On Dany and imperialism



Some definitions:

Imperialism: the policy of extending the rule or authority of an empire or nation over foreign countries, or of acquiring and holding colonies and dependencies.

Colonialism the control or governing influence of a nation over a dependent country, territory, or people.


Some friendly reminders:

(1) Slaver’s Bay is extremely resource poor. As Dany discovers in ADWD, their economy is based on slavery because they produce little else worth exporting (Meereen produces olives and that’s about it). Thus, the main way you might theoretically exploit them economically is by taking advantage of their slave industry, as the Valyrian Freehold did. Obviously, Dany’s not interested in that.

(2) Daenerys did not conquer Slaver’s Bay to exploit any of its resources. She didn’t even intend to rule it or to control it in any way (other than making sure slavery remains illegal). She had no ulterior motives for it (other than, in the case of Astapor, to gather an army). Her opposition to slavery is not a “pretext”; you’d have disregard the totality of her chapters and her character development to claim that it was. 

(3) Dany does not act on behalf of another “empire or nation.” She has a claim to the Iron Throne, but she not recognized as such by either the people of Westeros or the people of Essos. Dany is not a representative of Westeros (in that Westeros neither benefits from or can be held responsible for her actions). In fact, she does not legally represent any nation.

(4) Westeros is not more “civilized” than Essos, by almost any measure. When places like Qarth and Meereen brag about their history, culture, and wealth— they mean it. The Ghiscari empire fell almost 5000 years before AL. Westeros has never been an imperialist power. Groups from Essos have conquered Westeros four times— the First Men, the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the Targaryens. (x) Westeros has never conquered any part of Essos (as noted above, Daenerys conquering Slaver’s Bay does not mean that Westeros now has control over Slaver’s Bay because she has no control over Westeros). The Essosi view the Westerosi as savages (see Daenerys II, ASoS for examples).

(5) Daenerys is not ethnically other to the peoples of Essos. The Valyrians are Essosi. Her family has ruled Westeros for 300 years, but thanks to inbreeding, she’s mostly Valyrian and, more importantly, looks it.

(6) In the books, many of the slaves are not racially other to Daenerys. Essosi slavery is rather like Roman slavery— people are not enslaved on the basis of race and the Meereenese do not, as slaveholders in the US did, use race as a way to rationalize their actions. The Quartheen and Lysene are notably fair-skinned. Many of the people in the Free Cities are white, too. There are sometimes Westerosi slaves, too— Tyrion and Jorah later become slaves.

Note: Let me know if any of this wrong and I’ll correct it. This is meant to be purely factual information.


Basically, the ways in which Dany’s storyline evokes colonialism boils down to: (1) She is white. (2) She frees slaves. (3) All (in the show) or some (in the books) of these slaves are non-white. If this is supposed to be a portrayal/critique of imperialism, it’s an awfully bad one.

But it doesn’t matter, you might be saying. It still evokes racist undertones, and that perpetuates perceptions about White Man’s Burden and white saviors and all that.

I agree. It does, and that matters. It was really, really shitty of GRRM to a plotline in which a white young woman frees slaves on a continent that he has coded as ambiguously Eastern. It was really shitty of him to have the Dornish be the sexually liberated bunch and for the Dothraki to be the ones that are uniformly down for some raping and pillaging.

But if you want to understand the storyline, if you want to understand Dany’s character or Essosi politics or the series’ themes about politics, governance, and ethics or any other question within the text— this analysis of Dany as a white savior is not going to help you. These questions may seem insignificant in the face of racism, but hey, I’m here writing nearly 1000 words about a plotline in a fantasy book series/TV show, so “priorities” have left the station. I’ll assume that if you’re reading this, you too care about what this storyline means within the text. And if this interpretation is all you can see, you’re going to miss a whole lot.

Dany is not racist. She doesn’t have a white savior complex— she has a savior complex. Dany did not conquer Slaver’s Bay because she thought Westerosi culture was superior to Essos culture and the books do not take the position that Westeros is (morally, culturally, etc) superior to Essos.  The books do not take the position that it was morally wrong of Dany to intervene in Slaver’s Bay’s practices— or that the Meereenese have the right to enslave other peoples in the name of cultural relativism. She’s not a neocon a la George Bush (in fact, I argue she’s actually the opposite). 

A portrayal/criticism of imperialism/colonialism just not the point of the storyline. It is an unintended consequence of an arc conceived sometime in the 1990s by a cishet white man of my grandparents’ generations. (Call the press!)

(If you want to talk about what the arc might actually about, this is a good place to start, though not without its flaws.)

What’s more, in many cases these imperialism/colonialism interpretations give GRRM credit for presenting a critique of imperialism instead of criticizing him for the hugely racist subtext of the series. The portrayal of the Dothraki is problematic. The portrayal of the Dornish is problematic. The other-ization of Essosi peoples is problematic. GRRM is not a paragon of racial consciousness and he deserves to be criticized as such.

I like problematic things, and I’ll bet you you do, too. And it’s not Dany— it’s ASoIaF and George R. R. Martin.


PS: I will not respond to any post that calls me racist, or accuses me of being a self-hating or subpar POC.

 #also it’s worth noting than in the text #the valyrians are the ones to start the slave trade #and valyrian dany being the one to end the slave trade has a dramatic irony that’s essential#the tools of war as the tools of freedom #honestly this plotline would be immensely less problematic if it were set in the region where we actually encounter other people #but for what it’s worth #it’s not a white savior complex as much as it is an externalized savior complex #as well as an internalized righting-the-sins-of-the-father complex

Why David Benioff and D.B. Weiss raped Cersei Lannister


Much has already been written about Sunday’s controversial episode of Game of Thrones. The episode itself was actually rather dull—a lot of exposition and little action—but one particular scene has already garnered thousands of keystrokes, hundreds of outraged tweets, and dozens of confused attempts at rationalization. Viewers will no doubt know exactly what scene I mean.

In the Great Sept, next to the dead body of their first born son, Jaime Lannister rapes his sister, the mother of his three children.

 Immediately after this scene aired, fans were at their keyboards crying foul. Jaime Lannister would never! That’s not how it happened in the book! How could they?

I had waited anxiously for that scene. In the books, it was the first time Jaime and Cersei were reunited since he went off to war. It was an emotional, passionate, and bloody (period sex, fuck yeah) reunion. I assumed it wouldn’t happen since Jaime returned early on the show’s timeline and their reunion was less than enthusiastic. I was wary when they revealed that Jaime has been back for two weeks on the show’s timeline and they still hadn’t had sex. In the books, they were fucking within a matter of minutes.

“Hurry,” she was whispering now, “quickly, quickly, now, do it now, do me now. JaimeJaime Jaime.” Her hands helped guide him.“Yes,” Cersei said as he thrust, “my brother, sweet brother, yes, like that, yes, I have you, you’re home now, you’re home now, you’re home.” She kissed his ear and stroked his short bristly hair. Jaime lost himself in her flesh. He could feel Cersei’s heart beating in time with his own, and the wetness of blood and seed where they were joined.

Imagine my surprise when Jaime shows up to visit Cersei in the Sept then. Excitement stole through me. They were going to be true to the story after all. This would be their reconciliation, their grief would bring them together. They would fuck on the altar of their dead son as he lies in state, and then Jaime would try to convince her to run away with him, to live as husband and wife, to replace their murdered son with new, trueborn children, just as he had in the books.

Instead, he rapes her. Instead of guiding him inside her, she is forced onto the ground and begs him to stop. Instead of futility trying to convince her to join him in a folie à deux where they can have their happily ever after, he calls her hateful. He growls that the gods have made him love a hateful woman. And then he rapes her.

Immediately fans pointed out how completely out of character this was for him. Jaime loves Cersei. Jaime has devoted his entire life to caring for her, to protecting her, to enabling her every whim. Not only that, he is decidedly not a rapist. In a country where rape and murder are so common they’re expected, Jaime Lannister stands out as a man who actually…doesn’t do it. Just the season before, he shields Brienne of Tarth from the grisly fate when they’re captured by Vargo Hoat’s men. He doesn’t rape, he doesn’t whore, he doesn’t even sleep around. He is utterly devoted to his sister-lover.

So why does he do it on the show? Better yet, why do D&D have him do it when it seems to go against all of the careful and painful character development he received in the last season? How does Jaime go from protecting Brienne of Tarth from gang rape and jumping into a pit to save her from a bear, to raping the woman he has devoted the last forty years of his life to?

As many fans pointed out: Just what happened to that inspirational redemption arc of his? How could they possibly think this was in character?

I think the key to this mystery is in the dialogue:

"You are a hateful woman. Why have the gods made me love such a hateful woman?" 

The rape scene is tangential to Jaime’s “redemption arc” in that it is Cersei’s punishment for making him need redemption in the first place.

We know how hard Jaime’s had it, how everyone mocks and hates him for the impossible choice he made when he earned his nickname, Kingslayer. We know he’d given up being honorable because no one saw him as honorable. And, because of his relationship with Brienne, we know that, deep down, under the gold cloak and the shiny hair and attempted murder of a child. All he ever wanted to be was a knight like Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the He’s really just a noble guy whose been lead astray.

