What Sansa Stark Means To Me
Spoilers for Game of Thrones Series Finale. You have been warned!
Sansa Stark has received way too much hate. A lot of fans call her useless, fixate on her mistakes, and feel the constant need to point out that she can’t use a sword. Despite all of that, she’s one of my favourite characters on Game of Thrones. More than that, she’s been an important character to me since I started reading these books as a teenager, and I am thrilled to see her crowned Queen in the North.
Sansa starts the series as a silly twelve year old girl who liked clothes and boys. She wanted nothing more than to marry the handsome prince. She was a prissy, a bit rude, and really annoying, but here’s the thing: so are most children, and that is exactly why her character means a lot to me. She was allowed to be a little girl. Most lead female characters have never been like “other girls.” Katniss Everdeen grew up fast and doesn’t know how to do romance; Hermione is bookish and is mocked for it; Arya rebels against every skirt and rule from a young age. That’s not to say these women aren’t fantastic and necessary - all women should be able to see themselves on screen, and I have been grateful for each of these characters. But when they are so often praised for being unlike other girls, it can be discouraging to a teenage girl who might enjoy talking about cute boys (which is normal because, you know - puberty). They send a message that, in order to be great in the future, you need to be remarkable now, and that in order to be remarkable, you need to stop being so girly and childish. Compare that to the male characters in these same franchises. Peeta in The Hunger Games is a lovesick puppy. Harry Potter and Ron Weasley start off absolutely average. Even Jon Snow spends the first book or two sulking about the lack of glory in being a part of the Night’s Watch. They get to become remarkable as their series progress, so why can’t women?
Here’s the thing: many amazing women when they were little, did like pretty dresses. They did like fairy tales. They spent their time with other girls. They enjoyed those trappings of femininity when they were children, have continued to do so, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Sansa embraces her femininity in a way that few characters in her universe do - in fact, I'd argue that it's rare that you see women do this outside of "chick flicks." Cersei hates that she was born a woman, Arya disguises herself as a boy, and Brienne constantly points out that she is not a lady. But even as Sansa grows up and abandons her naivete, she brings her "womanly” habits with her. She uses her skills in textiles to declare her pride for House Stark, and uses the politeness that was drilled into her to exercise diplomacy (and deliver some excellent insults – see here). We are constantly exposed to powerful women who become powerful by hiding anything girly about themselves, both in fiction and in the real world. Sansa is a woman and she is authoritative, and she does not hold those traits in conflict with each other.
This is not me saying that all female characters should be like Sansa Stark, far from it. What it is, is an argument that a Sansa is just as important as an Arya. I have had my issues with the writing in this last season of Game of Thrones, believe me. The ascension of Sansa Stark, Queen in the North, is definitely not one of them. Let her wear her full skirts, let her wear her embroidered gowns, and let her rule wisely, because all children - even the girly girls - are allowed to grow up.