My Buddy Thinks Game of Thrones is Sexist Against Men, How About You?

So, I’ve FINALLY gotten on the Game of Thrones bandwagon and want to talk about it.

I’d heard all about how awesome it is from friends whose opinions I respect, so about six months ago, I gave it a whirl. I knew the show was violent, but figured I could handle it since I liked The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad.

frozengirl.jpg
This doesn’t bode well

Still, the pilot ended up being more than I could stomach. When a show starts off with frozen children, you know you’ve got a real challenge in store.

But I still wasn’t prepared for all the sexual exploitation and violence toward animals and kids. I don’t want to post spoilers, but trust me, it’s nothing pretty.

My husband and I decided to give it one more try, however, since people keep going on about it. This time we watched a few episodes and before we knew it, we were hooked.

Why? Because it’s a great story with well-developed characters in a fascinating make-believe world. Even if I have to occasionally avert my eyes while watching it.

Thing is, I’m far from the only one having a rough time with its content. The show has been repeatedly slammed for gratuitous sexual violence and its brutalization of women.

A friend of mine recently reacted to all this criticism by posting a long rant about it on Facebook. He’s a bright guy who isn’t shy about sharing opinions I don’t always agree with, but that always make me think…

Like this newest one. His counter-rant pointed out that while, yes, GoT undeniably includes loads of violence against female characters, there is EVEN MORE violence against men. Men are routinely tortured, humiliated, and killed in the goriest of ways… yet no one seems to care about that.

He makes an interesting point. One about which I have mixed feelings.

maincharactersOn the one hand, GOT‘s brutalization of men means women aren’t being singled out. The show depicts a world that is nasty in general. It’s not as if all the guys are all having a wonderful time while the women get crushed. It’s a dog-eat-dog place where “you win or you die”  and female players just aren’t being handed a pass.

On the other, I don’t think it’s true that no one cares about tortured male characters. We’re upset by it too, especially when we like the guys being brutalized.

But I do think it’s fair to say there’s been more public uproar against female exploitation. The question then becomes, is that wrong?

Whether of not these attitudes are more sexist than fair,  I can’t shake the sense that they’re natural. Even inborn.

Why? Because most people respect basic notions of fair play.

We all have the capacity for violence, however repressed. We HAVE to, out of our self-preserving instincts from a centuries-long race for survival, if nothing else. Few of us, if it came down to it, wouldn’t pull a trigger to save our own lives or those of the people we love.

But we call that self-defense, a form of violence we find acceptable. Even necessary and praise-worthy at times.

Most of us are okay with self-defense, but only sadists feel good about the unwarranted exploitation of defenseless innocents. That’s considered bullying, which violates the rules of the game.

So, violence is okay when the cause is just and the victim is fairly matched. We feel better, for example, about two guys squaring off than we do warriors beating up blind, unarmed children.

By this rationale, it makes sense to be less horrified by whatever happens to strong men, armed and warrior-trained, who have voluntarily stepped into battle. They hold most of the power, anyway, and seemingly have the most to gain.

Whether or not it’s fair, women seem relatively innocent and unfairly matched.  Most women in the show aren’t fighters, aren’t armed, and are used as political pawns against their will (at least at first). Whereas the men fight other men in self-defense or to gain territory, they exploit women to appease their fetishes, a cause neither essential nor sympathetic.

sansa.jpgNow, I’m not saying there aren’t evil female characters in the show. Far from it, but that doesn’t overrule our basic notions of fair play. We’re more horrified when women are hurt for the same reasons we’re more horrified when children and animals are hurt: there’s a sense they’re unlucky innocents, unfairly outmatched.

A telling comparison might be made with Tyrion the dwarf, a male character physically limited by his size. He’s such a likable guy, though, that it’s hard to decide whether his smallness earns him any extra sympathy points.

What do you think? Do you find the greater public uproar about female violence sexist, or do you think it’s natural?

It’s an interesting debate, either way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21 Comments

  1. I never put that much thought into. I do recall thinking a lot of the women were very manipulative though. All in all I love the show. But I still need to see a few more seasons of it. I will say I love walking dead more. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, there’s definitely some nasty women on the show. The Queen is horrible! And she’s not the only one…

      It’s more a question of why people have bigger issues with seeing women hurt in general, whether it’s reasonable… I’ve been thinking about it because friends have brought up the argument.

      A bunch of the women on GoT seem like innocent bystanders but I’m guessing the queen will end up getting hers, and that won’t bother me, lol

      I’m only on season 2 though, so I don’t know yet. It’s a great show but I also like WD better (at least so far)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’d love to take credit for that angle, but just thought it was a complicated debate without clear answers… But I’ll have to incorporate more of that. The world’s a complicated place 🙂

      Like

      1. Yeah, it sure is. I have a hard time taking a big stand on a controversial issue because I don’t do enough research for most things, and if I got in a debate, I wouldn’t feel armed enough to defend a point. So, good for you!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I was on the fence about it myself.

      It IS a really violent show with many vile, disturbing scenes. Brutal from the start.

      On the other hand, it’s also an extremely compelling story with complicated characters. Even reading arguments about the show can be interesting.

      Also, some of the women develop into very powerful players, which is satisfying. Still, it can be hard to watch.

      I’d advise you to give it a few episodes before you decide, if you decide to try it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ahhh there it sounds interesting that if women roles are powerful.. Like you said I will give it a try for few episodes. Thank you for sharing your opinion 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. While all the people in the show are subjected to violence and brutality, there are many strong-minded, independent characters who deal with the world tactfully. The beauty of the show lies in the fact that it presents the harsh realities of life along with ways to stay resolved and forge ahead- be it for men or women..!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Very true. Plus, the show is making me grateful to be alive today. It may be dramatic, but people used to be tortured and executed all the time at the whim of unstable kings/emperors, or for political purposes. And peasants starved to death in the streets.

      It really puts a bad traffic jam into perspective 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! I think it’s pretty balanced with the who the violence is against. I was actually thinking that as the show continues, the females get stronger. While the bad stuff can be super hard to take, it’s effective in making me root for the better guys harder.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! It’s a little off-topic, but I have a hard time sticking to my niche. Life is just more complicated than that 🙂

      I think it’s pretty balanced too, in that no one gets off easy. And you’re spot-on about the strong women. I was horrified by what happened to Daenerys in the pilot, but she turned it around soon after that.

      Course, some people are arguing about being tired of seeing female characters get stronger through trauma, but that’s kinda what drama is all about IMHO.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. GoT is my favorite show ever. So I don’t mind if it’s off topic at all 🙂

        Hmmm I haven’t ready that about strength through trauma. I can see both sides but agree with you, that’s how all characters grow in drama.

        Liked by 1 person

            1. Not to me, I LOVE ALL OF THOSE SHOWS!

              There’s also Fear the Walking Dead, which is alright but I love TWD so much better (my husband disagrees).

              Have you been watching Better Call Saul? Saul and Mike were my favorite BB characters, so I love it. It’s very different from BB but also great in its own way, IMO 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

              1. We haven’t gotten into Fear the Walking Dead yet. We tend to bing watch a lot of things when they are a bit older.

                Yes! We love Better Call Saul. The seasons have seemed too short. I just want them to keep going.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. It took me a while to get into FTWD, but it got more interesting in its second season.

                  I love BCS! We binged on Breaking Bad when it was already over so we didn’t have to wait. It’s so much harder when you’re actually up to speed and have to wait out the week 🙂

                  Liked by 1 person

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