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Catelyn (Tully) Stark

Catelyn Stark Pro-Tip: Leaders lead from the back not the front and mama always knows best.

Catelyn Stark

Cat is a text in second wave feminism. She reminds me of the 1950’s housewife who ran the household from behind the scenes. She is the type of Woman who acknowledges gender roles, subscribes to them, and finds security in them. Like a badass June Cleaver. She is wise and intelligent and uses these attributes in tandem to lead from behind. She knows the men in her life well and makes every effort to appeal to their better senses. Her reign over the household is subtle and quiet, yet is a powerful force nonetheless. Unlike Arya and Cersei she doesn’t reject and push back against her role as the Lady of Winterfell, rather she leans fully into this role. Like, the grandmothers of old, she did her best to provide a mother’s love for her “husband’s bastard”. She wasn’t perfect and she made her disdain for his presence in her house known, but hey, what would you do if your honorable, Dudley do right ass husband, brought home a baby from the war that he is claiming as his own?

She is fiercely protective of her children and their wellbeing. When Bran was pushed out that tower window, she slept by his side and fought off a sell sword with the help of the direwolf; Badassery! The dutiful mother, she followed her eldest son, Robb, into battle and acted as his advisor. It was clear that she did not think Robb was ready for the mantle he was assuming because he had a gentle heart, so she stayed close to protect him. Mothers know their sons (message!). She let him lead when in front of their bannermen and other male figures, but would advise him with the softness of a mother’s touch (Season 3, episode 9). When Robb was too wrapped up in the politics of war and the male ego, she took matters into her own hands by freeing Jaime, who at the time was prisoner of war, in hopes that he would look out for Sansa. In keeping with the time, she is then reprimanded for undermining his authority and Robb tried like a lil beyotch for letting his mama try him.

Like most folks on the margins of society by virtue of gender, she was always keenly aware of her surroundings and her circumstances. When she was at that bar in Season 1 and she saw Tyrion, she knew she couldn’t capture him on her own because…woman, so, she called on father’s bannermen one by one to defend House Tully and House Stark and they captured him for her. Same during the iconic Red Wedding. Robb’s baby mama said “Your mother is in less need for rescue than any woman I ever met.” She couldn’t have been more right. She looked around the room and saw that only her family was in the room because her brother had gone off to make the beast with two backs (have sex) and her uncle went to go pee. See how much trouble dick shenanigans can cause?  She peeped the armor under Bitch Bolton Sr.’s clothing early and slapped the shit out of him. She hid under a table and seized the opportunity to plead with Walder Frey by holding a knife to his child bride’s throat; Walder gave no fucks about his wife and let Catelyn cut her throat before her own throat was sliced open like a watermelon on Memorial day. She was last living person from her squad, she had been stabbed and shot with arrows, and gave her last exertion of energy begging her weak ass son to snap out of his brokenhearted stupor and get out of there. A legend.

Catelyn Stark Lady Pro-Tip: Leaders lead from the back not the front and mama always knows best.

 
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Sansa Stark

Sansa Stark ProTip: Being pretty is nice, but being wise is better. However, wisdom is not genetic, it is earned from experience. How you leverage that wisdom tells more about who you are than any words could ever articulate.

Early into the series, Sansa had the sensibilities of a stereotypical Girl. She was very good a knitting, had no expressed desire to learn the how to fight, or ride horses, unless that horse’s name was Joffrey. She wanted to be a Princess or Queen. She wanted to be a Lady of a castle. Upon meeting the Lannisters, she was smitten with Joffrey the Terrible and developed a lady boner for Cersei. Like young Girls that yearn for a big sister or a cool young auntie (i.e. looking to find herself) the little dove latched on to the woman whom she thought mirrored who she wanted to be, Cersei Lannister. She immediately started wearing her hair like the women in the “south”. She used both of her mom and Cersei as a model of how to survive the world as a woman. Just like Cersei was fully willing to drink Essence of Nightshade to kill her and Lil’ Tommen during the Battle of Black Water, I think Sansa was going to kill herself with the Dragonstone dagger in the crypt during the battle of the Long Night.

After Joffrey and the Lannisters chopped her daddy head off and taunted her with it and tossed her aside like crab shells at a seafood boil for Margery, she started to become versed in the ways of the Women of that time. That was her first taste of trauma and like a Girl who has been called a bitch and harassed for not giving some random guy her cell phone number, she learned how to lie to survive. She learned how to smile and hide her true feelings, desires, and motives. The trauma left her with severe trust issues; she had to armor up, figuratively of course. She was even slow to trust Queen Olenna and Margery, Ser Brienne of Tarth, and Bitch Baelish (rightfully so). She only fully trusted her family and she developed a fierce loyalty to her Day 1’s and folks from the North. While she had not fought in any battles or picked up a sword, the sexual violence, manipulation, and trauma she endured become her war story and battle scars and she used it to inform her of what her enemies are capable of and used that knowledge to build a strong defense against them.

