Ok, so I know I’ve previously written about how I don’t particularly care for Ginny Weasley (yes, even Book Ginny), but recent articles I’ve come across singing Ginny’s praises have brought about a lot of GIF-able facial expressions on my part, so I thus feel the need to regale you with more reasons why Book Ginny is not my favorite character in the books (and I just don’t see the connection with Harry either).
I stand by what I’ve previously said about Ginny and the reasons why I don’t care for her character. She’s underdeveloped, and she’s a more edgily-packaged Mary-Sue. She’s Lily Potter with a little more grit. JKR tries really, really, really hard to get us to fall in love with Ginny and see her as a worthy and compelling love interest for Harry. But, we honestly don’t get to see her character growth throughout the books, so when BAM! JKR introduces us to this new and improved Ginny who kicks ass and doesn’t take shit from anyone, we can’t help but do a double take and check if we missed anything in the past four to five books.
I don’t have a problem with Ginny as a supporting character. Why not make the youngest Weasley sibling grow into someone who gains confidence, who has a place in Dumbledore’s Army, who in some way, does come into her own? I don’t have a problem with JKR developing Ginny the way she did. What I don’t really get is JKR developing Ginny into this awesome, badass character specifically to convince readers that she is a perfect match for Harry.
I’m not sure if JKR had always meant for Ginny to be Harry’s love interest (though some sources claim she had), so either their relationship (and the hints leading up to their relationship) should have been better presented to us, or Harry should have just ended up with another character.
If JKR had decided that Ginny would be Harry’s love interest, she must have thought of what attributes would suit Harry and give him that sense of normalcy and stability that he really needed. In a lot of ways, Ginny does give him this–and all of those ways have to do with the fact that she’s a member of the Weasley family, which is where Harry truly feels a sense of home and belonging and safety. But marrying Ginny isn’t necessary for Harry to get that sense of home and belonging with the Weasley family–he already has it, because he basically is part of their family, and the Weasleys consider him as such.
Weasley family aside, it feels like JKR just took a bunch of attributes and formed Ginny’s character that way. To me, Ginny doesn’t read as a carefully thought-out character. She’s a collection of cool-girl attributes. She’s snarky, she’s “funny” (usually at the expense of others, though this often gets glossed over), she’s athletic, she’s attractive, she’s tough and doesn’t cry. These characteristics are what most teenage boys look for in their ideal girlfriend. Most teenage boys don’t want to (and aren’t equipped with the emotional development to) deal with real, difficult emotions that go beyond happiness or attraction. Most teenage boys don’t want to (and don’t know how to) deal with girls who are sensitive, complex, and not always cheerful and easygoing. It’s natural that an ideal love interest for a teenage boy is someone who doesn’t cry much, who isn’t difficult to deal with.
But Harry isn’t most teenage boys. At age 16, Harry has dealt with much more loss, pain, and doubt than many people twice his age. Considering all that Harry has been through, those experiences should have made him more emotionally mature than the average teenage boy. And, I think he is presented this way in the books. While he has his moments (as we all do, and as all the other characters do), at his core, Harry is someone willing to sacrifice himself for those he loves, and for the greater good. Harry is someone who shows compassion for others (freeing Dobby, burying Dobby by hand), and who is completely capable and willing to show mercy and forgiveness (stopping Sirius and Remus from killing Peter Pettigrew). He’s not an average teenage boy. He, of all the other young characters in the books, should be the one able to deal with difficult emotions.
So it feels weirdly out of character for Harry to be attracted to Ginny because of Ginny’s cool-girl attributes. His attraction to Ginny, to me, reads more like a fling or teenage relationship, but not a lasting relationship that ultimately leads to marriage. Who knows, maybe Ginny matures over the next few years?
