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brashcandy

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XV

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Brashcandy, I just had to say, I love everything you said but in particular this:

Sandor’s insistent “look at me” also gives Sansa the control of the look in this moment. He is the one asking for recognition and acceptance, offering himself up as the object of desire for her contemplation. What happens next illustrates the inherently problematic nature of the gaze for adequately attending to both male and female sensibilities. When Sansa closes her eyes (as he pulls her closer), Sandor takes it as a rejection, and reacts violently.

She closes her eyes. When I read this in the book, I remembered this line:

The Hound’s scarred face was hard to read. He took a long moment to consider. “Why not? I have no lands nor wife to forsake, and who’d care if I did?” The burned side of his mouth twisted.

This is as close to that dream (and I do think it's something he wants) as he's ever allowed himself to get, the way he feels about Sansa.

What she has used as her means of knowing and communicating her feelings for Sandor is the sense of touch; from her active and instinctive reaching out to him in moments of empathy and compassion, to the sensation of comfort and protection in wearing his cloak. There can be little wonder then that after the violent threat has passed, Sansa proceeds to touch Sandor…

This is the moment the scene has been building up to. And it's not only the outright touches, when she runs into him, when she backs into him, she's initiating contact, too. Sometimes connections happen on an instinctual level. Here's an example, but there are more:

Joffrey reached for her, and Sansa cringed away from him, backing into the Hound.

Tyrion took off his clothes before he went to the bed, so what Sansa is looking at here is a naked Sandor, heightening the dream’s eroticism. I agree with this reading, but want to take it a little further: the important point related to this is not only that Sansa is seeing a naked Sandor in her dream, but that she is seeing at all. We’ve established that the gaze connotes desire, but in the real life version of this night, Sansa’s eyes are tightly closed when Tyrion gets into bed with her... Compare this to dream above where we see Sansa’s eyes are fully open, able to identify the man with the scar on one side of his face as he climbs into the bed.

She's looking at him in the dream.

The point being that it's not the scar she's supposed to see, but the man behind it. It's a bit of a paradox in that it's only by being held up as object that he can become a subject. I'm not suggesting that this is at all a conscious thought process on his part, but it may help us to understand why he (ironically) can bear the burden of objectification despite having such a terrible facial disfigurement.

Perfect.

About the scars, this is interesting, too:

“I wiped my arse with your paper. I want the gold.”

“We don’t have it. I sent it south with Greenbeard and the Huntsman, to buy grain and seed across the Mander.”

“To feed all them whose crops you burned,” said Gendry.

“Is that the tale, now?” Sandor Clegane laughed again. “As it happens, that’s just what I meant to do with it. Feed a bunch of ugly peasants and their poxy whelps.”

“You’re lying,” said Gendry.

“The boy has a mouth on him, I see. Why believe them and not me? Couldn’t be my face, could it?

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I'm glad you liked it Le Cygne :) And I do think the accidental run-ins between them are very important, Backing into a person could symbolize that they have your back, you can rely on them, which I think is very true in their case. Also again, it de-emphasizes the reliance on looking and suggests that they're both going to be in for a surprise concerning the development of their relationship.

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While I don't consider myself an expert on feminism by any means and like Starkalways I never took any formal feminist classes, thinking about it I realize that this idea of "feminism" and the role of women in a given society has always been something I have been interested in. I was an English Literature major in college because I loved to read, and I ended up concentrating mostly in British Victorian novels. I read Pride and Prejudice at least two times in college and many more since then, and never tire of reading it. In fact, I love Jane Austen so much and have gone on to read all her novels, but the point is, what I love so much about Austen is how she deals with the woman's very restricted role in that society yet how they can triumph over it. Now, some might think that they don't really triumph over anything as, after all, all her heroines end up happily married to the man they fall in love with and end up in a higher social station than where they began. How is that breaking out of the role that a woman must make herself available for being married and hopefully married well (as in to someone with lots of wealth), which is a very restrictive, patriarchal notion? How is that a "feminist" statement? All of her heroines are very feminine as well. None are looking to go off and try manly pursuits after all. But I view them all as feminine yet strong feminist characters also because in the end none of them compromises in what she is looking for in love and marriage.

Exactly! I don't know much about feminism either but I think that some people might think feminism=women not doing anything stereotypically thought of as feminine ever instead of women doing what they want and being equal to men. Perhaps those people might not like Sansa's character much if in the end she still ends up married to someone she loves. However, I personally think that would be a great way for Sansa's story to end. After all she's been through she deserves some happiness and since she's a hopeless romantic what better way for her to get it than to marry someone she loves. I also hope that she will reunite with the rest of her family since that would make her happy as well.

