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There are racial struggles and examples of racism, (Muggle-borns, centaurs, hous-elves, goblins, etc.) but are there any examples in the Wizarding World of sexism? Have witches and wizards always had equal rights?

  • 2
    Some interesting speculation in this reddit post, might be useful to draw on in writing up an answer. Also, aside from the example mentioned there of the first female Minister for Magic Artemisa Lufkin in 1798 (keeping in mind the position only existed since 1707), it's also worth mentioning that of the 4 founders of Hogwarts, two (Helga Hufflepuff and Rowena Ravenclaw) were women. – Hypnosifl Mar 9 '16 at 22:20
  • Also relevant to writing up an answer would be the historical wizards and witches mentioned in the famous witches and wizards trading cards that appeared in some video games, and which were written by Rowling as mentioned in this answer. You can see all the text and illustrations on the cards here. – Hypnosifl Mar 9 '16 at 23:11
  • @Hypnosifl Because I have been recently doing a load of research into the Famous Wizard Cards, I can tell you that the Lexicon's list was combining two (out of five) different sources with some creative licence. The list on Hogwartsishere just copies the text from the Lexicon. Neither should be regarded as a primary source for the exact text. – ibid Mar 10 '16 at 2:49
  • @ibid - Thanks for the info--is there any place to find the actual text other than the games themselves? – Hypnosifl Mar 10 '16 at 2:54
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    @Hypnosifl - Different versions of the games (e.g. GBA vs PC) have different versions of the text. Another version was made for the physical Chocolate Frog Cards, yet another was published on the old JKRowling.com and two more on Pottermore. I'm in the midst of compiling a master list which I would be willing to share with you when finished. – ibid Mar 10 '16 at 3:29
13

It seems that men and woman always had equal rights in the wizarding world even from ancient times,

There are many mentions of 'Witches' in wizarding world from canon sources even from establishment of Hogwarts, which was done by two women and two men.

Hogwarts staff was always been taken care to be balanced in ratio of men and woman by JK Rowling

McCormick: This is a question from Bridget from Toronto, and she's 12. Bridget's wondering, "Why did you create a magical society where men and women play such traditional roles? It seems most of the women Wizards pitter and patter around the house while the men do all the dark work."

Rowling: [laughs] That's not entirely true, because if you look at Professor McGonagall, she's a very, very powerful witch, and she's in a position of power. And in fact, if you look at the Hogwarts' staff - I had this discussion with someone the other day - it is exactly 50/50. Although it is true that you do have a headmaster as opposed to a headmistress, but that has not always been the case. As you will find out, there have been equal numbers of headmistresses.

Transcript of the interview is here

As far as the Ministry of magic is concerned, the first women was elected in 1798 and prior to that, there were no women who hold high positions.

  1. 1707-1718: Ulick Gamp
  2. 1718-1726: Damocles Rowe
  3. 1726-1733: Perseus Parkinson
  4. 1733-1747: Eldritch Diggory
  5. 1747-1752: Albert Boot
  6. 1752-1752: Basil Flack
  7. 1752-1770: Hesphasestus Gore
  8. 1770-1781: Maximillian Crowdy
  9. 1781-1789: Porteus Knatchbull
  10. 1789-1798: Unctuous Osbert
  11. 1798-1811: Artemisia Lufkin - First Witch to become Minister for magic.
  12. 1811-1819: Grogan Stump
  13. 1819-1827: Josephina Flint
  14. 1827-1835: Ottaline Gambol
  15. 1835-1841: Radolphus Lestrange
  16. 1841-1849: Hortensia Milliphutt
  17. 1849-1855: Evangeline Orpington
  18. 1855-1858: Priscilla Dupont
  19. 1858-1865: Dugald McPhail
  20. 1865-1903: Faris "Spout-Hole" Spavin
  21. 1903-1912: Venusia Crickerly
  22. 1912-1923: Archer Evermonde
  23. 1923-1925: Lorcan McLaird
  24. 1925-1939: Hector Fawley
  25. 1939-1948: Leonard Spencer-Moon
  26. 1948-1959: Wilhemina Tuft
  27. 1959-1962: Ignatius Tuft
  28. 1962-1968: Nobby Leach
  29. 1968-1975: Eugenia Jenkins
  30. 1975-1980: Harold Minchum
  31. 1980-1990: Millicent Bagnold
  32. 1990-1996: Cornelius Oswald Fudge
  33. 1996-1997: Rufus Scrimgeour
  34. 1997-1998: Pius Thicknesse
  35. 1998-present Kingsley Shacklebolt

