If you're anything like me, then you're excited as all hell for the return of Game of Thrones, on April 24 . Many would argue that the show is not exactly a shining example of feminism, especially with it's treatment of female characters. It can be hard to rally against the naysayers and defend one of the most beloved shows on television, especially coming from a feminist point of view. Yet, I still find arguing that Game of Thrones is totally feminist, and it's Westeros that suffers from misogyny and not the show itself.
Yes, it can make you squirmy and yes, it can leave you asking for a more female-friendly world. But when you stop looking at the whole, and focus instead on the individual characters and even from different geography within Westeros, you get a much different picture.
Both the books and the show feature strong, complex, vulnerable, flawed, and intelligent female characters, each coming from varying points of view. Each one trying to survive and excel in a world where the odds are stacked against them. If that's not feminist then I don't know what is.
Still don't believe me? Here are seven times Game of Thrones was feminist AF and you didn't even realize it.
It seems the closer to Kings Landing you get the more misogynistic Westeros becomes. If you head to the Southern-most region of Westeros, you will come upon Dorne. Often undervalued by most of Westeros, Dorne is looked down upon because of it's culture and customs that hold woman as equals. (We won't get into the fact it is also the only area of Westeros that is inhabited by POC.)
In Dorne, women can rule and inherit as well as train to arms, just like the men. The Dornish are a passionate culture, they have much more relaxed views on sexuality and relish in their sexual freedoms, they think placing so much value on a womans purity is grossly misplaced and almost comical.
Though most of Westeros is made uncomfortable with the liberal lifestyle of the Dornish and their strong female leaders, warriors, and casual views on sexual relationships, it is exactly these values making them a shining example of feminism thriving in the world of Game of Thrones.
2The Tyrell Women
The women of House Tyrell know how to play the game. The house itself is an ambitious one, but the key to it's success lies with the women and their uncanny ability to see the game as it is and play it accordingly. They will use wiles, whether they be sexual or intellectual, to get exactly what they want and where they want to be at any cost, especially playing to their strengths as women and using their femininity as a weapon. This is most evident in Margaery, who is viewed as demure and docile by most of Westeros, but it's clear as day to viewers that she is just as shrewd and cunning as her grandmother.
Cersei is a character everyone loves to hate, but I oftentimes find myself feeling for her. Cersei can't help but feel she has been groomed for the position to rule the Seven Kingdoms, if only her being a woman didn't get in the way. She attempts to bend the rules as much as she can conceivably in a desperate act of will and feminism. If circumstances hadn't driven her so far out of touch with reality, I could almost see her making a great leader. If only women held the right to inherit and rule as the men did.
Podrick Payne, or Pod as he is most commonly addressed as, is the son of the King's Justice and has been squire to both Tyrion Lannister and now to Brienne of Tarth. Though Brienne constantly dismisses his attempts to refer to herself as a knight, he believes in his heart she is all that a knight should and can be. Her being a woman doesn't phase him and believes it does nothing to take away from her noble acts of chivalry.
5The Stark Family
Though Eddard Stark is long gone and the family is scattered to the winds, I believe the Starks to be one of the most feminist families in all of Westeros. Ed often took council from his wife Catelyn Stark, a trend that continued with his sons. Though the men still technically held the power, they would go to their female counterparts and take heed of their advice.
The Stark daughters are no wilting flowers either. Though Sansa Stark is more feminine than her younger, rowdier sister Arya, she is still a resolved young woman who takes her queues to survive in a dangerous world and makes calculated risks to keep herself both safe and ready to face another day.
Arya is independent and almost fearless at times. She has found herself ensconced in peril and mystery, and continues on unfazed. Her older half-brother, Jon Snow, and her father both fostered her interest in swordplay which has helped her along on her tumultuous journey.
In the show, viewers meet Osha, Gilly and Ygritte, three wildling women (or as they refer to themselves as, the Free Folk) who hail from different regions. Each one is distinctly their own person and raised far away from the conventions of Westeros where women are not seen as equals.
7Queen Daenerys Targaryen
Missandei: "Valar morghulis."
Daenerys: "Yes. All men must die, but we are not men."
Can we just leave this one plain and simple? Dany is the flippin Mother of Dragons. She's a Queen learning her craft in a far off land, before she takes her rightful place as heir to the throne of the Seven Kingdoms in Westeros.
Daenerys is young, resolved, and eager to learn. She wants to do what is just and right by her people. Although she has stumbled along the way she picks herself up with dignity and does her best to acknowledge when she is wrong and correct herself for future trials. What more could we ask for in a Queen?