Hey! Hallie here!
I haven’t spoken much about Harry Potter on this blog recently, but it’s influence on my life hasn’t changed at all since I last wrote about this series. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised to see Hermione trending on Twitter all day today. That is, until I saw exactly why she was trending. For no reason I can really tell, a bunch of Hermione/Draco shippers converged onto Twitter to talk about why they should have gotten together in the Harry Potter series. And, as it always has, this started a giant debate over whether or not this couple would have been cute or catastrophically awful. I tend to lean heavily on the “catastrophically awful” side of this argument, and for very good reason. However, before I get into all the reasons why this particular ship leaves a bad taste in my mouth, I want to say that I’m not trying to shame those who do support this ship. Some people like the idea of this couple simply because of how attractive they find Tom Felton, while others like this couple because they like certain relationship dynamics they find they can easily project onto Hermione and Draco. None of these are morally wrong or condemnable. But there are several very strong reasons as to why Hermione and Draco should never have been explored in the actual books and movies.
Mistreatment of Women:
This is a bit of a dramatic start, but it’s important to point out. For a long while there, and still a bit today, we romanticized men treating women horribly at the beginning of a romance. I’m not talking about enemies-to-lovers romance tropes. Enemies-to-lovers is a trope that involves both people involved being equally insulting to one another. In fact, though I don’t necessarily like these two together either, I’d say Hermione and Ron fit this dynamic better than Hermione and Draco do. Hermione and Ron in both the books and movies hurl insults at one another all the time without one feeling more vicious than the other. They also prove that, though they have many criticisms of one another, there are lines they simply will not cross. Ron actually proves himself most when Draco’s involved, arguing with him and sometimes getting provoked to violence while defending Hermione. Draco, on the other hand, is simply awful to Hermione in a way that goes beyond mutual distaste. He calls her wizard slurs, jokes about her untimely murder in multiple books, and goes beyond insulting her to insult her family as well. Bullying of this caliber is traumatizing to most individuals. Sadly, relationships like this have been romanticized in pop culture many times. Harley Quinn and the Joker are a great example of a romanticized relationship that is disturbing because of the way the woman is being treated. The Joker threatens Harley frequently and has even physically assaulted her. Kylo Ren and Rey are also an example to a point. While I don’t feel that this entire relationship fits into the toxic dynamic I’m talking about here, a lot of people romanticized the first lengthy scene the two shared. This scene was a torture scene, and yet multiple fans referred to it as “sexy”. We need to stop romanticizing relationships where the woman is being treated poorly while the man takes a position of power. It’s disturbing in every instance, including in Hermione and Draco’s case.
Here’s another weighty argument. I’m a white woman. My opinions on this particular argument aren’t going to be anywhere near as informed as those that multiple Black women have given. Still, we need to talk about it. What Draco calls Hermione frequently throughout the books is meant to be a slur. The misguided and ridiculous author of the Harry Potter series often argued that her attempt at representation in the series wasn’t accomplished by putting multiple characters of multiple backgrounds and ethnicities in her books, but by mirroring real-life racism through the idea of blood purity. In the books, those who consider themselves “Pure-Bloods” look down upon and mock Muggle-Borns because they have “tainted” blood and do not have a long line of magic users in their family. Of course, this idea of “representation” accomplished nothing aside from giving us another white person’s take on what it’s like to be racially discriminated against when they could have avoided the topic all together. However, in the Hermione/Draco dynamic you can’t ignore that the term “mudblood”, meaning dirty blood, was written into the story to further this parallel by writing in a made up slur. No one who has been called a racial slur has found themselves suddenly attracted to the person hurling such a horrible word at them. There is no excuse for hurling a slur at someone on purpose while knowing that it will harm them. Even less if the person saying said slur is doing so in order to highlight their own superiority. Draco calls Hermione a mudblood more than he calls her by her own name and he always does it in order to point out how much better he and his family are. Once again, this goes beyond regular arguments and even most bullying. It isn’t forgivable and certainly isn’t a good start for a relationship.
The Bad Boy:
A lot of the love for Draco, and this ship by extension, comes from the love of the “bad boy”. A broody guy who needs someone to help him appreciate life. Often times a guy who has been through a lot of past trauma so that the relationship can be based off of the growth of said character due to his romantic partner. The bad boy trope isn’t inherently bad. Especially recently, we’ve seen a lot of characters like this experience positive changes well before a romance even starts. But Draco most definitely falls into the toxic side of the bad boy trope. He’s morally questionable, never changes as the series progresses, and is only hinted at possibly changing in the future. If Draco were to change, as most people assume a bad boy to do at some point in their story, he proves that he has no major interest in it through the events of Harry Potter. Which makes throwing him together with Hermione and expecting her to change him even more toxic. In situations like this I always enjoy bringing up the new song ‘Heathers : The Musical’ brought in semi-recently. The song is called “I Say No” and it serves the purpose of the main character, Veronica, telling her “bad boy” boyfriend, J.D., that she isn’t responsible for changing him and that she isn’t qualified to sort out his past trauma for him. All of this applies to ships like Hermione/Draco. Draco isn’t a good guy and he isn’t willing to change his ways in any of the books. The best thing he does is refuse to give Harry away in the seventh book, but one moment of decency doesn’t equal a genuine attempt to be better. And deciding that Hermione would be a good fit for him because she might be able to change his ways is toxic in of itself. The bad boy trope isn’t attractive at all if it relies on the woman doing all the work to make the man better.
I could go on and on about why I dislike this relationship, but I’ll stop here. Once again, I’m not saying that everyone who likes the Hermione/Draco ship is problematic. Many people who do like this couple prefer to write and read fanfiction that portrays their relationship as much less toxic than the books do. That’s fine. What does rub me the wrong way though, is the idea that Hermione and Draco should have gotten together in the books and movies as they are now. With all the horrible things Draco did to Hermione still intact. That’s very obviously problematic. With the steps we’re currently seeing taken to portray more healthy relationships in media, we absolutely don’t need a relationship like Hermione/Draco floating around.
Don’t do anything fun until I get back!