Some days I want to look like a hipster kid, and then other days I want to be prim and proper. I really wish I had, like, seven lives so I could go from being a hipster one day to a punk the next. But that’s the great thing about fashion. In a way, it’s like acting, because you can try on all these different roles.
“It’s just a stupid sword,“ she said, aloud this time… but it wasn’t.
Needle was Robb and Bran and Rickon, her mother and her father, even Sansa. Needle was Winterfell’s grey walls, and the laughter of its people. Needle was the summer snows, Old Nan’s stories, the heart tree with its red leaves and scary face, the warm earthy smell of the glass gardens, the sound of the north wind rattling the shutters of her room. Needle was Jon Snow’s smile.” -Arya Stark - Game of Thrones.
Kraken. Mmm. Strong as long as they’re in the sea. When you take them out of the water, no bones. They collapse under their proud weight and slump into a heap of nothing. You’d think they know that. Unfortunately, they’re not very bright.
“The snow drifted down and down, all in ghostly silence, and lay thick and unbroken on the ground. It was a place of whites and blacks and greys. White towers and white snow and white statues, black shadows and black trees, the dark grey sky above. A pure world, Sansa thought. I do not belong here. Yet she stepped out all the same.”
So I just spent the better part of the last hour torturing myself by watching clip after clip of Sansa Stark being treated horribly in Game of Thrones, starting with Joffrey showing her Ned’s head and ending with The-Scene-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named that happened on a certain wedding night in season 5. It was awful, but there’s a method to my madness, I swear. I wanted to get a sense of how Sansa’s troubles have changed her and made her perceive and interact with Jon differently from how she may have done had they been reunited after many years in which nothing bad in particular had happened to her.
Instead, I found myself focusing on the different ways the various men in Sansa’s life treat her, and I’m not just talking about the differences among rape, creepy groping, and sweet hugs and forehead kisses. I noticed right away how different Jon’s body language and tone of voice are from those of the other men. From Joffrey to Petyr to Ramsay, and even Tyrion to some extent, all of them step into her personal space and take charge, leaving her with little to no agency or choice. Joffrey bullies her and has her beaten; Petyr gropes her and verbally strong-arms her; Ramsay, even before he starts raping her, uses his torture and domination of Theon to show Sansa that he, and not she, is the one in charge; and Tyrion, while he treats Sansa very decently, guides her around within the perimeter of the gilded cage in which his family has imprisoned her. (Granted, she was very young at the time; had she been older, the dynamic between them may have been quite different.)
Jon, however, is the opposite. From the moment they meet at Castle Black, he (literally) steps back and lets her have the agency she’s determined to recover. He even lets her approach him when they first hug! And during both of their disagreements later in the episode, he argues with her from a distance; he doesn’t touch her or step up in her face, so to speak. She’s actually the one grabbing his hand at the breakfast table and insisting on taking action, rather than the other way around. And throughout their journey around the North, he respects her and her boundaries, especially her physical boundaries. Even when they argue, even when he raises his voice, even when he’s annoyed as heck with her, he never lifts a hand to her (not even to within a foot of her); he never grabs her arm; he never tries to force his own opinions on her “because I’m the man”; and he never pulls a Petyr by trying to gaslight or manipulate her. The one time, as many other Tumblrs have pointed out, when he initiates physical contact with her, it’s to give her a very gentle, non-threatening kiss on the forehead - i.e., positive physical contact, which she hasn’t had with another man since she lost her father. (Just to be clear, I’m talking about positive physical contact in general, not in a sexual context.) In short, he treats her with utter kindness, gentleness, and respect.
Which brings me to the last part of my theory. I haven’t seen all of Season 6 yet, but I’ve watched most or all of Sansa’s scenes in it, and I’ve observed that she acts markedly different with Jon from the way she acts with other men. She puts a mask on around them that she loses when she’s with Jon. With other men, she’s the shrewd strategist (i.e., council scene with Davos and Tormund), the brittle, wronged ward (i.e., the Mole Town scene with Petyr Baelish - and notice how she shows almost no emotion when she first rides to the battlefield near Winterfell with Baelish and his army in “Battle of the Bastards”), or the commanding Lady of Winterfell (i.e., the disastrous attempts to get Houses Mormont and Glover to aid House Stark). But with Jon, she loses the mask. She lets herself do what I did a very long time ago, when my parents and I had left a destructive cult and the therapist they had me see advised them to give me free rein to express the anger I’d been bottling up for years, so I could get it out of my system. Well, I let loose (verbally, not physically), and so does Sansa. She yells at Jon; she questions his judgment; she disagrees with and once or twice even ridicules his decisions - because she feels safe enough to do it. At some level, she understands that he won’t retaliate with violence or gaslighting or putting her back in her cage, as the other men would have done. She probably has faith as well in his willingness to forgive her for it because he’s done so once already, back at Castle Black when he told her there was “nothing to forgive.” Yes, she goes a bit overboard at times, but then so did I in my anger, and once I’d gotten it out of my system I began to stabilize again. And I think we see signs of Sansa’s stabilizing in “The Winds of Winter.” I don’t mean that she’s mentally unstable, just that she was suffering from the sort of emotional instability that could be expected of anybody who has gone through what she has. And, unlike many of those people, she has a gentle, kind, loving person waiting for her on the other side. When she apologizes to Jon (and it’s a true apology, not one such as the men before him have forced or manipulated out of her) and says he is a true Stark to her, I think she’s showing him true gratitude for sticking with her and being so incredibly kind to her. I think that she values the gentleness and freedom and safety she gets with him far more than she’d value being named Queen of the North, and that’s why I don’t think she’d betray Jon in a million years. It’s also why I think she’ll fall in love with him once they find out about his parentage and open herself up voluntarily to the vulnerability of sex and marriage. I don’t think anything short of what Jon offers could ever make her do that again.
Sorry, way too long ramble.
TL;DR Sansa has suffered unbelievable cruelty, manipulation, and other forms of mistreatment throughout Game of Thrones at the hands of men who take away her agency and violate her boundaries. Jon treats her with kindness and love and never infringes on her agency. She won’t betray him. She will eventually fall in love with and even voluntarily marry him.
GoT writers: we ruined our characters backstories to satisfy our twisted kinks and killed off these characters in ways that are most inaccurate to the books we’re trying to adapt :) 343i: you’re like a little baby! watch this 343i: