Week Woman

A Pox on the Patriarchy

The No-Feminist Zone: Game Of Thrones

Louis Skye – this author has asked to use a pseudonym

Scrolling through Facebook the other day, I saw that an acquaintance had posted an article on Game of Thrones Season 3, commenting “Not dr-emilia_clarke01soon enough”. Another friend regularly posts statuses with GoT references. This shouldn’t irk me very much, but it does, because I despise the show. As far as I am concerned it is a shoddy, misogynistic excuse for good television. Not one female character is empowered during the course of the first two seasons. Not one. And that, for me, is enough reason not to air such a series, let alone write one.

One may ask, if I disliked it so much, why didn’t I just stop watching it? Well, I wanted to, but I’m one of those people who always thinks she’s wrong about things. After all, everybody loves Game of Thrones so surely, it must be good, right? Nina Shen Rastogi of salon.com writes “Fantasy stories, like all genre narratives, are built on archetypes, and “Game of Thrones” seems to leave no trope of feminine power unexplored.” I’m the one who’s wrong about the misogyny in the show, surely. I’m not seeing the sprawling landscape, the political intrigue, the spectacularly weaved character arcs. Well, I could see all those a bit better if the screen wasn’t so obscured by female breasts.

I choose Game Of Thrones to illustrate my point mainly because its portrayal of femininity is so abysmal that I find myself unable to root for any of the male characters. There is a constant dialogue of rape in this series, even when the word is not used. It’s not just the victors of war that rape conquered women in the series, the male characters in general see nothing wrong in it, and there is little stating that it is an abhorrent crime to ever touch a woman without her consent.

The sex scenes almost always have women in subjugated positions. Even the women in charge of their sexuality, such as the prostitutes, are treated as disposable objects. Hollywood has an issue with showing women enjoying sex, let alone having an orgasm, but the newly bold television shows are doing little to dispel that myth.

In the first season, the character Daenerys Targaryen’s nudity is explicitly tied with subjugation till the last episode. Her character arc is much the same. She starts off extremely weak, completely in her brother’s control. She is practically sold off to Khal Drogo, and with great difficulty wins his respect and his position. In the second season, Targaryen is the only female leader in the whole series. The rest of the female characters are either subordinates or second in command to a man. Targaryen gets to lead the Dothraki, and her leadership is defined by the fact that she doesn’t take her clothes off even once in the second season. However, she is still not allowed to be as powerful as the male characters. The majority of the Dothraki leave, preferring a male leader, and she is abandoned with a handful of faithfuls in a desert. She is not given an army, a throne, nor a semblance of respect by the characters in the show or the writers. And she’s the strongest female character. However, by the end of the second season, she is in a better situation than most, having saved herself with the help of her baby dragons.

Then there’s Targaryen’s relationship with Drogo. She starts off an unwilling bride subjected to marital rape. We know it is rape because there is a clear lack of consent, she is crying throughout and she needs help moving about because of the resultant injuries. However, she eventually turns Drogo into a good guy by asserting herself sexually; they fall in love and he dies.

Similar character arcs have been presented in films such as Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution and Angelina Jolie’s In the Land of Blood and Honey. These are excellent films, otherwise, but too often do films and television shows include female characters falling in love with their abusers/ rapists. Abuse does not equate love; in fact, these women are most likely suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. Targaryen’s relationship with Drogo is based on fear, not love. That is not love, and never should be described as such.

Katharine Kourbeti of witandfancy.com writes, “Daenerys is a perfect example of inner strength; she loses everything, time and again, and picks up the pieces by aiming higher.” Actually, Daenerys seems to be making the most of a really bad situation. The suffering-as-strength trope has been overused in film and television with regards to women; it is extremely rare for a woman to be depicted as a strong person the same way that a man is. The only two female warriors on the show, Yara Greyjoy and Brienne, are subordinates to Kings, their power derived directly from their masters. Brienne loses even that little power when her sovereign is killed.

Despite all the women championing Daenerys Targaryen, how many men like the character for the character’s sake as opposed to the fact that she was so often naked in the first season, is anyone’s guess. But, considering how many people on IMDB forums describe Targaryen as ‘hot’ and ‘sexy’ instead of ‘interesting’, ‘brave’ or ‘strong’ is some indication.

