Hermione Jean Granger,
You don’t know me, but I first met you when I was 10 years old, (you were 11). You appeared in a novel of mine called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. You showed up on the Hogwarts Express with your bushy hair proudly puffing outward, wearing your school robes, looking for Neville Longbottom’s missing toad.
In your first potions class, your teacher told you to sit down when you stood up to answer a question with your hand held high. You didn’t let that teacher’s coldness discourage you in the slightest. You kept standing up to everyone around you for years to come.
When you were 15, you held a quiet resistance against a certain ministry representative named Dolores Umbridge, and you did so by asking questions and, once again, by keeping your hand up. You were holding your hand up not only before your class mates and your teacher, but before your government. You were inspiring everyone around you, and everyone who read you, that they could resist authority, oppression, and injustice, with the power of knowledge, education, and freedom of speech. Also, let’s just remember that Dumbledore’s Army was entirely your idea.
You sought to empower the enslaved house elves with the founding of The Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare (S.P.E.W). You did this defiantly, even though your best friends laughed at you and were dismissive of your actions. You recognized that kindness and generosity toward the oppressed benefit everyone, long before Dobby the house elf proved this by playing a critical role in the seventh book.
You may be a fictional character and you may be a witch, but you and I actually live in very similar worlds. We both live in the western world, ruled by what is known as the patriarchy. In the seven books that you were in, there were four ministers for magic, all of whom were men, and the one muggle prime minister who is mentioned is male. The main hero and the main villain are both male. And your creator, author J. K. Rowling, was advised not to reveal her sex in her pen name in order to try and appeal to a wider audience.
Hermione, when I first met you I was a 10-year-old, bushy-haired, smartypants too. When I first met you, I was at an age when I didn’t always keep my hand up. You did. And I noticed.
So thank you. Thank you for being your talkative, Muggle-born, brown-eyed, buck-toothed, cheeky, bossypants self. And thank you for showing studious young girls and women everywhere that it’s important to keep your hand up.
But of course, this post is really for the woman who thought up Hermione, for someone who said that Hermione contained a part of herself, who shared her imagination with the world. Joanne Rowling, thank you, from the bottom of my heart for bringing Harry Potter and his world to me. But most of all thank you for bringing me his oh-so important best friend, Hermione.
Most sincerely and with love,