Aaand because I am bored and proscrastinating, bear with me while I go on a little bit more. Because with the introduction of Brienne, I’ve been thinking a lot about the way certain characters are labelled ‘masculine’ or 'feminine’ and defended or despised accordingly. But one thing I find interesting about GRRM’s female characters is that none of them really fit neatly into these categories. Sansa and Arya, particularly in the first book, are the most obvious examples, as they fill the role of lady and tomboy respectively. But I see a lot of people trying to group the other women into one of these two categories as well - Brienne is just like Arya, Sansa has to be careful not to end up like Cersei - and it never quite works for me.
It is Arya, not Sansa, who is more like a young Cersei - uncomfortable in her own skin, desperately wanting to be allowed to fight like her brothers, hot tempered, ruthlessly vengeful. And though on the outside Brienne may remind Cat of Arya, inside she is far more like Sansa - gentle and naive, believing in knights and honour and goodness, and about to learn that life is not a song. Just as Arya and Sansa are two sides of the same coin, so are Brienne and Cersei, but just because Brienne fights with a sword, that doesn’t make her inherently more masculine. If anything, her outward trappings of masculinity belie a gentle heart - “gentler than Cersei,” Jaime tells us - that is quite stereotypically feminine - she is even more concerned than Sansa with love and romance.
And when you start to bring in the other women, it becomes even more complicated. Daenerys is defined first by her role as Drogo’s wife, and then by her role as mother - she is the mother of dragons, mother of her people. But the cost of assuming this role is any chance of being an actual mother - she never gives life, only death and fire and war. And the Dornish and Ironborn women can be wives and mothers as well as warriors. One of the complaints I read most often from feminists reading GRRM’s work is that feminine women are portrayed negatively, and masculine women are portrayed positively. And while I definitely agree that the fandom are wont to interpret things this way, I think that in the books themselves things a bit more interesting than that.
Okay, rant over, really going to start doing some real work now.