Transcript #651


MuggleCast 651 Transcript


Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #651, Girls Takeover, Part 2: How Motherhood Is A Core Theme in Harry Potter

Show Intro

[Show music plays]

Laura Tee: Welcome to MuggleCast, your weekly ride into the wizarding world fandom. This week, the ladies of MuggleCast are back to round out Women’s History Month with another MuggleCast Girls Takeover. Hello, ladies. It’s so good to have y’all here.

Chloé Laverson: Woo!

Laura: Just to remind everyone, we have Chloé, the one and only, who is the MuggleCast social media manager.

Chloé: Hi, friends.

Laura: We have Meg, who has taken on the enormous task of getting MuggleCast transcribed, so thank you, thank you, thank you so much, Meg.

Meg Scott: You are welcome.

Laura: And we have Pam, who is my Millennial bestie over co-hosting Millennial Podcast with me and Andrew.

Pam Gocobachi: Hello.

Laura: It’s so great to have all of you back.

Pam: It’s nice to be back.

Laura: Thank you for spending your Friday night with me.

Meg: Nowhere we would rather be, honestly.

Chloé: Anytime, babe.

Pam: Thanks to people in the server for coming to hang out with us, too.

Chloé: Yeah, true.

Pam: Y’all could be anywhere, but you’re here with us.

Laura: Aww.

Chloé: It’s because it’s a freaking party, Pam.

Laura: Well, I thought that we could check in a little bit after the first installment of Girls MuggleCast. By the way, just wanted to say we got so much great feedback about that episode.

Chloé: Yes.

Laura: We’re still hearing from people about it, right, Chloé?

Chloé: Yes, we did.

Pam: Oh, really? That’s so nice.

Chloé: Yes, everyone loved it. They were big fans. If you go to our Instagram, you’ll see the comments. People are saying that it was their favorite episode. I think a lot of women felt really seen by this. My favorite comment that really stood out was, “I didn’t know how badly I needed this, and the little teenager in me in 2005 is so happy and this makes my heart happy.” And I was like, “Ah, I’m so glad.”

Laura: I love that.

Chloé: It was just so much fun and the vibes were so good and everything. Our girls’ night that we had with our patrons was amazing, and the episode was so fun.

Laura: For sure. Well, we obviously had a really in-depth but also fun and lighthearted at times conversation about the representation of women in Harry Potter, but I was wondering – before we jump into this part two installment of that discussion – have we had any reflections since we did our last installment together? Or have we noticed anything new about our interpretations on the topic?

Meg: I’ve definitely been aware of it a lot, especially as MuggleCast has been doing Goblet of Fire Chapter by Chapter.

Laura: Same.

[Chloé laughs]

Meg: I feel like we talked a lot about how the author writes about femininity, and it’s so evident in characters like Fleur and Madame Maxime and Rita Skeeter, and so to see all that happen as we’re rereading Goblet of Fire is just like, “Oh, we talked about that. Oh, we talked about that.” Even little things like when McGonagall scolds Parvati for having a butterfly clip in her hair; little things like that where you’re like, “Why the shaming of fun ’90s accessories?”

Chloé: Yeah, one of the only examples of a ’90s accessory, by the way. They should all be wearing baggy pants and grunge clothing.

Meg: Chokers.

Chloé: The butterfly clip was the one thing, yeah.

Meg: Proof that Harry Potter is set in the 90s.

Chloé: Exactly, exactly. I think one thing that has really… actually, since our conversation, which really honestly healed a part of me, I think, finally being able to actually talk about this with women that know Harry Potter in-depth even more than I do, and it just was so special. And one thing I actually realized when I was preparing for this conversation is that there is a lot that I like about the writing of women, and I feel like last time I was really upset and I aired out my grievances especially with Fleur and a few of the other characters, but this time I really thought about it and a lot of these women became role models of mine or at least women I aspired to be like, so I’m excited to really dive into that.

Pam: Yeah, I’m with Meg. I think Goblet of Fire… having the perspective of our all girls episode, it just put a different lens on Goblet of Fire. And you guys had me on a few weeks ago for a Chapter by Chapter, and I’m nothing if not an over-preparer, so I ended up reading all 19 chapters…

Laura: Pam!

[Chloé laughs]

Pam: … and then I kept going because I forgot how much I love…

Chloé: Goblet of Fire is so good.

Meg: It’s so good. Favorite book.

Pam: It’s so easy to get sucked in. And you know what, I’ll tell you, too, Goblet of Fire is not even my favorite book, really, so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it, which is why I just kept reading. But then also, just what was really put into perspective for me was just how one-dimensional sometimes women are in the sense that… we were talking a lot about how women are only allowed to be one thing at a time, often, in terms of the plot, and I feel like that really gets put into perspective with Hermione when Ron is not talking to Harry, and a lot of Harry’s lament is that Hermione is no fun and all they do is go to the library. And it’s like, I’m sure Hermione can be fun, she’s just got to get stuff done first. But it was interesting that that was the point that just kept getting hammered home, that he missed Ron because Hermione was no fun and all she wanted to do was study.

Meg: Yeah, and someone made some point after that episode about how maybe Harry isn’t having as many laughs with Hermione, but she’s the one kicking his ass into gear and being like, “You’re in a tournament where you might die; let’s go learn some magic.”

Chloé and Pam: Yeah.

Chloé: Again, the reason he survives. And Hermione, absolutely, I think can be fun; I think the issue is that we don’t see that side with the women. Maybe they’re not allowed to be fun, just because they are wrangling the men in the series a lot of the time.

Pam: I feel like that also – not to get too ahead of ourselves – I feel like that transitions really nicely into some of the discussion topics you guys came up with for us today, because Hermione is mothering Harry for a lot of the stint of the Triwizard Tournament, which makes sense because you need somebody to be in his corner, and the way that manifests for her is trying to take care of him. She’s being the mom friend, making sure that he’s prepared and he doesn’t die. She has a vested interest, but the way that that manifests is in such a motherly way.

Laura: And she believes him!

Pam: She does, she believes him.

Chloé: That’s the greater thing.

Pam: She’s like, “Of course you didn’t!” [laughs]

Chloé: And she never doubted him once.

Laura: Right, she is the only student at Hogwarts who believes him at this point in time, and Harry isn’t… not to say that I think he doesn’t value that, but I think he’s not thinking about it because he misses Ron that much. And I also want to just offer a disclaimer here: I don’t think it’s terrible that Harry longed for aspects of his friendship that he could only get with Ron.

Chloé: Agree.

Laura: I think anytime we go through this, you’ll feel something like that really acutely, and the result of it is it can cause you to inadvertently disrespect the person who is there supporting you and giving you what you need in the moment, even if what you need isn’t what you want.

Pam: Yeah, he just wanted an escape, too, I think, and I think that that’s what Ron would have offered if he had been there. He would have been like, “Don’t worry about the task, Harry; let’s just go have fun.”

Chloé: Right. Well, we all need different things from our friends; that’s why we have different friends in our life, and Hermione gives a very different purpose for Harry than Ron does. And Pam, you’re so right; Ron is escapism for him, and Hermione is always the person that brings him back to reality. I also think Hermione is the only person with any reality in Goblet of Fire, at least at the beginning. She’s understanding the weight of this, the fact that he could actually die. Ron is just mad that it’s not him. Meanwhile, Hermione is like, “Our friend could die, so now I need to help him in any way possible,” and meanwhile, Harry is just miserable.

Pam: And talk about foreshadowing, too, for Deathly Hallows because we see the same thing happen again. Ron decides to leave and he’s upset; he doesn’t understand that she’s staying because he could die and he needs help.

Chloé: Yep.

Main Discussion: Roles of women in Harry Potter

Laura: Well, I feel like that is a really good transition for us. It really sets us up to move into the beginning of our discussion, which is looking at the specific thematic roles of women in Harry Potter. And in having this discussion, I think we’re going to talk a little bit more about some characters we didn’t get to focus on very much last time, so I’m pretty excited about that. And Chloé, I think there’s a perspective that you take to this discussion as well.

Chloé: Well, I just love that we’re talking about the older women in this series; I feel like they’re not talked about enough. And we definitely focused, I’d argue, on the younger women in this series during our first discussion, because we see more of that.

Laura: Right.

Chloé: We see more of Hermione and Luna and Ginny, but these older women are not talked about enough. They are so powerful, and they bring so much to the table, and I also know that our listeners were asking for this, so I’m excited that we can talk about it for them as well.

Laura: Well, we were talking about Hermione basically mothering Harry, so let’s first talk about the roles of women as mothers in the Harry Potter series. So think about characters – and this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, but I think it’s probably some of the more poignant representations that we didn’t get to spend a ton of time on – so we have Lily, Molly, Narcissa, Bellatrix, Petunia, Andromeda, Merope, and Alice as examples that we can draw from in this conversation. And I thought it would be interesting, instead of speaking specifically about how these women show up as mothers, it could be interesting to focus on what other roles these women serve, or do they serve another role apart from being a mother? And I wanted to focus first on Merope. She was someone who I hadn’t thought about in a while, and I actually went back and read some of the chapters in Half-Blood Prince in preparation for this episode, and I was really struck by how her story is really just tragedy. The other role that she serves is she’s just a very tragic character. There’s obviously no justification for what she does to Tom Riddle, Sr., but it’s easy to see why she was so desperate to find a way out of the poverty, neglect, and abuse that she’d experienced her entire life. And ultimately, when Tom Riddle, Sr. leaves her, she’s without resources, said to be without magic, either by choice or not by choice, and she’s ultimately got this diminished ability to care for her son and care for herself and it ultimately leads to her son being left in an orphanage and she dies.

Chloé: I will say, though, I thought that was an act of almost bravery from Merope.

Laura: Sure.

Chloé: As someone who was adopted and whose birth mother did die, I think that it was her last act of motherhood, and it was the last thing she ever did. She went to that orphanage to give birth because she knew she wasn’t going to survive, she knew she wasn’t going to make it, and she was like, “Okay, well, at least this will give my child a place to stay and food,” and honestly, as miserable as that orphanage is, it was a better way to grow up than the way she did in that horrible hovel with abuse. Obviously, Tom Riddle, Jr. – who becomes Voldemort – is a nasty, nasty kid, but that has nothing to do with Merope leaving him in an orphanage to hopefully be cared for. She didn’t know that he was going to be the monster that he is, so I actually think that in her last moments, she was what she could have been in terms of a good mother.

Pam: I have a question for you all – and I don’t know if I have the right answer for this either – but do you think that if a timeline exists where she would have lived, do you think that she even would have known how to love? Because so much of Voldemort’s trajectory starts because he has no love in his life and he is born out of a loveless coupling, right? And so when you think about Merope’s situation, she didn’t experience love from her family, and she fabricates love for herself but it’s not real, so would she even have been able to love him in some way?

