GRRM said it is not normal in Westeros for very young brides to be bedded. From the ssm:
A girl who has flowered, but not yet attained her sixteenth name day, is in a somewhat ambigious position: part child, part woman. A “maid,” in other words. Fertile but innocent, beloved of the singers.
In the “general Westerosi view,” well, girls may well be wed before their first flowerings, for political reasons, but it would considered perverse to bed them. And such early weddings, even without sex, remain rare. Generally weddings are postponed until the bride has passed from girlhood to maidenhood.
Maidens may be wedded and bedded… however, even there, many husbands will wait until the bride is fifteen or sixteen before sleeping with them. Very young mothers tend to have significantly higher rates of death in childbirth, which the maesters will have noted.”
If GRRM says it is not normal in Westeros, it seems slightly hypocritical of him to keep writing it into the story.
lucypevensi replied to your post:
he does it because it’s an accurate representation of the setting and the context.
No, it’s not. It wasn’t ~just like that back then~, which is the argument you’re using.
- Child marriage wasn’t normal back then.
- In Italy the average age for first marriage for women was 17; in France it is 16; and in England and Germany it was 18. (Source: “Medieval Households” by David Herlihy, Harvard University Press, 1985).
- “Evidence regarding ages at marriage and motherhood for late medieval Englishwomen
indicates that canon legal theory on women’s marriageable age was just that - theory - and
that social beliefs and practice occupied a rather different notion of the transition to
adulthood for women. While marriages at very young ages could and sometimes did take
place, particularly for women of high social status, it would be a mistake to see marriage
below or around the age of puberty as a norm, even for young noblewomen.” (Source: “The Medieval Maiden: Young Womanhood in Late Medieval England”)
- It’s historically inaccurate for so many girls in ASOIAF to be having babies at 13. The average age of menstruation in GRRM’s novels is too young compared to the average age of menstruation in medieval Europe: “From the sixth to the fifteenth centuries in Europe, most women reached menarche on average at about 14”. The decline of the average age of menarche is a phenomenon that occurred in the 20th century, and the reasons for it are highly debated.
- Westeros is significantly worse than Medieval Europe in terms of its treatment of women.
- #gender in asoiaf
that doesn’t make it right. just because an author writes something into their fictional story doesn’t mean said author supports whatever that thing is.
I am aware that GRRM does not support pedophilia and child marriage. I’m also aware that GRRM is a conscientious objector, despite writing one of the most brutal war stories I have ever read. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop critically examining and evaluating the effectiveness of these things in his stories. Given that GRRM normalizes child marriage to the point where I have to give these links every time I mention child marriage in ASOIAF, I think his use of child marriage as a narrative tool to condemn misogyny is less effective than, for example, Gregor Clegane’s war crimes as a narrative tool to condemn war.