Once she landed back in Winterfell, the land of her ancestors, her allegiance to the North was fortified. During the Battle of Bastards, she tried, on numerous occasions, to warn Jon “Always do right” Snow to not underestimate Ramsey “Sic’ em Boy” Bolton, but did he listen? Is Rickon still alive? Nope. Jon couldn’t see beyond his sister’s gender and age and almost died for it. Just like Robb refused to listen to his mother’s sound advice. If Sansa hadn’t leveraged her looks and Littlefinger’s pedophiliac crush on her to her advantage, Jon would have drowned in a sea of dead bodies, blood, and mud. When Dany and Jon arrived to Winterfell, who knew not to trust Dany? Sansa. Jon went to Arya as a voice of reason and Arya had to let him know, “Sansa is the smartest person I know”. She didn’t say, “smartest woman”, she said smartest PERSON. At the very end of the series, it was Sansa “never seen a battle in her whole life” Stark who amplified voice and declared that the North ain’t with the shits and will remain sovereign and essentially named herself “Queen in the North”. Your fave could never.

Sansa Stark ProTip: Being pretty is nice, but being wise is better. However, wisdom is not genetic, it is earned from experience. How you leverage that wisdom tells more about who you are than any words could ever articulate.

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Arya Stark

Arya ProTip: Even when you know who you are, you must endure trials and tribulations to ensure that are really who you claim you are. Folks will try to tell you who you are and what you should do, but you must resist and stay ten toes down. Oh! And be loyal to those who are loyal to you!

Ayra rejects all that gender role shit at every turn. She showed us who she was going to be from the very first episode. Bran, in the biggest waste of time ever, was struggling to shoot a bow and arrow with his big brothers and parents watching. While Bran hesitated, Arya shot the arrow from above his head and hit the bullseye. Westerosi gender roles revealed themselves in the most typical way in this moment: the Women who saw Ayra were disappointed and annoyed with her performance and the men were shocked and used that as a reason to mock Bran for not being better than his big sister.

Arya is also a nod to gender non-conformity in terms of gender expression. Like many Women and Girls, she learned at an early age how to switch up her appearance from femme to androgynous in order to protect herself from unwanted advances or standing out like she did after her dad’s head was chopped off and when she traveled with the Brotherhood With No Banners as a “boy” until she was outted. She also used the sexism of the men around her to her an advantage. She was constantly underestimated because of her age and gender but, by time people around realized what she was capable of, it was too late, it was Needle Time.

On numerous occasions her siblings and parents and even Gendry tried to dictate what life for her would be as little lady of Winterfell and at every turn she replied “No, that’s not me.” Even before revenge became her motive and before she was reciting the list of people to murder like the boy on the Netflix series, Atypical, recited penguin breeds, she was convinced that she was fighter.  Armed with anger and revenge though, she was assured she didn’t have time for high tea, corsets, marriage, and babies. A young Sansa was chomping at the bit to be a Princess or Queen; meanwhile Arya turned down the opportunity to be a Lady of WherethehellFell. And in a final act of rebellion, Arya declares that she will not be hanging around Westeros to see her sister rule the north and brother rule all of Westeros; she is heading East to the land before time.

Arya ProTip: Even when you know who you are, you must endure trials and tribulations to ensure that are unwavering in your calling. Folks will try to tell you who you are and what you should do, but you must resist and stay ten toes down. Oh! And be loyal to those who are loyal to you!

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Cersei Lannister

Cersei Pro-Tip: Just because a woman is a mother, doesn’t mean that can’t be flawed. Some mothers are evil, brother loving tyrants.

Cersei, Cersei, Cersei. I want to say nice things about who she was as a mother, but I can’t get passed the brother fucking. Like, at some point  she just stood up in the fact that she was having sexual relations with her brother and was in love with him. Y’all they had sex at their son’s funeral, in the church, right by the casket!! I can commend her for amplifying voice and speaking up to Robert Baratheon even with the threat of him slapping her to the ground. She used her dominion over men to get Jaime to push Bran out the window, made Robert make Ned kill Sansa’s direwolf, and convinced Tyrion that there was some shred of humanity inside her. A true decepticon! The only two people who were not buying her bullshit was the High Sparrow and her father, Tywin. As evil as she was, she seemed surprised by how evil her son, Joffrey, was. After Ayra and Nymeriah jumped him by the river, Cersei told him, “Someday you will sit on the throne and the truth will be what you make it.” What in the revisionist history is this non-sense?? When she was a little Girl some witch told her that all her kids would die, yet, she took no extra precautions to protect them (which the exception of that one time she pulled Joffrey off the battle field)! Why??

