Two articles caught my eye today, one notionally light-hearted, the other definitely not.  One was overtly about sex equality and prejudice, the other was not.  And yet...  

Equality and prejudice are big topics, so I’d just like to limit myself to comparing these two articles.

First up we have this article on why Hermione outshines all the boys in Harry Potter, in every aspect, yet gets no recognition.  (Originally posted by Joy Engel  (

Witty, smart, well-reasoned and with an interesting subtextual conclusion that even in fiction the girls have to work harder, achieve more, look better, and make bigger sacrifices.  All just to get to second – or third - fiddle.  So what’s going on with JKR?   Was this a deliberate decision or a subconscious assumption?  Writer Gaie Sebold says it all in a private forum:

“I do wonder if she just picked up on the cultural mores that I picked up as a young girl reading fantasy fiction (at least in the era when I was first reading it) where the heroes are all young boys.  There just weren't any 12-year-old heroines, at least not that I remember, and not in fantasy. Hell, I had a young adolescent male hero in my first novel.  I just went to what I'd internalised as the default state, I think.  These days if I choose a male MC for a story I'm doing it very consciously.

"Or maybe she very clearly saw the market, and made her hero a young boy, because of the perception (and I have no idea how true it is, I just know marketing departments think it's true) that girls will read things with both male and female MCs, but boys will only read boy MC's. So she went for the more widely saleable version, and sneaked in a strong interesting female character under the wire?”

On the other hand, we have this from the BBC about an extradition to Peru to faces massacre charges.

Take a look at the article – do you see it?  Maybe you missed it, but it’s definitely there. 

Wikipedia regularly gets criticised for accuracy and bias, yet here they get it right.  Compare the BBC’s

“Hurtado is accused of commanding a patrol that killed the civilians, who included women and children.”

With Wikipedia’s 

“The number of unarmed men, women and children killed has been variously reported …”

Reading these two articles I wondered which is worse, being perpetually side-lined and ignored, whatever your achievements, or being regarded as so unimportant your violent death doesn’t warrant a mention?

OK, you could argue that the men are there by implication, but this swings both ways.  When would writing:

“… a patrol that killed the civilians, who included men and children.” 

ever be considered acceptable.

Realistically you can’t compare these two articles.  In this context they’re both illustrations of the culture they belong to.  My point is this - Prejudice isn’t a river that flows in one direction, it’s a creeping pool that spreads everywhere.  Beating it isn’t a win for me over you, it’s a victory for us, and until we really understand that as a culture it won’t happen.    

Or, if you want to be controversial: 

JK Rowling - Telling it Like It Is, or, Traitor to Her Own Sex?  Discuss.

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