Lisa Lo Paro
February 25, 2016 1:49 pm

When I was 9 years old, my mother bought me a box set of the first four Harry Potter books for Christmas. I devoured them within two weeks, and thus began a lifelong love for the story, the characters, and the world of magic. It’s a story so many of my generation has told: the story of how they first were introduced to the Harry Potter. And for all of us, the effects were irreversible: we were hooked, we were in love, and we were now part of this world.

Growing up in this community of Potter lovers, one thing was clear: Hermione was the ultimate female role model. She was smart and sassy, she never let the boys take her thunder or get away with making her feel small, she was brave and strong, and she was…just sort of perfect. Everyone adored Hermione, myself included. But there was always one character I loved better: the fiery Ginny Weasley.

Growing up shy, I’d always wanted to be Ginny. She begins the story just a shy ten-year-old who’s dying to go to Hogwarts, and who has a crush on the Boy Who Lived. But by the end of it, she’s a hero in her own right: a stubborn, brave, self-assured, sassy, strong woman who is the equal of Harry Potter himself. While Hermione is undoubtedly a feminist icon, it was always Ginny who I found more empowering. It’s Ginny’s growth and self-discovery that inspired me, and her behavior proves she’s as much a feminist icon as Hermione.

Ginny refused to be slut-shamed

One of my favorite scenes in the books is when Harry starts to like Ginny, basically because he catches her making out with her BF, Dean Thomas. Ginny is totally unembarrassed even though Ron basically calls her a slut. It’s totally apparent in this scene that Ginny is in control of her sexuality and that she doesn’t care about what people think of her, not even her brother. She yells at the judgmental Ron, telling him he has no right to tell her what to do, and that everyone is “snogging” so really bro, NBD. In another scene, she even takes Fred and George to task for saying she was dating too much. THE Fred and George, guys. Ginny was more than a match for her scheming older brothers.

Ginny takes care of herself

Even though she has six brothers and an overbearing mother, Ginny doesn’t let anyone baby her. She has a thick skin, astonishing independence, and she knows herself very well. What I always found so inspiring about Ginny was her confidence, and the way she dominated any room she was in. Even the Slytherin and Voldemort sympathizer Blaise Zabini was impressed with Ginny. When a big bad Slytherin notices with your Gryffindor badassery, you know you’re doing something right.

She was crazy talented in magic, and never stymied her power to get guys to like her

Remember those hella impressive Bat-Bogey Hexes? Ginny never lost the opportunity to unleash that secret weapon, and she became known for her “magnificent” spells—even Fred and George complimented her on them, and we all know how difficult they were to impress. That hex even got her into Professor Slughorn’s creepy club. In DA meetings, Ginny excelled, and she owned her power and talent, never even thinking about dimming her light to make guys more comfortable around her. If they were intimidated with her, then that was their problem.

She’s not a goody-two-shoes

What I liked best about Ginny was that she wasn’t afraid to break rules. As much as I loved Hermione, it was Ginny who made me laugh, and who appealed to the little girl I used to be who was afraid to do anything wrong. Since I was a little Hermione myself, Ginny was endlessly fascinating because she was a little bit cool. She could lie without blinking an eye, she didn’t think twice about breaking the rules to help Harry (or any of her friends), and she *gasp* ate chocolate in the library (a personal favorite of mine). Another personal favorite is the quote she’s best known for: “Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” And she did at that.

She never takes crap from boyfriends. Not even Harry Potter

Ginny liked Harry for like, ever, but she didn’t pine over him for longer than it took to grow into a teenager. In fact, she became a great friend to him, and even put him in his place when he was being too much of an angsty teenager. In The Order of the Phoenix, Harry has the audacity to think he’s the only one who’s been affected by Voldemort, conveniently forgetting the time when Ginny was possessed for an entire year. Ginny calls Harry out on his crap, and he’s not the only one she doesn’t take attitude from.

When Michael Corner, Ginny’s first flame, gets annoyed that he lost a Quidditch game to Gryffindor, she just ups and dumps him. She knows she can do better. #DatingGoals.

She was loyal and loving

Ginny was an awesome friend to have around. Remember when she stuck up for Luna all the time, calling out fellow Hogwartsians for making fun of the eccentric Ravenclaw? Or when she defended Hagrid’s questionable teaching practices? Ginny loved deeply and with loyalty, and she stuck up for the people she loved. Don’t bully Ginny, that’s for sure.

Her life didn’t depend on Harry Potter, even though she always loved him

Ginny, as well as Hermione, is an excellent example of not crumbling into pieces when the love of your life leaves you. One of my favorite scenes (and one of the saddest) is when Harry breaks up with Ginny so he can go fight Voldemort, and because he knows it would only jeopardize her life if they stayed together.

Harry is a tough boyfriend to have, what with the whole saving-the-world thing, and Ginny knows there are things bigger than her relationship with him. She lets him go without a fight, because it’s the right thing to do. And even though she never gives up, she also doesn’t pine. It hurts her, but her strength and self-assurance win out.

While Harry goes off to hide in a tent and try to save the world, Ginny doesn’t waste away in despair. Instead, she does a little stealing at Hogwarts, leads the resistance with the members of the DA, and refuses to stay out of the way during the Battle of Hogwarts. And in the end, Harry found his way back to her, and they build a life. Pretty sweet ending, in my opinion.

To me, Ginny was always the quintessential Gryffindor: tough, courageous to a fault, stubborn to the end, loyal, loving, proud, and passionate. She was everything I’d always wanted to be, and she became my feminist role model. While Hermione displays a different kind of quiet courage and strength, Ginny’s journey from shy, stuttering little girl into a roaring Gryffindor lion was always my biggest inspiration.

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