Chloé: I think yes.

Pam: Because when you look at the parallels, too, between what happens with Tom Riddle, Jr. and what happens with Harry, Harry also goes to a loveless house, but he is still enveloped in the love that his parents had for him, and that’s what ends up saving him in the end, right?

Chloé: You’re right. Well, I think that… I mean, I want to believe that Merope could love. Just because she was raised in an abusive household where there was no love, I want to believe that Merope could have the capacity to. She was not conceived under a love potion, to her knowledge, right? So she could still have the capacity to do it. And I wonder with her child if that last act was an act of love, an act of sacrifice and love, or at least, the only type of love that she’s ever showed anyone else in her life.

Meg: Something I’m thinking about is the act of naming her son; specifically, she names him Tom for his father and Marvolo for her father. And so you look at her a product of her circumstances, growing in this house with an abusive father and brother, and not allowed to go to Hogwarts, not allowed to meet other people, but she still has this child and wants to give him a life better than what she had. And it’s something to think about, the fact that she picks a name for him after this man who could not love her without a love potion, and her father who treated her horribly. It’s kind of like she was thinking how things could have been and wanting to just put some sort of idea of any familial love into her child’s future.

Laura: Well, and I think that she probably didn’t think very much of herself, right? I mean, think about the way her father talked to her. And if she grew up with that and had no positive reinforcement or even strong female reinforcement in her life, it would make sense that she would find very little value in herself, and see herself, to your point, Meg, as bestowing upon her child something that might make his life better than hers. And she doesn’t know what a life better than hers looks like, but she knows what her life looks like, so anything different has to be better, probably.

Chloé: I also wonder if naming him after her father and his father is maybe a connection that later he can find back to his family. Naming him Tom gave him that connection back to his father that he could potentially find later, and without her in the picture, maybe his dad would want to spend time with his kid. I think a lot of mothers in desperate situations do try to leave some sort of connection when they’re not around.

Meg: Yeah, she tries to give him some sort of link to the past.

Chloé: To who he is.

Meg: And it’s an interesting “What if?” to think what if she hadn’t given him a name, and the orphanage didn’t know her name, and they said, “Okay, this is just a John Doe kid,” and he went to Hogwarts? He wouldn’t have been able to research his lineage, he wouldn’t have been able to find out that he was the son of a Muggle, which enforced so much of his views on Muggles, and he might have turned out very different.

Chloé: Couldn’t mix up his name to Lord Voldemort.

Meg: [laughs] Exactly.

Pam: But also, a family that she admired, right? She admired the Riddles for their strength and power in the Muggle world. She grew up knowing that even though they were destitute, she came from a great lineage, and it was a source of pride for her family, so she’s literally setting him up to say, “Hey, I’m not here, but you come from great stock,” basically.

Laura: And really, the irony is she’s giving him a trail back to his father so he can go kill him. [laughs]

Pam: Right. Merope’s revenge. [laughs]

Chloé: It sets this entire tumble of “What if?” If he wasn’t named Tom, it would be very, very different.

Laura: All right, we’ll be back in a moment to continue our conversation about the role of women as mothers.

[Ad break]

Laura: Now that we’ve just finished talking about [pronounces it “Mer-oh-pee”] Merope… [pronounces it “Mer-ope”] Merope… I’m second guessing the appropriate pronunciation because me and Chloé are saying it differently.

Pam: Me too. Me too.

[Everyone laughs]

Meg: I’ve always said [pronounces it “Mer-oh-pee”] Merope.

Chloé: I don’t know. I’m sure they’ll let us know in the Discord.

Laura: Yeah, yeah, for sure. [laughs] It’s not trying to call anybody out; I’m just sitting here being like, [pronounces it “Mer-ope”] Merope? [pronounces it “Mer-oh-pee”] Merope?

Chloé: I’m trying to think of the audiobooks and it’s just leaving me.

Pam: Same.

Laura: Well, whatever. We’re all friends here. We get it.

Pam: It’s fine.

[Chloé laughs]

Laura: So I thought it could be interesting to look at Bellatrix for a second on the heels of that discussion because…

Chloé: [gasps] Can I just…?

Laura: Yeah. Please. Go off.

Chloé: Can I just say, when I saw this in the… I was like, “Mother? Bellatrix?” And then it all hit me at once in the face and I was like, “Oh, she is a mother! Oh my God.”

Meg: I know, it took me a minute to be like, “That’s right!”

Chloé: I know, and then that’s Laura admitting that Cursed Child is canon. She’s taking it as canon.

[Laura sighs]

Pam: Yeah, I saw that and I was like, “Oh, y’all accept Cursed Child here around these parts?”

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: Yeah, okay, so here’s the thing. It’s not… I don’t consider it pure canon. The original author didn’t write it.

[Chloé and Laura laugh]

Meg: It can be elective canon. For the purpose of this discussion, it’s more interesting if it’s canon.

Pam: For the sake of the plot. [laughs] The plot being this show.

Chloé: She did have a blue-haired daughter, so that’s pretty epic.

Pam: Kindred spirit for Laura, but that’s where it dies.

Laura: Yeah, for sure.

[Pam laughs]

Laura: Apparently her daughter had wings, or… honestly, y’all, I still haven’t read Cursed Child, so I don’t know.

Meg: I barely remember it. Does Delphi die?

Laura: She has wings, and I’m like, “What, did she drink a Red Bull or something?”

Chloé: She’s an Augurey. She’s this omen of death, which honestly makes so much sense, being Bellatrix and Voldemort’s child, but… I don’t know. JKR really went off on that fanfic.

Meg: Is Delphi still alive at the end of Cursed Child?

Pam: No, doesn’t she die?

Chloé: I feel like she dies. No?

Meg: I read the script once and then I saw the play once and then it was gone.

[Pam laughs]

Laura: You were like, “I’ve had enough of this.”

Chloé: I have seen it in person twice, and I did enjoy it in person, but reading it is absolute garbage. Garbage, flaming hot trash, yeah.

Laura: No, for sure. But thinking about Bellatrix as a mother, now that we’ve all accepted it…

[Pam laughs]

Laura: I know it’s difficult, because at first I’m just like, “Eugh.” I can’t…

Chloé: But is she a mother? She never sees her daughter. Her daughter is a literal baby-baby when she dies.

Laura: Right.

Chloé: Also, I can’t imagine she’s around a lot. Like, there’s a nanny for sure.

Laura: No. Oh, yeah. I mean, she’s clearly not spending time with her, because she’s in the war and then she dies, so… [laughs]

Chloé: You know what I honestly think is probably what happened? I think Narcissa probably raised Delphi.

Pam: No, she didn’t. They sent her to the Death Eater lady.

Chloé: Oh! So there was a nanny!

Pam: Yeah, they sent her to this huge Death Eater supporter. I can’t remember her name. You guys are going to get so many emails about how we don’t know anything.

[Chloé laughs]

Meg: We don’t know the Cursed Child lore.

Pam: Yeah, we don’t claim Cursed Child. Yeah, because she gets sent to this crazy fanatic Death Eater and that’s where she grows up, so it’s funny because I don’t even…

Meg: Why didn’t Narcissa raise her?

Pam: See, these are all good questions for the writers. [laughs]

Chloé: No, I was thinking before Bellatrix dies, I was thinking that maybe Narcissa takes more of a role until they send her to the fanatic, but maybe they sent her to the fanatic when she was immediately born.

Laura and Pam: Yeah.

Chloé: Who knows?

Laura: Maybe. But I thought it was interesting to think about Delphi as a character and to think about the perpetuation of cycles, like the one that Merope grew up in. Obviously, Merope’s situation was different than Delphi’s – they’re not exactly the same – but growing up in a loveless environment will mess you up, and ultimately, we see how that plays out for both of these characters, so I just thought I could give Cursed Child a little bit of props by making that comparison.

Pam: I think, though, that we hit the nail on the head: It’s safe to say that even if Bellatrix had survived, I just don’t see her as a character that would have chosen motherhood, and so I just don’t think she would have been active. It would have been a very cold relationship one way or another.

Chloé: Oh, yeah. I can’t imagine…

Meg: Yeah, it’s… I was going to say, it feels very much like it was motivated by her wanting to have a physical tie to Voldemort.

Pam: Right, or to give him an heir because that’s what he wanted for some reason. She would have just willingly given the baby up.

Meg: Yeah, her being like, “I can do this for you, my lord.”

Pam: Yeah, exactly.

Chloé: Yeah, I was thinking that. Maybe there was a draw to – for both of them – this idea of combining their power and having an heir that was very magical and very strong, because we know obviously both of them are a very capable wizard and witch, so there could be that element too. I just think Bellatrix, yeah, absolutely never wanted to be a mom. Her mom was definitely not a great mom, given what they went through growing up.

Laura: Yeah. And then I guess they’ll have a three-quarter-blood child?

Chloé: Oh, lord.

Pam: They probably don’t want to advertise that. [laughs]

Laura: I mean, that seems like something that would matter to them.

Chloé: No, here’s the thing, though: Bellatrix never knew that Voldemort was a half-blood, no? So she would think that it’s a completely pure-blood child.

Laura: Oh my God, you’re right. I totally forgot about that!

Chloé: Voldemort kept that on the DL. He kept that on the DL. So Bellatrix had a child that wasn’t pure-blood.

Laura: Wow.

Pam: She’s rolling in her grave, in her dusty grave.

Chloé: Literally. [laughs]

Laura: So I mean, obviously, Bellatrix is not someone we would call a good mother, maybe not even someone we’d be comfortable giving the label “mother” at all on the basis of the conversation we’re having.

Chloé: LegalizeGillyweed said, “Bellatrix might be a mom, but she will never be a mother,” which reminds me of that… I guess it’s usually flipped, right? But just, yeah, she might have had a child, but she never did anything to care for or raise.

Meg: I remember once seeing back in 2006 some Potter fan art comic of like, “What if Bellatrix had a child?” and it was Bellatrix and Narcissa standing there and Bellatrix’s son is playing with a crocodile and Narcissa looks horrified.

[Everyone laughs]

Pam: Sounds about right.

Meg: And Bellatrix is like, “Yeah, he’s a good kid.”

[Chloé laughs]

Meg: And so when I read Cursed Child and she became a mother, I was like… that’s where my mind went, to her letting her kid play with a crocodile and being like, “Yeah, he’s a good kid.”

Pam: I’m also just thinking, didn’t Harry have a vision, too, of her training Draco? Yeah, so if you think about just… he is blood. That’s her sister’s kid. And even though he’s being treated as an adult by the time that happens, I would relate that to what her version of motherhood would be. She’d be like, “You need to toughen up. Crucio. Deal with it.”

