(TRIGGER WARNING for mention of rape)
okay. let me start this story by saying that, when i started reading harry potter, i was eight years old and the year was 1999.
the character closest to my age (and, as a bonus: a girl!) was ginny weasley. in the sorcerer’s stone, the most information you get about ginny is her being shy and standing behind her mother’s legs, but i already lived in a world where i was ginny weasley in my head. that was my fantasy as an eight-year-old girl. when i heard about the frist movie being made, i dreamed about being discovered and cast as ginny weasley. that was aLL I WANTED.
fast forward. book two is released, and ginny weasley became my favorite character of basically all time.
see, people hate ginny. people hate her because, frankly, HARRY-VISION sucks. for four of the first five books, ginny is no more than a peripheral character who harry speaks to only when necessary— hell, even in ginny’s story (chamber of secrets), she is treated as an accessory by harry. she is his best friend’s little sister. she doesn’t matter to him until he looks up one day and sees her as, to put it bluntly, a sexual creature. he has to see ginny making out with guys for him to realize that he’s been thinking (for six damn books) of ginny as being his.
people don’t like ginny, in my experience, because they hate harry/ginny. and that’s cool, man. i am WITH YOU SO HARD ON THAT. i HATE harry/ginny. i hate it because it doesn’t make sense; i hate it because it’s easy; i hate it because there’s no chemistry there; i hate it because it’s giving harry literally everything he’s ever wanted without considering ginny as a character and without considering what ginny wants. harry gets ginny because, when he has ginny, he’s finally a weasley like he’s always wanted to be!!!!! he and ginny are essentially ghosts of his parents when it comes to how they look, and they name all of their children after the ghosts from harry’s life!
but none of that is ginny’s fault.
see, ginny is my favorite character possibly of all time because people hate her so blindly. because people are so willing to forget what ginny went through— because jkr wrote all of her characters to forget what ginny went through.
at age eleven, ginny weasley stood up for harry potter and raised her chin towards draco malfoy in a clear this is my side gesture. at age eleven.
and then ginny weasley experienced something horribly, horribly traumatic.
she was lonely and in a big new place, where her brothers had their own friends and their own occupations. they played quidditch and hung out with harry potter… and ginny? ginny had nobody. the only person who would talk to her was a diary that was slipped into her things by lucius malfoy— a diary containing the spirit of tom riddle.
a diary that she knew she shouldn’t talk to, but she couldn’t help herself. she was eleven years old and lonely, so lonely. and she wanted to be brave like a gryffindor should be, so she didn’t think she could turn to anyone for help. not even when she was blacking out and waking up with actual blood on her hands. she was a scared eleven year old whose body and mind were being TAKEN AWAY FROM HER in a story that is not unlike rape. tom riddle wedged his way inside of her, stripped her of her agency, and fed off of her soul.
until harry potter saved the day, of course.
but, after that? what happened to ginny’s story?
it disappeared. it was completely buried by the excitement of sirius black’s escape in the third book. it was never brought up again until order of the phoenix when we get this dialogue:
“I didn’t want anyone to talk to me,” said Harry, who was feeling more and more nettled.
“Well, that was a bit stupid of you,” said Ginny angrily, “seeing as you don’t know anyone but me who’s been possessed by You-Know-Who, and I can tell you how it feels.”
Harry remained quite still as the impact of these words hit him. Then he wheeled round. “I forgot,” he said.
“Lucky you,” said Ginny coolly.
so, while the rest of the whole damn world forgot about ginny’s AWFUL past, guess who didn’t? GINNY. for four years she handled that shit— seemingly— all by herself.
again, let me emphasize: all by herself. because ginny doesn’t have friends in the harry potter books. she has a connection to the golden trio because her brother is ron, but ginny and hermione do not have a best friends forever attitude. nor do ginny and luna. nor do ginny and neville. you see a few cases of ginny/luna/neville being together because they’re pushed together by their own isolation— by the way none of them really quite belong.
ginny is always brave. at eleven she stands up to malfoy. at fourteen, she hits malfoy with a bat-bogey hex and follows harry to the ministry of magic. she fights in all of the hogwarts battles. she never strays from the side of good— but she also never forgets that she has faced tom riddle. in the canon, she has had a more intimate relationship with tom riddle than anyone other than harry. she never lets herself forget that, even when everyone else in her life seems too eager to forget about it and move on.
another thing about ginny: she doesn’t get ‘beautiful’ overnight, which is an argument i hear pretty often. ginny’s ALWAYS pretty— boys start to date her as early as her fourth year, so she’s clearly a desirable girl.
ginny exists in this realm between girls like lavender brown (who we get the idea dates frivolously and frequently) and hermione (who winds up in a One True Love storyline with the only ‘maybe’ before that love being victor krum). ginny dates around, finds out what she likes, and has what she likes. she doesn’t apologize for dating, she just dates. she makes out with boys! she acts like a freaking teenager! and that’s okay!!! i am so fucking sick of people bitching about ginny being a “mary sue” because boys like her.
of course, the only times we see ginny are when harry sees her.
and once harry has a crush on ginny? he’s a sixteen year old boy— and teenagers with crushes do a great deal of idolizing their crushes. with HARRY-VISION, ginny is beautiful and talented and funny. to harry, there are no flaws to his crush; even the obnoxious/stupid things she’d do would be seen as ‘cute.’ so, of course, coming from harry’s point of view, ginny’s transition from “wallflower, girl with a fannish crush on me” to “stunning, mature girl i want to make my girlfriend” is QUICK and a little (a lot) jarring.
but, while JKR did NOT set up harry’s admiration for ginny in the earlier books (a book earlier, harry was kissing cho chang), JKR DID set up ginny weasley— but people had written ginny off so early that the little details about who she was dating, what she was saying, and how she looked were cast away. and now, post-HBP, people are so overcome with their dislike of ginny that they don’t see just how terrific a character she is in the re-reading.
ginny’s brave and beautiful; she doesn’t have to choose between being one or the other. but harry, and the readers, only notice that she’s amazing— strong and stubborn and harboring the darkest memories of any of the hogwarts students without batting the slightest eyelash — once harry has a crush on her.
and in the surge of the shittiness that is harry/ginny, ginny takes the hit most frequently. people bitch and moan about “ginny’s my least favorite character” and “ginny sux” and “i hate her” and i just want to shake them and say
“give her some goddamn respect; she suffered more than just about ANYONE in that damn series and then everyone who claimed to care about her JUST FORGOT.”
but ginny didn’t forget. she kept her chin up and went on with her life— went on to have the most normal life of all of the teenagers we saw in the harry potter series, really. even though she never let anyone get as close to her as tom riddle ever again— she kept no “best friends” that we know of— ginny fought through and stayed strong, and there is a whole story of recovery and strength that harry wasn’t there to see, so we never got to experience it as readers.
but it happened— it HAD to have happened. you don’t just get OVER that (ginny makes it clear that she STILL hasn’t in the quote i listed above). there’s a story there— one that harry never gives a shit about finding out. and i love ginny because of that aspect of her. because she can have this whole, unspoken story that we only get in TINY bits and pieces based on what HARRY sees of her.