Very well said Elba, and I think the crucial point you made is that women don't have to suddenly throw over the institution of marriage or do away with their sexuality and femininity in order to feel empowered or affect change. I think that's why I appreciated Angela Carter's fairy tale revisions, because she too leaves the old structures in place, but she transforms the interior dynamics so much that it looks like a whole new building. She wasn't afraid to show that women could sometimes be just as perverse and "wicked" as men, and be actually interested in pursuing sexual relations or power. That's why I'm heartened by characters like Dany and Asha in this series. Yes, Martin may sometimes include some fairly stereotypical representations of his female characters, but I like that he's showing that women do have unruly desires which aren't always going to be directed towards the conventional hero, and they struggle just like any other man who's trying to create change and progress. I've often felt like Dany in particular suffers from the societal constructions of womanhood, where many readers simply don't know how to read her. She has access to a masculine form of power in her dragons, whilst embodying traditional feminine attributes. And I'm not suggesting that (all) those who critique Dany are doing so from a sexist standpoint, but I do believe we have to break down our assumptions concerning female behaviour, and the implicit double standards that inform our arguments concerning their male counterparts. And to realise that women are often laboring under considerably more stringent expectations given the patriarchal society we live in.

I agree. If women want to be sexual and want to get married then fine. I definitely agree about Dany. However I think from what I've seen is that people who dislike Dany seem to think she's a bad leader and possibly a bad person although I think that some people could definitely criticize her for being overly sexual or having her dragons while still being very feminine.

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I agree. If women want to be sexual and want to get married then fine. I definitely agree about Dany. However I think from what I've seen is that people who dislike Dany seem to think she's a bad leader and possibly a bad person although I think that some people could definitely criticize her for being overly sexual or having her dragons while still being very feminine.

Don't want to get too off topic here, but I've definitely seen Dany criticized for being sexual. It's absolutely ridiculous. I also think that the fact that she wields a masculine form of power while remaining feminine makes some people uncomfortable. Note - this is not referring to ALL people who have a problem with Dany, but some. There are plenty of arguments against Dany that have nothing to do with her sexuality or femininity, of course, and these more logical arguments seem to constitute the majority (at least from what I've seen).

I wonder if Sansa had a more overt sexuality, like Dany's - would people be more threatened by her? Though I've seen some comments (not just on here) that seem pretty damned threatened by Sansa, anyway.

If this makes no sense, I just had a few glasses of wine. Hope it's coherent. ;)

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Don't want to get too off topic here, but I've definitely seen Dany criticized for being sexual. It's absolutely ridiculous. I also think that the fact that she wields a masculine form of power while remaining feminine makes some people uncomfortable. Note - this is not referring to ALL people who have a problem with Dany, but some. There are plenty of arguments against Dany that have nothing to do with her sexuality or femininity, of course, and these more logical arguments seem to constitute the majority (at least from what I've seen).

I wonder if Sansa had a more overt sexuality, like Dany's - would people be more threatened by her? Though I've seen some comments (not just on here) that seem pretty damned threatened by Sansa, anyway.

If this makes no sense, I just had a few glasses of wine. Hope it's coherent. ;)

I see her being criticized because people dont' like her romantic choice, not for "being sexual". When I say that Tyrion is an idiot for trying to keep Shae, it's not about his sexuality, is about... well... me not liking Shae. It's not an gender issue.And people are "threatened" by Daenerys? Seriously?!?!

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For the sake of the thread's collective blood pressure, could people please resist derailing this wonderful thread into a Dany thread? Pretty please?

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I see her being criticized because people dont' like her romantic choice, not for "being sexual". When I say that Tyrion is an idiot for trying to keep Shae, it's not about his sexuality, is about... well... me not liking Shae. It's not an gender issue.And people are "threatened" by Daenerys? Seriously?!?!

I don't want to continue derailing the thread, but yes, she has been called a whore before.

Sorry, but we'd better get back to Sansa. ;)

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Exactly! I don't know much about feminism either but I think that some people might think feminism=women not doing anything stereotypically thought of as feminine ever instead of women doing what they want and being equal to men. Perhaps those people might not like Sansa's character much if in the end she still ends up married to someone she loves. However, I personally think that would be a great way for Sansa's story to end. After all she's been through she deserves some happiness and since she's a hopeless romantic what better way for her to get it than to marry someone she loves. I also hope that she will reunite with the rest of her family since that would make her happy as well.