Chloé: Oh, definitely. Tough love. Definitely.

Laura: Well, Pam, tell me about good mothers, because we just spent some time talking about bad mothers. What role did good mothers serve in this series?

Pam: I was thinking about mothers a lot when I realized we were going to talk about this, and the conclusion I came to is that at the end of the day, the books really make mothers the unsung heroes of almost the entire story. I think they come in and save the day a little bit more than we maybe think that they do. Obviously, Molly kills Bellatrix, but it’s an act of motherhood; she’s protecting her child when she does that. And then obviously, the story starts with Lily being a prime example of doing this heroic thing; she saves her son, and it’s her last act. So mothers feel like not only the unsung heroes, but there’s so many instances where mothers literally shield or save their children. Even going back to Goblet of Fire – which I know you guys are covering right now – the only reason Barty Crouch, Jr. survives long enough for Harry to meet him is because his mother sacrifices herself. She begs for his life.

Laura: Even though she knows what he did.

Pam: Right, exactly. But it’s the selfless sacrifice of mothers. That’s the… it relates to the real world where sometimes people say, “Motherhood is a blessing, but it’s also a sacrifice.” It’s the ultimate sacrifice you can make. You’re literally giving your life up so that you can…

Chloé: Your body.

Pam: Yeah, everything, to raise your children.

Chloé: Well, a part of me thinks that it’s not unsung because of that, because we start the story off with the example of motherhood and sacrifice, and then the cap with Narcissa lying to Voldemort and saving Harry’s life because of Draco and because of her child. That’s a mother’s love once again starting this series, and essentially, in my opinion, ending the series, or at least the Harry being a Horcrux journey. And for me, I think J.K. puts the most value in motherhood. And I think that every single older woman, especially, but even… we were talking about Hermione, and I’d argue even in Luna and Ginny, they all have these traits that are motherly. They’re all caregivers in some way. And I think that underlying all of this and the subtext of this story is that J.K. Rowling believes that motherhood is the most important thing a woman can do. And I don’t necessarily disagree; I think it’s brave, and I think it’s incredible, but she makes the women that aren’t mothers still mothers, based on the way that they behave. This is maybe a hot take, but even Umbridge, in some cases, shows ways that… maybe a not so great mother, but how someone would mother. So I think that motherhood is just soaked into this series and is in every single woman, no matter who they are. And when you were talking about good mothers, Pam, what came up for me is, okay, well, if it started with Lily, like you were saying, and ends with Narcissa, is Narcissa a good mother? To Draco?

Pam: Well, I think that’s subjective, but I think what it boils down to is the unconditional love. So we’re not here to argue whether… it’s not really an argument whether somebody is inherently good or not, but it’s a reflection of how their love manifests towards their children that really matters. That’s really the one thing that absolves even the bad characters. Like when you look at Draco, he has a bit of a redemption, right? In the end, and you probably could argue that’s completely because Narcissa loved him unconditionally. And then it’s the same even when you look at Dudley. Dudley is a jerk, but he also gets redeemed at the end. And there’s no denying that Petunia’s love for her son is true and is unconditional, so he grows up feeling that love, and I think that kind of is what ultimately leads him to be a little bit more compassionate the last time we see him, and then we also know that as they grow, him and Harry have a cordial relationship as adults.

Chloé: J.K. Rowling was relatively a new mother, right, when she started writing these books? So I wonder if that’s why this theme is just ringing so true through the women. We say write what we know, and I wonder if that sacrifice and that unconditional love was in everything.

Pam: Not to get too much into her origin story, but she struggled a lot, too. She was a poor single mother, and she figured out how to change her situation and how to give her children a better life, and so I think you’re right; I think that’s why we see that manifest in different ways in the plot.

Meg: Yeah, I think there was definitely an influence of writing Harry Potter while also having her baby in a stroller next to her in the cafe.

Pam: Right.

Meg: And also, we know the death of her mother was a huge influence on the story. On the role of mothers, though, I think there’s a difference between being a good person and being a good mother, and I think there’s a difference between being a good mother and a loving mother.

Laura: Ahh.

Chloé: Whoa, that was beautiful, Meg. [laughs]

Laura: That’s deep.

Chloé: It’s so true.

Meg: Well, because Pam, when you mentioned Petunia, it made me think of when Dumbledore visits the Dursleys in the beginning of Book 6, and he says, “You were terrible to Harry, you abused him, treated him awfully, but at least you didn’t do to him what you did to your own son,” and the Dursleys even have a moment where they’re like, “When did we ever mistreat Dudley??” but it’s like, they did, by spoiling him and encouraging his bullying behavior. And I mean, it’s kind of a wonder that he was able to turn around and be like, “Actually, cousin, you’re not a waste of space.”

Chloé: Which like, bare minimum, by the way. Bare, bare minimum to say to your cousin who you grew up with, who you treated horribly, “You know, I don’t think you’re completely worthless.”

Pam: Also, he wants to take him with him.

Meg: Yeah, he’s like, “What about you?”

Chloé: That’s true.

Pam: I think that that is… I mean, obviously, we don’t want to give too much credit to badly behaved people, but I do think that there’s something really sweet about the fact that at the end of the day, he’s like, “What do you mean, he’s not coming? What do you mean, we are going to go and stay safe? What do you mean that he’s not going to be safe?”

Laura: Yeah, and I feel like maturity is realizing that Dudley is not the villain in the Dursley dynamic.

Chloé: No, not even a little.

Laura: It’s his parents. And yes, Dudley definitely owed Harry an apology for everything that happened when they were children, but at the end of the day, his parents were the ones responsible. He was emulating behavior that he saw his parents demonstrating towards his cousin, so he thought it was acceptable, so you actually can’t blame him, to a degree.

Meg: And Dudley is the one who says, “I don’t think you’re a waste of space,” and his parents are the ones who just walk away without saying anything. There’s that beautiful deleted scene in Deathly Hallows where Petunia is like, “You didn’t just lose a mother; I lost a sister,” but in the books, that doesn’t happen. She looks at Harry like she’s going to say something and then she loses the nerve and just leaves.

Chloé: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think we see that in Draco, too, and any of the characters that have parents that are not parents that we would consider great, or in bad situations. It’s like, these kids are learning from somewhere, right? They’re getting this from someone else, and I don’t think you can ever fault the kid. And the fact that Dudley at 17 was able to turn around says a lot.

Laura: Yeah, HallowWolf in our Discord is saying, “I think it’s assumed that the cup of tea Harry steps on outside his bedroom was also an attempted act of kindness by Dudley at the beginning of Deathly Hallows.”

Pam: Stop, why does that make me really emotional? [laughs]

Laura: I know, I know.

Pam: It’s so sweet. Damn.

Chloé: I saw this headcanon that said Dudley and Harry made a considerable effort to have their kids get to know each other, and to get the family together, and even though it was sometimes tense, they still spent time together as a family, and I cried.

Pam: Undoing generational trauma.

Laura: Break those cycles.

Pam: Yeah, I love that.

Chloé: Well, and they both could have family, and Harry could have family that was related to… I just think that’s really beautiful, and I fully accepted it as canon. Where’s that button? Where’s Andrew?

[Everyone laughs]

Pam: Oh, is there a canon sound effect?

Laura: No sound effects this week, unfortunately.

Meg: Eh, he can add them in post.

Chloé: I declare canon! I can make my own.

[thunder sound effect plays]

Meg: There you go, Chloé. You did it.

Laura: So I want us to also talk about the roles of women as teachers. So got some pretty obvious examples here in McGonagall, Sprout, Trelawney, Burbage, Umbridge – that rhymed – Pince, Hooch, and Pomfrey. I’m sure we can find other examples. I think, obviously, Hermione is an example of a teacher too.

Chloé: Ooh.

Laura: But again, I’m interested in thinking about apart from teachers, what other roles do these women characters serve, and how do they intersect with that of being a teacher? I thought Pomfrey was an interesting one to start with, because she’s technically on the staff, right? We would consider her a teacher amongst the Hogwarts staff, but she’s also playing the role of caregiver, right? Which overlaps a lot with the theme of motherhood. And I think it’s really interesting because she, Pince, Hooch, and McGonagall all have in common that they have no time for nonsense. They very much give the energy of a mother who cares and who wants to take care of you and wants to do right by you, but she’s not going to take any of your BS.

Pam: She knows when you’re lying.

Meg: Yeah, Pomfrey especially, she has mama bear energy.

Chloé: Yes, totally.

Meg: She is one of the few characters we see who will step up to Dumbledore, even, and be like, “Get out of here. These children are healing. Go have your plot points somewhere else; let them rest.”

[Laura laughs]

Chloé: I feel like McGonagall does that, too, a few times, stands up to Dumbledore. And I love that. They’re like, “No, these are kids first,” and I feel like a lot of the male teachers forget that often.

Pam: Meg, to your point, I think that whenever we see one of the characters go see Madame Pomfrey, she also is making it vocally clear that behind the scenes in moments that we don’t get to witness, she’s voicing her concern. She’s saying, “I told them that the Triwizard Tournament was a bad idea. Why would you let Gilderoy Lockhart mend your arm? Why would you do this, this, and that?”

Meg: “Whose thought was this?”

Pam: Yeah, exactly.

Chloé: I just wish we had spent more time with all of these women, Pomfrey especially, just because the act of being a healer for the entire school must have been so much, and she must have seen the craziest nonsense given that Hogwarts is…

Meg: In a magic school!

Chloé: Yeah, Hogwarts is a security nightmare.

Pam: And we hear about some of it. She’s like, “Oh, thank God they’re growing Bubotubers, because now kids won’t try to hex their pimples off.” [laughs]

Meg: And remove their nose instead.

Chloé: Me. I’m sorry, that would have been so me.

Meg: Same.

Chloé: The second I got a wand, I would have been like, “Okay, so how do I remove my pimples? How do I dye my own hair?” That would have been my first question.

[Pam laughs]

Laura: I think it’s really interesting to consider Pomfrey through the lens of the only person at Hogwarts who is concerned with public health.

Meg and Pam: Yeah.

Chloé: [laughs] Real. Yeah, maybe Lupin a little bit, but other than the two of them, not at all. Because Pomfrey, the only compliment I feel like that she ever gives another teacher is to Lupin, and she’s like, “Oh, someone who actually knows what they’re doing? Great. Thank God.”

Pam: I’m just imagining her having to address the whole student body like, “There’s an outbreak of dragon pox; please no snogging.” [laughs]

Chloé: Real. Oh my God.

Pam: Just like in the high school movies.

Chloé: Do you wonder did Pomfrey teach sex ed? That would fall under her role, right? Or Hooch, because she’s technically the gym teacher.