After Artemisia Lufkin, there were many woman who became Ministers of magic and upto now, there were ten woman who governed the wizarding world for some time.

There are always witches who wished for a better society like Queen Maeve, who trained young sorcerers in Ireland prior to the establishment of Hogwarts and whom Rowling have adapted from other stories like Morgana Wikipedia

There are also only-women national Quidditch teams like the Holyhead Harpies, which was found in 1203 (Shows women were always good in Quidditch) whose current captain Gwenog Jones has a frog card for herself.

Gwenog Jones

Quidditch Captain

1968 - present

Captain and Beater of only all-female national Quidditch team, the Holyhead Harpies. After a game she enjoys relaxing with friends, drinking butterbeer, and listening to The Weird Sisters.

The Wierd Sisters is also a women band which is famous during the 19th Century,

Myron Wagtail, Kirley Duke, Donaghan Tremlett, Heathcote Barbary, Herman Wintringham, Gideon Crumb, Orsino Thruston, Merton Graves were the band members

It seems that there are equal rights for men and women in Wizarding world but it is unclear why the founders have thought boys were less trustworthy than girls.

'Me,' said Ron, who was still rather dishevelled. 'I didn't realise that would happen. It's not fair!' he added to Harry, as the girls headed off for the portrait hole, still giggling madly. 'Hermione's allowed in our dormitory, how come we're not allowed -?'

'Well, it's an old-fashioned rule,' said Hermione, who had just slid neatly on to a rug in front of them and was now getting to her feet, 'but it says in Hogwarts: A History, that the founders thought boys were less trustworthy than girls.

-Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix chapter 17

  • Of the Weird Sisters, Myron, Herman, Gideon, and Orsino are definitely masculine names, and Donaghan, Heathcote, and Merton are almost definitely masculine names, leaving only Kirley as possibly feminine. Where did you get that list of names? I don't remember the band members being listed in any of the books. – Martha Feb 27 '18 at 23:43
  • @Martha The Famous Wizard cards or the Chocolate frog cards published by Rowling had a card on each one of the band player. – axelonet Mar 30 '18 at 9:13
4

The Wizarding World has always have had relatively equal rights for everything besides blood status.

While I cannot find any quote from JKR specifically about sexism, the general theme of her books, is that prejudice is only about blood status, and nothing else.

I mean if we're talking about prejudiced people within the Wizarding World, what they care most about is your blood status.
(PotterCast Interviews J.K. Rowling, part one)

Looking at the History of the Wizarding World, we can see that they elected their first female Prime Minister back in 1798, less than a hundred years after the position formed.

Artemisia Lufkin
1798 - 1811
First female Minister for Magic. Established Department of International Magical Co-operation and lobbied hard and successfully to have a Quidditch World Cup tournament held in Britain during her term.
(Pottermore - Ministers for Magic)

For comparison, the Muggle Britain didn't elect a female Minister until nearly two hundred years later, with Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher
Born on October 13, 1925, in Grantham, England, Margaret Thatcher became Britain's Conservative Party leader and in 1979 was elected prime minister, the first woman to hold the position.
(http://www.biography.com/people/margaret-thatcher-9504796)

The Quidditch world seems to have been slightly less equal with the first female Quidditch referee not happening until at least 40 years later

Leopoldina Smethwyck
1829 - 1910
First British witch to referee a Quidditch match
(Famous Wizard Card)