If Ginny really were a real, compelling love interest for Harry, we should have been shown this. Instead, we’re only told. We’re told how Harry feels like his relationship with her is something out of someone else’s life. We’re told how Harry feels that chest monster of jealousy when he sees Ginny with Dean. What we don’t see, and what we’re not shown, are those tender moments between Harry and Ginny, where we can really feel, as readers, the emotional connection between them and the love they have for each other. What would have sold me on the Harry/Ginny relationship is if we actually got to see moments of true connection between Harry and Ginny–not superficial attraction or some scene where Ginny once again shows how badass she is. The breakup between Harry and Ginny at the end of Book 6 tries to give us one of those moments, but it doesn’t quite work because 1) Harry again reiterates how Ginny is so wonderful because she doesn’t cry; 2) it doesn’t have much of a backbone. This is the only scene we have of Ginny and Harry–prior to that, we’re only told how great she is and told how great their relationship is; 3) Ginny’s statement that Harry would never truly be happy unless he was hunting Voldemort shows how little she really knows Harry. No, hunting Voldemort does not make Harry “happy.” Harry hunts Voldemort because he must; because he puts the needs and safety of the Wizarding World before anything else that would make him happy. In this short conversation between Harry and Ginny, we see how Ginny views Harry–she admires him, she sees him as “The Boy Who Lived,” instead of just seeing Harry for who he is without being defined by Voldemort. While I’m sure Ginny does genuinely care for Harry, this conversation between them implies that perhaps Ginny cannot distinguish Harry outside of him fighting Voldemort, and that her love for Harry is strongly influenced by her admiration of his accomplishments and victories against Voldemort.
If I had to choose a character that would have been a more convincing love interest for Harry, I would actually choose Luna. I honestly think Luna and Harry are a great fit for each other. First off, we’re given plenty of moments between Luna and Harry where we’re shown their connection to each other and their understanding of each other. Where Luna consoles Harry in Book 5, though Harry couldn’t find any consolation, nor felt like speaking with, Ron or Hermione. Where they talk about how they can both see thestrals. At the end of Book 5, where Luna talks to Harry about her mother’s death–she says that “it’s not like she’ll never see Mum again,” and that comforts Harry, who is dealing with fresh grief at the loss of Sirius. During Bill and Fleur’s wedding where Luna recognizes Harry under Polyjuice Potion. At the end of the Battle of Hogwarts, where Luna senses exactly what Harry needs–peace and quiet–and provides a way for him to get that. While Luna isn’t mentioned in the books as many times as Ginny, as a character, she is far better developed, and we are shown why she’s such a true badass, rather than just told. We are shown how well Luna knows Harry and how they connect with each other, rather than just told.
Moreover, I think Luna would have been able to give Harry that sense of normalcy and stability he needed–perhaps more than Ginny could, or at least in a different way. I think both Luna and Harry needed a sense of normalcy and stability, and they would have been able to provide it for each other due to how much they had in common and their personalities. Both Luna and Harry experienced loss at a young age, and they’ve had to deal with it and cope with it at a young age. Both Luna and Harry have felt like outsiders. With Harry, who has often felt misunderstood, Luna would have been able to provide him with that empathy and understanding, and thus help him feel less isolated and alone. Luna and Harry know each other for who they truly are–when Harry finds out that Luna was taken to Azkaban, he says “She’s tough, Luna, much tougher than you’d think.” While superficially, Harry and Luna seem very different, their core personalities are quite compatible, and they each recognize each other for who they truly are. While Luna isn’t as athletic as Ginny is and isn’t as into all those typical guy interests that Ginny is said to have–that doesn’t necessarily mean a relationship deal-breaker. Couples don’t necessarily have to like all the same things in order for them to be a successful couple. All they need is an acceptance of each other and an understanding of who they really are–and a willingness to make things work. While we’re not shown much of Harry in the context of a relationship, as well as Luna–based on what we know of the characters, of how those characters have been developed–it’s not unreasonable to assume that they’d be able to accept, understand, and support each other and each other’s interests.