Yes, I think this is a very important point. Sansa deserves freedom - true freedom - to choose as she pleases. She deserves choice and she deserves happiness, like so many other characters in this series. I know some people don't want Sansa to end up married for differing reasons, but I think that the most important thing is that she make the choice herself. She should be able to choose what makes her happy, whether this is marriage or something different entirely. Freedom to choose. This is what I hope for Sansa.

ETA: and yes, I may be being a bit naive :(

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If I don't like a character, it's about the choices they've made, not about sex.

As a woman, I can't stand to hear another woman brag about what a badass she is, (usually about the job), and then turn around when she's failed, and tried to blame that failure on men, society, etc., everyone but herself for whatever job-related, poor decision, or call she's made.

Being "equal" means being equally accountable.

I've taken exception to Sansas earlier decisions and choices, but if she learns wisdom from her mistakes and takes accountability for them, thats more important to her as a person in terms of her development than if she upsets the "feminist sisterhood" by wanting to love, marry, have lots of babies and play with puppies.

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Yes, I think this is a very important point. Sansa deserves freedom - true freedom - to choose as she pleases. She deserves choice and she deserves happiness, like so many other characters in this series. I know some people don't want Sansa to end up married for differing reasons, but I think that the most important thing is that she make the choice herself. She should be able to choose what makes her happy, whether this is marriage or something different entirely. Freedom to choose. This is what I hope for Sansa.

ETA: and yes, I may be being a bit naive :(

Well, its pretty rare for highborn women to choose their spouse... But if Sansa were to choose, who do you think she would pick? I sincerely have no idead, she doesn't think too much about romance right now.

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Well, its pretty rare for highborn women to choose their spouse... But if Sansa were to choose, who do you think she would pick? I sincerely have no idead, she doesn't think too much about romance right now.

Yes, it is rare, so like I said - I may be being naive. ;) It's just a wish I have for her, who knows how it will turn out. And I honestly don't know. Like you said, she is not thinking of romance as much as she used to - though she still does. She also still thinks of the Hound, but I don't know how that will turn out at all. Right now she seems focused on surviving.

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Being "equal" means being equally accountable.

That is one definition, but it's hardly the end all and be all of equality, and it gives a faulty image of it. Even Simone de Beauvoir in 1949 expanded upon this to incorporate other facets of human life than being "equal in front of the law" or "equal responsibility". To view equality, gender issues etc. like this gives a very narrow focus, and ignores a lot of facets research has turned up as important.

I'd also say that this is not the place to discuss misinformation about feminism, since there are a lot of good and useful resources online where knowledge about these things can be found. Feminism 101 is one such place, where there are also references for further reading for those interested.

I've taken exception to Sansas earlier decisions and choices, but if she learns wisdom from her mistakes and takes accountability for them, thats more important to her as a person in terms of her development than if she upsets the "feminist sisterhood" by wanting to love, marry, have lots of babies and play with puppies.

Again, this shows a complete misunderstanding of what feminism is about. It's misinformation, pure and simple. Feminism is not about denying women happiness, it's about agency, about choice, about being informed. But yes, sisterhood is and should be important,. And there is a shorthand saying for that which is pretty useful: I don't need to blow out another woman's candle to make mine burn brighter.

In this case, Sansa wanted to marry Joffrey and be his queen, but I think we can safely say she was not making an informed choice. Hence in doing so she was perpetuating the flawed view of society she got taught by Septa Mordane etc. She was after the proper role in an idealised version of reality that was not true.

Now though, she wants to be loved for herself, and her wishes for a family is about belonging, about safety, about having a home again. The end result, formally, may be the same (married with children) but the reasons and the way there are completely different. Sansa is more able, through her character development and through growing up, to make an independent, informed decision, making it more meaningful. There is a huge difference between marrying because you have been taught this is what life is all about and to marry and have children because it is what you really want to do.

Lastly, it makes me extremely sad when women mock "feminist sisterhood" since women coming together and actually discussing subjects releveant to them is somehow looked down upon as silly, unimportant and worthy of mockery.

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I wonder if Sansa had a more overt sexuality, like Dany's - would people be more threatened by her? Though I've seen some comments (not just on here) that seem pretty damned threatened by Sansa, anyway.

IMHO this is a valid subject for discussion, especially since a common objection we see against interpreting Sansa's thoughts and dreams at the Eyrie as incorporating a lot of sexual and erotic elements is that female sexuality while growing up should be subdued, or even censored. Unless it's non threatening and easily ridiculed, like the Justin Bieber like fascination with Loras and Joffrey.

