Stop Saying Women Don't Like Game of Thrones Already

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
May 15 2013 2:42 PM

Stop Saying Women Don't Like Game of Thrones Already

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My kind of book club (but not Ginia Bellafante's)

Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Game of Thrones is one of the most outrageously enjoyable shows on television right now, not least because of its incredible roster of female characters, from medieval Girl Scout Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) to court manipulator Lady Olenna Redwyne (Diana Rigg). But what's incredibly not-fun is how much stupid writing the show has inspired about female television watchers, and what we like or don't like.

The latest attempt to explain Game of Thrones in relation to All Ladies comes courtesy of Thrillist's Renata Sellitti in a piece entitled "Why Girls Hate Game Of Thrones: The reasons she throws shade on your medieval man show." Her arguments include such gems as "We hate gross things. Know what's gross? Screwing your sibling," in reference to the relationship between twins Cersei and Jaime Lannister, girl-trolling like "It’s hard to follow," or nerd-baiting, including "It reminds us of the kids that used to play magic cards in the cafeteria. And people who go to Renaissance festivals." At least Sellitti has the originality to attribute new obnoxious ideas to all women who watch television, though she doesn't reach the heights of originality scaled by the New York Times' Ginia Bellafante, who suggested when the show premiered in 2011 of the incest and prostitution plotlines "that all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise."

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This kind of treatment of women as if they're narrow, fantasy-averse, or pervy, makes me want to slowly and carefully lower my forehead to my desk repeatedly in imitation of Mad Men's Peggy Olson (to use a Sunday night prestige show reference Bellafante might appreciate). Bellafante may not have ever met "a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed toThe Hobbit first," and Sellitti may believe that "Eating a giant drumstick and drinking out of a goblet is cool, just not every Sunday night for three months straight." But there's something bizarre about the inability to imagine that some women dig stories about swords and sorcery, even to the extent that we'll strap on custom costumes ourselves, not just gather in front of the television on Sunday nights to watch other people wear them.

Did it occur to Sellitti that some of us tune into Game of Thrones precisely because it is like a soap opera, except with a wider range of roles available to women? Or that, for the straight ladies, the show offers up an unusual amount of man candy, particularly in its third season? Maybe we're actually interested in what will happen when Danaerys Targaryen starts liberating slaves and conquering cities. Maybe want to know if Tyrion Lannister can find a way to pay off the Iron Bank of Braavos, or whether Arya Stark will actually get revenge on the people who murdered her friend, killed her father, and brainwashed her sister? Perhaps we're curious about things other than traditional lady business—what Sellitti calls "the romantic crap" in her advice to men to get the women in their lives on board

I'm fine leaving them with their Lorrie Moore volumes and their Mad Men episodes—in point of fact, liking The Hobbit and Game of Thrones doesn't preclude me from reading fiction by women or crushing on Ted Chaough. I just wish they wouldn't get so perturbed by those of their fellow women who like to spend a little time in Westeros.

Alyssa Rosenberg writes about culture and television for Slate’s “XX Factor” blog. She also contributes to ThinkProgress and theatlantic.com.

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