Any battle she won, she won it because she was always more evil than her opponent. Everyone despised Dany’s dad, the Mad King, so much but she took a page out of his book and blew up an entire part of the city and killed innocent bystanders because they judged her for her sins and no one did anything. Then again, she killed all her opponents so no one alive to say anything. MAAD QUEEN, No City face ass. She was only loyal to Jaime and their incest-born children. Evil, just evil.

Cersei Pro-Tip: Just because a woman is a mother, doesn’t mean that can’t be flawed. Some mothers are evil, brother loving tyrants.

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Lady Melisandre

Lady Melisandre Pro-Tip: Accessories and make up may hide your true age, but at the end of the night, when you take all that stuff off, are you happy with who you are? Do you know what your best non-material assets are? If not, figure it out and play those to your benefit.

Prophetess of the Lord of Light. A woman of purpose. Lady Melisandre was given a seat at the table in the war room of Stannis Baratheon, Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, and I am sure many others. Based on the way every part of her body sagged like melted wax when she took that necklace off (Season 6, episode 1), I am sure she had been conspiring against kingdoms and kings since the time of Andals (whoever they are) and the first men. Having been given this right, she knew how to speak the language necessary to survive testosterone filled rooms and the posturing necessary to be deemed as credible and worth listening to. After watching many shows about white men doing white shit, I have gleaned that men don’t blink when they are in serious meetings. They make unrelenting eye contact and never blink until the meeting is closed. Lady Melisandre has this same trait. The book says her eyes where fire red like Jesus’ eyes in Mel Gibson’s Passion of the White Christ, but in the show I guess she had to rely on unflinching soulless stares to seal the deal.

Also, she is a text on Audre Lorde’s “feminine erotic energy”. Unfortunately for them, many of the men on the show are dealing with issues of worthiness, superiority complexes, fragile egos, and daddy issues, but fortunately for her she knows how to use the power of the P to get them to her—I mean-- the Lord of Light’s bidding. A lesson we can all learn from Lady Melisandre is how to navigate the Crooked Room by knowing your best assets and what you bring to the table. With that necklace on Melisandre knows how much white men love boobs and with the loosening of one string, them titties are revealed and men are helpless. So helpless that they will burn their own daughters (Stannis) or let her tie them up on some BDSM type shit within 5 minutes of knowing her (Gendry).

Lady Melisandre Pro-Tip: Accessories and make up may hide your true age, but at the end of the night, when you take all that stuff off, are you happy with who you are? Do you know what your best non-material assets are? If not, figure it out and play those to your benefit.

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Ygritte Freefolk

Ygritte Pro-Tip: It is okay to let love change you, but don’t let love weaken you.

If the wildings can be likened to indigenous folks or representative of more communal cultures that reject hierarchy and prescribed roles, then Ygritte is the perfect example of the full potential that Women or femme identified folks can reach if they are not tethered to gender roles. She was nasty with the bow and arrow, amplified voice whenever she felt it was necessary, and demonstrated agency over her body and pleasure many times. Meaning no disrespect to the Queen Sojourner Truth, Ygritte, like Truth, proved that she could do all the things that men of the free folk could do if not better. Unlike Arya, she wasn’t pushing against the expectations of her as a Girl, she was simply learning all the skills she needed to survive life north of the wall. When absent of social class and gender roles, people are simply people and can find ways to be of value to the community in ways that are not predetermined for them.

Because she was raised without the trappings of respectability politics and piety, she openly expressed her attraction for Jon and acted on it freely. The only time she denied her attraction to Jon was when Turmond and the other Wildlings questioned her judgement in developing feelings for a crow. But like the best of us, her oxytocin response to Jon did change her; it made her softer and more sympathetic to plight of the northerners also known as crows. Her love for Jon simultaneously weakened and transformed her. She was an arrow shooting fool at Castle Black until backstabbing Olly shot her with an arrow and killed her.

Ygritte Pro-Tip: It is okay to let love change you, but don’t let love weaken you.

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Daeneyrs “Stormborn” Targaryen

Daenerys Pro-Tip: Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you cannot not avoid the residual shit that your family has tracked into your home no matter how much febreeze you spray and sage you burn. Sometimes, you just need to relax, relate, and release like Whitley Gilbert.

