OK, so I’ve mentioned this in passing once or twice, but I’ve been a bit afraid to attack it head-on. I don’t know why. Well, I do – it’s because I’m super conflicted about the subject in general. But I’m just going to go ahead and say it. I’m a little disappointed in the women of Game of Thrones. I feel like we’re giving a lot of credit for not a ton of progress, and it’s frustrating to me but I’m not sure if I’m being too picky or not. So I bullet pointed the reasons I’m annoyed – in order from biggest to smallest.
Reasons I’m aggravated:
- A lot of the women simply seem like stereotypes – Cersei is an overly sexualized vixen who uses her sexuality to get what she wants; Cat is a mother and is defined by her relationships with others; Sansa is a shallow, looks-obsessed pre-teen (and holy crap does he punish her for it); Arya is the tomboy. They’re less their own individual characters as they’re examples of archetypes of women characters.
- Having a whole bunch of female characters doesn’t automatically give you feminist cred if you don’t treat them equally to your male characters – if you have five male characters who are real fully realized characters, and ten female characters who are stereotypes, that doesn’t make your work equal.
- I also feel like the female characters are constantly getting slapped around for trying to express any sort of agency – which, of course, is a double edged sword. You could just as easily argue that the misogyny is a part of Westeros and by not sugarcoating it, he’s giving the world a feminist slant, because the most important fucking part of misogyny in our culture today is the lie that it no longer exists. But sometimes it honestly just feels like he wants to beat the shit out of women he let get a little uppity.
- In general I just kind of consistently feel like it’s good but not good enough for all the praise I’m hearing it get. It’s 2013!! Don’t we require more than just a lot of female characters to satisfy us at this point?!
So there you have it. The reasons the women of GoT annoy me. Am I being too harsh? Or are we truly being too lenient with female characters in fantasy literature these days, simply because fantasy and sci-fi are the only places to find anything resembling strong female characters?