I recently finished posting a fic in which, at one point, it is announced that a Stark girl is in bad trouble. The overwhelming reader response to that announcement was, loosely paraphrased, ‘oh no, what’s happened to Sansa?’
And my first reaction was: wait a minute! Why is almost everyone so certain it’s Sansa and not Arya?
Because Sansa is the damsel in distress of the Stark family, especially in a lot of fanon, always needing to be rescued? Whereas – in fanon maybe even more than in the books – Arya is a butt-kicking, Needle-wielding, no-shit-taking little hellcat who can take on the Mountain and win, let alone take care of herself?
Well yes, in a way. Arya certainly “saves herself” in more obvious ways than Sansa often does.
But Arya is also a child, who has been kidnapped (as is and has Sansa), and has had the remarkable good fortune to avoid death, rape, and other forms of extreme violence being perpetrated upon her by very many people on many different occasions. Whether that’s because she was in the company of someone even bigger and scarier or more numerous (the Hound, the BWB) or the circumstances did not allow the other parties to use Arya for their fun (her brief encounter with Biter and Rorge). Arya is hardly an island, entire of itself. Before she reaches Braavos, Arya’s survival and general good health are not due solely to her own resources.
I am not trying to make Arya (or Sansa) seem weaker than she is. But Arya has, all things considered, had more luck than might at once be obvious, in that she reaches Braavos and starts her formal training alive, unmaimed, and unraped. And that’s not all due to her being a butt-kicking, Needle-wielding, etc. Sometimes sheer coincidence or blind (heh) luck is at play.
Just something to consider when the knee-jerk assumption becomes that Sansa always needs rescuing but Arya has all possibilities covered because she’s just that badass.