Warning: This article may contain minor spoilers for anyone that hasn’t seen the first eleven episodes of Game of Thrones.
The concept of Game of Thrones being feminist never occurred to me until I watched a feature on the series in the build up to season two. After hearing that many people had been referring to it as that, I started to wonder if they were right. I’d always dismissed the concept because of how conniving and backstabbing the women on the show are, but now I’m beginning to re-evaluate what a feminist TV show is.
Since Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon were killed, the two main families in the show are matriarchal. Catelyn Stark is fiercely over protective of her children, and seeks to find the truth about how her second youngest son, Bran, fell from a window and ended up paralysed from the legs down. She goes against the wishes of her – male – advisors and follows her husband to King’s Landing, where she sees him for the final time.
Ned is beheaded by Joffrey Baratheon, who ascends to the throne after his father is killed by a boar. Acting as his advisor, is his mother, Cersei. In the words of her brother, her one redeeming quality is that she cares for her family, and he’s right. She cares deeply for her son, despite the fact that everyone else would like to punch him. She is, by far, the most scheming of the characters, too – she manipulates those around her into doing her will, and allows nobody to walk over her, not even her husband, despite the somewhat medieval setting.
Daenerys Targaryen was used as a doormat for her brother her whole life, until she was sold to the Dothrakis to give her brother access to their army. However, his plan backfires, and in a forced marriage, Dany finds strength in her new husband and followers. She turns into a leader, with her own mind and her own heart, finally coming out from underneath her brother’s shadow. Out of all of the characters, she has grown the most form the beginning, starting off as shy and withdrawn, but during the course of the season she grows in strength, both physically and mentally, and realises that she’s just as capable of ruling as her brother, if not more so.
Then there’s Ayria. She may not be very old, but she refuses to succumb to the traditional role that women hold of wife and childbearer, insisting on instead being a warrior. She wants to learn the art of sword fighting, and be able to use it. She doesn’t want to hide who she is, or what she wants, and she doesn’t want to do what other people tell her, regardless of who it is that’s giving her orders. She may be young, but she acts more mature than most of the other characters in the show.
After thinking about it, I can understand why people would call the show feminist. Many of the things that have happened on the show have been triggered by the actions of the female characters. It’s also the female characters that are in control of most of the others around them, whether they – or the people that they’re controlling – realise it. Therefore, whether the character’s actions are for good or evil, they are all strong, independent women in control of their own lives, which is the perfect example of feminism.