It's worth noticing as well that Sansa will be around Myranda Royce and Mya Stone, who are both older and more experienced, and Myranda has certainly established herself as someone who is openly interested in sex and enjoys being "wicked". As far as I know, this is the first encounter Sansa has had with a woman who has these types of views. It could lead to her having a more overt type of sexuality, or at least as in the case of Dany, that she actually thinks about sex more often. (I don't think Dany has a particularly overt sexuality if compared to other POVs like for instance Tyrion, or even Asha or Arianne. Hers seem far more a quest for closeness and intimacy, although she does not seem to achieve it very well.)

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Well, its pretty rare for highborn women to choose their spouse... But if Sansa were to choose, who do you think she would pick? I sincerely have no idead, she doesn't think too much about romance right now.

Yes, it is rare, so like I said - I may be being naive. ;) It's just a wish I have for her, who knows how it will turn out. And I honestly don't know. Like you said, she is not thinking of romance as much as she used to - though she still does. She also still thinks of the Hound, but I don't know how that will turn out at all. Right now she seems focused on surviving.

I don't think you are being naive at all, quite the contrary. I should note that this does not necessarily mean we will see how her development in this regard will completely play out by the end of the series. But Sansa's passage to womanhood, when it comes to love and sexuality is rather unconventional. Once she leaves WF, there is very little that is normal or standard when it comes to childhood or adolescence.

LS pointed out that we will see her interact with both Mya and Randa more in Winds which will likely cause further impact to her character development. But, it's been happening since the beginning of the series. She starts out with typical crushes when it comes to both Joffrey and Loras. It's very much along the lines of what we see with Justin Bieber, totally conventional and normal. But, she loses her Septa and her mother before the end of Game. In Clash, her primary mother figure is Cersei (for good or ill) who has also chosen an unconventional path. Cersei chose the father of her children and decided to find intimacy and love outside of her marriage. Her statements to Sansa on what it is to be a woman and a queen are very different than what Sansa believes. Can you imagine Septa "All Men are Beautiful" Mordane telling Sansa that being a queen is to be ridden like a horse or that childbirth is a messy affair? Between Cersei's comments during the BBW and Sandor, Sansa's idealistic notions of chivalry, romance, and knighthood are slowly wearing away.

Fast forward to Storm and the trend continues. First, the Tyrells attempt to use her for her claim. Her thoughts regarding the marriage fascinate me. She romanticizes Highgarden with the puppies and pleasure barges yet it's balanced with some realism too as she decides that she would "make" Willas love her. She would be a good wife to him and give Willas sons. Sansa is much closer to realizing what a marriage for a person of her status really is. It's different that her feelings towards Joffrey, her handsome golden prince.

Then, the game changing event - she's forced to marry Tyrion for her claim. The marriage is when Sansa realizes she is nothing more than a piece of meat, no one cares about her as a person. The knowledge is devastating and painful but it also puts her on a path to consider what she really wants and to challenge marriage or her duties as a wife. Sansa does not give Tyrion what he wants, she refuses any emotional connection and we get one of Sansa's most important moments in the entire series. She chooses to reject Septa Mordane's comments on men and with that her role as a dutiful wife and her responsibility to love or honor her husband. Sansa has come almost a complete 180 from where she started.

After she escapes KL, Sansa is then exposed to her Lysa who is vocal about her wants and desires, who screams her pleasure during sex, who demands to marry on the Fingers. She has power her to choose her own path, a big contrast to Sansa's marriage. Also on the Fingers, she sees women choosing their own partners and she has that dream about Sandor in the marriage bed. The important thing is she connects the song from Sandor with sex here too.

This isn't normal at all. If Sansa had stayed at WF, she'd have an arranged marriage with time to know her suitor, supervised visits and a wedding night where she would have happily done her duty. We would never have seen her reject Septa Mordane or question marriage or express her desire to be loved for herself. Quite the opposite.

And I have more thoughts here but I have to go. Grr.......

That is one definition, but it's hardly the end all and be all of equality, and it gives a faulty image of it. Even Simone de Beauvoir in 1949 expanded upon this to incorporate other facets of human life than being "equal in front of the law" or "equal responsibility". To view equality, gender issues etc. like this gives a very narrow focus, and ignores a lot of facets research has turned up as important.

<snip>

I can only conclude that there is some mysterious law of the universe that prevents you from writing a post that I disagree with. So, yeah, I agree.

edits for spelling..

