The Problem with Dany
If I had to pick a character who was the most difficult to talk about in this series, it would probably be Daenerys Targaryen. The intersection of every single conflict and perspective–in world and modern–about her is one that is almost impossible to address without sidelining one element of it.
That her arc relies intensely white saviorism; depictions of the Dothraki are laden with racist tropes; her experience in Slaver’s Bay harkens to (but does not perfectly mirror) white conquest in the 19th century. This pairs uncomfortably with the fact that she is 13-16 years old (I’m focusing predominantly on book!Daenerys in this–if you are here for show!Daenerys proceed with that in mind), a child sold into sex slavery, a rape victim, and someone who believes firmly and acts upon the belief that any society that relies upon slavery is not society. As a woman in Martin’s historically inaccurate misogynistic world, she confronts challenges that are designed by the creator of the series to confront her womanhood; as a Targaryen/Valyrian/Westerosi far from her home and without the resources of that home, she is left with little choice but to look forward.
Before even touching on the content of A Song of Ice and Fire, a point that causes trouble, right out of the gate, is where do “problems” with Daenerys arise? When, for example, does responsibility lie with a character, and when with the architect of her story? Add into that–when does the responsibility lie with neither character, nor creator, but with instead the fans who are discussing the media in question?
All this is not to absolve Daenerys of whatever sins exist within her storyline. There are choices that the character makes that are reprehensible and for which the ultimate responsibility does lie with her; however it is also to say that many of the things that Daenerys is loathed for are decisions that lie instead at Martin’s feet.