Harry Potter books are sexist, says US academic

Will Woodward, education editor
Wednesday January 10, 2001
Guardian Observer (UK)

JK Rowling's Harry Potter stories are sexist, tedious and grating, according to a book out later this month.

The author, Jack Zipes, professor of German at the University of Minnesota, says the wildly successful books are part of the "process by which we homogenise our children".

"Rowling's books conventionally repeat much of the same sexist and white patriachal biases of classical fairy tales," he says in his book, Sticks and Stones: The Troublesome Success of Children's Literature from Slovenly Peter to Harry Potter, to be published by Routledge.

"Rowling has intended from the beginning to write seven novels altogether, a magic number, but if you've read one, you've read them all: the plots are the same, and the storylines become tedious and grating after you have read the first," Zipes writes.

"What distinguishes the plots, however, are their conventionality, predictability, and happy ends despite the clever turns of phrases and surprising twists ... They sell extraordinarily well precisely because they are so cute and ordinary."

Rowling's publishers, Bloomsbury, said the author was away.

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