While some have argued that Luna is “too weird” for Harry, and Harry needed someone normal to have a normal life, I call bullshit. The Harry that I’ve come to know in the books is someone who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about someone’s weirdness. And what really makes Luna weird, anyway? So she wears radish earrings and believes in far-fetched things (which haven’t actually been disproved!)–so what? She has her beliefs, and she sticks to them, even in the face of overwhelming odds proving her beliefs don’t exist. Sound familiar? Yeah–we really don’t have a real reason to think Luna’s an actual weirdo not worthy of Harry. Luna is strong, compassionate, understanding (and Harry recognizes this)–and we know this about Luna because we’re shown this. Not because scenes of her telling someone off or hexing someone are emphasized over and over again.
I don’t think Harry and Ginny are completely wrong for each other. But I think that the reasons why Harry was attracted to Ginny–she likes sports too, she plays Quidditch well, she doesn’t cry much, she’s one of the guys except hot–aren’t really the traits that form the basis of a strong, lasting, mature relationship. Harry and Ginny’s relationship–at least from what we’re shown in the books–is based on attraction. It may work while they’re young and in school–but based on what we’ve been shown (and told) about Ginny’s character, I’m just not convinced that she’s really the best match for Harry. She doesn’t have the same level of character growth and development that other minor characters (in a lot of cases, characters who get fewer mentions in the books) do, and other than her collection of cool-girl traits (which are only surface level), we don’t really see who she is and how exactly she complements Harry. So yeah….I still don’t like her. But, maybe if her character had actually been more developed (and Luna’s character is proof that you don’t need more book mentions to be a thoughtfully-developed character), I would actually like her. And I would see how she’s a great love interest for Harry. And I would instead be writing about why I think she’s awesome and a great feminist icon in the books (she’s not–that title also belongs Luna. And Hermione, Tonks, McGonagall…) But unfortunately, we don’t get that in the books. Ginny Weasley is just that one part of the Harry Potter books that isn’t really all that great.
Ok, so I hate having to be one of “those fans” defending their “ship,” but I’m about to do it anyway. Not in the sense of “Snowbarry > Westallen, all of you guys suck!”–but more in the sense of why I think the show characters are better matched for each other.
Don’t get me wrong; I really like Iris. Candice Patton is a great actress (and gorgeous to boot!), and Iris provides a good sense of normalcy and much needed encouragement to Team Flash. However, those pep-talks aren’t unique to Iris’ character–she isn’t the sole person that people look to for that kind of encouragement. Not even Barry. Barry usually looks to his father or mentor figures in times of need–or his friends. When I think of WestAllen, the first thing that comes to mind is Harry and Ginny. They’re both sort of just put together because that’s what they were meant to be–Iris was literally written to be Barry’s love interest, same as Ginny. I typically am not a fan of characters written solely as the lead’s love interest–I like a character to be someone thought up as a sole character, who helps move the plot along in an interesting way, and who happens to be a great match for the lead.
And, I think that’s what Caitlin is to Barry. She’s a character in her own right (and an interesting one at that–Killer Frost, anyone?), essential to The Flash story (she’s a doctor/scientist and helps Barry save the day a lot)–but her onscreen chemistry with the lead shows potential for a great relationship.
I personally haven’t read the comics (I plan to!), but in the show, the relationship between Caitlin and Barry strongly reminds me of Harry and Hermione. I know those two weren’t paired romantically in the books (they should have been!), but what I love about Harry and Hermione’s relationship are the exact same things I love about Caitlin and Barry’s relationship–and why I think those attributes do make for a great romantic pairing. Like Harry and Hermione–Caitlin and Barry keep each other in check. They call each other out on their shenanigans. They’re real with each other, and they make each other better. They trust each other. Remember how Caitlin comes back after being Killer Frost in Season 3? Yup, because of Barry. He literally asked her to kill him, to live up to her name of Killer Frost. He either didn’t care if he got stabbed with an icicle or he knew and trusted that his bond with Caitlin was so strong that it would be enough to bring her back. I’m 99% sure it was the latter. And it worked. What they have is true friendship–but it’s also more than friendship, and more than lust or puppy love–it’s real love. Whether that love is purely platonic or has the potential to be romantic is up in the air–though I do prefer the latter and think they would make a really great pairing. I really hope their relationship is explored in later seasons (but alas, I’m not counting on it).
