Game of Thrones Finally Gives the Narrative Back to its Female Characters

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Photo credit: Helen Sloan for HBO

Editor’s note: Spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones!

Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are no strangers to controversy — especially when it comes to the popular show’s female characters.

Back in season 4, they faced backlash when Jaime Lannister rapes his sister and lover Cersai right next to their dead son, Joffrey. Despite Cersai’s vocal resistance to Jaime’s advances, he forces himself on top of her and has sex with her. Audiences were upset with the depiction, especially since the scene was clearly consensual in the books. To many viewers, it felt gratuitous, unnecessary, and inconsistent with the redemptive story arc of Jaime’s character. However, according to the episode’s director, Alex Graves, while the scene was meant to disturb, it was not meant to depict rape. Because the season was already wrapped and edited by the time the controversy emerged, there was no acknowledgment in the story from either character that the rape had taken place. It was as though it never even happened.

In season 5, the showrunners faced further backlash when Sansa Stark is brutally raped by her cruel and sadistic husband, Ramsay Bolton. While the rape did not happen on-camera, the audience experiences it through the eyes, and tears, of Theon Greyjoy, who was essentially raised as Sansa’s brother. Viewers were upset that the rape felt unnecessary, and that Theon’s pain was front and center, rather than Sansa’s.

More generally, the show has received plenty of criticism for its abundance of female nudity and lack of male nudity. The female nudity is received by many viewers as gratuitous; obviously meant to cater to the male gaze. Titillation geared towards female viewers has been much harder to come by. The one time the series showed a male member, it was flaccid and wart-covered — not to mention, it was part of a comedic scene. One of the show’s female stars, Emilia Clarke (who plays Daenerys Targaryen, also known as “Dany”), has even called for nudity equality between female and male stars on the show.

All of these controversies, taken together, suggest that the showrunners — both of which are men — have probably not thought very seriously about a woman’s point of view. They have also often scoffed at criticisms aimed towards them. Upset female viewers are generally urged to acknowledge that these scenes depict reality, which has often been a brutal and unrelenting place for women. As if we aren’t already aware of that. Continue reading

Why I Hid Over 100 People from my Facebook Newsfeed

I’ve never been one to defriend people on Facebook. It seems so final; so cruel. “You didn’t make the cut.” Although, every couple of months, I see someone on my feed dramatically announcing that it’s time to cut back: “Spring cleaning,” they say. “Time to get rid of the deadweight,” they say. “See those of you who matter on the other side!”

All of this hoopla is inevitably followed up with a “Congratulations for still being my Facebook friend!” a day later, as though we were ever really worried. As though we feel deserving of a congratulations for still having the privilege of being included in their apparently miserable newsfeed. (Side note: I can’t help but notice that these same people, going off about being SO-DONE-WASTING-THEIR-TIME-WITH-THE-BULLSHIT, are also most likely to post meaningless drivel. And partake in vaguebooking — they LOVE them some vaguebooking, right? Sigh. I digress.)

Anyway, I’ve always seen defriending is a callous act. Like saying, “I no longer choose to be connected with you, even in a superficial way.” Because, let’s face it, most of our Facebook friendships are NOT meaningful. We’re holding on to a memory of a person that maybe once meant something to us, or maybe didn’t. We’re being polite. We’re “friends” because we’re obligated to be; there’s a social contract in place. We’re “friends” because we grew up together. We worked together. We played basketball together. We had peripheral friend groups in college and kind of hated each other, but didn’t want our beef to blow up into a massive group-fued. Plus, hello, stalking?!

We all have our reasons.

Perhaps I don’t defriend as a policy because the ONE time I ever did, that person happened to see me out running errands and MOTHERFUCKING CONFRONTED ME. I kid you not. And speaking of social contracts, somebody needs to tell homegirl that when you’re defriended and you see that person out on the streets, you save face by deflecting eye contact and getting the fuck out of there! Have some pride, woman! Instead, Ms. Ex-Friend waltzed right up to me and said, “why did you defriend me on Facebook? You have like, over 1,000 friends. Do you hate me that much?”

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that, while I don’t hate her as a person, I do hate everything she stands for. And seeing her spew not-so-thinly-veiled hate on my feed is just not what I’m about. It kills my morning mojo and leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I didn’t tell her this, of course, because SOME OF US actually abide by unwritten social contracts ahemmm. I apologized to her, and said it must have been a clerical error. Thankfully, she didn’t know what that meant (and good thing too, because frankly, that was a terrible excuse), and she blindly accepted my half-assed excuse.

That day, I vowed to stop defriending people, because I couldn’t stand the fact that I had hurt someone with the stupid click of a button.

Also, because I’m a sucker with too many feels, who honestly believes that people can change any time. I always, always see the best in people, and think their brightest day is just around the corner. “Maybe she’ll come to her senses and realize that racism is a real thing that she’s perpetuating and stop posting these hateful memes.” (Yes. I truly believe this after school special shit. Who’s the REAL idiot in the scenario? I’ll let you be the judge.)

After that confrontation, I tightened up my privacy settings, created a “limited profile” group, wherein folks couldn’t see my statuses and I couldn’t see their stupidity clogging up my feed. It was a win-win.

But I’ve been noticing recently that my feed is a verifiable circus of idiocy, ignorance, misogyny, racism, and overall hate. And the worst part is that all of it is masked in “humor.” And I’m using “humor” very lightly, because what these people post is generally not fucking funny at all. Inappropriate, offensive and subversive views CAN be funny, sure. But if you’re going to express those views, they better be hella funny. Louis CK-level funny. Pineapple Express-level funny. Exposing-a-layer-of-irony-I-never-even-knew-existed-level funny.

Instead, I get THIS on my newsfeed:

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Good one! Domestic violence is SUPER funny.
When do you take this show on the road?!

Not to mention the truly trashy drama/airing of dirty laundry, the bitching, the vaguebooking, the bragging, the image crafting, the ignorant political posts, the oversharing. The memes. Every 5 minutes with the memes.

And the worst part is that I found myself swept up in it all. I became part of their drama. I was gossiping to my real life friends (mutual “friends,” of course) about my fake Facebook friends. Like THAT was deserving of our time. It became like my own sick reality TV show. I couldn’t stand these people, but I couldn’t look away.

Last week, I was talking with an old, dear friend about my fascination/anger with so many on my newsfeed. I finally acknowledged, for the first time, how much time and energy I was wasting paying attention to and arguing with these people, or… abstaining from arguing with them (which for me, can sometimes be even more of an energy suck). Then, my friend said the words that changed my view of my Facebook feed forever:

“The worst part is that every bit of energy spent on them is taking away from other things.”

Other things, like: being a good friend/family member, socializing, reading, exercising, playing banjo, writing, making the most of the incredible city around me,  or even just… I don’t know, actually relaxing without mindlessly scrolling.

I was letting their hate and their unhappiness (or excessive happiness) with their own lives drag mine down.

I hid over 100 people from my feed the next day. I’m continuing to hide folks on a daily basis. What’s left? A much shorter, and more pleasant newsfeed. My sanity. Just a little more time in my day.

I’m happier and less stressed, and those who truly matter to me (or at the very least, are a value-add to my Newsfeed) are still there. And I’m rooting for them, for real. Plus, I don’t feel like I’m missing one thing.

I highly recommend lightening your load by hiding, not defriending, the deadweight on your feed. Your body and mind will both thank you as your cortisol levels simmer down, and you remind yourself of what’s important.

And on the off chance one of those hidden should ever confront you for “never liking their posts” on the ‘book?

There’s always the old clerical error excuse.