(I might be a little biased, being her mother and all.)
In keeping with Heroines of Fantasy's mission to keep female characters real, viable, and plentiful, Jamie gives us her defense of Sansa Stark. ~Terri-Lynne DeFino
Before in this article you’re embroiled,
And through each sentence you’ve toiled--
If you still yet aspire
To read A Song of Ice and Fire
Don’t read this! The books will be spoiled!
Seriously guys. If you haven’t read the books yet…
*waits patiently for the door to close* Are they gone? Okay fabulous.
I love Sansa Stark.
Yes. That Sansa Stark. Saccharine, dewy-eyed, froo froo, mean to Tyrion, misguided Sansa Stark. Know that scene in Beauty and the Beast when Gaston shows the townsfolk the image of the roaring Beast in the mirror, and they all get their pitchforks, and Belle is all “No! You don’t understand! He’s my friend!”? That’s how I feel among a lot of Game of Thrones fans when I try to defend Sansa. But, ever the optimist (like Sansa, y’all!), I’m going to do so here, at the request of Mama Bogwitch. In the interest of avoiding “tl;dr”s in the comments, I’ll keep it to a few quick points.
Complaint: Sansa is so girly! Ugh! She’s such a little priss! She always has to be such a perfect lady! Give me Arya any day!
Am I going to argue that Sansa is kickass in the same way that Brienne, Dany, or Asha are kickass? Absolutely not. She’s certainly nothing at all like Arya, her plucky (and, if I’m being very honest, sort of stereotypical) sister. I’m not even going to argue that Sansa isn’t “girly.” She’s the definition of cisgender. But here’s my problem, and it very much frames the way I look at Sansa: why can’t we respect strength or intelligence in women unless it subverts gender norms? What does it say that we can only admire a character if their courage is in keeping with traditionally male modes of behavior? One of Sansa’s most oft-repeated refrains is “Courtesy is a lady’s armor.” I feel it is often dismissed by readers, or presented as further evidence that Sansa is only interested in being nice. Yet when Lord Varys flounces about all perfumed, pretty, and demure, hiding his true nature and cunning behind a flowery exterior, we praise his ability to use people’s assumptions to his advantage.
Complaint: It’s Sansa’s fault Ned is dead!
While I can’t say she didn’t have a part in the way things went down, she’s eleven. Know what I was doing at eleven? Collecting comic books trading cards and wearing macramé vests. Everyone is stupid when they’re eleven. Furthermore, do you know how many people conspired to get Ned imprisoned? Basically the whole small council, plus Cersei and her minions, plus the Gold Cloaks. Do you think all those people needed the complacency of a little girl to carry out their plot? Above and beyond all that, Joffrey went all wildcard on everyone and decided he wanted Ned executed. So Ned’s death is in no way on Sansa.
Complaint: Sansa just lets things happen to her! She’s passive!
After Ned dies and Sansa learns that “life is not a song,” Sansa—a sheltered lord’s daughter who has never spent time among the intrigues of court—is in over her head and she knows it. Rather than immediately leap to what would inevitably be an ill-conceived plot to escape her situation, she spends some time playing to her strengths (remember: courtesy is a lady’s armor) while she figures things out. What happens to her is not pretty, but she lives through all of it. I don’t think a character who went about things more aggressively could say the same.
Complaint: Sansa is so naïve! She trusts Littlefinger! I can’t like someone that stupid.
Oh of course not. You would never love a character like that.
(pic of Littlefinger with knife at Ned's throat removed. Many gifs and pics removed. We just won't go into that.)