From boobs, blood and bros to allegory of female resistance


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Game of Thrones premiered back in 2011, with a stellar cast of heroic men and naked, helpless women. Six years later, as season seven starts, something strange has happened.

The heroic men of GoT are dead, mutilated or broken, and women have donned all the clothes and authority.

Trailer 2: Game of Thrones season 7

Wintery battles abound in Game of Thrones season 7.

Every throne but one is cradling a woman’s behind, and is all the better for it.

The show once celebrated (and scorned) for its gratuitous boobs and blood has become a story of women reclaiming power from men who failed to wield it. The only thing missing from that joy is the quivering of the internet’s neckbeard as all the fanboys realise that, well actually, their favourite hour of objectification and rape fantasies has become an allegory of superior female strength and the failure of toxic masculinity.

The male characters who dominated the show in the beginning are now little better than a supporting cast to the women who have won all the games of male power. And you have to wonder at the absence of petulant howling echoing up from the internet’s basement, given the storm of wailing when Star Wars cast a woman in a leading role (Carrie Fisher was allowed because metal bikini) and Star Trek (Nichelle Nichols, IDK, maybe OK because ’60s hippies?) and women daring to go out and bust some ghosts.

Let’s have a quick look at what happened to all the female characters over the last six years.

Daenerys Targaryen, who started as the perfect naked ingénue, is now everything a powerful man should be. Her lust for power is tempered by mercy and desire for justice. She is surrounded by loyal and faithful advisors willing to lay down their lives for her right to rule. Success in battle has given her wealth, lovers she takes and discards at will, and armies ready to die at her command.

She has everything her brother wanted but was not capable of achieving, everything Robb Stark tried to attain and failed, everything Tywin Lannister plotted to do and died in the attempt. All those men who tried and failed, all the men who thought they could defeat her and were proven utterly wrong. Why is Daenerys, more powerful than Rey, more complex than Diana Prince, more developed than Natasha Romanoff, not hated by the fanboys who are so threatened by the success of fictional women?

Cersei Lannister, in a move Lady Macbeth could only envy, turned grief over the death of her children into rage and seated herself on the Iron Throne. This, by the way, after she was responsible for literally blowing up a religion of old white men who said it was the will of the gods that women should be shamed for the sin of being female.

Cersei, oddly sympathetic despite her malevolent destruction of her enemies, also started as a helpless female character, subject to the power of her husband and father. Now she does as she pleases, needing no more reason than that it makes her feel good. The denizens of the MRA chatrooms are not yet rising up in anger against her, but maybe that’s because they haven’t yet realised she’s so much more than their best MILF fantasy.

Meanwhile fantasy’s most irritating teenager, Sansa Stark, is an adult now. Her intelligence and strategy saved Jon Snow’s life and the battle he almost lost when male pride and lust for vengeance stripped him of sense and thought. She’s allowed him to take the title of King in the North – for now – but even Jon Snow knows something of how he has taken what is rightfully hers.

Ellaria Sand (yet another woman who took a throne from a man who couldn’t hold it) joined Olenna Tyrell in an outstandingly enjoyable scene to plot their revenge and offer support to the Mother of Dragons in her quest for power.

Arya Stark, who started as the adorable tomboy with more than a little of the manic pixie dream girl to her, is now the smiling assassin. Her dreams of violent vengeance and skills as a murderer may not be laudable in anything other than a fictional character, but they’re certainly not the traditional accomplishments of a princess.

Brianne of Tarth and Yara Greyjoy, who so gloriously eschew prettiness in favour of staunch dominance over the men in their world, join all the other women in the show who succeed where the men who opposed them failed so miserably.

And what of the leading men left alive? Other than Jon Snow, they are all wounded and diminished, and there are very few who have not taken up willing servitude to the women who defeated them.

Theon Greyjoy, mutilated and broken, now lives only to serve the sister he knows is better suited to rule than him.

Jaime Lannister, now one-handed and ruled only by love, has nothing left but the lover, sister and queen he follows and obeys without question.

Tyrion Lannister, one TV’s most entertaining characters, has never wielded traditional male power. But the ultimate cynic has finally found something to believe in and laid down all his wisdom and insight at the feet of a woman who glories in her own ambition and unquestioning faith in her right to rule.

Bran Stark is yet another powerful male character who has no traditional male power. His is the power of dreams and insights and he depends on Meera Reed for protection from the physical world.

Stereotypical masculinity has only Jon Snow left, the last noble warrior standing up for men who hate to think they might be subject to women’s authority. Of the leading men left alive, only Jon Snow is still wielding a sword and occupying a throne, albeit one he knows rightfully belongs to his sister. And Sansa is growing up fast.

It’s difficult to know if the DBs (showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff) are playing it for laughs, or are as oblivious to the realities of the show as all the other fanboys working out their mummy issues in watching the male characters’ slow slide into subservience to matriarchy.

There’s not many episodes left, and maybe they will disappoint us by meting out proper punishment to all those women who’ve dared to step outside their assigned roles. But when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. And at this stage, it’s mostly the men who’ve died.

Can’t wait to see what the new season brings.

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