Meg: Yeah, I would hope it’s them and not the Heads of Houses.

Laura: Oh no.

Chloé: Oh, lord. Can you imagine Snape? [laughs] No, thank you.

Laura: No, no. That is not permitted. I’m pretty sure that’s against the rules. Dumbledore has, actually, a list of educational decrees from before Umbridge came to Hogwarts, and educational decree number one is that Severus Snape cannot teach sex ed. [laughs]

Chloé: I feel like they don’t teach it at all, if I’m so honest, given how old school Hogwarts is. Just the wizarding world in general, I feel like they have some crazy Tales of Beedle the Bard story about how babies come to be.

[Chloé and Pam laugh]

Laura: Probably. I mean, we never see people shower, really. We see Harry take a bath once the entire series. [laughs]

Chloé: What episode was it…? It was a few episodes ago when someone was like, “Yeah, they don’t shower. They’re just dirty all the time.”

[Laura laughs]

Chloé: And I was cackling because it’s true. We don’t see them shower.

Laura: Eh, it’s not relevant to the plot.

Chloé: Maybe they just Evanesco themselves clean?

Pam: Oh, that’s definitely what boys do at Hogwarts.

Chloé: Oh, nasty.

Pam: Teenage boys are gross.

Meg: The idea of just putting on a fresh coat of deodorant and being like, “That’s a shower.”

Chloé: Do you think that there’s…?

Pam: Oh my God. [laughs]

Chloé: I was about to say, is there wizarding deodorant? Or wizarding perfume?

Pam: There’s got to be a spell for that. They’ve evolved past solids. [laughs]

Laura: Well, what about Heads of Houses?

Pam: Yeah, I think that – sticking with the mother theme – McGonagall and Sprout are Heads of Houses, and that really overlaps with that. They’re literally mothering a group of students and they’re serving as disciplinaries and yeah, so I think it all fits, right? I think that also… I think that you guys are right; McGonagall does present as more stern. I think that Professor Sprout, a lot of times the way she’s written comes off a little bit more nurturing.

Laura: Jovial.

Pam: And maybe it’s the Herbology angle, too.

Meg: Earthy.

Chloé: [laughs] Plants! Plant mom.

Pam: Gardening, you have to… well, if you’re tending and you care for plants, then you’re… yeah, plant mom. I think that’s where it all goes. And then McGonagall also has soft sides to her. I think it’s really sweet that she genuinely cares about Harry; she frets over him, she’s more nervous than he is when she’s walking him down to the first task. She also is force-feeding him biscuits, which is such a grandma thing to do.

Meg: It is.

Chloé: She is grandma vibes, honestly. Maybe that’s more what it is.

Pam: I have so much love for Professor McGonagall. I think she might be my favorite mother, or not mother, but older female character in the series.

Meg: She’s in my top… if not top three, top five, at least.

Chloé: She would be an incredible mother. She doesn’t have a child, but I know that she would love so hard and make sure that that child has such an incredible life and is strong and is magical. I just think she would be an incredible mother. If I’m honest, I think that – like I said earlier – every single woman in this series has some sort of motherly/nurturing tendencies; I think that’s just how they’re written. And I’d argue that a lot of women do have those tendencies. Why do we think that the mom friend is so common throughout all of our friend groups? And we all care deeply for the people… so I think in a way it parallels real life that all these women – even if they’re not mothers – have some sort of caregiving nature, asides from a few, like Bellatrix. Which is also real; there are some women that don’t have any of it, and they don’t want to, and that’s cool, too. But I do think this parallels real life.

Laura: I agree. And I think it’s interesting, thinking about the mom friend example, how we can all show up in multifaceted ways depending on the space that we’re in. So for example, I have definitely been the mom friend before, in a very specific context. In general, though, I don’t think I’m the mom friend.

Chloé: No, I agree with you. I mean…

Laura: [laughs] Chloé is like, “You are not a mom friend.”

[Everyone laughs]

Chloé: No, that’s not what I meant, that’s not what I meant. You’re perfect and I love you so much.

Laura: No, I am messing with you. [laughs]

Chloé: But okay, I feel like sometimes you show up that way, but I don’t think that is your overarching trait or where you go.

Laura: No.

Chloé: For example, when I went through a really difficult breakup in October, you actively checked up on me multiple times and was like, “How are you doing?” And that’s such a caring and nurturing thing to do. Obviously, you were doing it as my friend and someone who cares about me, but that would fall under mom friend, I feel like, vibes, but you’re not that. When we went to brunch, you insisted on treating me, which I think is also a way of showing care and nurture in a different way. So I think all of us show up that way, for sure.

Laura: Just in our own ways.

Chloé and Pam: Yeah.

Chloé: Exactly.

Meg: And it is all linked to feminine energy. And there are men who mother, and they exhibit this feminine energy of taking care and making sure that everyone is safe and healthy and happy, too.

Pam: Yeah, it’s the “Text me when you get home” energy.

Laura: Aw, yeah.

Chloé: I love that.

Pam: I think women do that. I think it’s almost a compulsory thing that we all do, because we all know that sometimes people don’t make it home and we just want to make sure everyone’s okay. But I always feel like that’s such a green flag when my guy friends do it. All my guy friends are green flags, because I wouldn’t be friends with them if they weren’t…

[Chloé laughs]

Pam: … but it’s like, “Oh, that’s so sweet. Yes, this is good energy. Text me when you get home, I will do that.”

Chloé: Yeah. I also think that there’s this component of women caring for other women because they know how difficult it is to be a woman and exist in this world. I think a lot of us show up maybe sometimes as the mom friend, because we know that we want someone to care about our wellbeing and we want to be cared for, so we’re doing that in return. And Meg, I’ll give Eric a shout-out; he shows up in that way a lot. I think that he does check in on people a lot and does have a nurturing side to him that I guess we would typically maybe align with more feminine energy, but he has it.

Meg: Absolutely agree.

Laura: So actually, there is a character that I want Meg to make a point about here quickly, who exemplifies just that.

Meg: Yeah, and it’s Remus Lupin. Tying back to where Madam Pomfrey is like, “Finally someone here who actually knows his stuff,” it’s Lupin knowing to give chocolate to everyone after the Dementors. He’s got soft energy. He’s caring.

Chloé: Yes.

Meg: He’s not one to go charging into situations; he’s one to hang back and check on everyone, and it’s a place where we see this stereotype be broken. And there are other male characters we see this with, too; Hagrid and Newt, specifically, I thought of, referring to themselves as mummy when in relation to their beasts, their pets.

Chloé: I love that so much. It’s breaking the toxic masculinity that’s so prevalent in the wizarding world and just fully accepting that they’re being the nurturing and the caregiver. I love that. I love both of those points so much.

Pam: Yeah. And we see that manifest out aside from the creatures that they both care for, right? Hagrid – bless his heart – we all know he’s not the best cook, but he’s still sending Harry rock cakes. He’s trying. Or he brings him the birthday cake, and he’s always checking in on them. Everybody knows he’s… Harry, Ron, and Hermione know that if they need comforting, they can go to Hagrid and he’s always going to be there.

Chloé: Yeah, it’s true. They seek him out.

Pam: And I think that’s so sweet.

Laura: Yeah, and he does things throughout the series to, I think, try and mediate as well when he senses things are off with the trio. I mean, think about Prisoner of Azkaban when Hagrid sits Harry and Ron down and he’s like, “Come on, she’s your friend.” And I think, as a society, we typically wouldn’t expect an adult man to step in and say something like that in defense of a teenage girl, right? So Hagrid really does defy those expectations.

Pam: We also have to believe that it’s not a unique experience to Harry, Ron, and Hermione, because when Rita Skeeter tries to paint him as dangerous because he’s half-giant, Dumbledore says that he got hundreds of letters from parents saying, “If I fire you, we will raise hell,” and so that kind of shows that he’s been filling that role at Hogwarts for longer than the trio have been there.

Meg: I think there’s a line in Chamber of Secrets where he talks about having Ginny round for tea also, without her brother Ron being there.

Pam: He just collects strays. I feel like he probably does pay attention to who is making friends and who’s having a hard time.

Chloé: Also, Neville really tries to stand up for him against Umbridge to the best of his ability in the fifth book. And obviously, Neville was terrified, but he tries to be there for Hagrid, and I think there’s probably examples there. And I definitely think he does it for the Gryffindors, for sure.

Laura: Well, I want to talk about the roles of women in war, as well. This is something we’ve touched on a little bit in the past on the show, but I thought it could be interesting to look at the light side versus the dark side and what roles women on either side of this war, what roles they fill, and maybe what roles can be represented on either side of the war. I think we’ve seen that motherhood is one of those, right?

Chloé: Yeah, I just… while we were talking about this conversation – and I framed this earlier – I was really thinking about how, yes, all of these characters have some sort of motherly trait, but on top of that, a lot of them are warriors. Molly Weasley is a mother. That is her main thing; that’s what we see her do. And she’s a good mother, and she’s goodhearted and kind, and she’s also an incredible badass witch and she fights in that Battle of Hogwarts and she kills one of the most powerful witches on the other side. She is a mother, she’s caring, she’s lovely, she is a warrior. I also think of Fleur, who’s the same thing; she is beautiful and feminine, and also a warrior and fights, and I’d argue she also has motherly traits when the trio is at Shell Cottage and she’s taking care of all of them. So I think that JKR, to her credit, does write these women in a way that makes them just as powerful as the men, in my opinion, and I wish that we saw more of them. That would make me happy. But at the end of the day, they are all very capable to fight as well as to nurture.

Meg: Yeah, this makes me think of Hermione also.

Chloé and Laura: Yeah.

Meg: Hermione is so smart, she’s so talented, so capable, but she also cries a lot, she’s emotional, and it’s nice to see that someone can be both of those things.

Chloé: Oh, that’s so real. That’s so real. [laughs]

Laura: And she can also be wrong. I mean, Hermione is off sometimes.

Meg: Love it when she’s wrong.

Laura: Yeah, and that’s something I actually really do appreciate about the way many characters in the story are written. I mean, you look at characters that you’re really, I think, predisposed to like overall, but they’re still pretty flawed. Dumbledore the biggest among them, since Andrew isn’t here and he can’t defend Dumbledore this week.

Chloé: I even think about… we were talking a lot about how JKR – last time – writes interesting things regarding traditional femininity, but on the opposite token, Lavender and Parvati, they join Dumbledore’s Army. Yes, they’re super girly and giggly and traditionally feminine, and I think unfortunately the author makes them “annoying,” and I’m doing little… what are these called?

Laura and Meg: Air quotes.

Chloé: Air quotations.

