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Why Sansa Stark's Comments About Her Abuse On 'Game Of Thrones' Are Problematic At Best

HBO

*Warning: Game of Thrones spoilers ahead!*

HBO/Buzzfeed

In the most recent episode in the final season of Game of Thrones, all of our heroes got to kick back and celebrate their big victory after Arya Stark killed the Night King in Episode 3, "The Long Night."

As the residents of Winterfell were in full party-mode, Sansa sat down for a little chat with Sandor Clegane, The Hound.

Sansa and Clegane have a bit of a history from back in Season 2. While the young Stark was basically being held prisoner by the Lannisters in King's Landing, The Hound was her occasional jailer, rescuer, and, at one point, almost friend.

Clegane called Sansa "Little Bird" as a nod to her innocence, and even offered to sneak her out of King's Landing.

Sansa, however, refused this offer, which led her down a very unpleasant path. She was eventually smuggled out of King's Landing by Baelish, who was far more interested in his own well-being than Sansa's.

After a very unpleasant stay with her not-so-sane Aunt Arryn (who very nearly throws her off a cliff), Baelish marries her off to Ramsey Bolton, a psychopath and serial abuser.

Seeing how these experiences have changed Sansa, The Hound seems sad about how things turned out, saying:

"None of it would have happened if you had left King's Landing with me. No Littlefinger, no Ramsay, none of it."

Sansa responds in a way that irked many female viewers, especially those who have survived sexual assault:

"Without Littlefinger and Ramsey and the rest I would have stayed a Little Bird all my life."

With that line, Sansa seemed to be suggesting that she was almost grateful to her abusers for teaching her life's "important lessons."


Twitter immediately sounded off against the misguided writing, pointing out the only person Sansa should be grateful to is herself.


This small but hugely important distinction in how Sansa thinks of her abusers is a tell-tale sign of the misogyny Hollywood is still struggling to move past.




It's irresponsible writing. It's damaging writing. No character should ever have to claim to be grateful for sexual trauma.



Game of Thrones has employed a grand total of two women writers.

The last episode to feature a female writer, "Dark Wings Dark Words," premiered in 2013.

Since that time, every episode has been written exclusively by men, and all but two episodes were directed by men.


While the male writers and director of this scene may have had the best intentions, input from a strong female voice would have made all the difference.


And Sansa's gratitude wasn't the only feminist concern in the episode...



Some Twitter users gave a small defense of the show's choice, but even they had to admit Sansa's words hadn't been framed correctly.

With two episodes of Game of Thrones remaining, both of them written and directed by men, the show is unlikely to be moving towards a more thoughtful, nuanced view of feminism and abuse survivors... but we can always hope!