Monday, May 13, 2013

game of thrones, sans politics

Over the weekend I fell down the internet reading rabbit hole. You know the one, I'm sure. You click on a link, then another and just keep following. Suddenly there are so many open that you're going to break your browser (if you're like me), or else you have gone so hopelessly forward that the back button has become useless. A quick wonder about what the first race that Rossi won in MotoGP ends up with reading about rebellion in Tang dynasty China, or deepwater fish whose mouths fuse closed in adulthood.

What I found down at the bottom of this particular hole was a natty argument about Game of Thrones and whether it's feminist or not. There are some interesting points on both sides, though I find myself quite strongly thinking that no, the show's not feminist (nor are the books). There are some kick ass female characters, but feminism this is not. I'm also bewildered as to why this even comes up as a discussion, really.

It's entertainment, and it's not meant to make a political statement. This is pure fiction, perhaps somewhat inspired by medieval history, certainly informed by the fantastical but in no way influenced by modern political movements and leanings. It's a story that's told in context, and the context of Westeros bears an awfully large resemblance to feudal England. This story isn't written in a society where women's voices count for a lot. Yes, women jockey for power and influence, but their spheres of influence are limited and there is much less scope to flex their muscles than the men in their lives.

In a lot of ways the books at least are fairly open about the constrictions placed by society on women. Sansa and Arya serve as a stark (pun not intended by now deemed hilarious) constrast between the stereotypical good noble lady and the wild woman who wants to experience life outside the limitations of a lady. In King's Landing Cersei and Margaery juggle the influence offered them, influence given only by their relationship to the king. There are women who push themselves outside the bounds of their gender - Daenerys and Brienne are two notables - but this isn't necessarily something that's easy or brings success. Or even that they encourage.

None of that is feminist. Nor should it be. It's entertainment. It's not about a political message or about what women are capable of. I don't look at my entertainment to always carry a political message. It's not like motorcycle racing or quilting says anything about the worth of women in society. Why should we expect that of a tv show?

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