What's the best way to dismiss a woman? Call her crazy. And that's exactly what Game of Thrones, the show that gave us some of the strongest women characters in the history of television is doing right now. For a show that has so many interesting yet complex female characters, at least, to begin with, the men behind the latest season of Game of Thrones clearly struggle to write them. Yep, there's not a single female writer. Who's surprised?
Daenerys Targaryen, who once gave birth to three dragons from eggs that no one thought would ever hatch, is, according to the show, losing her mind just like her father, Mad King Aerys. Why? Because she simply wants to be on the throne, no matter what. A woman who fought her way since she was sold as a sex slave, the woman who lost her babies, and later lost two of her dragon children, travelled to gain allies and free the slaves, lost her most trusted and loved ones, lost her Army-- all because she had an ambition is apparently losing her mind because she now insists she wants what she wants.
In the latest episode, Tyrion and Varys have the same conversation twice about whether Daenerys is fit to rule. “She does not like to have her authority questioned,” Varys tells Tyrion. “I’m worried about her state of mind.” When Tyrion suggests that Daenerys and Jon could rule together, Varys explains that won't be possible because Dany is too strong for Jon. There, dollops of sexism once again.
At the gathering right after the battle, a group of men cheer for Jon Snow. "Who else can climb onto the back of a dragon and ride it?" Erm, the Dragon Mother. So, naturally, Dany looks upset. I mean she has been riding dragons for years. And this man comes and rides a dragon and he becomes the worthy man? *Slow clap*
It seems after all the hardships she was put through, Dany can only muster one emotion: jealousy, at not being popular enough. Meanwhile, Jon, because of his birthright and mostly because he is a man has everyone's support.
But that's not all. Brienne, the knight of seven kingdoms, is left begging for companionship after Jamie Lannister decides to pull off that boy from Tinder who will do anything to get in your pants only to simply ghost.
The event between Brienne and Jamie has been simmering for the last seven seasons. I call it an event because we really don't know what happened there. Jamie first forces Brienne to admit that she's a virgin. Then, he pretends that he's unable to unbutton his shirt with one hand (We don't know who did it for him all these years), then there's one abrupt kiss.
Next, you know, you see them sleeping next to each other. That is all. We don't know anything about their pleasures-- Brienne's or even Jamie's. The whole scene that had been building up for so many eventually felt like a damp squib. Nothing. There was no emotion, no passion.
It seems that the only thing that matters here was Brienne's virginity. And it's simply treated as the last slice of pizza. Once discovered, it has to be snatched.
What did Brienne feel? How was it like when she woke up the first morning? What was Jamie like? We have no answers. And strangely, it's not even because Game of Thrones has particularly ever cared about nudity. It's just how it is. There was not even one point where Brienne talks about her experience-- her pleasure or horror at what happened. However, Jamie, the man, does speak about it. Of course, he wouldn't miss a chance. Later in the episode, Tyrion and Jaime, joke about how, at last, Jaime has to do a little “climbing” in bed.
However, just moments later, Brienne has to beg Jamie to stay and not leave her for another woman. It's a heartbreaking moment to realise that the makers completely stripped off Ser Jamie of her powers, her agency. For years, GoT makers build Brienne's character, the one who had a complicated relationship with her body but cared for her honour. Yes, the makers may have wanted to show Brienne’s vulnerability and Jaime’s dilemma. But none of that comes across. In the end, she seems like a broken woman, devasted by a man who decided to abandon her.
Missandei, Dany’s loyal handmaiden, is captured by Euron’s fleet and beheaded on the walls of King’s Landing. No one is complaining about deaths in Game of Thrones. It's unbelievable that so many of them are alive even especially after we witnessed Ned Stark's death and the Red Wedding. But Missandei, the woman who was freed from slavery but remained in servitude, dies in chains-- for no apparent reason. She was the only woman of colour left on this show, and she dies simply as an instrument in the conflict between Cersei and Dany.
We all know Cersei is evil, what were we expecting of her right? Yes, Cersei is evil but when she has instructed someone to be beheaded it has been for a reason. Ned Stark had found out about her children-- and that none of them were Robert Baratheon's. Cersei didn't want the secret to come out. But with Missandei, she just dies a pointless death.
The women characters of Game of Thrones apparently exist only to be sexual partners, mothers and for tearing each other apart. Take, for instance, Sansa and Daenerys. While it earlier seemed like they could be the powerful women shaping the map of Westeros, now it has become obvious that they will just be obstacles for each other only and only so that Jon Snow, the beloved man, can take the throne.
Amidst all of these characters, Game of Thrones pretends like its the most woke show ever. They made Arya kill the Night King, instead of Jon Snow. But now it all feels like simply a sign of tokenism.
In fact, Arya is perhaps the only woman with her own agency. She has done what she wanted to-- whether it was acting like a boy to save herself, sleeping with Gendry, and then politely dismissing Gendry's proposal to be his wife.
"I am not a lady," she declared. The episode before the last one did leave me a bit disappointed, I wouldn't lie. Having followed this show for eight years, Arya seemed like a genderless person. She didn't need to be fit into a box. Yes, Arya does decide when she wants to have sex and with who. But hey, do all the women in this show just need to have sex to prove a point?
Let's look at the men who don't have sex in the show: Hound, Jorah, Bran, Mountain, Ser Davos, Littlefinger, Hodor. And now try thinking of the women. Well, that's your answer.