Dear Game of Thrones writers:
Please stop using awesome characters to promote your misogynistic world view. Thanks.
Ugh. Another AMAZING episode of Game of Thrones, marred by one little thing. This time, it was just a throwaway line from Brienne, but despite Mormont’s death, despite Dany’s crowning moment of badassery, despite so many great scenes and character moments, that line is sticking in my head, and it is making it hard to appreciate the other stuff.
Why, writers? Why was it necessary to have Brienne tell Jaime that his despair over losing his hand makes him “sound like a bloody woman?” Why was it necessary to have that be the accusation that forces Jaime to snap out of it and fight to live? I don’t expect the show to take scenes word for word from the books, but this is one occasion where I feel quoting the books makes an important point.
“Jaime,” Brienne whispered, so faintly he thought he was dreaming it. “Jaime, what are you doing?”
“Dying,” he whispered back.
“No,” she said, “no, you must live.”
He wanted to laugh. “Stop telling me what do, wench. I’ll die if it pleases me.”
“Are you so craven?”
The word shocked him. He was Jaime Lannister, a knight of the Kingsguard, he was the Kingslayer. No man had ever called him craven. Other things they called him, yes; oathbreaker, liar, murderer. They said he was cruel, treacherous, reckless. But never craven. “What else can I do, but die?”
“Live,” she said, “live, and fight, and take revenge.”
Brienne helps Jaime by accusing him of being a coward, the one thing he had never imagined he could be. It’s a great character moment. But somewhere in translating this scene for television, the writers decided to make “craven” into “female.” Cowardice was not accusation enough. But being like a woman? Now that’s an insult. An insult that doesn’t make sense for either of the characters.
It doesn’t make sense for Jaime, because he’s probably one of the least misogynistic male characters in the series. As he thinks himself, if Jaime were a woman, he’d be Cersei. And at this point in the story, there’s no-one Jaime cares about more than Cersei. Being like Cersei, to him, wouldn’t exactly be an insult or punishment. It would be (and is) a point of pride. (Although Cersei, of course, would not lie down and take abuse and just die. Which shows the whole “woman” insult for the misogynistic nonsense it really is).
But most importantly, it doesn’t make sense for Brienne. And that’s the point that really stings. Brienne is warrior, sure. Yes, she rejects the traditional place that woman hold in that world — but she also has many “feminine” traits, like a belief in romance, and a great sweetness and naivety. She she does not separate herself from her gender. She does not dismiss or deride women who hold a more traditional place in society. She is a character who compares dying in childbirth to dying in battle. She tells Catelyn that she has a “woman’s kind of courage,” and she greatly admires that. At this point in the story, the person that she respects the most — the person she pledged loyalty to, and is willing to risk everything for — is a woman. She does not pledge for Robb, King in the North. She pledges for his mother, because Catelyn is the one who helped her, and Catelyn is strong one who deserves her fealty.
If the show wants a female character to spew misogyny, then Cersei is readily available. That’s part of her character, and it makes sense, in a twisted sort of way. But I guess Cersei’s misogyny isn’t good enough, because Cersei fulfils all kinds of feminine stereotypes, with her smiles and manipulations and pretty dresses and sexual power. Brienne is “not like other girls.” She has somehow grown above her gender, and she berates Jaime for almost debasing himself and becoming something that even she, as an actual woman, managed to escape.
It makes my skin crawl that such a fabulous character is being distorted to present such a misogynistic world view. And it marred an otherwise amazing episode, when they could simply have not included that line, and everything would have been fine. The fact that they actively changed that scene in order to include that sentiment is really revealing about what these writers believe.
And that’s really depressing.
But at least we didn’t visit a brothel this week? Small mercies, I guess.