Harper’s Bazaar labelled the feud between Daenerys and Sansa as “gendered’ and regressive”. Buzzfeed initially complained about Sansa’s “dagger eyes” at Daenerys, then seemed to later change their tune – possibly that might be because many supported Sansa – but, after The Last of the Starks, reverted to their old beat. Daenerys and Sansa have vastly different and conflicting political interests, and their political interests are deeply rooted in their identities. Expecting the two to get along simply because they’re both women is what is actually reductive, gendered and regressive.
Needless to say, if both Sansa and Daenerys were men, we would not be having the same conversation. When Jon first refused to bend the knee to Daenerys in Season 7, did anyone call him “catty?” As for Buzzfeed’s comment, Sansa does not know Daenerys; her story began with naively trusting the Lannister’s, it would be an insult to her character growth if she were to easily trust Daenerys based on Jon’s word and especially since we’ve just witnessed Daenerys relishing in the Northerner’s fear of her dragons (which should have set alarm bells ringing given that the series focuses on the harsh realities of war crimes exacted by nobles on the innocent). Moreover, as Jon is in love with Daenerys, his judgement is currently compromised. Sansa has every right to judge for herself; to revile her for this is to deny her agency and capacity to make character assessments independently. So, tell me, who is being misogynistic to whom?
As lovely as Jon is, his ability to assess others correctly has never been his strong suit. We see this during his stint as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. After granting wildlings refuge South of the Wall, he fails to unify the Night’s Watch and the wildlings. He blindly assumes that the members of the Night’s Watch will obey his commands simply because he is the Lord Commander. As a result, labelled as a ‘traitor, ’he is murdered by some members of the Night’s Watch.
Many have labelled Sansa as “untrustworthy” for not informing Jon about the Knights of the Vale. However, if she had, who’s to say that Jon would not have moved ahead with the same plan? Rickon, as the last living male Stark heir, was dead the moment Ramsay captured him; Ramsay would not have let him lived as his existence would challenge Ramsay’s claim. Sansa tells Jon that Ramsay lays traps (remember how Theon became Reek?) and Jon refuses to listen because he is the ‘military man.’ Ramsay does indeed lay a trap using Rickon as bait. Jon charges ahead to save him and his army follow suit to save Jon. The same plan would possibly still be used even if Jon knew about the Knights of the Vale and incorporated them into his army. The only difference is that this time there would be higher casualties. The Knights of the Vale arriving by the end enabled them to save Jon, the remainder of their army and to win the battle. With that in mind for the rest of this post, let’s remember that Jon does not possess the clearest judgement.
We see, in ‘Winterfell’, Sansa raise a valid point concerning logistics. Sansa asks Daenerys how she is supposed to feed this huge army. “What do dragons eat, anyway?” Daenerys smugly and unhelpfully retorts: “Whatever they want.” Daenerys makes a veiled threat, but I think there’s another angle that plays into Daenerys’s retort. Daenerys is all too aware that, last season, she was struggling to feed her army and during the Field of Fire, Daenerys impulsively, in a fit of anger, torched the loot train. Had Daenerys seized it, it could have been taken North to feed her army instead of exhausting supplies that Sansa had carefully worked to gather.
Later, we see Daenerys worried as her dragons are “barely eating” having consumed 18 goats and 11 sheep. This would hardly qualify as “barely” any food for the Northerners which could have fed families especially as winter is here. So, not only are Daenerys’s dragons consuming livestock that could have fed people, she also burned the loot train which could have fed her army instead of burdening Sansa with that responsibility. What else do dragons eat if they cannot find livestock? Remember Hazzea? The farmer’s four-year-old daughter who was killed by Drogon near Meereen? Daenerys feels terrible for a long time, but by the end of ‘A Dance with Dragons,’ she no longer remembers the child’s name. In that same POV, she decides that she will unleash fire and blood in her pursuit for the throne even if innocent people become collateral damage.
Sansa was right to question Daenerys. Sansa understands what ruling entails. Daenerys does not which is why she wasn’t altogether happy that Sansa brought this to her attention. At least in the book series, Daenerys is aware of her deficiencies in ruling. But, apparently, show Daenerys believes in her full might to feed her army through ‘witty’ quips. Yep, that’ll feed ‘em.
In ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,’ Daenerys spins the Lena Dunham, girl power, white feminist spiel on Sansa (that smile said it all) – believing misogyny is Sansa’s problem and not the threat that Daenerys presents to Northern independence – which massively backfires. Daenerys attempts to connect to Sansa by focusing on the things they have in common:
- Both are powerful women who have ruled ‘successfully’
- Both have had their homes taken away by the Lannister’s
- Both love Jon
Except Daenerys hasn’t ruled successfully, has she? Tyrion was left to clean up the mess she had created, to establish trade in Meereen again. After freeing slaves, she left the cities in ruin without a system in place which eventually led to freed slaves returning to their masters. Now, in defence of Daenerys, overthrowing a system to build a new and better one is a difficult task to achieve, especially for a young girl with a shortage of political nous. When Hizdar points out that “politics is the art of compromise,” Daenerys responds that she is a “Queen, not a politician,” thus failing to recognise that the two go hand-in-hand.
Daenerys is supposedly the “Breaker of Chains,” so, shouldn’t the Breaker of Chains be more open to the idea of granting independence to the North? Before you miss the point and say that the Northerners aren’t slaves, I am alluding to the concept of freedom. The North has wanted independence for a long time. Their values and traditions are different to Southerners and we know this because look at how Ned and Sansa suffered in the South. Further, Daenerys demands the Tarly’s and the survivors of the Field of Fire to “bend the knee or refuse and die.” Given that one of the two choices is death, it’s not really much of a choice, is it? Even if Randyll Tarly refused. Demanding servitude, as one Twitter user pointed out, is still putting people in chains, even if the chains are invisible. Therefore, it stands that Mhysa is a master too. I mean, how dare Sansa not like Columbus’s daughter, amirite? For that matter, I don’t think any white person should feel that they have the right to express dissatisfaction with POC viewers not being on board with Daenerys’s imperialism as this is something that their people have not had to face. White people do not have the right to tell POC to sympathise with Daenerys. To POC who support Daenerys, don’t forget your own people, don’t forget your own history.
As Sansa pointed out in the war council during ‘The Last of the Starks,’ the Northerners are Daenerys’s people too. However, I do believe that Daenerys was adopting a patronising tone to placate Sansa’s worries about Jon bending the knee for love by calling it ‘Jon’s war.’ This earns Daenerys no brownie points because all this indicates is that Daenerys isn’t treating her like an equal (though she ran the girl power spiel) and nor is she understanding that the North is part of the Seven Kingdoms that she should serve – not just Jon. To reiterate, who is being misogynistic to whom?
I am glad Sansa is trying to end Daenerys’s whole career. Sansa has actually fought for the North, won, and is loved by the North, so why would she not attempt to secure Northern independence through Jon’s claim to the throne? Especially a ruler who is not allowing the Northerners to rest after the Great War. Some ‘Queen.’
For me, Sansa wins over Miss Using a Woman of Colour to Prop up My White Saviour Image. Down with the Dragon Queen imperialist.
What are your thoughts on Daenerys v Sansa? Who are you rooting for and why? What did you think of the conversation between Daenerys and Sansa? Do you think the show’s portrayal of the two is ‘gendered’ and ‘regressive?’ Do stories need to be all about ‘girl power?’ Let me know in the comments!
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