[Pam laughs]

Chloé: But they’re also willing to fight, they join Dumbledore’s Army, they want to protect themselves and other people, and that’s pretty awesome.

Meg: Yeah, they fight in the Battle of Hogwarts, and depending on what canon you believe, Lavender even gives her life.

Chloé and Laura: Yep.

Chloé: I’m still in that vague “I don’t know what happened” part of my brain because I love her so much.

Meg: Oh, she’s totally alive. Lavender is alive in my mind.

Chloé: Yeah, she just likes her steaks raw. [laughs] Like Bill.

Meg: Exactly.

Laura: Listen, I feel like the rule of any franchise is unless you see a body – unless it is unequivocally communicated that they are dead – they’re not dead.

Meg: No body, no crime.

Laura: Exactly.

[Chloé and Pam laugh]

Pam: Yes, Meg.

Chloé: Come on, Taylor Swift. She had to pop up.

Laura: Hey, look at Harry. He died and he came back, so…

[Everyone laughs]

Chloé: Yeah, that’s true. He did it twice!

Laura: Yep, he pulled a Jesus.

Chloé: Real.

Meg: LegalizeGillyweed says, “Lavender is living in an all women’s werewolf colony. (Heart hands.)”

[Everyone laughs]

Chloé: That sounds like my dream, I’m not going to lie. I love that. Where can I sign up?

Laura: That sounds great. I also want to call out Lindsay, who said, “I think the women are seen having the burden of making hard decisions that they believe will impact their children’s future,” and that’s so true, right? Even when we’re talking about – and this is where we can shift to talking about the dark side – but we look at someone like Narcissa, who’s like, “You know what? My son’s future is more important to me than my ideology.”

Chloé: I was about to say, I feel uncomfortable putting her in the dark side because of that.

Laura: Yeah? Tell me about that.

Chloé: I don’t think she has a side except Draco. That is her side. I think that Narcissa, because she met Lucius, ended up being on the bad side. I think she probably could have gone the same way Andromeda went if she hadn’t met him. She followed him, she followed her family, and she does have that unconditional love that Pam was talking about earlier. So for her, it was anything to preserve her family, anything to preserve Draco, and that ended up with her being on the dark side. And I think by the end of it, she realized that being on the dark side was no longer going to save Draco and her family, so she got out and she made that change. I just don’t think she picks a side except self-preservation and her family’s preservation, which is very Slytherin of her, if I’m honest.

Meg: Yeah, you could argue that Narcissa leads with love. She loves her family, and that’s why she finds a nice pure-blood man to settle down with, and then she loves him, and that’s why she is agreeing with him on these political topics, and then she loves her son, and ultimately, she makes her choice based on that.

Laura: Yeah, but I guess if we’re making it… especially in talking about the wizarding war, we know that it heavily parallels to World War II. Unfortunately, there were plenty of people just like Narcissa during World War II, who maybe themselves weren’t necessarily Nazis to their cores, but they sure rubbed shoulders with the Nazis and they broke bread with the Nazis and they were down with the Nazis as long as it was convenient for them and it wasn’t causing any issues in their life. I think that is who Narcissa is, 100%.

Meg: Yeah. I would amend my statement; she leads with her personal love, the people she loves. She does not lead with a love for humanity or what is right.

Laura: I agree with that.

Chloé: I think very few characters lead with that. I think most of them lead with love for their family or their loved ones.

Laura: Yeah. I mean, I feel like within the trio, Hermione is really the one who leads with the most love of the three of them. Even just thinking about her…

Chloé: Love of humanity, love of justice, love of fairness.

Laura: Yeah, exactly. And I mean, just thinking about her approach towards SPEW and house-elves, as we’ve discussed many times, she’s not exactly going about it in the most effective way. But she’s doing what she knows how, and she’s standing up for somebody that she really doesn’t have to stand up for. I mean, her life is probably going to be easier at Hogwarts if she isn’t sticking out like a sore thumb as that weird girl with the SPEW buttons.

Meg: Yeah, shaking the badges under everyone’s nose.

[Laura and Pam laugh]

Chloé: But I love that about her, though. She’s so unapologetically herself, and she believes so fiercely, and it’s so beautiful. A part of me wishes that I was like that when I was growing up and I cared way less about what other people thought and cared way more about what I was doing and what I was trying to accomplish, because it’s brave of Hermione. I mean, honestly, that’s a big part of the Gryffindor in her, to me, is the idea that she just barrels on and she doesn’t care. She does not care what other people think in the way that I think… I mean, I think she cares a little, but she doesn’t care enough about what other people think to stop. She’s going to keep going and she’s going to fight on.

Laura: Yeah, that’s why she’s a warrior, to your point. But I want to keep us focused on the dark side, and I think, Meg, you had put in a really interesting name origin here as we’re talking about these women.

Meg: Yeah, I had a note about Bellatrix because when I saw “Roles of women in war,” including Bellatrix, I remembered that “Bellatrix” literally means “warrior.” And in verifying this, I actually learned that the word “bella” – just “bella” – has two meanings in Latin. It can mean both “beautiful,” and the plural form of “bellum,” meaning war. So “Bella” becomes beautiful warrior, which is really an oxymoron in terms of femininity, taking the word beautiful, which is supposed to be so soft and lovely and glorious, and then warrior, which… war is ugly, it’s harsh, it’s sharp.

Laura: To her it probably is beautiful, though.

Chloé: Yeah, I was about to say, there’s that, and also the idea that she is probably Voldemort’s number two guy, maybe. She is his beautiful warrior, and she’s beautiful – we know that canonically in the story – and she uses that. I mean, I think it’s so fitting of a name.

Laura: So we chatted a little bit about the light side and the dark side, but are there any female characters that we think are left out and really don’t get to pick a side? Apart from Narcissa; we have that on the record that Narcissa is kind of maybe ambiguous.

Chloé: Can I just say, by not picking a side, though, she is picking a side, right? Which is the truth of anything. If you’re not fighting for good, you are complacent in evil, which is with what you were saying about Nazi sympathizers and people that didn’t do anything during World War II. I just think that her story is complicated. And there’s a lot of conversation in the chat happening right now talking about how likely it was that she was also in an abusive marriage, considering how Lucius treated Dobby and how he potentially treated Draco as well. I feel like Narcissa was doing everything she could within her means, and that’s the other thing; I don’t think it would have been possible for her to get out. She went from her father’s house to her husband’s house, and she’s never known anything else, and I think that there’s just a lot more nuance with Narcissa than just putting her in bad, evil side.

Laura: Yeah, I get it.

Meg: I think similar to Narcissa is Merope in that she is a product of her environment, but unlike Narcissa, Merope doesn’t even go to Hogwarts, so she never even gets to see the other side. It’s implied that she just grows up only having interactions with her father and brother, who tell her, “Muggles are scum; you are a worthy person because of your bloodline,” and so she really doesn’t have a chance to ever get to form her own opinion, and it just goes to show how important education really is in getting a good, rounded view of the world.

Laura: All right, well, we are going to be coming back to speak about the role of women in fandom, but first, we need to take a quick break to listen to these messages.

[Ad break]

Main discussion: Women in fandom

Laura: All right, and we are back. Now we want to pivot to talking about the role of women in fandom. Obviously, all of us have been in fandom for quite some time, so we want to talk about our place in the Harry Potter fandom, what it’s looked like, what our contributions look like at this point in time, but we also want to talk about some of the prominent initiatives that are led by women in the Harry Potter fandom, and ultimately, how the wizarding world fandom has created space for all kinds of people. So I thought we could get started by talking about how we currently interact with and contribute to the fandom. Obviously, a big part of that is this podcast, right?

Chloé: Sure. [laughs]

Laura: We all contribute to this podcast in one way or another. And obviously, those are really significant things, but I would wager to guess that there’s a lot of interaction that we have with the Harry Potter fandom that isn’t necessarily always captured on this show, so I’m just curious to hear from y’all: In what ways are you engaging with the Potter fandom outside of podcasting these days?

Meg: Well, I have been a volunteer with MuggleNet for 11 years now.

Chloé: Oh my God, what?

Pam: Wow.

Meg: I know, I know.

Chloé: I didn’t know that.

Meg: Yeah, social media copy editor. I make sure that whenever people have a tweet scheduled about Dame Maggie Smith, that it hasn’t accidentally been autocorrected to “Damn Maggie Smith.” That happened once, and then they brought on me.

[Laura laughs]

Meg: So I make sure that things are just nice and neat over there. But yeah, I spend a lot of time with MuggleNet. It was my homepage in 2005, and that’s how I first heard about MuggleCast. And then I saw they wanted podcast transcribers in 2012, and I applied, and that’s how I got started there, and then they wanted a social media copy editor. But I mean, when I first encountered MuggleNet, I remember it being very much a boys’ club, and listening to MuggleCast, it was just entirely boys plus Laura.

Pam: [laughs] Look at how far we’ve come!

Laura: I know, we really have.

Meg: But also, for over a decade now MuggleNet has been majority women-led, and since 2017, leadership has almost exclusively been women. And we did a demographic survey a couple years ago and we found that about 80% of MuggleNet staff are women, and the other 20% are 10% men and 10% non-binary people, and it’s just such a far cry from what it was back in 2004, 2005.

Laura: Seriously.

Meg: And I just see the discussions that we have there, and we bring ideas, and we’re smart, and we’re funny, and we’re the ones keeping it going.

Laura: Yeah, and I think it’s so interesting, comparing those demographics to the demographics of the fandom. I think it’s fair to say that while Harry Potter fans come in all packages, right? When you think about the fandom, the people who are most active, the people who are showing up at conventions… I’m not discounting men who show up, but you’re talking about an overwhelming majority of women, at least in my experience. I remember this being a little bit of a joke back when I was a teenager and going to Harry Potter conferences, because me and my friends would be like, “Oh, maybe we’ll meet a guy there at the convention. Won’t that be, like, hot and fun?”

[Pam laughs]

Laura: And then it was like, “Okay, well, there’s a ratio of 10 to 1 of men and women at these conventions,” and the guy is probably gay, was the other thing.

Chloé: [laughs] Real.

Meg: It’s just like going to art school.

[Pam laughs]

Laura: Yeah, I can imagine!

Chloé: True.

Meg: My college experience was very much like a Harry Potter convention.

Laura: [laughs] That sounds great.

Chloé: I feel like going to a Harry Potter convention with the MuggleCast boys, all the girls were low-key after them, probably.

Laura: Yes.

Chloé: So you were like, “What do I even do? What’s going on?”

Laura: It was actually kind of nice, because I’m introverted and shy, and I…

Chloé: No, I meant there was no other men, so you’re not finding anyone. [laughs]

Laura: Ohh. I see. Well, there were other men for sure, but at least in my experience, it was nice that they were getting all the attention, because they really were.

