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Don’t let the genre fool you — Game of Thrones is full of feminist surprises

Date: June 7, 2013 | Posted By: Katie

Game of Thrones is hot right now and I’m into it! For those of you who haven’t caught on to the Game of Thrones craze, let me tell you, it is much more than a medieval fantasy/action series.

Daenerys Targaryen of Game of Thrones.

Daenerys — The Mother of Dragons is the star of the season so far.

For those that may be surprised to see Game of Thrones being praised by a feminist, I’d like to address those concerns first. Despite the complex and strong female characters, I agree that the show is not perfect — its main source of criticism is its nudity and sex scenes. This isn’t surprising for an HBO show though, and it’s definitely not suitable for all ages.

Even still, the show’s creators will argue that they are only including what’s appropriate for the scene and the story. Whatever way you look at it, it’s too bad that Game of Thrones‘s soft-core diversions prevent viewers from noticing how feminist the show often is.

I haven’t read the books yet, but I have mixed feelings from what I’ve heard about them and the author. Apparently, the series has taken a lot of the misogyny from the books out (while adding more female nudity) and highlighted more powerful roles for women.

George R. R. Martin is the author of the book series and was also named one of TIME’s top 100 most influential people in 2011. I was excited that the creator seems to have some feminist ideas as well. Martin stated:

“To me, being a feminist is about treating men and women the same. I regard men and women as all human — yes, there are differences, but many of those differences are created by the culture that we live in, whether it’s the medieval culture of Westeros, or 21st century western culture.”

Brienne of Tarth from Game of Thrones, in full armor with sword.

Brienne of Tarth is one of the strongest and most loyal characters.

Let’s get to the good stuff now — as soon as I started watching the HBO series, I was enthralled. Sure, there are some cheesy and boring scenes, as well as scenes that make me squeamish. Even if it seems like your typical action show, it’s definitely feminist-friendly. Basically all of the plot lines have awesome women!

The numerous complex and strong female characters deserve plenty of attention and praise. Below is a list of my three favorite Game of Thrones females and why they rule!

Daenerys Targaryen: By far my favorite character, she is Queen of the dragons and the rightful heir to the throne. Without giving anything away, I can say that she stands up for slaves and fights for what is hers.

SPOILER: Her dragons are young and maturing and are already kicking butt. Can’t wait to see how they take the throne back from the bratty and evil King Joffrey.

Brienne of Tarth: Brienne has recently become more of a main character. She’s a female soldier who defies traditional feminine standards from her strength to her short hair and armor. Her loyalty and fighting skills have made her a good soldier and a unique character to watch.

Arya Stark: Arya is the coolest of the Stark children. Another female who isn’t the typical “damsel in distress”, Arya has been learning to fight and use a sword with the support of her father since she was a young girl.

Arya Stark of Game of Thrones.

Young and inexperienced, but feisty. Will Arya’s determination get her out of trouble in the end?

SPOILER: Still young and naive, Arya even posed as a boy for a several episodes to get by and hide her identity. Though she has been found out, there are still high hopes for Arya’s future.

Besides my top three, there are plenty of runner-ups, including the philanthropic Margaery, who is plotting for her rule as Queen, sassy Shae who speaks her mind and stands up for herself, as well as the caring Talisa Stark who has quickly raised her status.

Try Game of Thrones out for yourself and weigh in on its levels of feminism and misogyny — there’s sure to be a bit of both!

Katie Boyer is a blogger and social media expert living in Oakland, CA. She spends her free time analyzing the media, reading, writing, bicycling, and playing with her pet rabbit.




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5 Responses to Don’t let the genre fool you — Game of Thrones is full of feminist surprises

  1. steven on 06-10-2013

    what does it matter if theres nudity?
  2. Reply
    • Allison Leigh on 06-11-2013

      because to show nudity just for the sake of showing women's bodies is showing that women's bodies are just objects to sexualize for pure fun. now if the nudity is there to move the story along and is important to the plot/themes then that's fine, but like most HBO shows that isn't the reason. (don't get me wrong, i'm in love with GoT)
    • Reply
      • Katie on 06-11-2013

        Thanks for your response, Allison! You said it wonderfully :)
      • Reply
      • Katie on 06-11-2013

        Also, really glad you watch the show! We should talk about it sometime. I'm going to read the books too.
      • Reply
    • Katie on 06-11-2013

      Female nudity can be empowering and appreciate of the female form but most times in the media it is not. Therefore, whether the nudity is good or bad, necessary or not, it's definitely worth discussing...

      "there’s a Skinemax edge that creeps into Game of Thrones once in a while that at best cheapens the show, and at worst advances the persistent idea that women’s naked bodies — even in the best of storytelling — are garnishes." Buzzfeed

      "HBO sex scenes be damned, the women of Westeros are more than sex objects—they're subjects of their own narratives." - Jezebel
    • Reply