1. Hi there, Guest

    Only registered users can really experience what DLP has to offer. Many forums are only accessible if you have an account. Why don't you register?
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Introducing for your Perusing Pleasure

    New Thread Thursday
    +
    Shit Post Sunday

    READ ME
    Dismiss Notice

Fem!Harry and the Dursleys

Discussion in 'Fanfic Discussion' started by Download, Jun 2, 2020.

  1. Download

    Download Fifth Year ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2014
    Messages:
    147
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    High Score:
    1918
    First time I've had inspiration to write a HP fic in ages. It's Fem!Harry if you missed the title. Sailor Moon crossover too.

    Rather than start from first year, I decided to make the first chapter a few snippets from first year up to where the meat of the story starts around third year. I hadn't been planning to write anything Dursleyish but it occurred to me that like the Harry in Slytherin question I asked a few years ago there's plenty of arguments that could be made for the Dursleys having a very different view of Harry.

    I ended up writing this little snippet on them:

    I think it's safe to imagine that the Dursleys are probably more than a little bit sexist. A boy going around the neighbourhood they might look at as "boys being boys", you can't do anything about mud on their clothes, that's what boys do. Oh, those bruises? Boys are so rough with each other etc.

    Though I was certainly not raised in a conservative family, my impression is that conservative families are far more worried about the image women and girl present than the boys. You see it in teenaged relationships; they don't give a shit about boys going out on dates, getting handy, getting a girl pregnant etc. But if their daughter does that, oh no. She's a slut for not keeping her legs shut. What will they say down at the church if they think our daughter is a harlot? What will they say if they see our daughter seducing men by showing some skin? etc.

    And at the end of this is the Dursley's biggest fear; what if they get saddled with another kid they don't want? In their mind if male!Harry had knocked a girl up it wouldn't be their problem, it would be the slut's problem to deal with. Can't do that with the female version.

    I was a little bit worried about the age here (just before Hogwarts and just after first year), but my impression again is that this sort of abusive person is weirdly preoccupied with a child's sexuality.

    Anyway, I want to check if people agree with my reasoning, and if it was easy enough to get that meaning across in the snippet. Quite happy to hear some criticism of the concept.
     
  2. Mordecai

    Mordecai Drunken Scotsman ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2005
    Messages:
    1,334
    Location:
    Englandshire
    High Score:
    3,485
    I can completely see where your thinking is that, I can really see that being how the Dursley's would act if Harry had been a girl. You're always going to struggle to put across detailed background concepts in just a few short paragraphs. And you've certainly made a good stride towards it in the snippet you've written out. But would there be anything from with expanding it a bit further, maybe into a couple of demonstrative scenes and putting it in as a prologue on its own?
     
  3. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2006
    Messages:
    2,009
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    High Score:
    13,152
    I think you've skipped step 1 of the process, which is deciding what kind of story you are telling. In particular, you need to decide where your story is supposed to sit on the "fairy tale vs grimdark" spectrum.

    Canon HP, for example, is pretty far towards the fairy tale end. So you have Dursleys whose treatment of Harry is played mostly for comic effect, and to endear us to the protagonist. But it doesn't really have any meaningful impact on Harry's character. If your story is also going to be of this type, then the kind of thinking in the OP becomes a bit redundant: make the Dursleys behave however you want them to behave for story reasons. If, on the other hand, you are telling a more grounded story, then you either have to adjust how the Dursleys treat Harry or adjust Harry's character.

    And that brings us to the second issue. Where you are telling a more grounded story, you also need to decide what you consider more important: Harry's character, or circumstances of his childhood.

    If you treat the Dursleys' treatment of Harry as more important, then you have to start thinking about what impact that treatment would realistically have on Harry's character and adjust accordingly.

    If, on the other hand, Harry's personality is more important to your story (and I think this will be the case in all fics except for abuse angstfests), then you first decide what character traits your Harry will have, then you adjust the Dursleys' behaviour to suit. This is the approach I took in VP, where (for example) Victoria was never in the cupboard, but she does have a very spartan bedroom, and where the Dursleys do give her birthday presents, but they are all second-hand compared to Dudley's mountain of expensive toys.
     
  4. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2007
    Messages:
    6,039
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Blocksberg, Germany
    You have enough leeway here to write whatever fits your plot or is your idea for the story. Just for fun, here's the other take:

    The Dursleys and Petunia in particular are supremely disgusted at having Lily Mk.II in their house, so she gets treated harsher than Harry ever was. They had no issues making up shit about Harry being in an institution for criminals, regardless how this reflected on them, spinning it in such a way that they tried their very best but some things just don't work out, angling for sympathy from other people and getting it. The same works equally well for whatever Fem!Harry might appear as. We tried, but she's simply rotten.

    For your take, if you're asking about personal taste, I'd prefer if the slut-shaming was left out of it. I see it as a lose-lose: Either it's there just to show how awful the Dursleys are, in which case it's superfluous, or it's an actual point of the story, a topic that is relevant to the plot, and in that case I have no interest in reading it.

