By Samidha Satapathy
In Season 6 Episode 4 of the Game of Thrones TV series, there are four brother-sister scenes, and in each, the sister is the strong one. The grand finale is Daenerys Targareyn literally burning down the patriarchy. From a scene where the chiefs sit judgement on her, tell her she has no voice, and then threaten her with rape, rape, and more rape (right down to ‘our horses will then rape what’s left of you’), to her setting them all on fire and emerging to a horde of people kneeling before her naked, proud body. Her haughty expression never changes. And she didn’t even need the dragons.
Remember the Da Vinci Code, and all those conspiracy theories about how the feminine had been deliberately cast down? It’s rare to have a naked female body on screen and have it symbolize power, strength, authority, and dare we say, a new order. This is still Game of Thrones, the same show which has had women being molested, humiliated, beaten, raped, paraded naked and thrown shit at. In enough detail to make it very clear that the display is about entertainment.
Class, race, disability, gender – Game of Thrones doesn’t pull any punches. Take the Tyrion-Grey Worm-Missandei scene. To watch Missandei’s face as she lets Tyrion ‘sweeten’ the peace deal he has brokered with the masters, by offering them women as gifts, women who look a lot like Missandei. To watch Grey Worm explain to Tyrion why there are no deals with the masters: because they do not see human beings, just a weapon and a whore. To watch Tyrion’s exasperation with heroic idealism he knows a dwarf can never afford to believe in, no matter how grand it sounds.
Game of Thrones is complicated. A nation kneeling before a white woman’s magic tricks, right after she has cut some of their (masculine) heads off. And shown the path of liberation to its women. Tyrion – a stranger and a white man of Westeros – is the absent Queen’s voice. Not Grey Worm, and not Missandei. This, despite the people trusting the former slaves, and wanting assurance from them. A white queen leaves a white man behind in charge, making decisions the people she ‘freed’ do not like at all.
Meanwhile, Cersei is forced to explain political strategy through gritted teeth to a child, a task that grows harder as Tommen grows older. The power dynamic between then is on its way to change, all because one has a penis, and the other never did.
No pity for Cersei though, because she’s about to spit abuses like “peasant with a begging bowl”, and unite the high-borns in King’s Landing against a certain champion of the poor who delivers a very convincing speech about the meaninglessness of high-born life. It’s ruined though, by all the humiliation and torture dished out to the high born women and gay men. Come on.
If Margaery is the strong one, Sansa still needs an Ashoka-in-the-making Jon to reclaim Winterfell. Asha gets away with calling Theon a “spoilt little cunt”, but he’s no longer a ‘man’. Daenerys gets away with verbally demolishing the egos of the most arrogant men east of Westeros with her ‘little men who don’t deserve to rule’ speech, but she’s white.
Let’s just chalk all this down to a win-win for white feminism gone wild.
Samidha Satpathy is an Assistant Editor at Silverscreen.in