So like the vast majority of you I’ve been totally gripped by the last season of Game of Thrones. Bar some rather minor, very pedantic, niggles, the story arc has been brilliant with thrills and twists aplenty. But then with the last episode, I started to feel rather concerned that we might be dropping into some rather familiar tropes centred predominantly around Daenerys’ storyline.
There’s no doubt that we’ve seen aspects of Dany lashing out when thwarted or threatened. And the one conversation between Varys and Tyrion in this most recent episode seemed to throw that into greater prominence. Their whole conversation about ‘just because he has a cock not necessarily making Jon a better King’ was fabulous. So now I’m trying to work out whether the writers are being incredibly clever by showing up some of the tropes of some fantasy writing or they’re falling into them themselves:
a woman can’t be powerful without being either masculine, murderous or mad
it’s only through walking through fire (literally in Dany’s case, figuratively for Sansa and Arya) that they become strong enough to be respected by their male counterparts
the loss of a child/lover/friend for a woman turns them from relatively balanced to totally unhinged (men seem to cope or mourn less visibly)
the kingdom would choose a man over a woman to rule them, no matter how great the claim of either
women can’t lead or plot in battle without first having the affirmation/support of the men around them. If they ignore that advice then they’re not a strong-willed leader, they’re starting down the road to tyranny
After everything she’s been through, it would be expected for Dany to be emotional. And yes, bloody angry. She’s just lost two of her children, over half her army, her most loyal supporter and her best friend. She’s just discovered her lover is her nephew and also has a greater claim to the throne to her through birth, not after having done much to seek it. She fought against the Night King, sustaining massive losses, but only gets a small nod of recognition while Jon is hailed as a King.
Tell me anyone who wouldn’t be pissed in that situation. But as soon as she starts showing any anger, any determination to get the job she set out to get done, sorted - then it seems that the ‘madness’ of her Targaryen blood must be showing. It’s a little like Captain Marvel constantly being told to suppress her emotions. Once again, we seem to be in a story thread that shows that angry, strong, courageous and emotionally resilient women are a threat to the patriarchy. So let’s start talking treason…
I loved the Arya arc and, while yes, it was saddening that she rejected Gendry - I was personally thrilled!! Arya, throughout, has shown that she doesn’t need male affirmation, help or recognition to get along. She makes her way on her own terms. She’d said right from the beginning that she would be no man’s Lady, and she’s stayed true to that. If that now gets her killed, I’m going to be pretty stabby about it.
Sansa on the other hand, is a character that really seems to resonate. I agree, I think she’s strong, quick, clever and cold…really cold. She’s basically a female version of Little Finger now. But, as she says, if all the torture, abuse, beatings and horror hadn’t happened to her, she’d still be that meek ‘little bird’ from the beginning. Both she and Arya have had to go through hell and back to become the strong women they are now. They’ve been shaped and moulded by characters such as Joffrey, Ramsey and Little Finger or the Hound and Jaqen. Both characters are now almost emotionless…they’ve had the fear, anger and happiness pretty much beaten and trained out of them. Is that what it takes to make a successful female character get ahead in a man’s world?
I think that’s why so many women connect to Dany more than any of the other characters. She’s not afraid to show her emotions. She gets angry. She grieves. She throws things and burns things and maybe goes a little too far sometimes. We all do. She’s human. Not insane. So I shall be watching with a lot of interest to see what happens to her in the end. If Jon Snow ends up on the throne because Dany is either killed off or gives it up because she’s too ‘mad’ - I will admit now that it’ll be a pretty disappointing outcome and I may have to let loose on my own emotions.
I figure that the best outcome will be that nobody gets the bloody throne. At least both Tyrion and Varys can agree - the vast majority of people don’t care who sits on it as long as they have enough food and peace. So let’s melt the damn thing down. No one gets to reign - because you could have a few years of peace with one ruler and then the whole game starts again when the next incumbent ends up sitting there. Ideally, I’d like to see a democratic union of rulers, the small council. Everyone with equal powers, representative of the seven kingdoms and no one ring to rule them, and at least half of them women! But we shall see…