While I do think that Barry and Iris make a solid couple on the show, their relationship feels too manufactured. It’s like the show writers are trying really, really hard to make us root for Barry and Iris as a couple, instead of just showing, organically, how the two really are a perfect match. With Caitlin and Barry, we already see this–which is why fans ship them. A romantic pairing between characters should feel effortless, and the chemistry shouldn’t have to be oversold.
At the beginning of the series, Iris made her choice–she chose Eddie Thawne (and I loved Iris and Eddie together) over a future with Barry (“Screw the future,” right?? #neverforget). As Barry’s girlfriend though–I don’t see Iris inspire Barry to be better the way Caitlin does. Yes, Iris gave some good pep talks that did inspire Barry–but throughout three seasons (season 1, Iris wasn’t even aware of Barry’s feelings for her), Caitlin was there for Barry, and vice versa. At the beginning of the series, they formed a bond over their shared loss. Barry sensed when Caitlin was uncomfortable going into the particle accelerator (since it was where Ronnie died), and he instead asked her to come back to his lab at CCPD. They understood each other’s pain in a way others who haven’t experienced loss could not, and that led to…”the start of a beautiful friendship” (sorry, I had to. Thank you, Humphrey Bogart). Also, let’s not forget that amazing karaoke scene, and the scenes that took place after, where Barry took care of Drunk Caitlin.
On the other hand, Barry’s connection to Iris started as a young boy’s crush, and the bond that Barry and Iris have is that of some “star-crossed lover” deal or being “destined to be together.” I can see how that’s appealing to some, but personally, that doesn’t really sell me on the strength of a relationship. There isn’t just one person in the entire world meant to be with you–and even if there is, there should be more sustaining your relationship than just “we were meant to be together.” While love (and romantic love) are important aspects in a successful relationship, it cannot be the only thing that sustains a relationship. There needs to be love, but there also needs to be mutual respect, strong friendship, shared interests, a sense of comfort just being with each other–all of which I see with Barry and Caitlin, but not necessarily with Barry and Iris. Sure, you could argue that Barry and Iris have been best friends since they were kids (they practically grew up together, in the same house), but Barry’s romantic feelings were one-sided, and Iris didn’t really look at Barry in a romantic way. Even after Barry professed his feelings to Iris for the first time, she didn’t reciprocate, and things between them were a little awkward for a while. Iris even said at the beginning of the series that they were like brother and sister, and she was there for him whenever he needed relationship advice. (You don’t just start dating and falling in love with someone you’ve regarded as a brother figure for almost your whole life….that’s just weird.) While Barry and Iris were friends, Iris didn’t really look at Barry in a romantic capacity, and it showed. On the other hand, while Barry and Caitlin were just friends, the audience could see that there was chemistry and potential for something more.
I really, really want to stress–this is NOT a race thing for me. I’m not biased towards one character because of race AT ALL (also, I happen to be a woman of color myself). Whatever race Iris would be, and Caitlin would be–if those characters were played in the exact same way with the exact same chemistry with Barry, my opinion would be no different. Me preferring “SnowBarry” over “WestAllen” (though I sort of hate “ship teams”) is purely personal preference over who I see has more chemistry, and also my own biases over what constitutes chemistry and a strong relationship. It has absolutely nothing to do with race.
With all that said, I do know that SnowBarry will probably never be explored on the show (first world problems – and WestAllen is actually canon). And I’m fine with that–it doesn’t make me like the show or comics any less. Just like with Harry and Hermione, Caitlin and Barry are still best friends on the show, and that’s great–they have an amazing friendship. And Barry’s friendship with Caitlin (and with Cisco, and the rest of Team Flash) is just as important as his relationship with Iris. Barry may have said that there would be no Flash without Iris West, but I also think that there would be no Flash without his friends–Team Flash.
