We were chatting with My Perfect Non-Reader about the safety-pin the other night, and I showed her the #kidlitsafetypins stuff. She was charmed—and although we did discuss my ambivalence about the whole safety-pin thing, she immediately began drawing her own fan art of her favorite characters with safety pins. Hermione Granger was first, and I agree with My Perfect Non-Reader that Hermione would not only wear a safety pin but aggressively encourage others to wear them. Then she wanted to draw a bunch of other Potterverse characters wearing safety pins, and I thought… hmmm. Not so much. I love Albus Dumbledore and all, but he certainly doesn’t believe in safety. Minerva McGonagall? Really? With a pin? She does very little about the bullying in the school, for one thing, and for another subtle signals aren’t really her thing. Molly Weasley, yes. I can perhaps imagine that Sybill Trelawny would choose to wear one, but surely that is about the problems with the safety-pin worn as a symbol, and not really appropriate. I’d like to think that Mrs. Figg would wear a pin, but I suspect she would ask Dumbledore first, and I suspect that he would discourage it as taking on an unnecessary risk.
Her second drawing was the Paternoster Gang from Doctor Who, mostly because she likes them. And, well, I can more or less accept that Jenny would want to wear a pin and care for those vulnerable people who come to the door. Vastra, much less so, and Strax is after all Strax. It’s entertaining and perhaps moving to think of the gang making a statement of inclusivity—after all, they represent minorities themselves, in a way—but in point of fact, the idea that someone in danger from being attacked because of their race or gender identity or religion should seek succor from the Paternoster Gang is… I think not entirely true to the characters as depicted in canon. Sarah Jane Smith, yes, would wear a pin, I think, at least in her later (spin-off) years.
So. Who from children’s literature or fandom would actually wear a safety-pin? Who, by their actions in the story, deserve to have Your Humble Blogger moved by their depiction wearing a safety-pin? Charlotte, of course, would weave one into her web where no-one would notice it except those who need to. The Tin Woodman was suggested, and I think that’s an excellent choice from the Oz stories—Glinda or Ozma are sufficiently soft-hearted, but the pin must mean more than a soft heart, and besides, I cannot wrap my head around an absolute monarch wearing a subtle signal of inclusiveness, fairy or no. I think that Frog would probably wear one and Toad would probably not, although they are friends, and perhaps I am too hard on Toad. I have to think that Cordelia Naismith would wear a safety-pin, although it is just as likely that she would simply assume that everyone knew she would intervene. Again, subtle signals not really her thing. The Professora Vorthys, maybe, is the person from the Vorkosiverse I most imagine actually using such a thing in the way I think they are intended. Mr. Tumnus would not dare wear a safety-pin, poor soul, but Mrs. Beaver would, I think, and it's possible that Mr. Beaver would under her compulsion. The Giving Tree would of course create safety pins out of its very marrow, and all for naught. Elrond… well, Rivendell is a safe haven of sorts, but as he doesn’t leave it, I’m not sure there would be any point in him wearing one. Bilbo Baggins, during the years of his retirement to the Shire, yes, I could see that. Surely the Brown family of Paddington Bear fame would not wear safety pins; many of the books draw on their own wonder that they are willing to put up with this Bear. On the other hand, Mr. Gruber, yes, he would wear a safety pin.
It is my belief that Mrs. Hudson would wear a safety-pin and that John Watson would not notice and Sherlock Holmes would not care—I admit that I might have a difficult time defending Mrs. Hudson’s generosity toward minorities of various kinds, but she doesn’t close the door on the Irregulars, either. Jo Bhaer (née March)? Speaking out against intolerance and exclusion, yes. Actually being willing to admit to her school some Muslim or transgender kids without pressuring them to, well, convert? It’s not easy to imagine.
Of course, Jo Bhaer is in and of her time; the costs to admitting Muslims would have been much greater than anything a safety-pin wearer would be likely to bear in our world right now (the future being unknowable). Barrayar has no religious minorities, but the cost to protecting a woman from assault or a crippled child from bullying might well be immediate death. Oz has its own issues, of course. What would it mean to wear a safety pin in other worlds, in other times? Perhaps musing about that may make it more likely that I will figure out what it means (to me, at least) to wear a safety-pin in my own world and time.
I’m interested in your takes, Gentle Readers: which of your favorite fictional characters would wear a safety-pin?
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,