Sansa Stark Is Princess Of My Heart

One trend I’ve noticed in TV, books, and media is the ‘Exceptional Woman.’ This is not to be confused with the ‘Mary-Sue.’ She’s different from the others. In a world full of bland, mundane, vapid ladies, this one stands out because she is not only competent, she looks down on the things that are traditionally considered feminine. Rather than going shopping or focusing on her looks, this woman is fighting with swords and kicking ass. Often times, she’s the most compelling of all the characters because she works against the curve and proves herself to be exceptional. However, I’m going to argue that having only this kind of woman character dominating our culture is actually detrimental and follows the usual patterns of looking down on women as a whole. 

You see the Exceptional Woman  everywhere and she is written so that she is the standard to which her gender should strive, she is good enough to be ‘one of the boys.’ A pack of dudes are on a mission, they kick ass, they can hack like nobody’s business, so how does she set herself apart? By being better than them. Only by showing them up, is she accepted as their equal. They never thought before to include a woman’s talents into the group before this because women had never been an option. Yay, she won against the odds.

This kind of narrative shows up in fantasy worlds as well–one where we assume because they are derived from Medieval Europe (or at least, Tolkein’s idea of Medieval Europe), women are automatically in the backseat. It’s even clearer in these settings ‘why’ women were excluded. The excuses are typically insulting: women are physically weaker, women are baby caretakers, women tempt men and distract them. So to overcome these odds, the Exceptional Woman hones her skills so that men don’t have to worry about her getting hurt or getting in their way. She joins men in looking down on other women because she internalizes masculine traits and derides feminine ones.

“Most girls are stupid,” said Arya.

Arya is no doubt a cool character. She’s a survivor. However, it is my belief that George R.R. Martin did NOT write her to be an Exceptional Woman. She is rather, along with her sister Sansa, a study of this strange hatred of the feminine. The most common thing I hear about Game of Thrones is that Sansa is stupid and weak while Arya is smart and strong.

What?

Whaaaat?

I think this kind of reaction derives from what we’ve seen in the mainstream, where there is always a female focused on things without consequence and serves as a contrast to the Exceptional Woman. Step back for a moment and think why there is such a negative backlash to Sansa. Sansa and Arya go through parallel challenges–one within the court and the other in the wider world. Both are settings where they are in constant peril, yet they learn, they grow, and they maneuver through the waters with ever increasing skill. They are not contrasts of each other, rather they are two complementary parts of the same picture. There is more than one way to be strong. 

 

I guess I’m just tired of people ragging on Sansa for no reason, other than it was their gut reaction to hate her. 

My other issue with the Exceptional Woman trope is that her arc is dominated by her escaping the expectations of her society….which is based on our society. It’s a world the writer made up in her head. I feel like women are therefore limited if in this made-up world where anything can happen (even a setting that is technically modern) they are STILL thought of as the exception to the rule if they do something cool.

Not to say that I don’t think that the Exceptional Woman is necessarily bad, but it’s not exceptional that women have fought in wars or they were doctors. They’ve done it all along yet we pretend that for the majority of history, they were silent, which is why in the stuff we see today, the cast is largely empty of females. So why do we limit the role of women to what we believe is ‘realistic’? Why is it realistic that all the ladies in your fantasy world are weak and stay inside all the time? Why does anyone want that reality?

 

 

Fuck High School

If I could go back in time to give myself advice, it’d be this: Fuck. High. School. I’ve reached a point in my life where I can love myself enough to say that the ONLY regret about that period of time is that I cared so much about shit that didn’t matter. Pep flags? Drama? Grades? Teachers hate you? Wondering why you can’t fit in?

No.

No. NO. NO.

Past self, you poor, love-starved girl, I wish you had a clue.

Writing the book I am now, I had to delve a lot into the girl that I once was, tap into that insecurity and anguish and it just brings out anger in me every time. Girl, the only thing you needed to know was that you were GOOD ENOUGH and NO ONE could change that. You were the one who gave permission to others to make you feel any less than that, but you were also the one who had the power to take it back.

I had some semblance of this idea, but I wasn’t strong enough then to implement it.

Build your foundation. Maybe that’s your family or your friends, but don’t let anyone tell you that you’re stuck with either. Don’t be a dick either–EVERYONE is struggling, even the bitches you thought had it all.

I was so insanely jealous of this one girl in my high school. She was pretty, funny, and was really smart. I was so jealous that I hated her.

Guess what.

She wound up anorexic and almost flunking out of school. Yea.

Be kind, for everyone you know is fighting a hard battle. It’s hard to expand beyond that circle of people you personally know. Most people in the world is just a background character in the show that is your life. And that’s a good thing, if only for your sanity, because you will crumble if you spread yourself too thin.

But be kind to the bag boy at your super market.

Be kind to the telemarketer who calls.

Be kind to your stupid co-worker.

We are all human and more alike than different.

AND FUCK HIGH SCHOOL. Stop glorifying it, it wasn’t as good as you remember. Even if you had friends. Even if you didn’t have life shattering problems. Youth is clumsy and painful–it’s part of the past and you KNOW that just one year ago you were stupider than you are now.

And that’s all for today.