Over its years-long run, feminists have frequently lauded “Game of Thrones” for its portrayal of strong female characters, but all that good will is rapidly evaporating in the show’s final season. The most recent episode, “The Last of the Starks,” has particularly disappointed a number of feminist critics, and even some celebrities, who feel that the male producers of the show have “betrayed” the female leads.
“Once you could have argued it was a feminist show, but now GoT is letting down its female characters in a shockingly tone deaf way – from ‘unstable’ Daenerys to weeping Brienne,” writes Abigail Chandler in an op-ed for The Guardian published Wednesday.
“Until recently, you could make the argument that Game of Thrones was a stealthily feminist show,” Chandler writes. “In its early years it might have lured in the typical male fantasy crowd with sex, violence and alpha-male characters like Ned and Robb Stark, Robert Baratheon and Jaime Lannister, but before you knew it a woman was on the Iron Throne, her main challenger was also a woman, and Westeros was stuffed full of female assassins, knights, wily politicos and Dame Diana Rigg. … Which is why it’s so frustrating to see the show slip back into its old ways in this final season. Coming off the back of The Long Night’s excellent twist ending – where Arya, rather than the expected hero Jon Snow, killed the Night King – the latest episode is especially disappointing. So many of the show’s strongest female characters were undermined by showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss, who also wrote this episode.”
Along with Daenerys’ character descending into self-pity and paranoia and the formerly invulnerable Brienne weeping over Jaime leaving her, feminist critics have been particularly upset about Sansa’s unsettling comments about rape. In a piece for Slate, Inkoo Kang summarizes the response to Sansa’s minimization of being raped by Ramsay Bolton during a conversation with the Hound:
[T]he scene that seemed to draw the most audience ire was the one in which Sansa, during a conversation with the Hound, seemed to imply that she had come to view her history of being raped and manipulated by men as an integral part of her personal growth: “Without Littlefinger and Ramsay and the rest, I would have stayed a little bird all my life.” (Unhelpfully, the Hound characterized her experience as being “broken in rough,” as if her childhood naïveté necessitated a violent domestication.) Recalling the disastrous execution of Sansa’s rape by Ramsay Bolton in Season 5—in which her sexual torture by her new husband was framed as a terrifying lesson for Theon, who was forced to witness the assault—the oldest surviving Stark’s apparent dispassion toward her trauma seemed to be yet another example of the HBO drama’s continued minimization of the consequences of rape, as well as a step backward for a show that in the past few seasons had been increasingly embracing female strength.
Kang also notes feminist fans’ “uproar over the treatment of its female characters,” including “Brienne’s pleading with Jaime to stay by her side after their relationship turned briefly sexual” and “the ‘fridging’ of Missandei, whose death was particularly disappointing to viewers who’d grown attached to the show’s sole prominent woman of color.”
Among others, the abrupt murder of Missandei prompted a response from “Wrinkle In Time” director Ava Duvernay, who tweeted: “So… the one and only sister on the whole epic, years-long series? That’s what you wanna do? Okay.”
But the celebrity who’s reaction to Episode 4 has gotten the most attention is Jessica Chastain, who, like Slate, condemned HBO for using rape as “a tool to make a character stronger.”
“Rape is not a tool to make a character stronger,” Chastain tweeted. “A woman doesn’t need to be victimized in order to become a butterfly. The #littlebird was always a Phoenix. Her prevailing strength is solely because of her. And her alone.”
As The Daily Wire pointed out previously, the final season of “Game of Thrones” hasn’t just disappointed feminists, it’s “literally shattered” the supposed global warming theme for many climate change alarmists.