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[Jon Snow] “It’s her decision, she’s our queen.”
[Varys] “MEN decide where power resides, whether or not they know it.”
This quote from the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones (Season 5, Episode 8) broke my heart like so much dragon glass.
My imagined structure of this whole universe – one where a long, thoughtful storytelling arc reveals the eventual Breaking of the Wheel resulting in women, slaves, and others from the fringes of society ruling justly and powerfully – was just that: IMAGINED.
It’s not just the fact that Dany went bananas, and it doesn’t matter if her fiery holocaust on King’s Landing was earned or not. The problem is that right now, in this moment, we’re seeing a woman who had experience leading people, who had beauty and smarts and had made it through hardship that would fell a lesser person, descend into hysterics.
She is, ultimately, ruled by her emotions. And worse, she can’t be trusted.
When the giant’s milk hits the fan, the world needs men, as Verys tells us in his oh-so-unsubtle way.
It’s sloppy and lazy writing, as many have pointed out, but it’s also dangerously echoing messages women are hearing right now on the national stage:
Women can’t be trusted with their own bodies, so the government must regulate them. Women can’t be trusted with leadership, so the media should ignore them. Women can’t be trusted with power, so they must be coined “crooked” over and over, even years after they’ve left the national stage.
That GOT would suddenly be in league with, and not anathema to, these messages smarts for myriad reasons, not least because there was a moment when this show was seemingly all about the women – them taking back power, breaking their chains, saying heck no to the “way things were done.”
You may have hated Cerci, but damn she was large and in charge.
Now, these same women are emotional and hysterical. Just look at Sir Brianne of Tarth who has honor and nobility and can fight anyone to the death, but who is reduced to sobbing because of a boy. Cerci whimpers into the shirt of that same boy as she’s being crushed.
Because as it turns out, the show was never about ANY woman (or, heck, any marginalized person) having power.
What feels like whiplash is just another day in the patriarchy.
The books were written by a white dude, the show was written and produced by white dudes, and I feel foolish for ever hoping that these people were woke enough to put NOT A WHITE DUDE on the throne. But that’s exactly what will happen.
A book that was all about Breaking the Wheel has perpetuated that same wheel by reinforcing messages that keep women hysterical, emotional, and ultimately far away from achieving any real power.
Shame, GOT. Shame.
Photo credits: HBO