A boss and a queen plagued with epigenetic trauma. What kind person would you be if some fat white man killed off your entire family and folks nicknamed your dad “The Mad King”? What kind of Queen would you be if when you were 14 and your brother said that he would let all of the Dothraki and their horses rape you to reestablish your family’s reign over the Westeros? Imagine knowing that you are truly the last dragon (after Rhaegar) but because you are a woman all of your power must come second to anyone around with a penis? Her first taste of how powerful she could be came from her union to Khal Drogo. Like Maya Angelou said, “Love liberates” and their love liberated her from her weak and petty brother and from demure subservience. Like most of the Women on Game of Thrones, she found strength through adversity and trauma. Her husband died from an infected wound that was completely avoidable and was the result of male bravado and showmanship which left her pregnant and desperate. Blinded by grief and desperation, she trusted the wrong woman and ended up losing her husband and her baby. However, it was during this time that she realized who she was, what she was capable of, and was reborn as the Mother of Dragons.

On her journey, Dany made the mistake of trusting many men who pretended like they had her best interest at heart. These men gave zero fucks about her as a person and only wanted what she could offer them: a sheath for their sword (google the etymology for the word “vagina”), money, or her dragons. Think back to the big Black Man from the Greatest City that Ever Was, Voldemort’s cousin who could make himself a house of horrors, the ball chopper who didn’t know she spoke High Valyrian, the sell swords, and the other Khals. She did, however, trust some men that were good, though tragically flawed as well. Jorah was spying on her for Varys, Tyrion gave his brother and sister was too many chances to play nice, Varys told everyone who Jon was because he didn’t believe that Daenerys had the good of the realm in mind. As far as I can tell the only two men she was right to trust was Grey Worm and Daario Naharis. Sure she wasn’t the best judge of character, but how would she have learned who to trust if she spent her life on the run from Robert Baratheon and her brother used her as a commodity every chance he got.

She tried the way of love and it failed her numerous times. Love, mercy, compassion, and the advice of men left her high and dry. Like she told her nephew/lover Aegon “Do the Right Thing” Targayren formally known as Jon “Just Do Right” Snow, after he curved her sexual advance, “Let it be fear then.” As far as I can tell, the relationships that she fostered that served her best were the ones with Women. The Girl that taught her sex education course (who later went on to betray her for some BBC) served her well. Theon’s lesbian sister turned out to be loyal to her, even after her death. And lastly, her bestie Missandei was truly loyal through it all. I think absent of gender roles, Missandei would have been the Hand of the Queen, but two Women ruling things, whew chillay! Too much! sarcasm Even during the Long Night Battle, when all the weak, woman, and feeble were down in the crypt listening to thousands of people die at the hands of the white walkers and Sansa was talking cash shit, Missandei defended Daenerys (who was outside the crypt riding Drogon the Dragon and picking up swords). That’s friendship! Some of y’all friends are listening to people talk shit about you right now and they are sitting there just’a smiling.

Daenerys Pro-Tip: Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you cannot not avoid the residual shit that your family has tracked into your home no matter how much Febreeze you spray and sage you burn. Sometimes, you just need to relax, relate, and release like Whitley Gilbert.

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Ser Brienne of Tarth

Brienne Pro-Tip: Be big, be bold, take up space. Be impeccable with your word and your gift will make room for you. If by chance you have the opportunity to smash your crush, do so with caution.

Brienne, like Tyrion, was objectified from birth. Her stature and height spoke for her before she even opened her mouth. If you have any distinguishing body feature like a big ass, thick thighs, tig old bitties, or just a plain old pretty face, you know that many times folks tend of comment on those things before speaking to you or even looking you in the eyes. Brienne was tall, armored, blonde haired woman who could fight men like the Hound and win. It was revealed in the final season, that she had never known the touch of a man (or woman); something she seemed to have quite a bit of regret about. So disappointing that no one had climbed that solid oak tree for a cold glass of milk…and why? Because she was tall? Did we learn nothing from early seasons of Saved By the Bell when Jesse Spano struggled with low self-esteem because of her high heights?

She was a trailblazer; the first of her kind. A woman Knight. She demonstrated an impeccable capacity for loyalty and integrity. She was Jon Snow of Women. She adhered to the qualities of a Knight more fiercely than any other man before being knighted by a literal and figurative lesser man, Jamie “Sister Banger” Lannister. This is another resounding example of the double and triple taxation that is placed on Women to be seen as equal in most arenas.