Of course, there are other female characters. Lena Headey has been praised for capturing just how despicable Cersei Lannister is. The problem is that Cersei has little to no power, as is evident in the second season, where her evil son, King Joffrey, pretty much does whatever he wants. She is not strong, she is vindictive. She fails to stand by the girl promised to her son; she fails to protect her daughter from being given away by her brother to a foreign King; she fails to protect the women of her realm when, during battle, she arranges for herself and her future daughter-in-law to be killed, leaving the rest of the women to the mercy of the victors. The fact that she says something to the effect of, “These women are in for a bit of a rape” chills my heart. Kudos to Headey for saying it without flinching, because I can’t get the words out of my head though months have passed since I watched the episode. Every woman in every country fears being raped. It is a part of our very being because from the time we attain adolescence, or even before, we realise we are sexual objects in the eyes of men.

Entertainment’s purpose, above all else, is to provide an escape to the audience. But Game of Thrones provides no escape from women’s daily fear of rape and violence. And worst of all, there are no male characters in the show who understand the true worth of a woman, none who see women as their equals or even as people. The Tudors was similar to GoT with regards to misogyny but it was still watchable because the audience knew that the greatest monarch ever was the misogynistic protagonist’s daughter.

I am quite sure that at the end of GoT all the women will emerge triumphant and the evil men will be punished deservedly. Or at least, I hope so. But it is still too much to watch two entire seasons of violence against women being passed off as entertainment.

I can’t help but wonder, if the world is fictional, why not infuse it with the knowledge we have now? After all, Narnia had a queen, evil though she may have been, and those books were written during the Second World War. GoT seems to me to be a product of rampant rape culture, reinforcing those values, lacking the necessary commentary opposing it by the author of the books, the writers, directors and actors of the show.

What is happening to the female characters is horrible and everyone watching it should know that. Without a specific commentary against rape, film and television are in danger of advocating rape culture. Perhaps a disclaimer could be included at the beginning of these shows explaining why the scenarios in the show are abhorrent. It may not have a huge impact, but could lessen the effect of the brutality witnessed on screen.

Or, we could go the whole hog and just write female characters that women would actually enjoying watching – those who are strong, physically, mentally and sexually, are in charge of their bodies and their destinies, and, more than anything else, portrayed as human beings.

45 comments on “The No-Feminist Zone: Game Of Thrones

  1. Branwen
    July 5, 2013

    Thank you for this article. I have finally found someone who can articulate exactly why I feel so disgusted and sick after every episode.

  2. Mitch
    June 22, 2013

    Let’s separate one aspect – gratuitous female nudity – out from the other alleged misogynist aspects for a moment.

    I’m an avid reader of the book series and really like the show, but I agree the nudity is way over the top. There’s sex in the books but it’s not as ever-present as it is in the show.

    Without that, however, is the show misogynist? I think not. It certainly portrays misogyny. In fact, to me it captures the ugly side of patriarchy that feminists have been telling us about for years, that many people – and the fantasy genre in general – don’t seem to believe exists.

    Author George RR Martin tries to capture what the medieval world was really like in human terms (with the addition of some fantasy elements like dragons). And the reality of it was that it was ugly. It’s one of the few works of fantasy fiction that seems to acknowledge that rape culture exists, and that women do live under the threat of violent male power.

    Unfortunately, the blatant nudity of the show distracts from this element, and is why some viewers seem to think it is celebrating misogyny, when it is meant to be a critique of it.

    • LS
      July 2, 2013

      The female nudity is problematic mainly because it is used to show women in submissive or subjugated positions. Women’s bodies are being displayed solely for male satisfaction.
      The whole concept of portraying realistic misogyny in a fantasy show is what really irks me. Is the misogyny being portrayed to show the audience what is wrong with misogyny, or is the show just basking in the subjugation of its women characters? There is a distinct lack of commentary in popular culture against misogyny.
      Also, the issue remains that female characters are written with a very gendered point of view – they are women and must do ‘womanly’ things – whereas male characters are treated as individuals with varied characteristics. This is a criticism I would levy against most of popular culture today, not just GoT.

  3. yeahbuddy
    June 5, 2013

    My boyfriend and I just attempted to watch this series for the first time tonight and could not believe how distasteful it is. There is, in no particular order: (gratuitous) violence, (gratuitous) boobs, dire wolves (lol), dragons (…), more violence, incest, rape, violence, and trees for good measure. It’s like the dedicated fans of Dragon Force got together to make a series from their wet dreams. It’s so misogynistic and overly “masculine” as to be laughable and comes off corny as hell. But we’re supposed to overlook all the repressed virgin rage because there’s one little girl good at archery… That’s this writer’s one concession to equality. Uhhuh.

    I used to read a lot of fantasy so I know the routine. A lot of it is hyper macho and women rarely have power that isn’t derived from sex. Oh sure, there are female warriors, but they are the exception rather than the rule and, most importantly, they never show up the men. They’re exceptional simply because they can do what the average man-warrior can, they never excel beyond the men’s capabilities.

    But GoT really takes the cake as far as these sad tropes go. At the end of the night, my boyfriend said “I hate all these characters” and I agreed.

  4. Nicole
    May 15, 2013

    I’m so glad I came across your post. I thought I was the only one who even noticed the undercurrent in this series. I had to stop watching part way through the first season, because it was too much. It’s an enthralling show, with lots of intrigue and beautiful sets and interesting characters, but the portrayal of women, and the language the men use when referring to women, the blatant sexualising of them is so abhorrent and obvious I don’t understand why more people don’t see it. Not all the women are portrayed as sexual objects but a lot of them are, and despite the shows popularity (including many female fans) I feel the more discussion about WHY this is so popular and accepted and normalised the better. Good job on calling it out!

  5. Penelope
    May 13, 2013

    I have not read the GoT books and I only saw the first episode (bought the first season because I’ve heard so many great things about the series…oops), and by the end of the episode I was overwhelmed and revolted by the production’s misogyny. The producers are, of course, free to use rape, the gross subjugation of women, and depictions of extraordinary savagery as themes of entertainment (I assume they consider their GoT series to be entertainment), and “we” are free to reject their production as the pathetic and yet despicable piece of crap it is.

  6. elby
    May 1, 2013

    Now reading the third book in the GoT series, still enjoying it as well as the TV series so far (although the rape culture is starting to wear), but I’m beginning to wonder if I’m seeing some of GRRM’s rape’s fantasies played out through these works and it’s starting to bug me.

    Rape of women is such a given in his societies…such a mundane reality. “Everyone” seems to do it or accept it being done, except notably some women never seem to get raped. Kings rape, knights rape, soldiers rape, townspeople rape, wildings rape. Even brothers of the night’s watch rape. “Silly women” like the woman Shae serves get raped. Serving wenches, servant girls and town-girls get raped. Wives get raped. Prostitutes get raped. Ladies get raped. Though Danerys may or may not have been raped by Drogo, that all turned out to be rainbows and roses on the show because they she found her sexual inner beast to gain his respect so they could be one hot power couple, so much “in luv.” Since Drogo died, there’s been no rape for Dany even though she’s been wandering a countryside populated by strong and armed men in rape cultures. Arya doesn’t get raped…in spite of the fact that she too is wandering the countryside basically defenseless while encountering some really bad types. And what about Brienne, another wandering woman encountering some of the scuzziest scumbags in GoTworld? There’ve been threats, but somehow it’s never happened?

    Why not? Why are some of Martin’s women raped but not others? Does Martin think some women deserve to be raped while finding others above the practice? Are “traditional women” in his world more worthy of being terribly used as plot incidentals? Does he think the adoption by women in his world of what he perceives to be male characteristics of power and strength such as army leading or joining, throne seeking, power grabbing, statesmanship wielding, swordsmanship proficiency or mixed martial arts studies elevates these women above victimization? Are women he perceives to be “strong” immune from his rape culture? Does he purposefully protect some of his women from victimization because he wouldn’t respect them if they’d ever actually been “be-soiled?”

  7. Celeste
    April 17, 2013

    I know this was written a while ago, but I was curious to see what other women thought of the series. I for one completely disagree with you. I find the women in this series very empowering. Look beyond the obvious sexualisation of women and look at the actual characters portrayed. The series is set in a world based loosely on our own history. The sad fact is women in history have never been equal to men, and rape has always been used as a weapon of war,historically to “dilute” the conquered tribe/clan/nation, it still happens today.

    With regards to the rape of Daenarys, I think the way it was done in the series worked. The Dothraki are portrayed as a savage nation, viewing women in the same way as their horses, no more than property. Later, she takes the dominant position during sex and in doing so, Drogo starts to view her as an equal, changing their relationship and empowering her with the Dothraki. Her character has grown from a subdued girl under her brothers control to a strong woman who goes against the status quo of the Dothraki and taking the women they were going to rape away from them.

    Cersei, though vile and cruel is a woman who believes herself the equal if not better than any man on the council. The only reason she isn’t in charge is because she is a woman and this is made very obvious. If equality existed in westeros, Cersei would be queen, and it is obvious that she believed she would have that power with her son on the throne, except he’s a little shit.

    Catelyn is the typical matriarch. The mother who would do anything for her children. She has more than once entered dangerous territory to broker deals and forge allies for her son Robb, because as a woman, she would not be hampered by bravado and pride.

    Arrya, probably the best female character of all. She dressed like a boy, and this is explained in the series when she is asked by Tywin Lannister, “Safer to travel”

    Then there are the smaller characters, Brienne of Tarth, as strong and powerful as any man and a better warrior

    Osha the wildling woman that is taken as a slave, and when threatened with rape is still fearless.

    I could go on, but I won’t. In the latest series, one of the male characters is threatened with rape, to me this just shows the savagery of George R R Martins world

  8. judisutherland
    March 19, 2013

    I’m not reading the whole thread because we are watching Series 2 at the moment and I don’t want to see too many spoilers. I am horrified by the position (excuse the pun) of women in the programme but in my limited knowledge of the fantasy genre I’d guess it is pretty typical. It is probably in there not JUST because the series is aimed at teenage boys who live in a “rape culture” but because the whole genre is a meditation on power, its use, its misuse. One might muse on the central theme of family loyalty and revenge, and the inevitability of acting like your father’s son whether you want to or not. One of the most interesting characters is Tyrion Lannister, who, being disabled, can’t vie for power by fighting, in the way that the other men do, and so he resorts to political scheming. I do think the portrayal of sex as predominantly doggie-style is relevant and is supposed to say something about gender relations in this fantasy world and maybe something about ours. Everybody in the series seems to have a horrible life, one way or another. That, I suppose, is drama.

  9. Pingback: Women: Gird your Loins, Game of Thrones Season 3 is Coming | ByzBets

  10. artistapart
    January 27, 2013

    Not going to read the rest of those posts, so unsure if someone pointed it out before me. If they did I’m sorry:

    -Season 2, Daenerys leads Drogo’s horde… that’s not a strong female character?

  11. Kim
    January 23, 2013

    That said, though I do love the books, it is certainly not something I’d pass off to just anyone. It does deserve a “kinda nude” and “kinda rapey” warning. If only because you have to listen to drunken old King Robert.

  12. Kim
    January 23, 2013

    um. An Alternate Perspective:
    http://flyingsorcha.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/the-women-of-winter-are-coming/

    While it’s true that most of the women are in arranged marriages — so are the men.
    Imagine being told to marry your brother’s fiancee, out of duty?
    That’s Ned’s Life!
    (and knowing that you are less handsome/fiery than him, to boot!)

    To say that Brienne draws her power from Renly is … true, but she’s in a position of power. She’s at about the same level as Jaime is in Kings Landing. She is a BIG DEAL. The Mormont Lady you saw in the First Season, at Stark’s wartable (her name wasn’t mentioned, I’m adding it from the book) — she leads her clan.

    Cersei is shown early and often enjoying sex. From Jaime to her cousin, she enjoys it a lot. Granted, some of it is powerplays.

    (and it really gets my goat when folks call doggie style subjugated. please tell me you didn’t say that).

    Catelyn is empowered as a diplomat, Lysa is basically leading an entire country (into really bad decisions, but she’s still a LORD the way Tywin is a lord).

    ” little stating that it is an abhorrent crime to ever touch a woman without her consent” (This WILL come up next season. I fucking damn well promise you. You may not like what the show does with it — I certainly haven’t seen it, but…)

    GoT does and will not show every single woman in an arranged marriage falling in love with her abuser. Sansa stands as the first character to be justly enraged by her abuse, but she’s not the last

    I wish I could still find the wordpress blog I found on Dany — a guy’s lovesong to a powerful woman, and wishing that women would take control more often (including asking guys out, yadda yadda). Finding her hot for her ability to take control.

    Cersei shouldn’t be expected to stand by Sansa (though preventing her abuse would have been a GOOD THING, no downside, shoulda done it.). In this game of thrones, people stand by their houses, even if they hate the rest of their kin (witness Tyrion).

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  14. pervfageln
    January 20, 2013

    I was talked into watching this show by someone who never bothered to mention all the rape and misogyny I would encounter. This is scary enough. She marketed it as a world you would want to escape to. Plus it was full of attractive men, she said. After watching it, I don’t think Game of Thrones should be allowed on TV (irrational, perhaps and probably stemmed from the fact that nothing about it appeals to me). And as for the books? Well, I would normally say that I’m against book burning but if I needed to make a fire and the only thing I had to hand was every GoT book ever printed …. I wouldn’t hesitate to throw it on. All I can say is, if there’s a moral at the end of this story, it had better be bloody good.

    • Kim
      January 23, 2013

      I wouldn’t hesitate to throw the bible on if I needed the fire. better to freezing to death.

      Game of Thrones is a great place to see people being awesome, even when life deals them a really crappy hand. (See Arya and Tyrion in particular, but Sansa as well).

    • robert mccoy
      January 28, 2013

      Please continue to be irrational. People will not listen to your insanity if you are irrational. You and Michelle Bachman need to be occupied until normal people can establish precedence, then it’s too late. We win.

  15. lucybottomface
    January 20, 2013

    Oh #Luna1563 your emphasis upon an idea of proper feminism as you seem to view it is my idea of the very worst kind of feminism. It is elitist and excludes a whole myriad of women from the movement. You don’t need to be familiar with academic theories to be a feminist. There are plenty of studies into codified language and many people grow up in such a way that it almost becomes impossible for them to understand the obtuse language of academia. Whenever a woman believes that women should have equality and identities herself as a feminist, then she is a feminist. Even the elitist sods who do what you have done are feminists if they identify as such, they’re just the sort who turn my stomach. Please don’t fall back on the “you should read up on theory” argument because it completely invalidates the experiences of a great number of women. Not to mention, it’s so fucking boring.

    On another note, I couldn’t give a fig’s ear about this sort of programming BUT if it’s set in a mythical time then the social perameters of that “time” are set by the creators of the work, so falling back on the historical accuracy argument is a cop out. Is this the sort of programme with dragons and magic too? Because if it is the suspension of disbelief is kind of already out there. It worries me that it’s easier to believe in fantasy than it is female empowerment. Even if it’s set in the past it’s a bit of bollocks saying that none of the female characters can be empowered. I’ll give you that the majority would be, but it doesn’t mean there cannot be a strong female character.

    Another problem with the lines of reasoning seen above is the suggestion that this is a one way street. But when women are disempowered within films/television/books over, and over, and over again it feeds into the societal belief that women cannot achieve, bring on the self-fulfilling prophecies!! Has it occured that if we have a larger number of empowered women in fictional representations it might actually raise expectations and aspirations for women. Surely it’s basic logic that the media doesn’t just reflect but also informs public opinion?

    • luna1563
      January 21, 2013

      I wasn’t suggesting that in order to be a feminist you needed to read up on it. However, if one were to gage a proper understaing of its theories, of course it helps to read up on it. But you can’t call yourself a feminist without first understanding the theories behind it. Otherwise you just label yourself. Misinformation in instances like this is a dangerous thing. Of course someone can have the charcteristics of a feminist without knowing what it is, but that just goes back to labelling. I’m not a feminist just because I want equality for women, one rule out of plenty does not equal being a feminist.

      The point of shows showing violence is to make people realise it’s wrong. The fact that it is so casual makes it even worse. Don’t fall into the category of “blame the media for everything” because that argument doesn’t work and is also “really fucking boring.”

      • lucybottomface
        January 21, 2013

        That is such an absurd argument. I’m sorry, but it is. You’re also currently talking (including other women in this comments section) to women who have not only read up on feminist theory, but have achieved or are achieving post-graduate educations in gender studies. But I will be damned if reading up on a bit of Butler is what makes them feminists. Identification as a feminist is incredibly important to whether you are a feminist, and to just dismiss that as labelling is completely reductive when it comes to the concept of identity. I am a woman because I identify as a woman. I’m not just self-labelling; there are a myriad of reasons why I would call myself a woman (and none of them are to do with in depth theory and a hell of a lot more to do with lived experience, contextual analysis etc etc bollocks natch ad infinitum). So when I use the term “identify” I like to think it contains the unspoken assumption that it covers a myriad of functions. Your emphasis upon theory is kind of ironic too because in my opinion it betrays a lack of theory; it’s hardly intersectional to say that “your membership with the movement is down to whether you’ve read obtuse academic material, sorry about, see ya!” And if you then think that, ok they can’t be feminists but intersectional feminists can fight their corner for them you’re then playing into paternalistic fuckwittery, which emulates patriarchy and is the antithesis of the movement in the first place! This is where i have to make the crap joke: You need a better bit of Butler on your bread!