    Edit: Lol, ninja'd by Taure. What he said.
     
  5. Download

    Download Fifth Year ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2014
    Messages:
    147
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    High Score:
    1918
    I didn't, this is just one of many snippets that I've written and is almost last after wondering how this characterisation was shaped.
    --- Post automerged ---
    Is a couple paragraphs that show how someone was shaped that toxic to your interest in the story? It's not even that exceptional. Leaning towards the far end of conservatism sure, but not a rarity.
     
  6. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2007
    Messages:
    6,039
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Blocksberg, Germany
    That wasn't what I meant. I'm very much thinking along Taure's lines -- working from the character backwards. "A topic that is relevant to the plot" means it features prominently throughout the story. So, for instance, she does get pregnant, which then introduces conflict with the Dursleys. That would justify setting up the Dursleys as you have making that point, but I wouldn't like to read about it. Ditto if you'd use it to, say, make Fem!Harry have issues surrounding sex and intimacy.

    If, on the other hand, it's only "a couple of paragraphs" that is never mentioned again, then it's the first case, and Iunno what the purpose is, beyond making the Dursleys unlikeable in a somewhat crude way.
     
  7. Blorcyn

    Blorcyn Minister of Magic DLP Supporter DLP Silver Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2010
    Messages:
    1,213
    Location:
    UK
    I've got to third the above. Without going into character and characterisation, if we've got a big amount of thought going into how the Dursleys are policing her developing femininity then that implies to me that a lot of the story is going to be regarding that dynamic. Does it matter when she's at Hogwarts?

    If the snippet is about her home life, and it's not setting up anything for the actual adventure, why dedicate a lot of weight to a complex topic, that's going to send out a lot of specific signals to your readership. The snippet I read would make me think that her living situation with the Dursleys, and her ability to become pregnant, would be important things for the story.

    In canon, they dislike Harry for his freakishness. And his freakishness is that he is a wizard. And the story is about him training to become a wizard. If I saw this snippet in a first chapter, I'd be casting some side-eye about where I was expecting it to go, and what the story was going to be bringing up as important. If that first chapter otherwise set up exactly who this person is, and that it was a sort of general fun adventure, then I'd wonder why this incongruous snippet was there.

    Further, this doesn't feel terribly Dursley. I mean you can take it where you want to, but I feel like Vernon would be much less involved with a 'Harriet'. I think it'd be Aunt Petunia who put her down. And I think age 11-12 may be a bit early. I think particularly regarding what she wears petty spite suits Petunia better. But then I'm not a girl in UK, I can't say really what sort of experiences girls encounter from their parents as they hit puberty.
     
  8. Thaumologist

    Thaumologist Dark Lord

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2011
    Messages:
    1,849
    Location:
    Wrexham, Wales
    Hogwarts is a school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Whether there's a difference in the magic, or it's based on who the caster is, I don't recall ever being discussed in canon.

    However, for muggles, that difference might be more significant.

    Traditionally, I would think of a wizard as an older man, with robes and a staff, living in a tower. Maybe he's well liked by the locals, maybe he's feared, but there's generally respect in a name (even if it's just that you might get fireballed). A witch, on the other hand, I would tend to think of as either the cackling hags worshipping Satan on a moor, or a local herbal medicine woman. Slightly eccentric, lives in the woods, and speaks the tongues of moss, mud, and birds.

    A great chunk of that can probably be linked back to my childhood love of the Discworld.

    One of the things I remember Petunia saying in canon was that Lily came home with frogspawn in her pockets. That fascination with nature, to me, would be more linked with Witchcraft than the study that I would imagine linked with Wizardry. There's no clear eytmological root I can find with a few minutes googling for "Witch", although it has a few potentials. On the other hand, "Wizard" comes from 'Wise Man'.

    Not that I'm expecting the Dursleys to be particularly interested in the roots of words, I can still imagine they'd have the pop-culture difference between witch and wizard. So maybe rather than trying to 'beat the magic out of him', they try to make her a respectable upper-middle class lady, or a germaphobe. Certainly making her dress in concealing clothes fits that, although maybe not with the aim of being a sexless spinster forever - that feels like it could be moving towards how witches can be portrayed.


    As said above, I don't love the fascination on her sex-life, because either it becomes important (which would be weird), or it doesn't (and it's irrelevant). However, spinning it into the focus on what she wears in her muggle life, could then mean that when she's free of the Dursleys, Harriet does a Dumbledore. All her life, she's been forced to wear the equivalent of a potato sack, but it turns out you can get dresses that have a live feed of the night sky? Lime green shoes with bells than jingle as she walks? It adds another layer of depth to a character, and in a longer fic, can then lead to wanting to learn more magic (transfiguration to make her own clothes in eye-watering colours, or charms to make her hair twist and writhe like live snakes).

    And that sense of wonder and whimsy in magic is lacking in a great many HP fanfics.
     
Loading...