I love Game Of Thrones. The show stands out for me not because of the thrilling story lines, the vivid scenery and bloodshed, or the fact that dragons are just bad-ass on all accounts. This show seems to have a plethora of strong female roles, and it’s refreshing to see smart, strong, and capable women in a genre that often puts them as secondary players.
With a show that has such a vast and loyal following, the existence of strong female roles is of the utmost importance especially since today’s media promotes and glorifies the subjugation of women by men. How many ads portray an arbitrarily “ideal woman” by showing unrealistic and super-thin models. Some ads go so far as to portray misogynistic messages — whether it’s unintentionally or, as brands like Axe often do, outright. I may not always be the most politically correct person when it comes to these issues, but I have a younger sister and I sure as hell believe that she is equal to any individual on this planet, whether they be male or female. And yet the essential part here is not whether I believe she’s equal to anyone on this planet, but rather that she unequivocally believes it as well. Ultimately, this is what every woman should believe, and what message the media should be preaching.
Enter: Game Of Thrones.
In many instances throughout the series, the women appear to be stronger than the men (Daenerys Targaryen are just two examples) in a time, although technically fictional, that was created to reflect depict a time in history where strong women were seen as taboo.
In fact, the foil to all of these different variables of bad ass women is the control character, seen here in the wilted flower known as Sansa Stark. What’s different about Sansa? Well, for starters, she’s often portrayed as frail, un-opinionated young female who often finds herself at the mercy of her male counterparts. She has shown these traits numerous times throughout the series:
- Instead of standing by her sister Arya, she lies to protect the boy she likes, which ultimately leads to the death of an innocent boy.
- She is the person targeted when it comes to admitting her father’s misdeeds, and she is wracked by the guilt that she caused his death.
- She falls in love with Joffrey not because he’s worthy of her love, but due in part to her fairytale dream of becoming a princess.
Sansa has no moral compass, she is disloyal to her loved ones, and she is literally always crying. One thing you can say about her is that even throughout all these horrible choices and insurmountable punishment, she’s still figuratively kicking. Regardless, let’s face it, Sansa sucks — but still, I don’t hate her character.
You’re probably wondering why I don’t hate her despite all the loathsome qualities she possesses. Firstly, this show is set in a time where noble women were supposed to act this way, and being raised to breed and marry was the unfortunate norm. Secondly, Sansa’s character is a good reminder of the type of woman I don’t want to be with, ergo she provides a positive service for myself as a viewer. Thirdly, Sansa deals with continual punishment, she’s always crying, and she’s never in control, whereas her sister Arya is the exact opposite.
Sansa is important, because I hope that young women are not going to watch the show and say “Oh my God! I really want her life, I want to be just like her!” Instead, they’re going to look at the women on the show with more desirable qualities such as determined Arya Stark or Daenerys Targaryen (who is, after all, a Khaleesi and a mother of freaking dragons) and say, “that’s who I want to be.” Yet in this show, bad-ass women aren’t the anomaly (nor should they be.) It’s the weak-willed Sansa who is, but even then, she’s equally as necessary because her role within the show is utilized to give the audience a sense of how strong and essential the other female roles are.
What I really like about this show is that these women are not acting like men or displaying “conventional male qualities.” Instead, these women are portrayed as strong and feminine and and beautiful. They’re able to hold their own, and while this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, it’s still relatively new in an industry that often misses the mark on creating female-driven vehicles for their largely female audiences. In a society where almost every external source is responsible for making women feel less than perfect; shows like Game Of Thrones help to restore a fraction of the much needed balance that is required to shift the attitudes towards a more positive and empowered view of women.