Game of Thrones has had its share of detractors as of late, mainly for its use — or overuse — of female nudity. But what these critics seem to overlook is that Game of Thrones is one of the most overtly feminist shows on television right now. While there are many examples of strong female characters, there is no one quite like Daenerys Targaryen.
She who began the series as a timid sister being sold into an arranged marriage has become the leading contender for the crown of the seven kingdoms and protector of the realm. So how did she do it? And what can we mere mortals learn from Daenerys Stormborn, the last of the Dragons? Here are some life lessons every girl can take from Daenerys Targaryen.
1. Pursue your dreams no matter how out of reach they seem
Daenerys has overcome a lot in her pursuit of her dreams — the death of her unborn son, having to kill her husband, multiple assassination attempts — yet she has never faltered in her beliefs. In fact, she so believes in her vision that she brought a species back from the brink of extinction. So your dreams may not be taking back the throne from which you’re mad father was deposed, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth following. Maybe just try not to slaughter hoards of enemies in doing so.
2. Don’t let any man push you around
An abusive brother, a savage husband — Daenerys has dealt with a great deal from the males in her life. She takes most of it in stride, but lay a hand on her and you will regret it. There are too many examples of women putting up with abusive behavior, we should all take a page from Daenerys’ book. She is control of her domain, her body; any man who threatens that risks the wrath of Daenerys and her followers. We need not be so savage, but the message for women is universal.
3. Stand up for the rights of all
Daenerys has a singular goal, the Iron Throne, but she doesn’t let this blind her to the plight of others. Whether it be protecting her Dothraki brethren from racist attitudes or freeing a slaves, she always seems to stand up for those deemed unworthy. All while fighting her own battles with sexism, by the way. Women need to follow Daenerys' example and not let our fight for equality blind us to the issues affecting other disenfranchised groups. It’s called intersectionality; Daenerys lives by it and we should too.
4. Pick your battles
While she fights for what she believes in, Daenerys doesn’t get bogged down in unimportant squabbles. Not every person who crosses her ends up the victim of the Dragon barbecue, only the extremely heinous ones. She knows how to play the game, maintaining respect while also avoiding the trope of the overly defensive woman writers seem to be so fond of. She teaches us that we can’t react to every slight with the power of a Dragon, that sometimes our wrath is best left for another day when it can truly have the intended effect.
5. Don’t be afraid to get a little dirty
Now I’m not saying we all have to eat the heart of a horse to get ahead in life, but Daenerys teaches us that getting what you want means getting your hands dirty sometimes. She embraces the messier aspects of life and is stronger for it. Women get the reputation that we’re afraid of the more dubious aspects of getting ahead, a reputation that comes at a cost. While I don’t think it’s true, we can all stand to get eat a heart in the metaphorical sense because the only person who doesn’t need to be a little more badass is the mother of Dragons herself.
6. Lead by inspiring not terrifying
Any man can lead an army of slaves with fear and violence. Daenerys leads her army with sheer awesomeness. Her men respect her, will lay down their lives to ensure she gets her crown. I know we don’t all have an army of unsullied to lead, but most of us strive to be the master of something, whether it be at work or at home. Fear may be easy, but those who respect us are more likely to go the extra mile, if not die for us. Though hopefully, none of us will ever require the heads of our enemies as proof.