I know about this quote from Emma Watson on Hermione Granger.
She’s talking about Hermione’s influence on young girls, and says that Hermione made it “okay for girls to be smart”. She goes on to say that she made it alright for girls to raise their hands, to know the answer, to make plans. Hermione Granger is an incredible role model, and has influenced the lives of young women across the world. However, in my opinion, stating that girls only felt their intellect was acceptable because of a privileged, magical, child seems to be severely underestimating women. This is not to say she didn't inspire a portion of young girls, and older readers as well – but it seems a stretch to me that Hermione Granger is to thank for the intellectual prowess of entire generation of females and the extent to which they feel comfortable expressing this.
Girls can be brave because of Ginny or Hermione. They can be brave because of nobody’s favourite character, Harry. But they are also brave because of themselves.
To me, this is similar to saying girls weren't smart until ‘the people’ thought it was cool. It’s saying that young women wouldn’t have achieved excellence unless society thought that it was okay to let them have at it. Like, girls were so totally whatever about that whole grades stuff before Hermione. Like, girls getting degrees before the nineties were probably only doing it to meet cute guys, anyway. Like, we only remember Cleopatra for that cutting edge style anyway. Like, who was Nelly Bly? Mary Shelley? Like, who are my friends with wild ambitions that don't particularly like Harry Potter books? Like, who is my mother who was learning long before this book was released? Like, we don't do this to our male counterparts.
This is symptomatic of a much greater problem. This is an example of someone saying, “oh, girls are smart because of someone else! Because they needed something to cling to, to tell them that it's alright, you can raise your hand sweetie!”.
Well I say, girls are smart. Because of the hours spent studying. Because of the people who talk about our rights, our freedoms. Because of the inspirations that surround us. Because of the people, the streets, the lessons that shape the world around them. Because of their own damn selves.
It's always been okay to be yourself. Society has warped our views of what is acceptable, but it has always been okay to be smart. It has always been okay to be brave. You don't need to slay a dragon, a Basilisk to be smart or brave. You also don't have to be brave or smart. There is no checklist for your life. You don't have to listen to me or anyone else tell you what is acceptable. So go, go out there and be whatever the hell you want to be. Hermione is rooting for you.