And whose fault is that?

David Beniodd and D.B. Weiss say it’s Cersei’s fault. Not explicitly. At least, not yet. But that’s why the sex scene in the Sept became the rape scene in the sept. That’s why, despite hundreds of pages of painstaking character development that make it entirely illogical for that to happen, they wrote it that way for television. 

Because on the King’s Road with Brienne, Jaime was beginning to get in touch with the boy-knight still inside himself, the one who still believed in the words he said. Her honor made him want to be more honorable too. But now he’s back in King’s Landing, outside of Brienne’s sphere of good influence and back in Cersei’s corrupting one. Instead of welcoming Jaime home with open legs, D&D’s Cersei is standoffish and unresponsive.

He stands in the previous episode, pathetically pleading for a modicum of her affection, but she spurns him, telling him he’s too late, that things have changed. D&D’s Cersei cares not a whit for Jaime, though he has devoted his whole life to her, has allowed her to mold him into the man who stands before her. And what better way to show how corrupting she is, than to have that love turned against her?

The show uses rape as Cersei’s comeuppance, her poetic justice for tainting the honorable Jaime’s good honor. That’s why the show’s writers didn’t see it as an out of character action, because Jaime isn’t Jaime when he’s with Cersei, he’s just some pitiful victim of her machinations. When he assaults her, she’s only reaping what she sowed.

I don’t think I have to explain why this is a fucked up, misogynistic, and ethically wrong narrative choice, do I?

The god’s may have made Jaime love a hateful woman, but D&D were the ones who made him rape her. 

She touched his face. “I was lost without you, Jaime. I was afraid the Starks would send me your head. I could not have borne that.” She kissed him. A light kiss, the merest brush of her lips on his, but he could feel her tremble as he slid his arms around her. “I am not whole without you.”

"So the question is not, exactly, “Why change the books?” Because the answer is clear: Many, many details must be changed, just to make the transition from book series to televised series work. The question is, instead: “Why change this?” Why make a scene from the book that depicts consensual sex into one in the show that depicts rape?"

Rape of Thrones · For Our Consideration · The A.V. Club

Thank god for the A.V. Club, the only media outlet that has outright called bullshit on this so far.

And another really important quote:

Rape is a tricky thing to use as character development, for either the victim or the rapist; doing it twice raises a lot of red flags. It assumes that rape between characters doesn’t fundamentally change the rest of their story—and it assumes that the difference between consent and rape is, to use the parlance, a “blurred line.”

(via mythandrists)

Amen to all above. What’s worse is that, going from the previews for next week, we’re going to see interactions between Jaime and Cersei where she’s reaching out to Jaime to do something important for her - as if what we saw happen in the show didn’t happen, and instead something like the book version happened. 

Which is deeply troubling both in terms of the second quote, and in terms of basic storytelling and audience comprehension.

(via racefortheironthrone)


Game of Thrones S04E03

this fucking trash show


“Hurry,” she was whispering now, “quickly, quickly, now, do it now, do me now. Jaime Jaime Jaime.” Her hands helped guide him. “Yes,” Cersei said as he thrust, “my brother, sweet brother, yes, like that, yes, I have you, you’re home now, you’re home now, you’re home.” She kissed his ear and stroked his short bristly hair. 

- A Storm of Swords, Jaime VII

A+ ability to read. Very accurate. Good adaptation.


Yes because jaime would totally rape cersei

the jaime that  felt sick at the sound of hearing rhaella targaryen raped

the jaime that also felt sick after he heard of ellia and her babies being brutally murdered





Word clouds generated from Sansa Stark’s dialogue and italicized internal monologue from books 1-2.

The first cloud is the period before King Robert’s death.
The second cloud is the period after King Robert’s death.

Most often used words in the first cloud: “Father, want, Ser”
Most often used words in the second cloud: “please, your, Grace”

Positively connotative words are in blue. Negative words are in red.

terrible > stupid > fool > poor > smelly > ugly > horrible > awful > evil

good > brave > gentle > kind > sweet > splendid > true > fair > magical

game of thrones meme: nine characters [8/9] → Brienne of Tarth
Ser Goodwin had taught her to fight cautiously, to conserve her strength while letting her foes spend theirs in furious attacks. “Men will always underestimate you,” he said, “and their pride will make them want to vanquish you quickly, lest it be said that a woman tried them sorely.” She had learned the truth of that once she went into the world.