Come on, people, it's 2016. If you haven't read the Harry Potter series, or at least seen most of the movies, close this tab immediately and educate yourself on a masterpiece that is now pretty much a religion to millions of people. Then, come back and read my ramblings. An idea members of the Potterhead fandom have entertained for at least a decade now is the "Harriet Potter" phenomenon. Basically, it poses one question: What would be different if the most popular book series of all time was written about a young girl instead of a young boy? Well, I'm here to answer that question—or, at least, to try.
1. Her Name
It seems that a lot of people think it would have been “Harriet” or something else very similar to “Harry.” But I disagree! “Harry” is a two syllable English name, and I think J.K. probably would have stuck with that even if her protagonist had been female just because of the way the name feels. I don’t feel “Harriet Potter.” My vote goes to “Rosie,” because I also think Lily Potter would have wanted her daughter to have a flowery name just like she did, and I think James would have been all for it. For the remainder of this article, I will be referring to her as “Rosie.”
2. Her Romantic Life
Imagine this—we may never have had to sit through that awful scene where Harry zips up Ginny’s dress. I shudder just thinking about it. The way I see it, we would have two options: make Rosie like girls or switch the genders of, like, a million characters. I do like the idea of the number one most popular protagonist in the history of YA Literature being LGBTQ+, but I don’t think it’s likely to have been the winning option. Instead, I think Cho would have been “Sho” (which probably would have made Cedric “Cissy”), and Ginny would have been “Wally,” and would Wally have dated Dean Thomas? This, of course, begs a new question: If Ginny was the only girl amongst her siblings, would this new Wally character have been the only boy?
3. The Genders of Just About Everyone Else
Would each Weasley brother become a Weasley sister? Would Ronald have to have been “Aubrey?” And where would it have ended? Would Fleur, who married Bill, and Angelina Johnson, who attended the Yule Ball with Fred, have both been male? Eleven-year-old Ronald Weasley may have never even thought to bring Rosie Potter home, and if he had, would Molly and Arthur have been totally chill about their young son’s female BFF basically living with them for extended periods of time? (Okay, probably. But still, something to chew on.) And what about Hermione? “The brightest wizard of his age” just doesn’t have the same ring to it, but if she’d remained Hermione, would she have had any interest in Rosie and Aubrey? On the other hand, Endymion Granger probably wouldn’t have been able to make other male friends, and Rosie and Aubrey would have thought he was pretty cool. I think the character we’re really all wondering about, though, is Draco. If “Drarry” wasn’t to be, maybe “Drosie” was. Or maybe Draco would have become “Leone.” I don’t know. There are a million things to imagine here, and I just don’t have time to think about every possibility.
4. The Adaptation
People are constantly talking about how Book Harry was a surprisingly well-rounded character with normal emotions and struggles for a boy of his age (which is usually considered very difficult to do when the protagonist and the author are of opposite genders), but how Movie Harry was just a walking, talking, cluster of angst. If the books and movies had been about Rosie Potter, though, angst probably wouldn’t have even played the same role in Rosie’s life. Instead of angst, chances are that Rosie would have been created as someone who was much more in tune with her emotions (perhaps too in tune, considering that women are considered to be pretty emotionally unstable by many) and didn’t at all struggle in the same ways Harry did. Aside from the adaptation of the actual character, would the book and movie have been much different? Probably not. My guess is that they would have messed up just as much.
Y’all...did Harry’s voice dropping and hair growth ever get mentioned? Do we even imagine that he had to shave his face? Probably not, right? Well, the same might have gone for Rosie, but I assure you, there’s a little more to consider when you’re going into battle against the most terrible wizards and witches in existence, but you’re already bleeding profusely. All I can do is recommend skipping the pads and the tampons and heading straight for a menstrual cup. I wonder if Hogwarts offered health classes...
6. Her Connections with Her Professors
Strictly speaking, I don’t see how the genders of any of the professors would have to change in this situation, but I think it would change the dynamic, if for no other reason than the way others would perceive things. The amount of time Harry and Dumbledore spent alone probably would have made a few heads turn if Harry were Rosie, and Professor McGonagall, who clearly loved Harry very much but was too invested in what was appropriate to show it most of the time, might have felt a little more free to treat Rosie as something resembling a daughter. And don’t even get me started on Snape! Okay, too late. Snape already hated Harry so much because of how much he reminded him of his mother but acted like his father, so taking care of Rosie all those years probably would have killed him before Voldemort could. (Too soon? I’m so sorry.) Plus, Voldemort would have been all the more hated if he had been tormenting a young girl all those years. Why? Because society perceives women to be the fairer (read: weaker, less capable) sex. This is a fantastic segue into my next point.
7. The Feminist Undertones—Or Rather, Overtones
I live for characters like Hermione Granger, who shows that girls are every bit as intellectually capable as boys, Luna Lovegood, who was kind and weird and loving and mysterious and totally capable (and has a little section of my skin forever dedicated to her), Fleur Delacour, who held her own really well in a traumatizing, vastly physical but also mind-bending competition against three young men, and Angelina Johnson, who was underappreciated, but had no problems competing athletically with people of any gender. These books were filled with so many feminist icons teaching young women that they can literally be anything they want to be, but what if none of Harry’s accomplishments or abilities had changed—just his gender and name? Then, instead of several supporting characters as symbols of feminism, the titular character would have been the ultimate symbol. How cool would that have been?
8. The Sales
Here’s where I have to get real with you. Studies have shown that people in general, spanning gender and culture and age and more, prefer male protagonists. That kind of sucks, right? I have to think that J.K. knew this, and that she specifically created Harry instead of Rosie so that people would read the books and watch the movies and characters like Hermione and Luna would just sneak into our minds and hearts and suddenly everyone would be calling for more characters like these girls. Because ultimately, if she’d written about Rosie Potter, she might not have had the chance to make the impact she did.