Wednesday, July 6, 2016

GAME OF THRONES: Women Are The Blood Of The Dragon

When I was a child, I remember the few female TV characters I had to look up to. She-Ra was the first female cartoon hero I admired, but she was always outshone by He-Man. (Clearly, the people who named cartoon characters weren't big on creativity in the 80's.) As I grew older, shows like Boy Meets World and Buffy the Vampire Slayer introduced me to female characters like Topanga and Buffy. However, upon revisiting those shows, I see that both of those strong female characters were portrayed, at least in some part, as social outcasts. They were weird. People avoided them and didn't know how to react to them. According to my limited memory of my childhood, TV didn't offer much in the way of strong, badass, female lead characters. If you wanted someone to be a badass, they had to be a boy.

Raising my daughter now, I know that girls are not limited to weird, quirky, social outcasts as female TV role models. Now, there are more strong female characters to serve as role models than I remember having when I was a child. One show that is leading in strong female characters is Game of Thrones.
If you've been living under a rock the last six years and have never seen the show (or been living under a rock the last two decades and not read the books), here is a brief overview. There is one throne (called the Iron Throne) and seven kingdoms. Each kingdom claims the throne. They fight over this throne. Any character you become emotionally attached to will die a horrible death. You will curse your TV at least once an episode. Every week you will swear that you'll "never watch this stupid fucking show again," yet you will return for more again and again. Even after the season ends, you will talk about it and read about it ad nauseam, or maybe that's just me.

I could write forever about the many strong female characters that George R. R. Martin has created and David Benioff and D. B. Weiss (the showrunners) have brought to life, but I am going to focus on just a handful here. NOTE: There may be spoilers ahead. I will try to limit them, but if you aren't caught up on the show or books, then you may need to avoid the internet completely.

The Starks are one of the first families introduced in the books and the show. From episode one, we are drawn into their family dynamic and view them as protagonists. The two Stark daughters, Arya and Sansa, have grown considerably over each season. They have taught me that you sometimes have to go through hell to become a greater, stronger version of yourself. Life may look completely bleak and hopeless, but it is possible to survive horrible and tragic experiences. And if you're lucky, life will allow you to be there when karma rears her vengeful head.

Two other female characters, Brienne of Tarth, a warrior, and Lyanna Mormont, head of House Mormont, teach us that loyalty is a sign of strength and power. While different physically and emotionally, these characters are strikingly similar in their approach to people. Loyalty may be hard to maintain, especially in the face of betrayal, but remaining loyal to your convictions is far more admirable than being fickle. At the mere age of 10 years old, Lyanna Mormont leads a room full of men to back another character. She refuses to let her young age, or her gender, stop her from doing her job.

Normally, I wouldn't put Daenerys Targaryen (Dany) and Cersei Lannister in the same sentence, let alone the same category, but when it comes to their portrayal as strong female TV role models, I believe they belong together. Both of them refuse to take anyone else's shit, whether from religious leaders, elders, significant others, or anyone society says they should be submissive to. They are leaders in every sense of the word. People are drawn to them. They command the attention of everyone in their presence. Dany scorches an entire room of men who dare to decide her fate and then walks through the flames to display her power. Cersei destroys a building, killing her daughter-in-law in the process, to prove that she is more powerful than the High Sparrow and his minions. These women are the embodiment of power. Seeing Cersei sit on the Iron Throne shows us how truly powerful women are. Watching Dany and her dragons destroy the fleets of the Masters conveys a message of how dominant women can be. Seeing Dany and Yara Greyjoy join hands and forces shows us the badass abilities women have when they combine their powers.

My daughter is still too young to understand Game of Thrones. Much of the content is not appropriate for a toddler, but the strength and power of the women who drive the plot is exactly what she needs to see and be exposed to. She needs to learn now how capable she is of doing whatever she wants to do, regardless of what society dictates to her. She needs to learn now that she is stronger than society wants her to think she is. She needs to learn now that being a woman is an asset, not a liability. She isn't weird, quirky, or strange. She is not to be ignored. She is strong. She is capable. She is "the blood of the dragon," and a force to be reckoned with. 

I just hope the world is ready for her.

1 comment:

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