        P.s. Many of the roots of the feminist movement were to be found in the working classes (late 19th/early 20th century). I’d recommend “Working class women and women’s suffrage” by RS Neale. On another point, when Woolstonecraft wrote “Vindication of the Rights of Women” we’d all have been a bit fucked if someone had turned around and said “sorry love, you’ve not read The Female Eunuch, you’re out!”

        Oh dear me!

      • Kim
        January 23, 2013

        “I’m not a feminist just because I want equality for women”

        Then you are a hypocrite. And a prat to boot.
        Just like Mitt Romney (yes. joke. see Romney’s family).

  16. happyappalachy
    January 20, 2013

    I agree that this is a mostly male-driven show, as most fantasy stories are. However, I think Daenerys’ character is developing into a strong female in the face of an extremely patriarchal society. She doesn’t back down from even the most powerful men in this story, and actually seeks retribution upon those who have wronged her (not that that course of action is necessarily the healthiest, but she wants to be Queen). So although, yes, of course, she was meek at the beginning, she is now growing into a force with which to be reckoned. This sort of character development is necessary to garner support for her character. If she didn’t have that and she were dropped in on us in the arc of the story with full power and ruthlessness, she would be hated (and the same would be said for any male character having done the same).

    • Kim
      January 23, 2013

      You’ve yet to meet the Queen of Thorns. By my count, we have Seven Kingdoms
      Tyrells: led by a woman (The Queen of Thorns)
      Starks: guided by a woman trying to help her young son not fuck up a war.
      Arryns: Lysa’s leading
      Tully: Da’s sick, Cat’s brother is gay.
      Martell: Da’s sick (but still in charge) — every other character of note is female (and they let women inherit!)
      Lannister: Tywin’s in charge, but Cersei is queen.
      Greyjoy: Currently in chaos, hoping that Yara (asha) Greyjoy comes out on top.

  17. Auferstanden aus Ruinen
    January 19, 2013

    Misogyny? *Sigh*

    It doesn’t mean what radfems think it means. I’ve met hundreds of sexist people (many of them female, of course) but only one misogynist that I can remember.

    Misogyny is active hostility to women. It is not just an attitude to women that you happen to dislike.

    To listen to internet feminists you’d think life for women was worse than at any point in history, as opposed to the opposite.

    • Week Woman
      January 19, 2013

      Well that’s sorted then. You think you’ve only met one misogynist, therefore they are extremely rare. Lucky you is all I can say. Lucky, misguided you.

    • lucybottomface
      January 20, 2013

      I’ve met and been abused by another misogynists to know they’re not exactly as rare as rocking horse shit. I’ll even argue against people who moan about women “confusing” sexism and misogyny. In my opinion sexism is just the benign expression of cultural misogyny.

      • lucybottomface
        January 20, 2013

        *enough even. Crikey, you can tell I’ve not slept in a few days.

  18. jemima101
    January 19, 2013

    I have just finished the mistborn series and have been recommending it to everyone who will listen. Its not perfect, too much lovey dovey stuff for me, but the main character Vin is just such a refreshing change. There are rape fears, from her perspective, the normal fear of a girl sleeping rough, not some brutalized male fantasy.
    There is even a wonderful subplot about her struggling to reconcile her discovery she likes dresses and make up with being strong powerful hero.

    But most of all it’s awesome because she saves the day, she isnt just plot fodder to be rescued, she rescues. The standard tropes of sword and sorcery fiction can be challenged, people like Tannith Lee have been doing this for years (The last Unicorn is well worth a read if you haven’t) and its just laziness to say ,oh this is just how the genre works.

    For the record I have never seen GoT but it sounds very generic.

