That Sansa vs. Dany Showdown is a Reminder That Feminism Doesn’t Mean Blind Support

Because that mentality will seriously get us nowhere

(Image: HBO/Bell Media)
(Image: HBO/Bell Media)

*A lot* happened in the season 8 premier of Game of Thrones: The South and the North prepared for war, the remaining Starks were reunited in Winterfell, Jon and Daenerys pulled an “I can show you the world” with dragons and Jon Snow finally (!!) learned about his parentage. It was a jam-packed hour that was full of surprises. But one of the biggest surprises? A little lesson in feminism, courtesy of our two queens—of the Seven Kingdoms (she hopes) and our hearts, respectively–Daenerys Targaryen and Sansa Stark.

When they met for the first time at the beginning of the episode, the Mother of Dragons and Winterfell’s leading lady did *not* hit it off, despite their shared interests (*ahem* Jon Snow *ahem*). Rolling up to Winterfell like the queen she clearly thinks herself to be, Dany was ready to take the reigns in the North and expecting to be welcomed into the icy embrace of Winterfell and Lady Stark’s affections (with the greatest army the world’s ever seen and two dragons to feed, to boot). Combined with the Khaleesi’s continuing spiel about everyone bending the knee or else, it was a lot to take in.

And TBH, Sansa was not having it.

The Lady of Winterfell greeted Dany with a long look and dry, “Winterfell is yours, your Grace,” then proceeded to keep her distance from the aspiring ruler, all the while voicing her distrust to both Jon and her ex-hubby (and now hand-to-the-Queen) Tyrion Lannister, and making some pretty backhanded comments.

And FYI, she has good reason. Not only do the Starks and Targaryan’s have TSwift levels of bad blood between them, but after Sansa supported Jon’s crowning as King of the North, our lovesick Northerner bent the knee to Dany without consulting his family back home—leading to some tricky alliance issues upon his return.

Despite this tenuous history, and the fact that Sansa legit doesn’t know Dany at all, and is therefore *very* justified in her hesitancy to trust the Mother of Dragons, that didn’t stop the internet from calling out Winterfell’s red-haired lady for being petty, and the show for pitting two very strong women against each other—a seemingly inherently anti-feminist move. But we have to say, we disagree.

Along with being sexist AF (because have we ever heard Jon described as “petty” for not supporting Jamie? We have not), the criticism is also misplaced.

As Twitter user @BeeBabs tweeted: “GoT has problems but I am sorry Sansa (late teens early 20s?) not liking her brother’s new girlfriend who has usurped her family from their ancestral land is not unrealistic or just plain old pitting women against women lmao. Also gives space for the rel to develop.”

In fact, Dany and Sansa’s interactions—and the way people responded on social media—highlight a debate that goes way beyond the Seven Kingdoms: the idea that in order to be a “good feminist,” you have to blindly support other women, even if you don’t necessarily agree with their values.

Listen, feminism is complicated, as is being a woman navigating the political time we’re in. If anything, in the post-Trump, #MeToo era, women need to stick together. And while we’re entirely here for women supporting women—from the #Jsisters hyping each other up on Insta to the thousands of women who spoke up in support of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in September 2018—it’s important to do so in an informed way. Because supporting women simply because they’re women can honestly be just as detrimental as no support at all.

In a May 2018 article for the New York Times, feminist author Jessica Valenti looked at the ascension of Republican women to positions of power, with Gina Haspel confirmed as the head of the CIA and Suzanne Scott named as Fox Newsfirst female chief executive. As Valenti wrote at the time, there was a “distinct lack of feminist celebration” over these women seemingly breaking the glass ceiling, something that Republicans decried as hypocritical. But, a look at these women in particular found that while they may identify as women, their actions have been anything but feminist, with Haspel overseeing a site where detainees were tortured and Scott reportedly enforcing a “miniskirt rule” for on-air talent. (Through a Fox News representative, Scott denies this claim.)

Hey, we’re happy that several women ran  in the 2018 Toronto Mayoral election, but does that mean we support Faith Goldy—a white nationalist and racist who called the suffragettes “domestic terrorists”—as one of them? No. ”Because,” as Valenti wrote, “if feminism means applauding ‘anything a woman does’—even hurting other women—then it means nothing.”

And we can say the same for Sansa and Dany. Just because they’re both women among hordes of men, doesn’t mean that either is inherently worthy of the other’s blind support.

FWIW, we wouldn’t trust our silver-haired queen either. In response to Sansa’s ice-cold ‘tude, she called out her quasi-niece/pseudo-cousin-in-law for disliking her, telling Jon that Sansa better respect her before ominously trailing off. *Cue fire breathing dragons* There are some serious “Mad Queen” vibes going on, and Sansa. feels. them.

Are we super thrilled that it’s potentially taken a White Walker-overrun fantasy world where dragons exist to open up this conversation? Not really. But hey, maybe we need to see this kind of interaction play out in fiction for us to understand that it happens in *our* world, too. And that it’s BS in either one.

Correction: A previous version of this story did not include Fox News’ denial of the “miniskirt rule” allegations.


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