Home > Film > Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Inferiorily Superior (boys, not the movie)

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Inferiorily Superior (boys, not the movie)

I’m not going to be talking about the fifth Harry Potter film as a whole, although I do have some gripes with it, but then I also like several aspects. I just want to talk about one scene, which is a scene often repeated across the spectrum of western media, long before Harry made it to the screen:

The ‘I let her win’ boy-vs-girl fight.

In this case, it’s Ron Weasley Vs. Hermione Granger in a training match (which is silly by the way, since both characters are supposed to be on different skill levels, and were such from the very first film. You don’t train your school football team against the NFL).

Anyway, back to the scene. As we often see, a boy and a girl square off, usually in some sort of sport or sparring, in this case with wands. Sometimes the male comes into it cocky and sometimes not, but in either case he will almost undoubtedly be soundly thrashed for all to see.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with showing a girl beating a boy, but as I’ve discussed before, there is something wrong with this becoming the assumed, even under the guise of positive reinforcement. Especially since the reverse would probably lead to the boy being shown as a jerk if he gloated over his victory, while the girl is never a jerk.

The real problem is what happens after the match. I many cases, especially if there were other men present, the male competitor will try to maintain his ‘misguided macho pride’, as many a feminist has put it, by claiming that he ‘let her win’. This will be met with half-sympathetic nods from the men, and ample triumphant snickering from the women.

This kind of scene builds a mindset which says “boys think they’re better, but they definitely aren’t”. And that’s not a healthy philosophy, for anyone involved.

Now, some might claim that such sequences are put in by male filmmakers who don’t like seeing boys losing to girls, but that’s a false notion. If these directors and writers were trying to be just a bit masculist, they would actually allow the male to come away with dignity intact. Instead they make fools of themselves by refusing to recognize the victory of their opponent (however unlikely).

No, this sort of scene is an attack on the media’s perception of masculinity. They are portraying these men (usually boys really) as ‘Straw Misogynists’, whose only function is to think girls can’t beat boys and then to be proved wrong. Apparently a girl’s victory isn’t good enough unless she is overcoming someone who thinks less of her. Just winning isn’t enough it seems.

Again, this isn’t inherently bad, but it is so prevalent as to become insulting. That, and it almost seems to be an attempt to maintain some sort of deranged status quo, wherein girls are equal to boys, but aren’t treated as such. This perpetuates/maintains the female’s status as victim and the male’s status as oppressor while still allowing girls to be routinely victorious.

However, this isn’t just bad for men. While sometimes it seems like feminist groups want women to remain eternal victims, that’s bad policy. This practice continues the belief of female inferiority, and even if it is constantly debunked, that base mindset will still persist, which will keep women from being respected for real.

Every time someone congratulates a woman for doing something “as good as the boys”, they are reminding everyone that women are inferior, that their bar of excellence is lower, and that they should never be expected to be able to perform.

The media needs to stop painting men as chauvinists, since most really aren’t. And they need to start show women as actual equals, not continual underdog heroines, or underdogs they will forever remain.

But then men wouldn’t go easy on them.

Men wouldn’t offer them extra protection because of chivalry.

Men wouldn’t allow themselves to be pushed around by a woman more than by another man.

Women would be on real equal footing with men.

Is that what people want?

Is that what women really want?

  1. marcy
    June 6, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    We tried watching Coraline … did you? My brother Dave and Alice (your cousin) really like that story. I just didn’t ‘get it’ I guess. Did you hear you have another cousin? Katie. She turns 1 in a few days. Dave and a home of 3 girls … sound familiar?

    And what do you make of having such fiercly opinionated sisters? Does your experience with them color your view of the media? Of course it does. But, in what way?

    PS – I am trying to substitute a ‘black man’ or a ‘Native American’ everywhere you write about girls/women to test your theory … try it … does it hold? Generations of ingrained self doubt in a white male privilidge world does shape our world view, one way or another. No matter which side you are on.

  2. June 9, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    That is a common hollywood motif not just for gender interactions.

    It’s hollywood, they are repetitive.

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