Brienne Pro-Tip: Be big, be bold, take up space. Be impeccable with your word and your gift will make room for you. If by chance you have the opportunity to smash your crush, do so with caution.


HONORABLE MENTION

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Lady Lyanna Mormont

The North Got Something to Say!

Lyanna Mormont: OG Triple OG. Lyanna was the bold and fearless leader of House Mormont. If you need to know what she is made of think of Jorah (The Andal) Mormont and Lord Commander Mormont (Leader of the Night’s Watch at Castle Black). She sat in rooms and called men out on all of their bullshit and she was like 10!! When she spoke, it was deliberate, concerted, and authoritative. No one seemed to be preoccupied with her stature or age; that leads me to believe that she while she may have come into position through the unfortunate and untimely demise of her parents and siblings, but she had to have done something to earn respect from not only her house and bannermen. Leadership and legitimate power has nothing to do with age; when you have integrity and don’t take no shit folks have no choice but to BTK (Bend the Knee). Young Kings like Tommen and Joffrey faltered in their leadership at every turn by allowing themselves to be manipulated by any and everyone….not Lyanna!

Lest we not forget Season 6 episode 10, when the room was full of doubt and derision, Lady Mormont read everyone for fucking filth! One by one, she listed all the cowards that “refused the call” to stand with Jon and rally against the terrors of winter and said “but House Mormont Remembers, the North Remembers!” She boldly gathered all those quivering men and said she and House Mormont would follow Jon Snow until his last day which, obviously, caused some issues when Jon “Dudley Do Right” Snow came back declaring his Auntie/Girlfriend as his Queen. Out of the mouth of babes and through the eyes of the pure, she saw that Dany had some issues to work through and refused to follow her.

There is a reason that folks say “Educate a Girl, Change the World” and that is because young girls have the power to not only change their circumstances, but change the circumstances of their entire family and subsequently their community. Is that not what Lyanna did at every turn? Where was she doing the Battle against the Night King? In the crypt with the little Oliver Twist Girl, women, old or weak men, and sick folks? No! She was 12 or 13 on the battlefield slanging them thangs! In the midst or being lifted and crushed in the high heavens, she lifted her arm and the last thing that dead giant saw was her Grit face and a dragonglass dagger! A real one!

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Ros

Ros Pro Tip: The best sex involves vulnerability. Vulnerability is the foundation of true connection. It’s the circle of life.

Sex work is valid and deserving of respect. “Ros with the Amazing Tits”, as she was affectionately named in the first season, was the one and only confidant of Theon Greyjoy while he was a ward of the Starks. You might have even called them friends, but like “fuck friends”. Cues Camouflage’s song “Fuck Friends”

Strippers, prostitutes, and the like are often well versed in conversation, fulfilling emotional needs, and compassion because they interact with people on an intimate basis for a living. Ros could always see past the pretense of ego, bravado, and ensuing and see what a client is truly seeking outside of the obvious sexual eruption (word to Snoop Lion). In an act of true sisterhood, Ros, who had known of Sansa since she was born, passed a message to Shay to watch out for Sansa with Bitch Baelish (BB). Who else would know who slimey and grimey he was other than his top employee? Sisterhood isn’t always some overt gesture, sometimes it’s a soft whisper that plants a seed. And boy was she right! After BB found out she was spying on him, he sold her off to Joffrey so that he could turn is sadistic behaviors on to her; killing her by brutally penetrating her with his bow and arrow, Widow’s Wail. That’s the death Cersei deser—nevermind, no one deserves to die like that. Especially not OG Ros.

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Lady Olenna of High Garden

Lady Olenna Pro Tip: “Anything from you? No? Good. Let the grown women speak.” Know when to sit in a room and listen rather than speak.


Reverence and homage to the legend: Lady Olenna of High Garden. She had the dignity and grace of a woman who has been crowned and admired since before you were born. She had a tongue and wit that could cut through glass and a mind so slick that no one suspected that she was the one who poisoned Joffrey. Like a praying grandmother, praying and fasting on your behalf, Lady O said “My granddaughter will not be joined to this ghetto shit show of a family, the Lannisters!” She could say what she wanted and no one dare to check her because you know that she has earned the right to say what she wanted and was ready to face the consequences without batting an eye. “Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me.” All hail, the Queen!

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Missandei of Narth

Last Words: “THE ROOF, THE ROOF, ALL THE ROOFS ARE ON FIRE, THEY DON’T NEED NO WATER. MAKE KING’S LANDING BURN!” Or whatever Rock Master Scott and the Dynamic Three said.

Author: Fiya Angelou, 2019