Alright. The latest Game of Thrones episode has me reeling. Like I’m pissed. And I understand that I have an unnatural attachment to the show and specifically the Mother of Dragons. But let me tell you why I am about to set fire to the writers room over at GoT. And if you haven’t watched last night’s episode. Stop reading. Go watch it. And then get back to me.
It’s no secret that I’m #teamdany. I always have been and EVEN AFTER YESTERDAY I continue to support her. Why? Because this whole notion of the “Mad Queen” is rooted in some bullshit patriarchy nonsense. It became clear to me last night as I lay in bed gritting my teeth and wishing a fiery death for the show runners D&D. I’m also talking to you Writers Room – you’re lazy. Allow me to deconstruct how they built the “Mad Queen” in a way that only men could do.
Dany was a child whose father was killed by his trusted advisor. This one act of violence initiated kingdom-wide infighting. It also forced Dany to flee her home only to hide in fear and uncertainty for over a decade. While another man started a war and overthrew the governing body of the Seven Kingdoms, all because he was butt-hurt by his would-be girlfriend who would not return his affection (which I’m sure was genuine and not at all pushed on her against her will…). If you can’t have the woman you desire, you may as well make yourself king and objectify every women alive. Reasonable.
While in exile, Dany’s skeezy brother, who felt her up on the regular, marginalized and commoditized her. Who in a desperate grab for power, sold her as a broodmare to a violent war lord. It surprises no one that said war lord subsequently brutalized and raped her.
Fuck. In order to get ANY respect, Dany had to stand up and hold her own against a war lord, win the affection of Dothraki horde, magically bring dragons back into the world AND withstand a night on top of a burning funeral pyre. Even then she was left with only a handful of supporters.
Following the birth of her dragons, she was met with nothing but adversity. Misogyny at every turn; the leaders of Yunkai, Meereen, Qarth Astapor, the Sons of the Harpy, the Dothraki Khals. The men in power that crossed her path in Essos took the opportunity to tell her how worthless she truly was – with vigor. They condescended to her. They took advantage of her good nature. They demeaned her. They insulted her. They underestimated her.
And each time she met them with strength, defiance and violence when necessary. Because what other language would they understand? And in standing up to this league of assholes, she gains the respect, the love and the support of the people she freed from the tyranny imposed upon them.
Despite a world full of men seeking to squelch a growing female power, she never lost sight of what she was doing, why she was doing it and who she was doing it for. She never lost sight of it because she was surrounded by her people. They became her family. They were who she fought for. And they knew she was fighting for them.
But that all changed when she set sail from Essos. She arrived on the Westerosi shores speaking the language of men – strength, defiance and violence when necessary. And surprisingly the women rallied behind her and the men asked “excuse me are you PMSing or something?”
It wasn’t that long ago that a group of powerful female leaders gathered around the table to discuss strategy. Each one ready to go to war. Not in a while. Not when we are calm. Now. Ready to go to war against an enemy that was, by all definitions, an evil tyrant. Someone that has never failed to demonstrate her contempt for anyone or anything that isn’t her or her children. Willing to lie, cheat, and kill if it ensured her survival.
And somehow, the men in that room, suddenly fearful, begged Dany to wait. Please don’t lay siege to King’s Landing. The people will not accept you as Queen. Even though not one person in that room sees Cersei as a just, compassionate, worthy leader. Still, they counsel Dany for caution, temperance, patience, and mercy. It was shit advice. Still she heads their warnings. She holsters her most powerful weapons. She agrees to subversive war tactics and to support an entirely separate war against an unknown evil. And she loses. Big.
In an effort to gain the favor of the Westerosi, as advised by the men, she sticks her neck out time and time again for them.
Jon – “Help me bring back a white walker. Help me defeat the Night King. Help me, help me, help me.”
Tyrion – “My sister is reasonable and we should believe her – even though she has never actually demonstrated she is trustworthy.”
Varys – “I’m on your side, I believe in your ability to rule. But also know I’m always on the lookout for the bigger, better deal.”
