While I haven’t read any of the A Song of Fire & Ice books, I am somewhat obsessed with the Game of Thrones TV show. (Seriously, who isn’t?) There are so many wonderful characters, but over the past couple of seasons, Sansa Stark has become a favourite of mine. I love how she is portrayed, I have thrilled at her development into a really strong character, as well as how well she has learned court intrigue and is now able to use that for her own protection.
Recently, in an interview with TV Guide, Sophie Turner (the actress who plays Sansa) had this to say about people’s apparent hatred of her character:
“People don’t like Sansa because she is feminine. It annoys me that people only like the feminine characters when they act like male characters. And they always go on about feminism. Like, you’re rooting for the people who look like boys, who act like boys, who fight like boys. Root for the girls who wear dresses and are intellectually very strong.”
This really got me to thinking. Sansa Stark is absolutely nothing like most of the female characters I typically root for. She’s extremely feminine, she wouldn’t be able to hold her own in a physical fight, and she’s really not what I would normally classify as a strong female character – and yet I still believe that she is one of the strongest characters (not just female characters, but characters in general) on Game of Thrones.
When reading or watching movies, I often classify women in one of three different categories – flake, wimp or kick-ass. And too often, the ones that I consider kick-ass are the ones that do fight with/like the boys, go off on adventures with/like the boys, or refuse to be given special treatment because they are women. They’re the Eowyns, the Cammie Morgans, the Buffy Summers’ and the Ellen Ripleys. They’re off fighting and aren’t waiting around for anyone to rescue them.
I’m sure I see these characters as being totally kick ass because I have never been a girlie girl (and have a hard time connecting with the more feminine characters), and because I want to be more like these strong female characters, but it was rather alarming to realize how much Sansa breaks the mould of what I would usually consider a kick-ass female.
Needless to say, I’m not used to rooting for a character who isn’t going off and fighting, who is extremely feminine and sticks with more traditionally feminine roles.
Not that I particularly think that Sansa Stark is waiting for some male to rescue her… but she’s not purposely going out of her way to fight injustices, vampires, for world peace, whatever. She’s fighting in her own way to keep herself alive and safe. Sansa Stark has reminded me that fighting for oneself don’t always have to look the same way – because Sansa’s fight doesn’t look like Aria’s, does it make her any less a strong and kick-ass female?
Maybe that’s where I’ve been getting it wrong in the past. Maybe I shouldn’t be considering the strong female characters to just be the ones who go out and bring the fight to the ‘bad guys.’ Maybe it should more often be the ones who are doing everything that they can (no matter how big or small their actions are) to stay true to what they believe is important.
What do you find makes a kick-ass female character?