bellatrix isn’t punished by JK for being a fighter instead of a mother or a ‘bad woman’, and molly isn’t put on a pedestal by JK because of her billion children and motherly trappings. that is just the most basic shallow contextless reading of the characters and it makes me want to SCREAM.
1. bellatrix isn’t ‘punished’ for ‘atypical femininity’.
she’s a rich aristocratic privileged pureblood who joins a paramilitary terrorist organization attempting mass murder and a government takeover. she is so devoted to this organization and its ideology that she tortures and murders and willingly goes to prison for 12 years.*
when she gets out, complete with some brand new rotten teeth and new and improved zealotry-to-the-point-of-mental-illness, she keeps fighting. she murders and tortures. she seems to start a pretty well-known fucking reign of terror on the everyday wizarding populace, if the beggars in diagon alley are any indication. she racks up casualty after casualty after casualty to the point where she seems almost as unfuckingstoppable as voldemort.
she participates in the final battle. she kills a fuckton of heroes and makes a fuckton of orphans. she threatens molly’s daughter and molly kills her. it seems to me like JKR is punishing her for, you know, being a villain. and all the stuff she did. stuff like torture and murder and terrifying ideology.
*and, hey, maybe it’s just me but the fact that she’s in the slammer for her prime childbearing years seems to have more to do with her childlessness than ‘atypical femininity’. look closer at bellatrix. don’t you think if she were free she would’ve had pureblood sons by her pureblood husband and WEANED them on pureblood supremacy? don’t you think she would have nurtured and loved them and then when they were old enough handed them to Voldemort to take his mark and die in his service?
2. molly isn’t ‘glorified’ for ‘proper womanhood’.
molly is one of my favorite characters because she is fiercely loving, but also because she’s flawed—and fucking courageous. yes, she loves and nurtures her five billion kids. yes, managing the household on little money is a logistical nightmare and she handles it like a pro. yes, she takes Harry as a seventh son despite already having SO MANY DEMANDS on her time and on her heart but she knows he needs it and she cares that much and that’s really amazing.
but she’s also close-minded and stubborn and holds a grudge like a motherfucker. the way she treats Fleur is totally uncalled for and xenophobic as shit; she butts heads terribly with Sirius over Harry and delivers some pretty low blows on him; she’s wayyy petty with Hermione in CoS. She’s the one who raised Ron and Ron reacted with some really ugly prejudice and fear at Remus’ infected status, remember that shit? At no point does the narrative put her on a pedestal. She’s shown in some really ugly moments being really unpleasant because she’s, y’know, a three-dimensional character instead of whatever saintly stereotype people read her as.
Still, she’s ultimately incredibly courageous. Molly’s every bit as pureblood as Bellatrix. That shit would basically guarantee you and your family making it in Voldemort’s Wizarding Britain if you mind your Ps and Qs and go with the flow. But she supports the Order. The Order that was on the verge of losing the first war before Harry shows up, and isn’t doing much better in the 90s. That’s a death sentence if Voldemort wins and still dangerous if he doesn’t; she lost two brothers the first time around and knows her large family can’t possibly make it unscathed through a second war.* But she still supports the Order.
*And it doesn’t. The war takes her loved ones from her TWICE. That shit isn’t her Boggart because she’s soooo saintly or soooo loving, it’s her Boggart because she’s smart enough to see the writing on the fucking wall and it comes true.
3. IN CONCLUSION/TL;DR
every single time two women fight it isn’t always about who is being a better woman. in this instance it’s about conflicting ideologies and the brave underdog conquering the superintimidating villain.
what it IS NOT about is a strong childless woman being punished by the author for daring not to be a housewife. because oh my god fuuuucccccckkkk yooooouuuuuu.
P.S. if you are looking for an atypically feminine career-minded childfree woman in HP try Minerva McGonagall.