In a recent interview with the Telegraph UK, George R.R. Martin, the creator of the fantasy series A Song of Fire and Ice, now adapted into the hit series Game of Thrones, dropped the “f-bomb”: he called himself a “feminist at heart.”
This should not be surprising, given the vast array of strong, female characters that empower women in the books and on the show. Even the prostitutes are three-dimensional characters, instead of flat, purely objectified women that fall into the trap of stereotypical female archetypes. However, some would beg to differ that the show empowers women due to the excessive female nudity in the show, parodied hilariously by an SNL skit where a 13-year-old boy directs the scenes in the show to maximize the amount of boobs in each shot. However, despite the sexualization of women within Game of Thrones, the show is still empowering to women.
“To me being a feminist is about treating men and women the same,” Martin says. “I regard men and women as all human — yes there are differences, but many of those differences are created by the culture that we live in, whether it’s the medieval culture of Westeros, or 21st century western culture.”
And Martin clearly carries this feminist philosophy through the characterization of his female characters. Within his diverse and complex cast of multi-dimensional females, Martin has shown that even the most sexualized and objectified woman in society is still human, and can be strong.
Despite abuse from her fiancé, King Joffrey, Sansa Stark remains a strong young woman who refuses to allow her situation to break her down. Even as a prostitute, Shae commands the respect of those around her and refuses to allow her sexualization to allow others to bring her down. Arya Stark is an 8-year-old tomboy who desperately wants to learn how to sword fight, and (SPOILER ALERT) after her father’s execution, runs away and disguises herself as a boy to keep herself safe. And Daenerys Targaryen, my favorite character on the show, rose above abuse from her brother and the initial fear of her brash husband to become a strong queen of the Dothraki tribe, and later the “Mother of Dragons,” commanding respect and fear from her followers and her enemies.
Most importantly, the women in Game of Thrones are subjected to the various abuses of misogyny, but they are not victims: they persevere, and they survive. They are confronted with the sexism of the age in many different ways, and some face adversity due to their gender more than others. Despite this, they refuse to give into their abusers and instead continue to show mental (and even physical) strength that should be admired by anyone, regardless of gender. And even though the excessive showcasing of boobs shows how these women are sexualized within the context of the show, they refuse to let that sexuality define and objectify them.
It should not be surprising at all that Martin self-identifies as a feminist. He predicts that women make up more than half of his fan base, and for good reason. The women in his books and on the adapted TV series empower female fans, and serve as a reminder of how strong women can be.