I was just reading this article on HuffPost, about women in their 30s and their take on being single/unmarried. One of the women made a comment that really spoke to me–she learned that being married “wasn’t a given,” although she grew up and lived most of her life assuming that it was.
I think this is something a lot of people assume by default. We see so many people married when we’re young, and so many people ask us about dating and it’s just such an ingrained part of society–why wouldn’t it happen to us? Everyone does it; it’ll happen for you eventually.
I think this kind of thinking is really unproductive, and it’s something that a lot of young people think today, too. Most millennials I know have the attitude of “it’s not that I don’t want marriage; I just want to focus on my career first and then find a partner.” Which is fine, but that’s like saying, “I just want to focus on being a student first and then find a job.” Young people go after their careers so vigorously and with such determination because they know the odds are not in their favor, and they know that a job they love isn’t a given. They know that it’s something they need to work toward and something they need to seek out for themselves; it’s not something that just “happens to everyone.” So while they’re young, they start thinking about what kind of career they want. When they’re teenagers, they start exploring their interests. When they’re in college, they look for internships and jobs. Their entire life is made up of small steps taken to work their way up to that dream career. It’s not something they think about after focusing on something else; it sits there at the back of their mind, no matter what stage of life they’re in. It influences their decisions. It’s a big deal.
Well, finding a partner (whether a spouse or just a long-term partner) isn’t something that just “happens to everyone.” I don’t know if it’s just that people these days don’t really care about finding a partner or if they still have the mentality that “it’ll happen at the right time.” But if finding a partner is important, I don’t think it’s wrong to actively pursue that. I think it’s really the only logical option if that’s a goal of yours. If it’s what you want, you can’t actively wait till it falls in your lap; you have to go after it and work towards it, the same as you would any other goal. If it’s something you’d ultimately want, why wouldn’t you live your life trying to grow into the type of person you think is worthy of a great partner? Why wouldn’t you make decisions that go towards becoming the person you want to be in order to be a great partner to someone else? Why wouldn’t you work on figuring out what you want and meeting people you think you could get along with? I get that a great career is a part of preparing yourself to be a great partner, by being someone who can contribute to society in a valuable way and be financially ready to support a partner and family–but pursuing only a career thinking that a partner will naturally follow is doing only half the work.
Furthermore, if you meet a great person, but you happen to be young, why would you throw that away just because you think “the timing is off” or “you’re too young”? You can’t control when the right person comes into your life, but you can control how you react to that. If you were young and someone offered you the right career, would you not take it? Would you not realize that opportunities like that don’t come often, if ever, so you’d jump at the chance at something that really isn’t guaranteed to anyone? It’s the same with finding a partner. People treat this aspect of their life as something that they can just go back to if all else doesn’t work out, rather than as something that is rare and not guaranteed. People are too eager to risk not having a partner if all other aspects of their life are not perfect yet, rather than take the plunge and risk having to work a little harder to make all those other aspects of their life work. I see people cross oceans in their early 20s in order to take a job; I only see people accommodate a partner because they fit into their lives and won’t have to make that many adjustments. I wish more people would accommodate partners the same way they do their dream jobs. If it’s that important, it wouldn’t be such a challenge to do so. People these days are too focused on themselves; there isn’t enough focus on others–and I think the root of it is just fear of getting hurt and fear of change. It’s great to live your life for yourself, but if that were the key to happiness then more people would actually be happy. I think people have convinced themselves that they’re happy being single and not having to share the bed and being able to jump on a plane and go anywhere they want….but if they truly were happy, they wouldn’t need to write articles proving why their lives are so much better than those of married people, or people who are in long-term partnerships. I don’t know. Maybe that’s just me. But I think it takes guts to admit that yes, you do want to find a partner because you do think it would make you happy. People these days are pretty slow to admit that, but I think it’s something a lot of people still think. I think most people just learn to be content with being single, but if given the choice, I’m sure they’d choose differently. Maybe I’m wrong though; what do I know?