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After she escapes KL, Sansa is then exposed to her Lysa who is vocal about her wants and desires, who screams her pleasure during sex, who demands to marry on the Fingers. She has power her to choose her own path, a big contrast to Sansa's marriage. Also on the Fingers, she sees women choosing their own partners and she has that dream about Sandor in the marriage bed. The important thing is she connects the song from Sandor with sex here too.

She also sees how vulnerable women can be in their marriages, and (based on LF's final words to Lysa) that one should aim for a relationship based on genuine love or as close to it as one can get. Fooling yourself that you can change a person or make them love you only has disastrous consequences for you at the end of the day.

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She also sees how vulnerable women can be in their marriages, and (based on LF's final words to Lysa) that one should aim for a relationship based on genuine love or as close to it as one can get. Fooling yourself that you can change a person or make them love you only has disastrous consequences for you at the end of the day.

(First of all, Brash and Milady of York, thank you for your erudite and thought-provoking posts! Been so busy lately that I had no time to do anything but lurk, mostly!)

I always say that the only time you can change someone is when they're in diapers. :P In the Westerosi world (outside of Dorne and possibly the Crannogmen), most women seem to have little choice but to accept what they are given as far as husbands are concerned. It's true that Cersei found a way to exercise her own agency when married to a husband she disliked - albeit a rather twisted form of agency. But she had no choice but to marry Robert. And as far as "changing" Robert was concerned, Lyanna Stark, the love of his life, said that she doubted that Robert would give up his womanizing ways after marrying her. For what it's worth, I think a Lyanna/Robert marriage would have been happier than Robert's to Cersei, with enough goodwill on both sides to avoid domestic violence and bitterness. I think Robert would have probably kept his womanizing more on the down-low and also probably wouldn't have drunk as much either.

However, looking at it from Cersei's POV, if she had married Rhaegar, would she have turned into the bitter and cruel woman she became? The Lannisters seem to run to a certain narcissism and ill-temper, but I think that Cersei wouldn't have quite gone as far down the road to bitterness that she did. Cersei and Robert, in other words, dragged one another down.

Catelyn was able to "make Ned love her" because Ned was a kind and decent man. Both of them wanted their marriage to work. I don't think Sansa could ever have made Joffrey love her. :( Willas I don't know, because we know next to nothing about him, but if he was a decent person it could have worked.

Just like marriage in the real Middle Ages, success depended largely on how much goodwill the husband had toward his wife, since he was the one with the power.

Lysa's downfall was that she was pretty well living in her own little world (symbolized by the isolation and emptiness of the Eyrie) by the time Petyr came to marry her. I'm unconvinced that Petyr set out to marry and then murder her right from the beginning; that murder seems to have been done on impulse (and to keep Lysa from killing Sansa!). Petyr was opportunistic and Lysa just plain out of touch with any kind of reality plus she had carried a torch for Petyr since her girlhood. I think the marriage would have gone downhill fast in any case because Petyr never loved Lysa and I don't think she could have made him love her; whether it would have ended messily as it did I do not know.

The messages that Sansa was getting during her formative years about being able to make herself a storybook marriage just by being pretty and charming were coming from her mother and her septa. Catelyn herself was happily married and seemed to take it for granted that Sansa would be, too. Septa Mordane was a nun, and for Pete's sake, what does a nun know about marriage?

Sansa got a dose of marriage reality in a twisted way with Cersei. And, lest we forget, she also got an alternative view of partnership from Ellaria Sand. Bastard, paramour, and probably not even following conventional religion, Ellaria is far different from the women Sansa has met so far. She's also the mother of daughters only, for which neither Oberyn nor anyone else seems to give her grief over. Ellaria gives Sansa a fleeting glimpse into a culture where women have value and sexual freedom. (There was an interview with GRRM, I don't have the link but I do believe it's in the So Spake Martin archives, where GRRM says that Dornish women can have paramours too.)

I mentioned the Crannogman culture as one where women very possibly are quite equal, if Meera Reed is a typical example. However, Sansa has never met Meera and may never do so - more's the pity.

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Just some thoughts on LF...

Sorry for the disorganized post. :blushing: And I apologize for it being more about LF than Sansa!

I agree with both of you that Sansa has certain inspirational qualities. Also, I think it is ironic that LF is so determined to claim Sansa when he's actually blind to who she is and what she wants and needs. Just further proof that (to him) she is something to possess, not someone to truly love.

Not to speak of the fact that he has SERIOUSLY underestimated Sansa. I think she is brilliant. and i also think we are going to see her take power like we've never seen it before, in her personal relations and in a political arena. and Uncat better eviscerate LF. she and lf have the attached karma to come together.

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