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In 'Game of Thrones' Season 7, Women Are Too Emotional to Rule

Without any scenes of rape or attempted rape, the show struggles to move the storylines forward for its leading women characters.

by Sara David
Sep 7 2017, 1:38pm

Photo by Helen Sloan

Broadly counted every instance of rape, murder, and nudity in "Game of Thrones." An introduction to this data and methodology can be read here, along with the total numbers across all seasons.

You can find breakdowns by season here:
Index
Season 1 | Season 2 | Season 3 | Season 4 | Season 5 | Season 6 | Season 7

Infographic by Kyle Kirkup

Notable deaths: Tyene Sand, Olenna, Randall, Dickon, Thoros of Myr
Notable rape scenes: None

In Season 7, everything is hastily being shoved into place. It's the bloodiest season, and those numbers don't even include the uncountable hordes of armies burned by dragons or deaths of animals. This season does have the highest numbers of women's onscreen deaths, with 22 of the 113 total. There were also no scenes of rape or attempted rape. As much as Benioff and Weiss want to pat themselves on the back for writing impressive female characters brought to life by genius actors, this season is driving one point home: The show believes women are too emotional to rule.

Following many male characters to the end of Season 7, we see either redemption arcs or inversions of conventional fantasy tropes. The Hound learns to feel guilt and gets a little religious, burying skeletons of peasants who died because he had robbed them years (seasons) ago. The sellsword Bronn is now a knight who fights dragons and risks his life to save his friends (even if he claims again and again to be motivated by profit). The arrogant Jaime Lannister was humbled after losing his sword hand, and is being set up to confront a choice between the only "real" thing in the world to him—his codependent, twincest romance with his wicked queen sister—and the good of all humans in Westeros facing ultimate evil and death.

Try to track the show's women characters, though, and it's all over the place.

Brienne is consistent, but that may also be because she's written like a man, which is actually the point of her story: that she's a play on the classic chivalric knight character simply because she is, against custom, a woman. They can write this story well, but it's a fairly simplistic application of feminism. Like Arya, Brienne seems to bristle at terms like "lady" and can seem to look down on conventional activities and symbols associated with women. Almost all the other women characters appear to lose their momentum and sometimes their importance (like the now-dead Sand Snakes or Meera Reed and Melisandre, who both went "home").

Up until Season 7, we witnessed the deaths of many men who were then finally succeeded by a number of cool female rulers. The reigns of some of these women were brief failures (Ellaria, Yara, Olenna), and most of the others remaining see their characters sabotaged to come across as incompetent, inadequate, confused, or plainly evil.

Cersei, one of the most self-possessed characters in the show, seems emotionally invulnerable and unruled by any man. She accomplishes this by being willing to sacrifice basically all life before her own or for her quiet amusement, qualities extremely typical to the centuries-old "evil queen" trope that show little development of her character over time.

Sansa and Arya waste a season considering murdering each other over a very old letter that is so transparent that everyone else who read it previously saw it for the nothing that it is and discarded it immediately. There were so many better ways to set up a sisterly conflict if, for some exciting reason, it had to happen. We also don't even know what Littlefinger was really doing aside from trying to turn Sansa into a kinslayer to make his life a little easier. It seems to be a pretty boring plan versus his earlier schemes to win the throne or woo his favorite Tully. It ends with a slapdash fake-out, where the sisters were apparently in on a plan to trap and kill Littlefinger together—which begs the question: Shouldn't there be a greater purpose than misdirection to undo two women leads' character-building? Wouldn't you rather have all of this alleged offscreen cleverness onscreen?

The writers are also folding Daenerys's story into Jon's in a way in which it seems she'll eventually surrender or sacrifice everything for him. This extends to the point where she seems oddly accepting of the death of one of her dragon-children, a moment which seems to be the definition of out-of-character.

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