Sansa Stark Is George R. R. Martin’s Best Argument For Feminism

sansa game of thrones

George R.R. Martin, the author of Game of Thrones, recently said that he was “a feminist at heart.” You might roll your eyes at that. Sometimes on HBO’s adaptation of Game of Thrones we might lose track of that feminist message. That  oversight might be because there are always gratuitous lesbian sex scenes in the background while people discuss the nature of power. But then, George R.R. Martin also inserts female characters who are very smart and dignified and competent, even if they do… sometimes engage in completely gratuitous lesbian sex scenes.

You know who makes the strongest case for feminism and its importance on Game of Thrones? Sansa Stark. 

I love Sansa. I love her.

I know, I know, she’s probably not your favorite character. People tend to prefer her sister, Arya, who is plucky and traveling the roads dressed up as a boy. Or Cersei Lannister, King Joffrey’s mother, who, well, seems like a fun drunk and also pretty unyielding. Or Daenerys Targaryen, who is the mother of dragons and played by the insanely lovely Emilia Clarke. And now that Margaery Tyrell is on the scene and has taken Sansa’s place as Joffrey’s fiance (and seems better suited to the position) Sansa appears even less relevant.

So why are we even talking about her?

Even when she seemed to be a major character, she was reviled. Why? Well, mostly because she was the most typically feminine. Over at Feminist Fiction they write:

Sansa Stark must be one of the most hated characters in A Song of Ice and Fire. The vitriol levelled against her is often frightening in its intensity, surpassing that for actually horrific characters like Joffrey and Ramsey Bolton. Her crime? The unforgivable fact that she is a pre-teen girl.

As a massive fan of Sansa, even I must admit that she is difficult to like at first. She’s spoilt and a bit bratty. She fights with her fan-favorite sister and trusts characters who the reader knows are completely untrustworthy. She is hopelessly naive and lost in dreams of pretty princes and dashing knights. She acts, for all intents and purposes, like the eleven year old girl that she is.


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    • Ruby

      I’ve been waiting so long for an article like this. Sansa’s one of the most realistic female characters in the books and TV show, I’ve got hope that she will become a major player.

    • Anna

      Joffery forces her to see her father’s head. Love the article and I have loved Sansa for the same reasons. She is a tragic leason in the reality of a woman’s life, Cersei too but later.

      • Anonachocolatemousse

        I was hoping that was a mistake, otherwise I would be upset by spoilers!

      • sabrina

        if you don’t want spoilers on last season don’t read stuff about it!

      • Anonachocolatemousse

        I’ve been watching since season 1 so not too concerned about that. Thought it was a reference to something that happened later. Thanks though!

    • Anonachocolatemousse

      Sansa is very naive about the world. But the last 2 episodes have sort of endeared her to me. She’s a scared little girl who has had her dreams dashed and has no sense of her family anymore.

    • Colleen

      Incidentally, the gratuitous lesbian action while Littlefinger discusses power is in the television series, not in the books. Also the relationship between Renly and Loras is played up more in the series than in the books.

      • Cee

        Thats pretty obvious. The show is going to have many tidbits the book didnt.

    • Cee

      Sansa breaks my heart. She is so broken and cannot hide it. It is why Joffrey abuses her. Mu favorite character this season is Margaery. She is kind but unlike Sansa she can smile on as Joffrey does bad things. Its her defense mechanism so he doesnt hurt her. Very bright at keeping herself alive.

    • JennyWren

      I think Sansa is one of the most interesting characters in the books (I am behind on the TV series, so cannot really comment on that…). It’s very, very easy to hate her because, as you said, she is selfish and petty and disloyal, and well, not very bright. But the books do an excellent job of demonstrating that she’s working within a very limiting society (all of the women who do try to break out of this have enormous problems- Arya, Cersei, Brienne, etc.) and Sansa has nowhere near their resources to draw upon. Essentially, she’s obliged to become a survivor in the very truest sense, someone who can’t afford loyalties or affection because she might lose them at any second. It’ll be fascinating to see what happens to her over the next book.

    • Lo

      Sansa was an idiot, but a young idiot, and she’s learning how to survive. All that grovelling goes against her Starkly upbringing, too, but she shelves her dignity and gets on with it. I’d like to see her in a position of authority further down the line.

      Slightly related: Olenna Tyrell. Look how awesome. I have some reservations about the way they’re writing this season, but I’ll mind a lot less if she gets scenes in every episode.

    • AmbienceChaser

      Sansa’s obsession with romantic stories always reminded me of a less spunky Anne of Green Gables. I could totally see her floating down a river pretending to be Lady Jonquil.

    • kj

      Hey! Some of us here happen to enjoy gratuitous lesbian sex scenes.

      I mean… what?!

    • gbur

      I’ve read all the books a few times, but a few years ago – I never remembered Rob Stark’s wife being a surgeon in them, in my memory she sort of just turned up and they didn’t really explore their relationship at all (not like the awesome romantic stuff that went on in the series). Can someone with a better memory enlighten me? Have to made his wife a way cooler character in the tv series or am I just forgetful?

      If they have then it would seem that GOT TV show is adding feminist plot lines – like how in LOTR all the cool female scenes in the movie (ie Arwen with Frodo on the horse and being chased by all the baddies) were actually just the screenplay and not present in the books.

      • gbur

        Have they**

      • Lo

        In the book, Robb married Jeyne Westerling, a lord’s daughter who fixed up his wounded arm (and shagged him) after he’d taken her castle. Talisa Maegyr has a bit of the medical stuff and nobility in common, but she’s largely made up by the show and ninety hundred zillion times more modern-morality. I suspect they changed the name because there’s another Jeyne in the plot.

    • Palms Smith

      I have watched every episode. Cannot recall but one “lesbian” sex scene. It was in a brothel and one was role playing as a male in a sort of “instructional” role. Maybe you just like lesbian sex scenes and imagine them everywhere?