I’m a huge fan of “Game of Thrones.” I’m talking, fanatical. I have Arya’s sword on my wall and a dragon egg on my desk. I’ve read all the books and I have to keep my hand over my mouth to keep from shouting spoilers while watching. However, most of my discussions about the show end with me defending Sansa Stark. In honor of the trailer for Season 5 coming out this week, I wanted to tell you why.
Everyone is an Arya fan. She kicks ass, she defies gender stereotypes and she and the Hound really deserved their own buddy comedy/road trip spinoff. Fan favorite Brienne of Tarth is just as compelling. Even Cersei Lannister is loved for her deliciously evil wickedness and scheming for power. Mention Sansa’s name, however, and you mostly get, “Oh, I hate her!”
Sansa grew up on tales of knights and princesses. She does what a young lady is supposed to do (which I realize isn’t helping my argument). We modern fans love a rogue, and she is definitely not that. She’s a pre-teen girl who’s been told all her life that things are supposed to be a certain way. She wants a fairy tale life. She’s feminine and soft, and therein lies the problem audiences have with her.
Sophie Turner herself told TVGuide.com, “This is what frustrates me. 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.”
As a society, we don’t value the feminine and ‘girly,’ and we never have. A “strong female character,” as I’ve often said, is usually perceived as someone who is tough and kicks ass. As I said, I love that, too. However, there is value on both sides of the coin. Sansa is a well-written, fully-realized character. She’s a survivor.
Using tactics like Arya’s wouldn’t have worked in any of the situations Sansa was in. Sure, it would have been terribly satisfying to see Sansa run Joffrey through with a sword, but she would have been killed right after. Standing up to Cersei would have gotten her worse treatment. Running away would have gotten her captured and returned to her horrible situation. So, this intelligent girl (with severe PTSD, I might add — how would you handle seeing your father killed in front of you, dealing with an attempted gang rape, being forcibly engaged to Joffrey and losing your entire family?) flies under the radar, plays along and adapts. Tyrion says as much in the show, telling her that she’s the most likely to survive after she claims to be in love with Joffrey, despite how he treats her.
Sansa’s passivity and “girliness” may have gotten her into the situation, but it’s also gotten her out. Her ability to adapt has saved her life. She’s taken her “weaknesses” and turned them into strengths. As we saw in her final moments in Season 4, she’s adapting yet again, and no one is going to see her coming. Give that girl a lemon cake!