Game of Thrones Sexism – Part 1

As the first official post of the new year, I’m going to go back to talk about what is apparently a very interesting thing to my readers: sexism. This time, it’s in the very popular TV series, Games of Thrones (yes, I’m about three years late). I’m still new at this blog thing, which is a funny thing for me to say considering I spend a good amount of time during my working life coaching clients on how to write posts. But still, it’s true; I don’t really know exactly what about me or my writing is going to be interesting to the types of people who wind up here.

As a preface, I’d like to say that most of what I’m writing about when it comes to feminism, sexism, and pop-culture is researched. I get made fun of because I can’t put actor’s names to faces, I can’t remember what they’ve been in, and I can barely recall what happened in an episode or season of something (even when I enjoy/obsess over it). I like to think that this is benefiting me by freeing up brain capacity to be used elsewhere, but deep down I know the truth of it: my memory sucks.

Preface 2: I have watched episode 1 in it’s entirety and parts the last 3 or 4 episodes from the most recently aired season (three?). I haven’t read any of the books. Still, when I wrote about Mass Effect’s sexism I had only played half a day’s worth of game, so previous experience leads me to believe that it doesn’t really matter. With that, let’s get to it.

Game of Thrones Sexism.

For those of you who actually follow this blog via RSS or by simply typing in the URL, and thus have not seen the other search results for searches like “game of thrones sexism”, let me first say that this is actually a topic that has been covered elsewhere. This short piece by Maris Kreizman is a good place to start. To get another angle, there’s this article by Alison Herman which happens to be in direct response to what Maris wrote. There’s also this post by THE OPINIONESS OF THE WORLD (how cool is that?) that I think (especially if you also read the comments) really sets the stage. Should I feel weird about all three of those blog posts picturing the character who gets raped (by the man she learns to love!!1) in the first season? Moving on. The Opinioness mentions two things I find intriguing.

  • The Bechdel Test (a fun test to run on your favorite movies or shows)
  • TV Tropes (something I had known about and then forgotten about and now know about again)

I think the biggest thing for me after watching episode one is the creepy, worrying way the show fetishizes rape. The scene in question is the one where this ripped barbarian dude takes the “wife” someone sold to him by force. I don’t get that people can watch this scene and not freak out about it. Maybe it’s that it portrays how hard medieval life was. But wait, isn’t this a fantasy show? It’s not historically accurate, so what’s the point? If there are zombies and dragons why have the same tired tropes that depict rape graphically and from the male gaze? Yes, I realize there’s a tomboy and a badass short-haired lady knight, but being sexist isn’t about weighting a scale to equality. No amount of strong female characters is going to offset blatant sexism.

  1. I love this topic! I’m going to read all the links you posted later. For now, just wanted to mention that the consummation of Daenerys’ marriage is MUCH less rapey in the books. The TV series is… meh. I found myself becoming disinterested midway through the second season and stopped watching. As usual, the books are better.

  2. There are instances of male rape, torture and death by the hands of both men and women. There are tropes of female characters gaining political power and outranking men in skills of battle.

    It may not be medieval historical, but this is a fantasy and all its world’s cultures heavily derived from ancient real life cultures as G.R. has said many times was his inspiration. Also you saw one episode where Daenerys is a meak little princess girl sold sadly against her will to a barbarian rapist. Thats sad and in a game of equality women take a loss, but this isnt games of equality or respect. ITS GAME OF THRONES. Both sexes will do anything to gain, maintain and execute their power. You only did see the first episode, but making such a claim when theres season 4 on the way and the leading cast in power are WOMEN, looks silly to fans of the series who encourage others to watch and enjoy the show. By the way I was not impressed with Game of Thrones until the third episode and I now know alot of its mythology.

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