn’t keep up with how many goals the Irish scored, and knowing that the Weasleys were all for the Irish team, she was quite happy for them. Before long they were someone leading by one hundred and thirty points to ten! When they tried to score again, the Bulgarian Keeper did something against the rules, and Bagman’s voice rang out “And — yes, it’s a penalty to Ireland!”
The leprechauns, who had risen angrily into the air a moment earlier, now darted together to form the words “HA HA HA!” and then the damn veela started to dance again. All the boys shoved their fingers into their ears in a panic, it was sort of funny actually, and then she noticed that even the referee, Hassan Mostafa seemed to be taken with the strange creatures. He was flexing his muscles and smoothing his mustache. She grabbed Harry’s arm to point it out to him, and then Ludo Bagman said “now we can’t have that! Somebody slap the referee!”
An official-looking mediwizard tore across the field with his fingers stuffed into his own ears (which looked very unofficial) and he kicked Mostafa hard in the shins. It seemed to make Mostafa snap out of it, though, and he looked quite embarrassed and then started to shout at the veela.
“And unless I’m much mistaken, Mostafa is actually attempting to send off the Bulgarian team mascots!” said Bagman’s voice. “Now there’s something we haven’t seen before…. Oh this could turn nasty….”
It did. The Bulgarian Beaters landed on either side of Mostafa and seemed to be arguing with him, gesticulating toward the leprechauns. Hermione turned her omnioculars in their direction and saw that they had spelled out the words “HEE HEE HEE.” Mostafa gave two short blasts on his whistle, and the Bulgarian Beaters flew off rather grumpily.
“Two penalties for Ireland!’ came Bagman’s voice, and the definite sound of anger came from the Bulgarian crowd.
The game somehow became even fiercer than before… the Beaters on both sides were behaving mercilessly. Then one of the Bulgarian players, Dimitrov, shot straight at Moran on the Irish side, and almost knocked her clear off her broom. The entire Irish crowd shouted “foul!” almost in unison.
“Foul!” echoed Bagman, “Dimitrov skins Moran — deliberately flying to collide there — and it’s got to be another penalty — yes, there’s the whistle!”
The leprechauns had risen back into the air again, and now they were forming a giant hand, which made a hand gesture Mrs. Weasley would definitely not have approved of. And next thing anyone knew, the veela seemed to lose control. Rather than dancing, they launched themselves across the field and began throwing what looked very much like handfuls of fire at the leprechauns. They’re faces seemed to change… they elongated into sharp beaked bird heads… and wings were bursting from their shoulders.
Before Hermione could wonder what the boys who had been goggling over them thought of this latest development, Mr. Weasley yelled out “And that boys, is why you should never go for looks alone!” Apparently, he didn’t think she or Ginny needed such a reminder.
The chaos below was unbelievable… Ministry wizards were soon involved, attempting to separate the veela and the leprechauns with little success. And above them the match continued, all the while Bagman continued to shout out who had the quaffle, then Moran scored for Ireland, and the veela shrieked something awful, and the game went on. It was all a tumult of noise and excitement. Then somehow Viktor Krum took a bludger to the face, and he stopped in mid air, bleeding, and reaching one hand up to inspect the damage, before the referee could notice him. It looked like, at the very least, his nose was badly broken.
“Time-out! Ah, come on, he can’t play like that, look at him!” Ron shouted from one side of Hermione.
“Look at Lynch!” Harry shouted, even more loudly, from the other side.
She pulled her omnioculars back up to her face just in time to see Lynch go into an incredible dive.
“He’s seen the Snitch!” Harry shouted. “He’s seen it! Look at him go!”
Lynch was diving faster and faster, and then somehow Krum was on his tail. It was incredible that he could fly at all, and flecks of blood flew through the air behind him, but he was drawing level with Lynch and “They’re going to crash!” she heard her own voice shout, as they hurtled toward the ground.
“They’re not!” roared Ron.
“Lynch is!” roared Harry.
And then there was a crash, a terrible crash, as Lynch hit the ground head on for the second time, and was immediately attacked by the angry veela.
Someone shouted “The snitch, where’s the snitch?” in a sort of panic and then she heard Harry answer back “He’s got it — Krum’s got it — it’s all over!”
And there was Krum, blood everyone, rising into the air with his fist held high. He had caught the golden snitch.
