Warning: This article is dark and full of Game of Thrones spoilers.
As Daenerys Targaryen strays ever farther from her ideals, she, sadly, makes Jon Snow seem like the calm, rational choice for the Iron Throne. But no matter how you currently feel about Dany, it was hard not to share in her frustration as Jon seemingly stumbles into positions of power for which Dany herself had to fight so hard. While Game of Thrones has shown us the progression of many female characters in strong, adult women in positions of leadership, the fact remains that their world is a patriarchy — a fact we might forget with the recent focus on women like Yara Greyjoy, Lyanna Mormont, Brienne of Tarth and the Stark sisters. This week, however, the following key moments reminded us that women remain at a disadvantage they can never quite escape.
When Tormund Recounts Jon Snow’s Heroics
This is the moment where Dany sits back and grits her teeth, with great difficulty. Dany has been bending over backwards to gain the allegiance of the north, leading a toast to Arya and granting Gendry a title that night alone. During the post-Battle of Winterfell celebrations, however, Tormund and the other Northerners have eyes only for Jon Snow, as he recounts how crazy and heroic Jon was to jump on the back of a dragon and risk his life befriending his enemies. Of course, Dany has performed similar heroic feats — and more! — but we have a hard time picturing Tormund fawning over her for it.
daenerys: first dragon rider in centuries and rides the biggest one to battle
jon: rides a dragon and goes to one battle with him
people: ONLY A KING WOULD TO THAT YOURE SO BRAVE
— ju (@wildtargaryen) May 6, 2019
When Gendry Proposes To Arya
We can chalk this up to benevolent sexism, but it still speaks volumes to the different expectations for women and men in the world of Game of Thrones. Gendry is sincere and modest in his proposal, admitting he has no idea what he’s doing — but the tipping point comes when he asks Arya to join him as “Lady of Storm’s End.” Arya soon sets him straight, but shouldn’t Gendry have realized how absurd the question was as soon as it left his mouth? Arya just killed the Night King and saved the entire human race, for God’s sake — does he really think she wants to retire her sword and bear his children?
When Varys Lists Jon’s Gender As An Asset
In the most outright moment of sexism, Varys addresses Jon Snow’s gender directly when debating his and Dany’s qualifications for the Iron Throne. In listing the qualities that might make Jon Snow a good candidate to lead, Varys includes that “he’s a man,” which would be helpful in winning over the lords of Westeros. Whether this speaks to Varys’ sexism specifically, or just reminds us that the male leaders of Westeros are more likely to respond to a king, it’s frankly exhausting. Dany has been fighting for years to solidify her claim to the throne — Jon has one rumor fly around about his parentage, and everyone’s acting downright relieved that a male alternative is available.
THIS EPISODE COULDNT HAVE BEEN MORE SEXIST IF IT TRIED. I MEAN VARYS EVEN TOLD TYRION THAT ONE OF THE REASONS JON WOULD MAKE A BETTER LEADER IS BC HES A MAN AND PEOPLE RESPECT THAT MORE. #gameofthrones
— emily 🌼 (@priceofmxgic) May 6, 2019
When Cersei Lies To Euron About Her Child
This one’s a bit of a stretch, since Cersei voluntarily lying to Euron isn’t a sexist act on its own. But the circumstances that require Cersei to tell this lie are certainly sexist, and worth consideration. First, there’s the fact that Cersei has been forced to sleep with Euron in exchange for his help in the war — an issue we can’t see a male ruler encountering. Cersei is also well aware that her claim to the throne will be less questioned with a man at her side, which informs her choice to promise Euron her hand in marriage, and then lead him to believe they’re having a child together. Of all people, Cersei would rule alone if she could: so you have to know there are strong sexist overtones in King’s Landing for her to concede sharing power with this man.