  • 2
    Y'know, I'd say the fact that she's called out for being the first female minister of magic means that there was something unusual about a minister of magic being female at the time. Do we know when the Minister of Magic position was implemented? – user867 Mar 10 '16 at 3:33
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    @user867 - The Ministry of Magic was formally established in 1707 with the appointment of the very first man to hold the title 'Minister for Magic', Ulick Gamp. (Pottermore - Ministers for Magic) – ibid Mar 10 '16 at 3:42
  • Hmm, so the position was around for a good 91 years before Ms. Lufkin got the job, with elections for the position being held every seven years, or thereabouts. I guess that's still not enough information to know why her being the first female minister was remarkable. Possibly she was a great symbol of gender equality... Or possibly there'd been female MoM candidates and other officials since the beginning, and the fact that the first 91 years was all men was just a weird co-incidence. – user867 Mar 10 '16 at 4:16
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    @user867 - Either way, more equality than muggle Britain. – ibid Mar 10 '16 at 4:25
3

Present Days

I would rather say - yes. Men and women seem to take equal positions and with (relatively) equal ratios.

Examples:

  • Teachers at Hogwarts - female - 9:
    • McGonnagall (Transfiguration)
    • Sprout (Herbology)
    • Sinistra (Astronomy)
    • Grubbly-Plank (Care for Magical Creatures)
    • Trelawney (Divination)
    • Babbling (Ancient Runes),
    • Charity Burbage (Muggle studies)
    • Rolanda Hooch (Flying)
    • Umbridge (DADA)
  • Teachers at Hogwarts - male - 9:
    • Snape (Potions / DADA)
    • Flitwick (Charms)
    • Binns (History of Magic - not sure this counts)
    • Dumbledore (Headmaster)
    • Hagrid (Care for Magical Creatures)
    • Quirrel (DADA)
    • Lupin (DADA)
    • Lockhart (DADA)
    • Alastor Moody (DADA)

Ministry of magic employees - we got some women at high positions:

  • Umbridge
  • Amelia Bones
  • Griselda Marchbanks
  • Hermione Granger

The Aurors office seems to be short on women - only 2 are known - Tonks and Alice Longbottom against quite a lot of men serving. Seems that law enforcement in the magical world is a career path mainly for men. Still this seems like an exception, not the rule.

Past times

Most of the facts hint that witches enjoyed more rights compared to muggle women.

These include:

  • Hogwarts was founded by 2 men and 2 women. Around the 10th century there were very few women in England who could enjoy equal rights on such an undertaking.
  • Girls were taught magic in Hogwarts along with boys. To quote the books: "the founders thought boys were less trustworthy than girls" which implies that girls dormitories were built by the founders. In medieval England girls were unlikely to receive even basic education except for daughters of the very rich and/or royalties.
  • There were women taking the post of Headmistress of Hogwarts. Eupraxia Mole was one mentioned on Pottermore in an article about Peeves. Although it is much later (1876) it is still in the ages were very few women took such posts.
  • There were women taking the post of Minister of Magic - first one in 1798. Muggle England was (very successfully) ruled by queens with the most prominent ones being Elisabeth I and Victoria. Still, except for royalties, at that time it would have been very unusual that a women takes a high post in the government.
  • 4
    I think the question was meant to be historical, not about the modern Wizarding World. – Hypnosifl Mar 9 '16 at 21:52
  • 1
    Yes. Good answer, but I was asking for historical,as @Hypnosifl said. – CHEESE Mar 9 '16 at 21:56
  • I think Amelia Bones counts as an Auror. She is head of the department, after all... – Kevin Mar 10 '16 at 6:56
  • @CHEESE added some facts about older times – vap78 Mar 10 '16 at 20:20
0

This is not an answer, but:

It would very much stand to reason that even in ancient times, witches had much more equality with wizards than non-magical women had with non-magical men.

The reason is the simple fact that in ancient times, the non-magical world was ruled by brute force based on physical strength, which men have much more of than women, whereas the magical world is ruled by magic, which witches and wizards have to the same degree.

In any given circumstance where wizards tended more to be in charge, it would probably be due to non-magical attitudes bleeding into magical society.

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