The stands were total and utter confusion. It took a few moments for the Irish supporters to realize that their team had just won. But slowly the crowd began to rumble, and then to cheer and shout and scream with delight. Bagman’s magical voice shouted “IRELAND WINS!” and even he sounded a bit taken aback by it, “KRUM GETS THE SNITCH — BUT IRELAND WINS — good lord, I don’t think any of us were expecting that!”
The final score was Bulgaria: 160, Ireland: 170. Ireland had won, by only ten points.
“What did he catch the Snitch for?” Ron bellowed, all the while jumping up and down, applauding, “He ended it when Ireland were a hundred and sixty points ahead, the idiot!”
“He knew they were never going to catch up!” Harry shouted over Hermione at ron, “The Irish Chasers were too good… He wanted to end it on his terms, that’s all…”
Hermione, though, found herself wondering if the young man still covered in blood was alright. She leaned forward to watch him land, and a crowd of men who she guessed were mediwizards rushed towards him, “He was very brave, wasn’t he?” she said, “He looks a terrible mess…”
Soon his team members were surrounding him, looking dejected, as the celebration went on all around them.
“Vell, ve fought bravely,” said a voice, which sounded rather gloomy, from a bit behind where Hermione and her friends were seated.
“You can speak English!” said Fudge, sounding outraged, and Hermione turned around to see that the first speaker had been the Bulgarian Minister of Magic. “And you’ve been letting me mime everything all day.
“Vell, it vos very funny,” said the Bulgarian minister, and Hermione giggled softly to herself.
Then Bagman’s voice roared “And as the Irish team performs a lap of honor, blanked by their mascots, the Quidditch World Cup itself is brought into the Top Box!”
She turned quickly, and then her eyes were suddenly dazzled by a bright white light, the Top Box was being magically illuminated so that everyone could see inside. Peering toward the entrance they’d come through earlier, she saw two men — panting a bit with the effort — carrying a massive golden cup into the box. They handed it to Cornelius Fudge, who looked somewhat perturbed, probably still thinking about the Bulgarian minister.
“Let’s have a really loud hand for the gallant losers — BULGARIA!” Bagman shouted.
And to Hermione’s surprise, into the box came the seven Bulgarian players… including Krum, who apparently had refused the help of the mediwizards, and was still spectacularly covered in his own blood. She wondered what it must have felt like, and then she noticed he was still gripping the snitch, apparently as unwilling to give it up as he was to have his wounds seen to. Each player shook hands with their own minister, and then Cornelius Fudge, and Bagman announced their names. When Krum’s name was announced, the whole stadium went wild. Despite being on the losing team, and coated in blood, he was still a crowd favorite.
And then it was time for the Irish team. The performed the same ritual, only much more joyously, and then they lifted the cup itself into the air. Hermione thought the whole thing had been rather more exciting than she’d anticipated.
Then she saw Fred and George Weasley, who scrambled over the backs of their own seats to reach Ludo Bagman, who said (in his normal voice), “Ah yes… yes, I owe you… how much?”
Deconstruction / Note On The Source Text
Ok, let’s get one thing out of the way first. This chapter was really horrid for me. Part of that is just that it’s really hard to get back into something after a long break… the other part is that I really really just don’t like sports. I’m one of those people who just doesn’t get sports, can’t get worked up about them, never even knows what sports season it is. If watching sports is your thing, that’s great, you like what you like. I just… don’t… and I come from a really sporty family and I still don’t get it and I never have and I never will. So if I’ve done a bad job at describing this sports game, I’m not surprised, and I’m sorry.
But to be fair to myself, the text didn’t exactly do me any favors.
Harry Potter is a boy who plays Quidditch at school, and is something of a Quidditch star at school, but knows very little about professional Quidditch. Hermione Granger is a girl who does not play Quidditch and isn’t terribly fond of flying, but has read up on the sport and understands its history and rules better than her jock friends. Throughout the series, Hermione is asked to play two roles when it comes to the game of Quidditch: on the one hand she is required to understand each and every match perfectly, while on the other hand she is required to be a girl who actually “just doesn’t get it.”
This chapter is no exception. The few lines Hermione has (and she has very few lines) absolutely make it necessary to the plot that Hermione is watching the game very closely and fully comprehends everything that is going on. Yet, later on in the book, she’ll be mocked mercilessly for getting a Quidditch term wrong, calling it a “wonky feint.” Hermione can’t win, she has to know literally everything, but also she has to be a stupid girl and not know things, and then when she doesn’t know things she gets yelled at for it.
Being Hermione Granger must be exhausting.
