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As much as the mixture of genres and stories of HBO’s Game of Thrones allows for something to appeal to everyone, there also tends to be something to offend everyone. One of the most common and increasingly widespread complaints about the series has concerned its treatment of women. According to actress Gwendoline Christie who has brought Brienne of Tarth to life on the small screen, however, the ladies make out pretty well. Here's what Christie had to say in a recent interview:
I thought [the books] were fabulous because there were so many women in leading roles. All sorts of women, not just whores or princesses, but princesses who were whores. Evil women. Brilliant, clever, strong women. Women who could be mothers and murderers. They didn’t [dilute the dynamic variety], and it is the one action drama that is led by women. There is a lot of sex but they also get to kill people and make decisions, and be dictators and pick flowers, and have dragons and get their tits out.
Gwendoline Christie has some good insights in her interview with the Sunday Times, during which she evaluates the saga of books upon which Game of Thrones has been based. A Song of Ice and Fire is in fact so long and populated that author George R.R. Martin has had the space to write in plenty of strong women who endure impossible circumstances without losing themselves. Despite the hardships that are unique to the women of both show and books, strong female characters have risen above and survived.
As Gwendoline Christie notes, the character writing for both series has been so nuanced that the women have not been limited to stereotypical female roles in fiction. Cersei was never just a mother. Daenerys was never just a girl who happened to hatch some dragons. Brienne was never just a warrior. Even despite what happened to her in Season 5, Sansa was never just a victim.
Just as there are no true villains in the Game of Thrones universe – at least, none that are not of the ice zombie variety – there are no women who are wholly strong or wholly weak, and the shades of gray are unlike those allowed to female characters on other shows.
The suffering of the women of Game of Thrones can be difficult to watch at times, but so can the suffering of the men. Gwendoline Christie is uniquely qualified to assert that the equal opportunity writing for the men and women of the series that has allowed for beauty of spirit, as well as pragmatic ugliness works to benefit the franchise on page and screen alike.
Besides, disagreeing with the woman behind Brienne of Tarth can’t be a good idea. Just ask Stannis.