The Women of Game of Thrones

 

It’s so rare that fantasy stories have a strong female character. Mostly it’s men being hero’s coming home to dutiful women. That’s why I love Game of Thrones…not only is there one female leader—there are at least five. Allow me to break them down:

Daenerys Targaryen: In the books she’s about 14 but in the show she looks much older. She is sold to Khal Drogo the head of the Dothraki tribe (killers…awesome killers). She finds a way to make her marriage work, she becomes a beloved Khaleesi (Queen) and after her husband dies she leads the Dothraki…UNHEARD OF! Not to mention she’s the rightful heir to the Throne of Seven Kingdoms and she will fight for them. Not to mention she’s the Mother of Dragons—she has three dragons.

Now, in season two she is a whiny entitled brat that demands people do and give her things because she has these dragons. It’s extremely annoying and disappointing to me but still—if I had dragons I’d threaten to burn people too to get my way. By the end of season two she finds her way back to being a bad-ass leader of the best fighters in seven kingdoms. I’m sure it’ll only get better in season three.

Cersei Lannister: Queen regent. She—like Daenerys—was sold to marriage but made it work for her. She never had sex with her husband, preferring her brother instead. She manipulated the King so her brother could be in his king’s guard, remain unmarried, and close to her. She put her son on the thrown because she thought she could control him and while she can’t…she manages to control everyone else to do her bidding. She’s tough as nails and calculating. Everything she does she feels is in the best interest of her children and her family (excluding her awesome brother Tyrion).

Catelyn Stark: Wife of the noble Eddard Stark. After Eddard Stark is murdered Catelyn helps her oldest son Rob rage a war. She barters on his behalf, plots to get her two daughters back, and all the wild stays on a very high horse.

Arya Stark: My favorite Stark! She’s the youngest girl and refuses to be a Lady. She can shoot a bow better than her brother, she takes sword fighting lessons, and she escapes with the night watch and pretends to be a boy. Basically, she stays alive by being brave and clever. As Arya’s story progress she will get better and better—her story is my favorite from the books.

Sansa Stark: This is controversial since she’s a very hated character. But Sansa is smart. She, at first, falls for the glitz and glamour of being a Queen—but once her father is murdered she quickly finds a way to survive while being a hostage of the Queen at King’s Landing. She deals with immense abuse and torture and never gives up. I’m quite fond of Sansa.

Honorable mention to Shae: Shae starts out as a whore brought to Tyrion Lannister (a dwarf, who is by far the smartest and most clever Lannister but is despised by his family for his height). Tyrion is quickly taken with her and brings her to King’s Landing. Throughout the story she is shown to be a survivor. She knows to trust no one, watches out for Sansa and tries to protect her as best as she can. All the while saying things like, “I know. I won’t let them. I’ll cut off their faces” when Tyrion explains that she needs to be careful because people want to hurt him.

 Honorable mention to YgritteCalled a “wildling” she is a “free woman”. She doesn’t understand why Jon Snow took a vow to not have sex. Telling him that her people would kill someone if they told them they couldn’t have sex with whomever they wanted. She’s tough, she can live off the frozen land. She turns the table on Jon Snow and goes from being his prisoner to his captor and as time goes on she seduces him. Plus…the way she says, “Jon Snow” is freaking hot.

Basically, these women are tough, powerful, clever and gorgeous. They’re just as good as the men and sometimes better. My hat goes off to George R. R. Martin for writing such amazing women into his book and to the writers of the HBO show for not dumbing them down for the show.



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Yahoo CEO Mayer Takes A Huge Step Back

One of the major perks of working in the digital space is being able to work from home. It’s my personal dream. I love working from home. I get more done. I’m relaxed. I feel better. It’s just wonderful. It’s also great for parents. If you work on the Internet you can take your job anywhere. That means you can work flexible hours, you can work from home and keep an eye on the kids. You can go to school field trips and parent teacher conferences then work after.

In fact when Marissa Mayer left Google and became the “Queen of Yahoo” she was looked at as a role model for women. She was young, she was successful, she was creative and innovative, and she was pregnant when she took the reins of Yahoo. Everyone looked to Mayer to pave the way for women in this industry…until recently.

Mayer recently announced that all “remote employees” must relocate to company facilities. That means…no more work from home situations. This is completely backward thinking on the part of Mayer. But this isn’t the first time Mayer has set everything back.

After she gave birth Mayer took a short (two-week) maternity leave. She then built a nursery next to her office at her own expense, to make working and having a newborn easier. That’s great for Mayer…but most of us don’t have that option.
She then made the public statement, “the baby’s been way easier than everyone made it out to be.” Maybe the baby was easier because Mayer can afford a nanny with her $117 million over five years contract, a work nursery, and a penthouse apartment–that means baby can be with nanny in playroom and mommy can nap without disruption…again not the case for most working parents.

Jackie Reses is the H.R chief at Yahoo and put out a memo about the new policy stating, “some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings,” adding tartly that if “Yahoos” “have to stay home for the cable guy, please use your best judgment in the spirit of collaboration.” Basically, please live to work not work to live.

What Mayer is doing is punishing all because of a few. It is true that not everyone can handle a “work from home” lifestyle but some people need it. So instead of teaching her executives to better manage their remote employees Mayer is just pulling the plug.

