Game of Thrones Season 8 has been facing harsh criticism for its final season.
As the finale draws near, people are frustrated with the outcome of the characters they were rooting for.
A major character subject to this debate is Daenerys Targaryen. People are calling Dany’s arc misogynistic for turning out to be a “mad queen” and going crazy. And though there are points which definitely contribute to misogynistic stereotyping, it’s not sexist for a woman to go insane. Women can succumb to their trauma, have it make them hard and cruel, make them lose their softness and their judgment.
If the message were that all traumatized women will become hard and cruel, then 100% it would be misogynistic. But we have Sansa who has retained her kindness and her empathy, becoming strong and just without ever developing a true lust for power. Dany is cast between Sansa, who has a similar journey with a different outcome, and Cersei who has always been cruel and power hungry.
Dany’s story is extremely tragic, but this is a tragic show.
Her arc is one we don’t often get to see with female villains, that she came from nothing, that she made herself strong, that she overcame her suffering and that she tried her best to be good but ultimately succumbed to her darker nature through many uncontrollable circumstances. That’s a sympathetic villain, a tragic villain, and a very complex character.
Game of Thrones is a misogynist show, but there have been many examples of that over the years, and if you didn’t see them, then I don’t know what to tell you. This isn’t one of them. It’s an example of poor writing, poor execution, but the underlying arc has been there from the start.
Actions are justifiable right up until they aren’t.
It’s a slippery slope and we have been progressing towards this for years. Many people have had this view of her character for a very long time. It’s okay to be upset. It’s okay to have a different read of her character and to feel this was unfair to her. The fact is, she could have risen up and corrected her continually concerning behavior or she could lean into it completely. The story took one of the two paths, but the second option isn’t sexist.
It has nothing to do with her being a woman (though I take issue with how her rape is treated by the show, as I said, it’s misogynist), it’s simply her story, and Sansa exists to tell the opposite story. That’s what foils are and it’s a part of storytelling.
I don’t want people to take this as an insult in any way.
I’m not saying you can’t mourn Dany and how you wish her character had played out, but understand that for people who have foreseen this and read the story this way for a long time, you’re calling our read of the story invalid.
People have, for a long, long time, said this outcome was delusional and that people who believed in it were idiots. Now that it’s played out, you’re not calling it just bad writing (a lot of it is, which I have to think is why not all people can accept this as a natural outcome of her arc), but saying it’s hateful against women. You’re saying that you can’t create tragic female villains which (though I wouldn’t use Game of Thrones as a blueprint) in itself is somewhat misogynist.
Not all women make the right choices and do the right thing, even if they try.
Women should be able to become complex villains like this without the outrage that it’s sexist not to make all female characters stay good.