It’s time to talk about females in Game of Thrones. They are totally bad ass, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some sticky things to talk about when it comes to the way they’re treated. Read on to find out more!
When we think about Game of Thrones (GOT), we immediately jump to the strong characters like Cersei, Dany, Brienne, and so on. They are all powerful women who we can all cheer on through their adventures and struggles. But even the best writer can stumble sometimes when writing female characters.
Several of the female characters in this show have been sexually assaulted or raped. This includes Brienne, Cersei, Dany, and Sansa. Just in case you don’t remember, here’s a brief recap: Brienne was nearly raped when she and Jaime were captured. If he hadn’t talked them out of it, their captors would have taken turns. Cersei was raped by her brother after Joffrey’s death. She was grieving and was upset with him for being gone, but he forced her anyway. There is also the question of whether or not Robert Baratheon raped her when they were married. Dany was raped by Drogo the first time they had sex, because she technically was not consenting at the time. And Sansa was nearly raped in the 6th episode of Season 2, but the Hound saved her. Again she was abused by Joffrey and then raped by Ramsay Bolton.
What the main issue is with all of these scenarios is that none of the female characters outwardly display any psychological issues from these experiences. Brienne cries in the moment, but after never mentions the event again, except for a quick thank you to Jaime later in the season. Likewise, Cersei ignores that her brother did this. Dany eventually becomes accustomed to, and actually enjoys, having sex with Drogo. Sansa never does much at all, even when she is stuck with Ramsay. The other issue is that in two of these four cases the women are rescued by other men. Brienne is saved by Jaime and Sansa is saved by the hound.
Even though the women in the show are mentally strong as well as physically strong, it would be natural to see some sort of response to these events. The most extreme reaction we see from any of the characters is Cersei sending Jaime away to get Myrcella back after the incident happened. However, it is possible to argue that her sending him away was 1) more out of fear for Myrcella and 2) anger at him for being gone so long. Likewise, we could argue that none of these women are totally surprised by these actions because of the time period this series is meant to be set in, which is the equivalent of our medieval times. At the same time, though, George R.R. Martin (Grr Martin) writes male characters who are reflective and display their internal emotions. Since he does such a good job developing characters, it would only be on trend for him to give the female characters reflective moments as well where they are able to show their damaged nature. This would make them even more believable and lifelike than what they already are.
The other main issue with the female characters is their seductive natures. All the female characters, with the exceptions of Arya and Brienne, employ their sexuality to get their way. Now, in terms of feminism, it is totally okay for women to want to use their sexuality to gain power if they feel comfortable doing so. However, in most cases it is a necessity and the only way women can effectively wield power. We see Cersei use her sexuality to get her way with Robert and flirt with other people to get them to do her bidding. Margaery marries and remarries (three times so far! Rennley, Joffrey, and Tommen) in order to build her power. Sansa uses her sexuality to manipulate Petyr while they are in the Vale. And of course the Red Woman, Melisandre, seduces people left and right, but mostly Stannis, to get her way.
The issue with this is that many of the women people are holding up as images of female power, don’t actually have any power. In reality, they’re just using their sexuality to make their way to the top of the pile. Again, because of the time period, this almost seems excusable. However, I think that women and society deserve powerful female characters who do not depend on their sexuality.
Side bar: I know we have Brienne and Arya for that, but they have their flaws too. People say that Brienne, and the actress who plays her, is too “mannish” and isn’t beautiful, which is a horrible thing to say. Arya is also still young in the series, which means that she’s not old enough to have or use sexuality as a tool.
Lastly, stepping out from the souly fictional world, the amount of nudity in GOT is a huge hit to women everywhere. Yes, I know, women can love their bodies and if they choose to show them off then power to them. That’s what feminism’s about. But, nudity in GOT is incredibly disproportionate. As of Season 4, out of the 40 aired episodes, 31 contained nudity. And out of those nude shots, the majority of them were female. In fact, in the entire series there are very few full frontal male nudities, and we only see a penis (audience gasping and giggling) two or three times. Comparitively, there are at least one set of breasts shown for every episode aired.
While I do support the movement to normalize breasts in American media and society in general, the show hasn’t helped. As many fans say, the nudity was just a trick to get people watching at the start, which means that not only are the fictional characters being objectified, so are the actresses! In fact, Emilia Clarke, who plays Dany, stated in her contract she would do few to none nude scenes as the series progressed. Even with the nature of the show and the movement to normalize female nudity, placing it only in sex scenes or scenes that are sexually charged only makes the association stronger. And objectifying actresses only encourages that pattern.
No matter what, I will always think the women in GOT are pretty damn good representations of actual females. But that doesn’t mean we can’t sometimes take the time to be critical about where the writers are falling short. Hopefully in the future we see common female characters who save themselves more often, are powerful even without using their sexuality, and make the TV show fantastic without having to show their breats to the world.
Did I nail it or fail it? Let me know in the comments below!