This is a huge setback for working parents, for the digital space, and for women in high powerful positions. You don’t have to be Stalin to be respected…but Mayer seemed to miss that memo.



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My New Feminist Icon: Arianna Huffington

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Arianna Huffington is by far one of the most successful women in new media today. As president and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post Media Group she is the figurehead of one of the most popular websites on the Internet. The whole Internet. This woman knows business, and therefore knows stress in fact four and a half years ago Arianna fainted from exhaustion, broke her cheek bone and wound up with stitches around her eye. Since then Arianna has revolutionized herself and her company by focusing on helping people “de-stress” to that point she has a new app called “GPS for the soul”.

You can create your own “guide” or use Arianna’s or Dr. Oz’s. It allows you to focus on things you find calming or that embody “love” for you. It also has a little graphic that moves up and down so you can slow and match your breathing with it. As someone who is riddled with anxiety and stress I really enjoyed this app, but even more so I enjoy Arianna.

Mashable did an interview Arianna recently in which she stated that she doesn’t want her employees to return her emails at night or on weekends. The President of a huge company says doesn’t want you to respond to her emails. Can you imagine that? Especially someone in new media and entertainment…for goodness sake the woman runs a news website! News doesn’t stop! But Arianna wants her employees to stop, to de-stress, the woman is a nap pusher. I’m fortunate enough to have some insider info at Huffington Post and I have yet to hear anyone complain about Arianna (another amazing feat).

A few weeks ago I was speaking with someone from Huffpo and they were telling me all about how excited Arianna can get when you tell her you’ve napped that day. She’s big on getting enough rest. If you check out her twitter feed there are pictures of staffers napping on election night and her tag is always to the “good for you!” type of comment.

Working for one of the largest studios in the country I was blown away by this. At my work you come in no matter what. You work through sickness, you respond to every email, and you don’t complain about it because no one wants to hear it, if you’re not out till 1 in the morning with your boss at in the office at 9 you’re shunned and bullied, you are not part of the group. It’s refreshing to know that there are still people in power, who are insanely successful and haven’t turned into complete human-waste-holes.

Arianna Huffington is an incredible icon for women. She is a woman that has lifted herself to amazing heights, raised a family, looks fabulous and hasn’t let any of that rob her of her humanity. She is a study in success and feminism. I decree Arianna Huffington as my new feminist icon. Forget Rosie Riveter put Arianna on my poster!



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Strong Women, Terrifying Women

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I often use “terrifying” as a compliment when describing women. That’s not a compliment when describing a woman’s hair or breasts or complexion (or any aspect of a woman’s appearance, really), but it is a compliment when I say that a woman herself is “terrifying.” I would probably say “awesome” if people would understand that I mean it in the archaic sense—awe-inspiring in nature.

It is not the dream of every young woman to be described in such a manner, but it is a role to which to aspire. A powerful woman whose personality can dominate a room. One who can eviscerate men and women with a few words or with just a look.

These are your Sue Sylvesters (I may not still watch Glee, but I’ll put on imaginary hipster glasses long enough to say that I watched Glee before people wouldn’t shut up about it). Remember Portia DeGeneres’ character on Better Off Ted (one of the best comedies that I have ever seen), Veronica Palmer? She is definitely in this category.

Both of these are comical parodies of this type of character. But the real world is full of these powerful, inspirational female characters (Margaret Thatcher, anyone?). And so is the fictional world. Women do not need superpowers to be terrifying badasses, even in fictional universes that are filled with superpowers. Amanda Waller* from DC Comics is an excellent example: she is female, significantly overweight, and black—in the world of comic books, even more so than in real life, these are three tremendous disadvantages. But she has such a powerful force of personality that she intimidates supervillains into obeying her.

Alicia Florrick on The Good Wife. Brenda Leigh Johnson on The Closer. Sharon Raydor on The Closer and Major Crimes. The amazing Dr. Elizabeth Weir on Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis (who ranks among my favorite fictional characters of all time). Adele DeWitt from Dollhouse. Captain Kathryn Janeway from Star Trek Voyager. Nan Flanagan on True Blood. Ivanova on Babylon 5. Sumiregawa Nenene on Read or Die! Maxine Gray on Judging Amy. Avery Jessup on 30 Rock. . . . Fox on Gargoyles, because I am all kinds of nerdy and have the best taste. Elizabeth Donnelly from Law & Order SVU.

Also, Elaine Barrish from Political Animals. But I think that “marvelously terrifying” describes just about every character whom Sigourney Weaver has ever played. Hot damn, I love Sigourney Weaver.

Beyond highlighting examples, do you guys think that women with powerful personalities have a greater psychological and social presence in a room or in a book or on television than male characters who have just as powerful and domineering personalities?

I remember reading in a how-to-draw-manga book when I was in high school (spoiler alert: I have never drawn manga) that, if you did not draw a female as being noticeably shorter than a male character, she would visually dominate any scene with just the two of them.

As you may have guessed, a powerful woman, in real life or in fiction, seems more “real” to me than a powerful man. But, then again, my first role model was Maleficent from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.

 

*For these purposes, I am referring to the real Amanda Waller from DC Comics, who has been voiced on Justice League: Unlimited and in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies by the magnificent CCH Pounder. I am not referring to the skinny sociopath “Amanda Waller” in the most recent Suicide Squad issues who is just . . . no. Just no.



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