Chloé: So you could do your own thing?

Pam: You could just hang back and chill.

Laura: Yeah. But I had some really great conversations in small groups with women, again, at these conventions. You tend to just gravitate towards likeminded people in general, and then it’s just a place of community and gathering that I’d never experienced before.

Chloé: I mean, two of my now best friends I met at LeakyCon last year, and they’re women, and it was because we were able to connect on such a deep level. And I think the conversations that we can have as women are very different than the conversations that we have with men, and that’s just the reality.

Laura: Well, what about you, Chloé? What does fandom look like for you?

Chloé: Yeah, I mean, I live in fandom at this point, which is so great. It takes up the majority of my time and life, and I’m so, so endlessly grateful that it’s become actually a big part of my job through MuggleCast and Those Forking Fangirls, the other podcast I work for. I’ve made incredible friendships in the Harry Potter community and then beyond in other fandoms. I read fanfics pretty much daily. [laughs] I meet up with my Harry Potter friends on the regular. I’ve made friends through Harry Potter social media, and I also create content for fandom myself, and I don’t know. It makes me so happy, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. And I think that’s why Miriam Margolyes… I don’t know how to say it.

Laura: Margolyes, yeah.

Chloé: Margolyes. I think that’s why her comments hit me so hard, because it is a lot and a huge part of my life, and without it, I would be a much more sad person. So fandom has given me so much, and I will continue to live in that space because it makes me so happy. And it’s okay if you do, too, by the way.

Laura: Yeah, honestly, I just feel sorry for her if that’s her perspective.

Chloé: Yeah, real.

Laura: Being so real, because she didn’t read the books, right? She was just in the movies?

Chloé: No.

Laura: So yeah, she was just in the movies. She’s had exposure to the early movies, so that’s her interpretation of what Harry Potter is. She’s missing out on like, 85% of it, and that’s her loss. So think whatever you want, Miriam. Love you, though.

Meg: She’s a Charles Dickens fangirl, and that’s good for her. We’re Harry Potter fangirls.

Laura: Yeah!

Chloé: Eric and I were texting about that. [laughs] I was like, “Oh, so she has her own thing; she’s just judging ours.”

[Pam laughs]

Laura: Right. Well, her thing is old and it was written by a white man, so there’s probably some commentary we can draw there about the perceived legitimacy or validity of an artwork depending on where it came from and who it came from. But whatever, like what you like. Still adore her, though. I think she’s hilarious.

Chloé: She’s very funny, yeah.

Laura: But on this one, I was just like, “Eh, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” I’m just… [laughs]

Chloé: Yeah, just don’t steal other people’s joy is my big thing. We won’t steal yours and your Dickens love fest. That’s a weird sentence.

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: Hey, you know what? We get unhinged here on the girls takeover episodes. Pam, I want to hear about your experience with fandom, because I think all of us here, we still spend a lot of time in Harry Potter, so we can chat about that, but I also want to hear about just what does fandom look like for you in general? Because I know Harry Potter is not the one and only thing that we all love.

Pam: Yeah, I mean, it’s funny because I was… we have a listener – I think she listens to MuggleCast too – Morgan Levy, she has a podcast called That Nerd Thing, and her podcast is all about unpacking this question: What does fandom mean to you? How do you keep fandom in your life? And so I was on her show, and I was basically telling her what I’ll tell you guys now, which is that I just feel like I really owe my career in a lot of ways to fandom, because fandom has always allowed me to dive deep into the things that I am passionate about. And then I was able to go to school for journalism, and coming out of that, too, wanting to write about pop culture, so much of my fandoms and the things that I love overlap with the things that I’ve covered in my career and the things that I still get to talk about. So I think that in that way, fandom is a part of my everyday life to different degrees. But for Harry Potter specifically, I definitely have started consuming in the last few years more Harry Potter content online and I think it’s just because we’ve seen a resurgence in creators creating content around Harry Potter. For a while that was really dormant, but you have TikTok with all these Harry Potter creators that are on there doing really creative things. And also, there are people that start rewatching or rereading the books over on YouTube and so it’s really easy to just tap into these new people and experience the joy that you maybe found the first time around reading the books through their eyes, even if they’re reading them as an adult. So yeah, so anytime I’m consuming content, though, I do try and at least like and interact, because spoilers: People will make more of the things that you want when you do that.

Chloé: Yep. Real. [laughs]

Pam: And I will also tie fanfiction into this because I do still dabble in reading fanfiction here and there, and I always make sure to hit that kudos button.

Chloé: Yes.

Pam: If I don’t have time to leave a comment – because you can leave an unregistered comment on Archive of Our Own – at least hit the kudos button. If you want another chapter, you’d better interact, because these people are doing it for free, so that’s the least you can do.

Chloé: Oh, I have to hit the kudos, because I’m like, “It’s not done?” I rarely, rarely pick up a fic that’s not completed, and when I do, I’m always heartbroken that I can’t read more. So I’m hitting that kudos, I’m sending comments…

Pam: Yeah. Even when it’s done, just interact, even if you’re just commenting to be like, “Hey, I like this.” And that goes for TikToks and stuff like that, too. Encourage people to make more of the things that you like, because that is really what keeps fandom alive.

Chloé: What Pam is saying is comment on our stuff.

[Chloé and Pam laugh]

Chloé: And tell us to keep making it.

Pam: Well, we’re going to be here regardless.

Chloé: True, but also…

Pam: Yes, yes.

Laura: Well, and I think to the overall point about women in fandom, again, we’re not speaking in exclusives here, but so many of these creators are women. And when you think about the fact that oftentimes they’re doing this for free, I mean, it’s people who are doing free work because they care about the thing so much. So yeah, I mean, the least any of us can do is be sure to engage with the content that we like and not just take it for granted like it’s always going to be there, right? So I love that. Well, what are some prominent initiatives led by women in the Harry Potter community? Meg, you brought up MuggleNet and how the demographics of its staff have changed quite a bit. It was so crazy to hear you talking about that, because I remember working on MuggleNet back in the day.

Meg: It’s a lot different.

Laura: Yeah, the staff page looked a lot different. [laughs] It’s wild to see how it’s changed and developed over time. I’m curious, what do you chalk that up to?

Meg: I don’t know; I hesitate to say like, “Oh, women are just more passionate. They care more.” It’s difficult. It is something that I wonder about a lot, like, “Why did this change happen? How did this change happen?” Yeah, I really don’t have an answer to that. I’d love to hear what other people think.

Chloé: I think it’s reflective of the fandom itself, if I’m super honest.

Pam: Well, it is now.

Chloé: I’d argue that… it is now, yeah.

Pam: Because I think women have always been the backbone of the Harry Potter fandom.

Chloé: Well, that’s what I’m saying. That’s what I’m saying. I feel like this fandom has always been majority women, and now MuggleNet reflects that, which I think is wonderful. I think that to reflect the fandom is doing something right.

Pam: Yeah, it’s interesting, though, because thinking back to maybe when we first discovered websites like MuggleNet, or even some of these other bigger Harry Potter websites that were around in the early 2000s, so many of them were spearheaded by men, and so if you just existed online… like Laura, I didn’t even realize that the fandom was majority women until I started going to conventions, and then you get to see the actual demographic and you realize that it’s kind of crazy that men are running these… predominantly men are working on these sites or making these podcasts or whatever because…

Chloé: Tale as old as time, though.

Pam: Yeah, because it’s like, “But there’s so many women.” [laughs] “Where are the women?”

Meg: There’s probably something to be said for back in the early 2000s when websites, fan sites were first becoming a thing, STEM was very much encouraged for boys to do.

Pam: Geared towards men, yeah. That’s true.

Chloé: Ohh.

Meg: And so teenage boys were the ones who were learning coding and how to make fan sites more so than the fans who were girls.

Laura: Meg, I actually think that could be a really big part of it, why we saw the shift happen. That’s nuts. Yeah, y’all activated some core memories for me. Yes.

[Pam laughs]

Chloé: Also, just the confidence of men and them always being able to do what they want, and men I think more often got told “Yes” more.

Pam: Yeah. It’s funny because on the flip side, thinking about fanfiction, I feel like the majority of the people that I interact with on the fanfiction side of fandom – and this has been the case since I started reading fanfiction – are women, or identify as women or non-binary, it’s very rarely that I come across something that was written by a dude, which is not to say there are not men that write fanfiction, but it is interesting how there’s always been that dichotomy there.

Chloé: Even reading fanfic, I’d argue… I don’t really know, and I have quite a few men in the Harry Potter fandom that I’m friends with… that sounded weird. “Quite a few men.” [laughs]

Laura: What I loved was the “I have quite a few men.”

[Everyone laughs]

Pam: Laura, how did you not find these men when you were…?

Laura: I know.

Chloé: I did not mean to say that. Oh my God. I meant to say I have a lot of friends who are men in the Harry Potter fandom, and I feel like they don’t read fanfic at all, and I feel like all the women do, so I wonder if there’s… I don’t know why there’s that discrepancy there, but they’re also not reading it.

Pam: Do we all read fanfiction here? The four of us? Yeah, so that tracks.

Chloé: Send us your recs.

[Pam laughs]

Laura: For sure. I will say that I’m definitely more of a dabbler; I don’t think I read as much fanfiction as Chloé does, but every now and then I’ll read something, and I mean, I used to freakin’ moderate fanfiction and I wrote a ton of it.

Chloé: The things you’ve seen, Laura. The things you’ve seen.

Laura: Unsavory things.

[Laura and Pam laugh]

Chloé: I go through phases. I go through fanfic phases where I’m reading so much for a month and then I’m off it and then I go back. Right now I’m focused on ACOTAR, so I’m not reading fanfic, but I’m sure soon I’ll get back in a fanfic kick.

Meg: Well, I mean, I think a lot of the stereotype of fanfiction being read and written by women is because there’s romance there. Fanfiction is really a place where people can engage in romance. But it makes me think of like, in Jane Austen novels she often writes about how 200 years ago, if you read fiction, that was a womanly thing to do, and men didn’t read fiction. Men read nonfiction, serious books. And just think about how that’s changed over the past couple centuries.

Chloé: Can I do a shameless ask of our listeners? If you have Luna x Harry fanfic, or you want to write that, please hit my line.

[Laura laughs]

Chloé: Because there isn’t enough and I’m begging for it. I really just desperately need more Luna/Harry in my life. Yeah, that’s something I’d like, so slide into my DMs if you have recs. [laughs]

Meg: Slide into the DMs with the Larry.

[Pam laughs]

Chloé: For real. They aren’t written about enough, and I think they’re so freaking cute, and you know how I feel about them.

Pam: What’s also funny; you know, guys, Larry is already a ship, right?