    • Kim
      January 23, 2013

      I daresay you’d like Asha Greyjoy. (yara in the tv show). A Raider Princess…

  19. katelong
    January 19, 2013

    II hadn’t seen that checklist before. It’s fantastic. I’ll be posting it to as many people as I can think of.

  20. luna1563
    January 19, 2013

    Lol, “every woman in every country fears being raped.” I think this is a generic theory. I think if you were to ask a woman “does tape scare you?” Of course she would say yes. But that’s like asking someone if they are afraid to be mugged or killed. You are not the voice of millions of women everywhere, you do not get to represent me.

    You do realise that GoT is based on a book, right? People who write, make music, create for entertainment must be allowed the freedom to be creative and to explore that creativity in free-thinking and liberal ways. Have you ever thought that the portrayal of women in movies and television is to show the degrading and inequality sometimes subjected to women? That by ignoring the fact that women are not seen as equal makes the problem of equality worse? What you are suggesting here is that we should just fake it. That women should be shown as false in order to create a sense that all is right with women in the world. Yes the show probably shows inequality in violent and brutal ways, but the subjugation of women is shown in reality in much worse ways.

    By suggesting that modern entertainment should portray women in certain ways, should show their empowerment, is ridiculous. Just because there is an uprising at the minute in the way of feminism does not mean that this should be shown on television too. It might be upsetting to see, but shutting yourself off from this violence doesn’t mean it still doesn’t happen. GoT addresses this, and just because you analyse the show differently does not mean it is a terrible show.

    I suggest you read up and study feminism a bit more. Labelling yourself as a feminist when you have no idea about its origins or its theories makes you look unintelligent and a little ignorant.

    • Week Woman
      January 19, 2013

      hmmm…having looked at your blog, and in particular your belief in victim-blaming rape myths, and your belief that wanting equality doesn’t equate with feminism, I don’t think you’re really in a position to tell anyone that they should read up on feminism for fear of looking unintelligent. I suggest this as a bit of basic remedial reading: http://weekwoman.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/feminist-check-list-what-do-you-believe/

    • violetwisp
      January 19, 2013

      #luna1563 What a ridiculous comment! This post raises great points about the inherent sexism in broadcasting today, not just about Game of Thrones. All these critically acclaimed shows with mainly male characters and a few weak female characters scattered about to have sex with the men unfortunately can affect the shaping of our global society. Taking issue with the way gender is characterised time and time again on television has nothing to do with “shutting yourself off” from reality. I am unaware of your background, but I’d like you to know that a world of strong women unaffected by abuse and violence is out there, and we cannot recognise our gender or our society in these incessant, poor depictions.

      • luna1563
        January 20, 2013

        So just because we want a world where there is no sexism, racism, or violence means that a TV show can’t show these issues? THAT’S a ridiculous comment. There are far worse things on TV which shows violence, cruelty and rape, and there are far worse things than stuff shown on GoT that actually happens. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t give you a right to want to ban it. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. And don’t berate others for liking it either. I think reality shows such as X-factor and American Idol depict people in worse ways than in GoT. Exploitation, humiliation, degradation, these are all horrible things, and yet people lap that up. What’s the difference between realistically and publicly humiliating someone compared to depicting rape? Besides, if our children never saw this stuff (children who are allowed to watch it) how would they ever know it was wrong? Isn’t the point of the show supposed to be showing the violence and instigating a reaction? Of course it’s supposed to be horrible, if people thought it was okay, the producers would have got it wrong, right?

      • Adam @Zeeblebum
        January 20, 2013

        @luna1563

        > “Besides, if our children never saw this stuff (children who are allowed to watch it) how would they ever know it was wrong?”

        How does watching this stuff teach children that it is wrong?

        > “Of course it’s supposed to be horrible, if people thought it was okay, the producers would have got it wrong, right?”

        And I think that’s kind of the point – except it’s not portrayed as horrible. It’s portrayed as okay and acceptable and just in the normal run of things. There’s no commentary on it, no judgement or censure of it. The message, presented uncritically, is: This it what strong, powerful, successful men do; and this is what women have to put up with, and – who knows? – they might even come to like it and fall in love with their abuser eventually.

        And it seems that many many people do think that it is okay, judging by the popularity of the show and the lack of criticism of the rape culture that the show propagates. So the producers have indeed got it wrong, right?

