“You’re going to die tomorrow, Lord Bolton. Sleep well.”
– Sansa the Comeback Kid
Warning: This post may contain a spoiler or two. But it’s Tuesday, so why the hell haven’t you watched Game of Thrones yet?
I, like most Game of Thrones fans, cringed every time Sansa Stark appeared onscreen. She was snarky, self-absorbed, and entitled. Of course, in the cruel world of Westeros, even the slightest character flaw can have grave consequences. Sansa committed an unforgivable sin early on: she sided against her sister in favor of her beloved, monstrous Joffrey. That was all we needed to hate her.
As seasons went by, we made room for several characters’ growth. Jamie Lannister, despite his incestuous relationship (and the fact that he pushed a child out of a window almost killing him) is seen as a complex, almost likable character. Sandor Clegane (“The Hound”) has experienced a similar ascension into our good graces. Heroes and anti-heroes (many of whom committed inexplicable horrors as adults) rise and fall, and we can objectively note their change.
Yet, we still hate Sansa – mostly for being a 13 year-old girl. Arguably, her romantic naiveté not only drove a wedge between her and her family, but was instrumental in her father being killed. Episode after episode, season after season, we’ve watched people leapfrog over the actions of adults in power and place the blame on squarely on Sansa’s shoulders. Discussions about Sansa without the words “stupid,” “bitch,” or some colorful combination of the two making an appearance are rare to nonexistent. Even once she clearly saw the error of her ways and suffered greatly, it was not enough. That stupid little bitch got what she deserved.
Sansa’s naiveté evolved into a fierce, cunning survivor’s spirit. Season six Sansa made it known that she is here to play, and will not go down easy. Nothing showcased this like Battle of the Bastards (S6, E9). Sansa saves Jon’s ass. The end. Yet somehow, after warning him of Ramsey’s strategy, after telling them that they were woefully outmanned, after coming through; much like Tywin Lannister did at the Battle of Blackwater; much like Stannis Baratheon did at the Battle of Castle Black, Sansa was still labeled as stupid. Among the reasons I received:
- She trusted Little Finger;
- She didn’t trust Little Finger;
- Because she sent a raven and didn’t tell Jon;
- Because the Nights of the Vale weren’t certain to come;
- Because the Nights of the Vale were definitely coming;
- Because she wanted Jon to lose;
- Because Jon wouldn’t have trusted Little Finger; and
- Because Lysa Arryn (who had been dead for god knows how long) didn’t let the Knights of the Vale help Robb and how was Jon to know that she was dead…it’s not like they could FaceTime him this information (This was my personal favorite. A raven could make it to Little Finger and Sansa, who knew that Lysa was dead was right there, but there’s no way Jon could know she was dead. Twitter snarkarati…never change.)
Somehow, Sansa Stark, who has spent the majority of her adolescence emotionally abused and imprisoned, was the war hero Jon (former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch) and Davos Seaworth (former Hand to the Daughter-Burning King) needed. Quite a few people said that Sansa was stupid for not accepting Little Finger’s help at the outset, but totally gave a pass to Jon for not seeking his help because Little Finger sold out his sister, so why would Jon trust him. Jon – who went to his “father’s” (*wink*) sworn banner men who formed an alliance with the Boltons. Why is Jon able to have reservations about trusting Little Finger, but Sansa, whom Little Finger actually sold out, is not? Don’t answer that.
Sansa’s plan was arguably a dirty game that required a lot of moral maneuvering. Sansa’s plan required cunning which she learned/developed from her time with the Lannisters and Baelish. Cunning is a foreign language to the Starks, which is why Ned, Rob, and Catelyn were dead. It’s why Jon would have died.
Starks move in straight lines and Jon is without a doubt a Stark through and through. Hell, Ramsey was able to kill Rickon because that poor child didn’t even possess the cunning to run serpentine when arrows were at his back.
This is the first time I have ever seen the clutch performer be labeled stupid so vehemently. Sexists are as creative as racists in their attempts to legitimize their prejudice. And make no mistake, this reeks of sexism. You can ‘ship Jamie and Brienne (who is too good for him, by the way) despite the fact that he has sister kissing lips. You can feel compassion for Theon the child murderer. You can ignore The Hounds atrocities, and even cheer FrankenMountain. Because you’re certain that Sansa Stark is the “real” bad guy here. She is the reason the Direwolf is waving at Winterfell, something no one hoped to dream of, but she’s the stupid one.
Cut the shit.
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