Meg: Oh my God, it is! I wasn’t even thinking of the Directioners!

Pam: For One Direction, yeah, so they can’t be Larry. [laughs]

Chloé: Okay, Huna?

Meg: Huna.

[Everyone laughs]

Chloé: Povegood? Lotter?

Laura: There we go.

Chloé: Lotter is maybe the best, but it’s still gross. [laughs]

Pam: We’ll workshop it.

Laura: Yeah, we’ll have to think on that. It’s definitely… honestly, it’s the best ship that never sailed. To this day… I was so convinced. In Order of the Phoenix, I was like, “Yep, end game right here.”

Chloé: So was Daniel Radcliffe and Evanna Lynch. They talk about it in an interview and they’re like, “We thought we were going to get together…”

Pam: Yep, they played it that way.

Chloé: Yeah, which broke my little freakin’ heart, by the way. [laughs]

Meg: My somewhat controversial opinion is that Harry and Luna would be so cute as that early teenage romance…

Chloé: Yeah, totally.

Meg: … but I feel like – feel free to cut this out, Andrew – but I feel like later in life, they just would not be sexually compatible.

[Everyone laughs]

Meg: I feel Luna is either completely asexual, just doing her own thing, or she’s way experimental, and that either way Harry is somewhere just smack in the middle of that and it just wouldn’t work out.

[Pam laughs]

Chloé: Smack in the middle, totally. Meg, I agree with you absolutely.

Meg: That’s my hot take.

Laura: Oh, man. I feel like we can have an entire bonus MuggleCast episode about that, and we probably should. I feel very inspired now. So if y’all ever want to come back for a bonus, let’s do it.

[Everyone laughs]

Chloé: Oh, I’m so down to talk about ships in a bonus; y’all have no idea. That’s so real, Meg, though. You popped off with that one.

Meg: Honestly, it’s what I feel.

Laura: I know. It’s a gift, honestly.

[Chloé and Pam laugh]

Laura: Meg, you just have the best takes and the best one-liners.

Meg: My collection of headcanons.

Chloé: Oh, so did anyone else have a Harry Potter Pinterest board where they saved – or your Tumblr; I did it on Tumblr too – where you saved or reblogged your headcanons?

Laura: Not me.

Chloé: I’m sure you can find mine out there. Reblogged a lot of spicy and weird takes, I’m sure.

[Pam laughs]

Laura: Well, I wanted to be sure before we get into wrapping up this episode to give some love to Fandom Forward and LeakyCon as organizations that are largely female-led that are doing great work in fandom. So Fandom Forward is actually formerly known as the Harry Potter Alliance. It is not exclusively led by women, it also wasn’t founded by women, but many of its leaders at this point are women and non-binary people. It was initially founded to raise awareness about the genocide happening in in Sudan in 2006, but Fandom Forward now focuses on making activism accessible for everyone, and is committed to LGBTQIA equality, gender equity, youth advocacy, racial justice, education and libraries, media reform, and climate change, so they have really extended the reach of the issues that they focus on. And I love that they have a focus on making advocacy accessible and sustainable for people to be part of, so that they can allow their creativity and their participation in fandom to also have a positive impact in some of these other issue areas. Tell us about LeakyCon, Chloé.

Chloé: Oh, well, I mean, Melissa Anelli obviously started LeakyCon and we know her, but it’s run by a woman and has a majority woman team. And you’re also going to see Meg and I there, so yeah, shout-out LeakyCon. [laughs]

Meg: Looking forward to it. I’ve never been to Portland before.

Chloé: I know. We’re going to be roomies. We’re going to have a sleepover. It’s going to be so much fun.

Meg: It’s going to be great.

Laura: I’m anticipating a lot of really fun TikToks and fun pics for the socials.

Chloé: Whatever Meg is willing to do, I will do it.

[Everyone laughs]

Meg: I’m happy to do it.

Chloé: The content will be good. Absolutely.

Laura: You’re such a good sport, Meg, because I am the bane of Chloé’s existence because…

[Laura and Meg laugh]

Chloé: No, you’re not. No, you’re not. I love you to death.

Laura: The feeling is mutual, for sure. But I’m very much the roomie who would be like, “No, we are not recording a TikTok. I am not doing roomie photos.” [laughs]

Chloé: And then I would be like, “Okay, I’m doing it alone then.”

Laura: Yep.

[Pam laughs]

Chloé: You and Andrew, man. You’re like, “No pictures, please. No paparazzi. Thank you so much, no can do.” Micah and Eric are such good sports about it.

Laura: Yeah, they are.

Chloé: And I really, really, really appreciate it. Especially Eric; he’s like, “Oh, yeah, you want a picture? Absolutely.” I love it, so it’s always fun.

Meg: Last weekend they filmed a little a little LeakyCon teaser. I held the camera. I helped.

Chloé: I know, I love it. Oh, I bet the camera work is impeccable, Meg. I’ll pay very close attention to that. [laughs]

Meg: It’s great. There was one moment where I was not paying attention and I fell off the curb, so it shakes a bit, but other than that, it’s real good.

Chloé: No, that’s good, though. That’s character. That’s character. I was glad they were together, and the second I saw them together, I hit them with a “Send pics.”

Laura: Well, to bring us home on the second installment of Girls Takeover MuggleCast, I wanted to chat briefly about where the Harry Potter fandom has been successful in amplifying the voices of women and other underrepresented groups, and maybe where we think there’s still some work to be done.

Pam: Well, I know you guys aren’t going to toot your own horn here on MuggleCast, so I’ll do it for you.

Chloé: Yes, toot-toot.

Pam: I think that you guys have done a really good job of bringing on women guests, in the last few years specifically.

Laura: Aw, thank you.

Pam: I know that Andrew and I have talked about that privately, because I’ve also said that I think it’s really good that you guys do that. And he’s also mentioned to me privately that if there is an open spot, you guys try to add more female voices then, because everybody is well aware that there are a lot of female voices that are amplified in the fandom, so I think that’s really great. And I also think it’s really great that you guys have been having more BIPOC guests on. That’s always going to be my soapbox, because minorities or BIPOC people are just not really represented in this series, but I feel like those fans have such interesting and unique takes, and a lot of times, whether it’s because of the algorithm or other powers that be, I feel like those voices often don’t get amplified as much as some other voices do in fandom, so yeah, I love hearing from BIPOC fans always, and their perspectives are just so valuable.

Chloé: I’ll extend that a bit further – and I don’t mean to make you blush or anything – but I think, Laura, you’ve been that for a lot of women. You have been that representation in the Harry Potter space and the person that they can look up to and really see themselves in, and you are always so welcoming and kind to guests, and you really make them feel like a part of it, and I think that episodes where guests are on when you’re on as well, I can always tell a big difference because you make people feel just so comfortable. And I think that with a fandom that is majority women and has been, really, since the beginning, you have been a huge part of making people feel comfortable. I also think beyond women, the Harry Potter fandom and fandom space in general has been much more accepting and inclusive to the LGBTQIA+ community before it was mainstream.

Laura: 100%.

Chloé: And I’m now thinking of the fandom offshoots, like the Marauders and House of Black and all these offshoots of Harry Potter that are based in queer and LGBTQIA+ representation. I’m really proud to be a part of this fandom, despite the author and despite a difficult maybe history, because I think that it is so inclusive and so welcoming, and you feel that at in-person events. You feel that listening to MuggleCast. You feel that on Harry Potter TikTok. You feel the heart and soul that this fandom has, and it is a beautiful thing to be a part of and I’m just so grateful for it because it has brought me so much joy since I was little, and I don’t think I would be the person I am today without the Harry Potter fandom and the women who are a part of it, and all of you.

Meg: Yeah, I mean, I got to thinking; I was talking about MuggleNet in 2005, and I was a teenage girl who loved Harry Potter, my friends were teenage girls who loved Harry Potter, and I’d go on MuggleNet and listen to MuggleCast, and it was primarily these boys, but then Laura was there and I was like, “Oh, I see myself there.”

Laura: Y’all are going to make me cry. [laughs]

Chloé: You deserve to hear it, though. So many people feel it too.

Pam: And everyone listening knows, too, that it’s because of you that there is a female voice on the panel. I know you’ve told the story many times that you said, “Why don’t you guys have a girl on?” So I mean, if you’d never done that…

Chloé: Crazy that none of them thought of it before, though.

Meg: [imitating Emma Watson] Boys.

[Laura laughs]

Chloé: Yeah, there was just a lot of boys.

Laura: I loved the Hermione moment there, Meg. “Boys.”

[Pam laughs]

Laura: I mean, in their defense, they were only a few episodes in.

Chloé: Yeah, it’s true.

Laura: They were still getting their footing, and I think they would have gotten there, but I was definitely the abrasive one in the staff forums being like…

Pam: You were like, “Let’s make sure this happens in season one.”

[Everyone laughs]

Chloé: I don’t know how abrasive it is to be like, “Hey, maybe get a woman on? I don’t know. Crazy.”

[Laura laughs]

Chloé: Cuckoo bananas idea, but…

Pam: No, but props to them because they could have just been like, “You’re psycho, no.”

Chloé: That’s true.

Pam: So the environment was already welcoming to begin with, to your point.

Laura: Yeah, 100%. They always were. I’m curious, though: What are some areas where y’all think the fandom might still have some work to do?

Pam: I still just think amplifying – I hate to say this again because I feel like I sound like a broken record…

Chloé: No, I agree with you. I was going to say it if you didn’t say it.

Pam: I really just think that we really need to make space for more black creators, more Latino/Latinx creators, more Asian creators, anybody that fits in that BIPOC category. I think that those are the voices that we hardly hear from, and it sucks that a lot of times the algorithm does not favor creators that look like that. And I just love seeing more people pop up on my feed, but I know that it happens because every time I see a creator of color talking about Harry Potter, I’m automatically hitting the like, leaving a comment, so that I see more of that.

Chloé: I feel like the biggest Harry Potter creators right now are BIPOC people, and it makes me really happy. I’m thinking of the people that come up on my For You page all the time, and they are part of minority groups, and I think that is freaking awesome and I think it does show how far we’ve come. Obviously, we have so much more work to do. And you’re right, this fandom was started by white men, in my opinion. Just the big fan sites and the people that we were amplifying in the beginning, and I mean, I think that is true of anything, if I’m honest. So we have a lot of work to do in terms of making sure that women are seen and BIPOC creators are seen and different perspectives are seen too. I feel like it’s really important to also have diversity of thought when it comes to this fandom, and not be in a constant echo chamber.

Laura: Yeah. And that’s true for everything, right? I think people existing in their own personal echo chambers is just a really big problem in general right now, and I think it’s something that as a fandom, we can definitely work to avoid by continuing to be more inclusive and more welcoming, so I totally agree.