      • Kim
        January 23, 2013

        Adam,
        plenty of people talk about the rape culture. (and the boobs boobs boobs culture).
        EVEN the show does, through it’s use of peepholes in the Second Season.
        It seems to ask “What are you watching” even as we watch Littlefinger watching inside his brothel.

    • pervfageln
      January 20, 2013

      Of course everyone should be allowed creative freedom but don’t you think they should be striving for more than portraying tired and violent and submissive stereotypes with nothing positive to aspire to?

      Whether you intend to influence or not, it is ignorant to think that people are not influenced by what they see on TV. So, in my opinion, if you expect or aspire for your show to be aired on TV, you have a responsibility to challenge negative aspects of society e.g. rape, and to provide something positive to aspire to.

      • Kim
        January 23, 2013

        see Tyrion Lannister.
        But obviously, since he’s not a woman, the show can’t be challenging…

  21. jessmittens
    January 19, 2013

    It is possible to portray a woman as a human being even if she has no power I think, generally those keeping the woman down are the ones that become less human in the eyes of the viewer.

    The culture of this fantasy world dictates men to be in power indeed, perhaps this is because of how they are living (wars to be fought, male heirs to be born, walls to protect, middle ages type conditions) and that’s just the time and place the author created to best suit his story – his story, not her story. It’s a man’s creation. It sucks for women in the show and in real life, but then, most people watching it look at it as being something of the past, however some males may look at the treatment of women and find their beauty and vulnerability such a turn on they use it to fuel their own misogynistic views and actions of today’s real life ladies. I’d like to hope that because of the setting most would see it as a medieval setting, but that’s wishful thinking.

    In the book, Daenerys is never raped by Khal Drogo. I’m unsure why they decided to make that part a of the television series. What, so a brute rapist can be charmed into a sweetheart if you take a bit of charge in the bedroom? What? Baffling. What an odd message to send to women and men. I was mad about that! I’m glad the Dothraki left her; gives her a chance to build an army not full of misogynists, and sets the viewer against them, too.

    There is one tough little lady, though, Ariya. However she does have to dress like a boy to get away with it… But on the other hand it could also be seen as a girl doing whatever it takes to survive in a man’s world.

    I am so sorry this is a super long comment! Really good topic.

    • Louis Skye
      January 19, 2013

      Thank you for your comment.

      I too, was surprised that the television series decided to have Khal Drogo rape Daenerys. A very odd choice indeed. It is so hard to positively respond to any of the characters (male or female) when the writers deliberately demonize otherwise good characters.

      I agree about Arya. I wish there was more of her in the series; perhaps there will be in Season 3.

      • geekyisgood
        January 19, 2013

        Yes I thought this too. In the book Daenerys consents after a rather gentle seduction by Drogo (mind you she’s also only 14 so still problematic).

        GoT is trope-tastic, but unfortunately for me that’s part of what makes it so addictive! I think the books are a lot better than the show for letting you get to know the women as full and rounded characters, even within the tropes. I approach the misogyny of the cultures of Westeros and Essos in the same way as I do in historical fiction. But I think this is out of my own self-interest so I can continue to read and watch the series with enjoyment rather than disgust! Yay for cognitive dissonance!

      • Kim
        January 23, 2013

        they had it written as in the book, but momoa couldn’t make the seduction work. (no big surprise, he’s not exactly “rabbit” material)

    • liawriting
      January 20, 2013

      interesting topic. @changing the scene in the tv show: emilia clarke (dany) explains in an interview that they discussed that and decided that it would have felt out-of-character (http://www.vulture.com/2011/06/emilia_clarke.html – you have to scroll down to the question)
      @books: I read the book a while ago, but I kind of remember, that after their wedding night, Khal Drogo often came drunk to Dany at night and took her without her consent. I mean, it never really is called “rape” in the books, but I would consider it rape, because he didn’t ask her…

    • Kim
      January 23, 2013

      In the book, he doesn’t rape her the first night. He does “rape” her afterwards (taking her vigorously, and aggravating riding injuries, when she would probably have rather rested). The difference is you see this from Dany’s perspective, where it’s treated as a given that they should be having sex.

      And Drogo comes across, not like a rapist, but like someone rather obliviously causing somewhat nonconsensual sex. (after all, dany isn’t saying no.). This is not to say that Drogo is pure white — one ought to consider one’s wife as something more than just “person I have sex with”.

      But dany makes him face her.

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