When I started this project, I saw Hermione a bit differently than I do now. I mean, she’s bookish, she’s concerned about equality, it was easy to identify with her and see her as a sort of proto-feminist (a bit like I was at that age). Now I don’t know if that’s entirely wrong, but she’s definitely more complex than that. For one thing, she’s incredibly quiet, preferring so far to observe her louder male friends and take in her surroundings. And now I’m stuck on this thing about the Quidditch, and I can’t help but think… Hermione Granger is trying to Win At Patriarchy.
She’s a girl who’s friends with boys, who’s willing to wear the label of the exceptional woman (at least for now) and accept their “you’re not like other girls” type of backhanded compliments. She has (thus far in the series) been perfectly un-sexual, and perfectly helpful, making her a suitable friend to have in your group even if she is a girl and a brain. And she successfully performs her feminine duty around sports as well. She is perfectly, impeccably, informed on all matters athletic, and yet willing to ignore her own knowledge and play the fool so as not to threaten their fragile masculinity.
I remember my mom, a woman who loves many sports, complaining about these double standards with my dad’s friends. She would be invited along to watch a game, expected to be able to keep up (and she could), and then they’d say something about what a nice wife she was for being willing to sit through it for my dad’s sake. She wasn’t nearly as nice as Hermione is about it, and usually said something biting about how she’d been into basketball longer than him or whatever.
But the game is rigged. As a girl, Hermione will never be able to get a real leg up in the patriarchal system. She’ll be mocked and ridiculed just the same, until they’re ready to objectify her. Basically, this is a taste of what’s to come… this stuff is going to get darker.
Other things in this chapter!
Hermione meets, or rather almost meets, a house elf for the very first time. We’ll note that Harry does not consider introducing the elf to either of his friends (hey Harry, I get it, I’m a leo too). But this is planting a seed for our young heroine, make no mistake. Right now she’s doing what Hermione does, she’s being quiet, observing, and not jumping to any conclusions. Hermione Granger is constantly filing away information for later use, and this encounter (or lack therof) with Winky is no exception.
Also the mascots are… well… something, aren’t they? Despite my lack of interest in sporting events, I’ve been dragged to games, and the mascots I’ve seen are not the disruptive. On the one side, we have leprechauns (who I admittedly don’t know much about) who drop gold coins which will turn out to be fake but are still very heavy and probably dangerous on the crowd. On the other side we have veela, which sound very much like several misogynist fantasies combined… so beautiful, so evil, actually ugly birds, etc.
Curious, I googled.
Wikipedia says that “veela” is from Harry Potter but there is a fairy in Slavic folklore called “vila.”
The Vila are the Slavic versions of nymphs, who have power over wind, which they delight in causing storms of high winds. They live around hills, mountains, and high mounds. (cf. Leimakids, Limnades, Oceanids, Dryads, Nephele). They can appear as a ghost-like figure with a long billowing cloak wrapped around them.
In Polish mythology, the Wiła (pronounced [ˈviwa]), and in South-Slavic mythology theVila (Serbian pronunciation: [ʋǐːla]), are believed to be female fairy-like spirits who live in the wilderness and sometimes in the clouds. They were believed to be the spirits of women who had been frivolous in their lifetimes and now floated between here and the afterlife. They usually appear as beautiful maidens, naked or dressed in sparkling beautiful white dresses, green skirts of leaves, and special fabulous blue robes.
It is said that if even one of their hairs is plucked, the Vila will die, or be forced to change back to her true shape. A human may gain the control of a vila by stealing a piece of the vila’s skin. Once burned, though, she will disappear.
It seems apparent to me that Rowling has lifted some of these ideas to create her very own “veela.” Thankfully, she didn’t get into the skin stealing thing. But it still all feels super sexist and gross to me. Also note that all of the boys are transfixed, to the point of not being able to function and even putting themselves into very real danger (Harry almost jumps from the damn box) but the girls are all calm and collected. Everyone is heterosexual, and the veela have come to entice your menfolk with their feminine wiles, and if that doesn’t work they’ll throw fire. So yes, nothing to see here.
We also have Krum, who Hermione is clearly noticing in a very big way. This actually makes a good deal of sense to me. She’s free from the pressure to support one team or the other (Harry and Ron, excellent friends that they are, do not seem to give a single shit what Hermione thinks or feels about this game) and so she can zoom in on individual players. Krum definitely stands out.
Anyways, that’s all for this week. I’m happy to be back, and at the rate we’re going, we should be through the book in just over four and a half years.