Non-conforming femininity in Game of Thrones: An analysis of Arya Stark and Brienne of Tarth
Trejo Morales, Cristina
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Trejo Morales, Cristina. (2020). Non-conforming femininity in Game of Thrones: An analysis of Arya Stark and Brienne of Tarth. Dearcadh: Graduate Journal of Gender, Globalisation and Rights, 1. doi:https://doi.org/10.13025/4nzq-hb04
The male gaze is a theory that was developed by Laura Mulvey (1975), addressing the objectification of women in classic Hollywood films. While the male gaze is highly criticized, it is still applicable today and is presented in the representation of women in current media, like the television show Game of Thrones. The power of the male gaze can be seen in the female character’s nudity, the sexual violence directed towards female characters, and how women access political power through sexuality and fertility (Ferreday, 2015; Genz, 2016; Frankel, 2014). While women in Game of Thrones are not powerless, their access to power is through conforming to typical forms of femininity, which means that their access to power is restrained and controlled. However, not all female characters conform to gender ideals, like Arya Stark and Brienne of Tarth. The objective of this paper is to examine how the male gaze can account for the treatment of non-gender-conforming female characters in Game of Thrones, using feminist qualitative content analysis. Looking at non-genderconforming characters is critical to understanding the diverse ways the male gaze is used to punish female characters, coercing them into femininity. Based on the analysis undertaken as part of a MA thesis, this paper found that although non-genderconforming female characters were given more liberties than female characters in Game of Thrones, they were still subjected to the control, coercion, and discipline of the male gaze, even if in non-sexual ways.