Chloé: Also, just different views about Harry Potter. Genuinely, I think that’s important too.

Meg: Yeah, different perspectives! Perspectives that represent the world, because Harry Potter, the fans are from all different backgrounds, races, genders.

Chloé: I was thinking about that because I’m listening to the Harry Potter books in French right now, and just listening to the exact same story in a different language, I get a completely different feeling. And I wonder, Pam, if you felt this with Spanish books. It’s like reading them, you get almost a different layer, and I’m sure that’s true living in different countries reading it. I’m sure it’s a very different experience for my friend Sukanya, who is from London, reading the Harry Potter books; she probably gets a lot more of the nuances that we don’t and understands the schooling system and all this stuff, just like I’m sure it’s different for someone who is in Italy or wherever else.

Pam: Yeah, for me, part of the fun in having read part of the series in Spanish – not all of it because I read a lot slower in Spanish than I do in English – is just seeing how certain words get translated. I think that… like for the title Deathly Hallows, it literally translates to “Relics of Death,” and having that… I don’t know if you guys remember – I’m sure you guys remember – all the theorizing that was happening with what “Deathly Hallows” meant.

Chloé: It was a huge hint.

Pam: It was like, “What the heck does that mean?” And it’s like, but in Spanish, it makes a lot more sense. A relic of death, you can work toward some kind of conclusion. “Deathly Hallows” is almost shrouded in mystery.

Chloé: No, that’s real.

Pam: Yeah, so I think that that is really fun. But also to that point, just seeing the… again, going back to the content that’s being created on spaces like TikTok and the way that that has really added a new layer to exposing you to fans from maybe different parts of the world that you wouldn’t have interacted with or seen had you not been on a platform like that, it’s so much fun for me to see content being made for Harry Potter in Spanish because the jokes are different too. And I’m sure you’ve seen that, too, with French creators, for example.

Chloé: One thing that really cracks me up when I’m listening is wand is “baguette” in French.

Pam: Yes! I read the first book in French.

Chloé: Yeah, there’s a lot of really funny things with French that just crack me up as someone who also speaks English, because Dumbledore is like, “‘Arry, ton baguette!” and he’s like, it’s a very serious moment.

[Everyone laughs]

Pam: I’m just imagining it being an 11 inch baguette; that is the funniest visual. [laughs]

Chloé: No, so funny. And some of the teachers’ names are so crazy. Snape’s name is “Rogue,” which is so…

[Everyone laughs]

Chloé: You really feel it, you know? “Rogue.” Even saying it, you’re like, “Eugh.”

Pam: [laughs] That’s so funny.

Meg: I mean, when I think of Harry Potter in French, I think of Voldemort’s name being Tom Elvis.

Chloé: [in a French accent] Voldemort. Oh, yeah. Yeah, that is pretty funny.

Pam: Oh, that’s right.

Laura: [gasps] I forgot about that.

Meg: The things they had to do to make it make sense in different languages.

Chloé: Yeah, they had to make it make sense.

Laura: So the anagram would work. Oh, that’s so funny.

Pam: That’s so funny, yeah.

Laura: I think that had to be a thing in the Spanish edition, too, right? I’m trying to remember…

Pam: Yeah, I’m trying to think…

Chloé: I’m sure for most languages they had to change it.

Pam: Let’s Google it.

Meg: There’s probably compilations online that you could find.

Chloé: Oh, and Hufflepuff, you guys? Poufsouffle.

[Laura laughs]

Pam: Oh, apparently it’s El Señor Oscuro.

Chloé: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Laura: Wait, his acronyms spells El Señor Oscuro? Is that what you’re saying, Pam?

Pam: No, that’s what someone said.

Laura: Okay.

Pam: Just right away, El Señor Oscuro. His Muggle name in French is Tom Elvis Jedusor. That’s the one… yeah.

[Chloé laughs]

Pam: In Spanish it’s Tom Sorvolo Ryddle, but Ryddle is spelled with a y.

[Everyone laughs]

Pam: That’s very 2024 of them. It’s like a baby, they spelled Ryddle with a y.

Chloé: Oh, true.

[Everyone laughs]

Pam: Oh, man. That’s so great.

Chloé: He had Millennial parents in the Spanish book.

Laura: That’s so fun.

Pam: Oh, wow. This is a fun little rabbit hole. [laughs]

Laura: It really is. I will go down any rabbit hole any day, any time with y’all. This has been amazing…

Chloé: So fun.

Laura: … and I really feel like we could go on and on and on, but I think Andrew will murder me if this audio file gets to two hours…

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: … so we’re going to go ahead and wrap this discussion up, but there will be a Girls Takeover part three. Next time, we will actually be doing a Chapter by Chapter episode…

Chloé: Amazing.

Laura: … so keep an eye out for that. We’ll definitely blitz the socials when it’s coming along, and we’ll probably give you some reminders ahead of time, too, because we would love to have you joining us for the livestream and in our Discord. But next week, Chapter by Chapter will continue with our analysis of Goblet of Fire Chapter 20, “The First Task.”


Laura: And now we’re going to be getting into this week’s Quizzitch!

[Quizzitch music plays]

Laura: So last week’s question: What is the first bit of Professor Moody’s advice to Harry about the first task? Last week’s answer: “Play to your strengths.”

Chloé: Profound.

Laura: Correct answers were submitted by All Snapes and Sizes; BuffDaddy; Elizabeth K.; Green River Kelpie; Hagrid and Sirius are in a hardcore biker gang and are best bros duuuuuudes…

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: … HiToMyRavenclawHusband – oh, is that for Micah?

Meg and Pam: Ooh.

Chloé: Heyy.

[Pam laughs]

Laura: … Justice for dragons, they are unfairly maligned and misunderstood; Katie from Hufflepuff; Let me tell you the Pottercularly perfect Harry Potter pun…

Chloé: Yo, that’s hard to say. [laughs]

Laura: That is really difficult. Lloyd the Kiwi; Mad-Eye Fakey’s last bit of sanity; Must Be a Weasley 92; Professor Stumbledore; Proud Ravenclaw; Rita Skeeter’s Probation Officer…

[Everyone laughs]

Chloé: Isn’t that basically Hermione?

Pam: Yeah, I was going to say, isn’t that Hermione?

Laura: And last but not least, Ron can Weasley his way out of anything.

Chloé: Love that.

Laura: Eric makes this look so much easier when he does it every week.

Meg: The way he rattles them off; it’s like “Bam, bam, bam.”

[Pam laughs]

Laura: Because I’m like, stumbling.

Chloé: Does he practice?

Meg: I think every week is practice.

Laura: Okay.

Chloé: True, true.

Laura: I was going to say, we have the inside scoop with Meg here, so it’s like, does he run through them?

Pam: Right, tell us the truth.

Chloé: Tell us all his secrets.

[Laura laughs]

Meg: I think it’s just a talent.

Chloé: I guess when he’s picking them out.

Laura: All right. Well, next week’s question: What color are the Hungarian Horntail’s eyes? Submit your answer to us at, or click on “Quizzitch” on the MuggleCast website from the main nav bar.

Chloé: Visit our Etsy store where you can buy many cool MuggleCast items like the Cozy Comfy Combo Pack, the beanies and socks which are so comfy, and you can see Andrew and I posing in them on our socials and a bunch of our listeners, and that pack is at one reduced price. There’s also signed album art and wooden cars and T-shirts, so make sure to go to, and there’s also info on our socials.

Meg: And you can visit for transcripts – courtesy of me – our full episode archive, our favorite episodes, and to contact us. And if you’re enjoying MuggleCast and you think that other Muggles would, too, please tell a friend about the show. And we would also very much appreciate it if you left us a review in your favorite podcast app.

Pam: This podcast is brought to you by Muggles like you; we don’t have any fancy corporate or network funding. We are proudly an independent podcast, so here’s how you can help us out: If you’re an Apple Podcasts user, you can subscribe to MuggleCast Gold, which gets you ad-free early access to MuggleCast plus two bonus MuggleCast installments every month.

Chloé: There’s also; you’ll get all the benefits of MuggleCast Gold plus livestreams like right now, planning docs, the chance to co-host the show one day, a new physical gift every year, and a video message from one of the four regular MuggleCast hosts.

Laura: And Chloé, you want to take us home with the social plugs? You gotta.

Chloé: Yeah, I mean, just go follow us.

[Laura laughs]

Chloé: Go follow us, y’all, please. Every single time I come on here and if you’re not following us already, you’re missing out on a bunch of fun extra content from all the hosts, a sneak peek on our episodes, and just a lot of goofball fun Harry Potter stuff. So come hang out with us on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and TikTok and Threads.

Laura: And just as a reminder – I know we shared this last time – but where can everyone find all three of y’all if they want to follow you on the socials? Let’s do some plugs.

Meg: I am on Instagram at @Megguss, and my art website is I do art about nature and mental health and the human body and you can check out my stuff there.

Chloé: It’s all so gorgeous. I’ll plug for you.

Meg: Thank you, Chloé.

[Chloé laughs]

Pam: I am at @PamelaGocobachi almost everywhere except for on TikTok, where I am at @_PamelaG because I tried to make it easier for myself. And you can also listen to me every week on Millennial Podcast with Laura and Andrew. 18 plus only, please, because we swear over there and it’s a lot less PG.

[Chloé and Pam laugh]

Chloé: We’re naughty at Millennial.

Pam: Yeah, it’s a lot less PG, a lot more unhinged than MuggleCast is allowed to get, but come hang out with us over there if you’re interested in hearing more from me, and obviously more from Laura and Andrew.

Chloé: You can follow me at @ChloéLaverson on TikTok and Instagram. Also, if you want to hear my voice more, you can check out Those Forking Fangirls. I’m a guest host often; we just published an episode today about Avatar: The Last Airbender, which was so much fun. But yeah, I create fandom content. And then, like I said, follow @MuggleCast. Follow @Millennial. Come hang out with us.

Laura: It’s always a party over here…

Chloé: It’s a party. [laughs]

Laura: … at the Hypable family of podcasts.

Chloé: Yes!

Laura: That’s not actually what we’re called.

Pam: No.

[Chloé and Meg laugh]

Laura: I’m just being obnoxious. Y’all, this has been so much fun. Thank you so much for everyone who tuned in live with us tonight. Thank you so much for everyone who’s listened through to this second installment of Girls Takeover MuggleCast.

Chloé: Woo!

Laura: We will see you in the next installment, where we will be doing a Chapter by Chapter, and we’ll see you back with the regular panel for next week’s episode. I’m Laura.

Chloé: I’m Chloé.

Meg: I’m Meg.

Pam: And I’m Pam.

Laura: Bye.