Her attempts to demonstrate her capacity to conquer and govern by the standards of these men bit her in the ass EVERY TIME. But they said this was the only way. And their way cost her a strong set of allies, Viserion, half the Dothraki, half the Unsullied, Rhaegal, Jorah, and Missandei. Part of her power resides in being surrounded by the people she was fighting for: HER FAMILY. Acquiescing to the requests of the men in Westerns robbed her of her family and has ripped her apart piece by piece.
She’s shown caution, temperance, patience, and mercy. What they asked for. And she’s gotten nothing in return. She’s lost almost everything that she spent 8 seasons fighting for. She has lost sight of the purpose that set her on this path. Why? Because her female allies were lost on account of poor war strategy and because her male allies did absolutely NOTHING to ensure that the people of Westeros knew who the real bad guys were (read: The Night King and Cersei).
The men in her life – once she reached Westeros – neutered her in short order. They sought Dany to retain the traditional roles of a woman – mild-mannered, nurturing, accommodating – while conquering and ruling 7 kingdoms. Which seems counterintuitive to me, but I’m not a war strategist with a penis.
But the women? Ah… the women of Westeros wanted to fight from the get go.
Cersei – “I choose violence.”
Yara Greyjoy – “If you want the Iron Throne; take it. We have an army, a fleet, and three dragons. We should hit King’s Landing now.”
Ellaria Sand – “It’s called war. If you don’t have the stomach for it, scurry back into hiding.”
Olenna – “Are you a sheep? No. You are a Dragon. Be a Dragon.”
Missandei – Her final word… “Dracarys.”
The female message is clear – take the fight to Cersei. So fucking WHY did these men think their experience, their cause, their opinion outweighed anyone else’s? I have a hard time believing that anyone asked Robert Baratheon to show caution, temperance, patience, and mercy in his quest to take the throne. So why now? Why Dany?
It’s more simple than you think. The lazy writers needed a Mad Queen. And for 6 seasons they grew Dany from a meek slave into a formidable leader – powerful and compassionate. How do you tear town such a woman? You come out of left field, you restore the patriarchy, you steal her source of strength (read: family) and suffocate her. Good call guys – you asshats.
The Mad Queen was a product of her environment. Dany grew stronger through each passing adversity – for years. The men saw what she was becoming and they were frightened by it. A shackled dragon is easier to control. They had no faith that she could take the throne and rule with honor. So they advised caution, temperance, patience, and mercy. They stifled her. AND SHE LET THEM. All to gain the trust and loyalty of the people that she wanted to liberate. She sacrificed everything that made her human. Because of them. And for nothing. In the end, those people who gave her that shitty advice, they abandoned her and her cause; the very thing that drew them to her in the first place.
So it’s not the fact that she’s enraged that drives her crazy and makes her a Mad Queen – which is exactly how the writing has portrayed it – it’s that she’s been failed in every way she could be failed by most of the men she trusted. Because they were cowards – fearful of what female strength implied. When a woman she exerts her power, one that rivals the power of a man, in a language only men understand, she must be an overly emotional, deranged and destructive lunatic. So she became just that. And here we are. Don’t come at me with she’s always been a tyrant or that the signs have always been there – all I hear is you claiming to be victimized by the Dragon YOU created.
I will mourn my Dragon Queen because even I can see the writing on the wall. She won’t be a good leader now; seeing as how she has been stripped of everything that once made her one. Following the bad advice of men cost Dany her dragons, her people, her purpose. Thank you shitty, misogynistic writers for that.
And if Mr. “Shhhh I Have A Secret” Sulky McPoutFace takes the throne, I’ll fucking riot. Sure he’s a skilled General but not smart leader. Something he’s proven time and again.
But when Sansa sits on the throne – as this is the ONLY outcome I am willing to accept at this point – I will rejoice. She is the only person who has all the makings of a firm but fair ruler. She has lived through unimaginable horror and used it to arm herself. She’s been naive but she’s learned. She’s gone toe-to-toe with the most deceptive characters and survived. As Lady of Winterfell, she had demonstrated that she can inspire love and loyalty in her constituents. Moreover, she’s not a fool to the men around her. And she has the one thing that keeps us all sane, the one thing Dany no longer has; family. Because as Ned once said, “the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.”
Let’s not let the last strong leader fall prey to the patriarchy.
Burn it down Dany. Dracarys.