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Arya Nymeria Stark

Gender Roles

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So I've started thinking recently about a couple of courses I've taken in school recently and I feel like gender plays an important role in the series. One thing that's quite obvious, is that Westeros is a male-dominant society. HOWEVER, I've picked up on a gender-related theme that GRRM continues to touch on. Not only is there a power struggle for who should rule the Iron Throne, but I think there is also a power struggle between men and women in the series.

FIRST...

After Khal Drogo dies, Daenerys Targaryen claims her roll as Khalisi, especially after her dragons hatch. Since Viserys died in Vaes Dothrak, she has been determined to build up an army to help her re-take Westeros.

SECOND...

While Sansa Stark is doing everything she can to grow into everything a high-born lady should be, Arya would rather spend time with her brothers and just be "one of the guys". After everything that happens in ASOS, she finds passage to Braavos and begins training under the Faceless Men, who apparently do not seem to care that she's a girl.

THIRD...

As much as I hate her, Cersei Lannister is also a leading woman in GRRM's Battle of the Sexes. One critical source of power is, yeah, the fact that she's a Lannister, and another is that she's Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. While like I said earlier, this is a male-dominant society, after Robert dies and Joffrey declares himself King, Cersei is still Joff's mother and I believe she holds the most power in the Small Council.

OH, there's also Melisandre who clearly influences Stanis' decisions, and Catelyn who pleads to Walder Frey (AGOT) to allow Robb's army to cross the river.

Who else do y'all think plays a key role on the side of women in this series?

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The Queen of Thorns.

She's old, and she's wise. She knows her way - and she's full of plans. Like marrying Sansa to Willas.

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Good point, thanks. I completely forgot about her, although so far I think she's only been a minor character with regard to the series as a whole. We've only seen her a couple of times in comparison to the women I mentioned, but like I said, you did make a good point.

The list so far:

Daenerys Targaryen

Arya Stark

Cersei Lannister

Catelyn Stark

Melisandre

Olenna Redwyne (aka. the Queen of Thorns)

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You don't think that Sansa being pressured into five arranged marriages and how she by AFFC has realised she is nothing but a piece of meat that is going to be offered to the highest bidder is a rather feminist theme? In fact, we see Sansa in AGOT toeing society's line, while in ASOS she is decided to go tell Lysa she will refuse to marry Sweetrobin, and in AFFC she thinks to herself she wants to be loved for herself.

That, to me, puts the finger on one of the basic difficulties women in Westeros face: the fact that their bodies and lives are bartered away for alliances and that their new husband will be both their lord and master, over whom they have no power, but owe complete allegiance.

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It's probably worth nothing that pretty much all the women who actually assert power over the course of the series - Cersei, Lysa, Cat, Daenerys, Olenna - are widows. While their husbands are alive, they don't really accomplish much, but once they're dead they're able to manipulate things through their children.

The only notable exception I can think of is Asha, because she's treated as a surrogate son and ends up occupying the positions her brothers "should" have held, but she still fails to get herself elected, largely, it seems, because she's a woman.

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It's probably worth nothing that pretty much all the women who actually assert power over the course of the series - Cersei, Lysa, Cat, Daenerys, Olenna - are widows. While their husbands are alive, they don't really accomplish much, but once they're dead they're able to manipulate things through their children.

The only notable exception I can think of is Asha, because she's treated as a surrogate son and ends up occupying the positions her brothers "should" have held, but she still fails to get herself elected, largely, it seems, because she's a woman.

Brienne, too, as she's the heir to Tarth.

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They're very minor characters, but Harma Dog's Head and Morna White Mask are prominent leaders among the Free Folk, and this doesn't seem to be held unusual by anyone. And don't forget the Mormont women.

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