Sansa Stark & Game of Thrones

Last night the new season of Game of  Thrones premiered. And while there are rapist, murders, etc. in the story (really the list is rather long), the character of fourteen year old Sansa Stark gets constant hate.

Actress Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark in HBO's Game of Thrones
Actress Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark in HBO’s Game of Thrones

You don’t have to like the character Sansa, but maybe you should take a moment to consider why you don’t like her before you start complaining about how horrible she is.

In her article, “Why Sansa Stark is the Strongest Character on ‘Game of Thrones’” Julianne Ross writes how this hatred is because Sansa makes these mistakes while still acting like a girl.

She adds:

“The female characters we tend to applaud typically adhere to a particular formula for strength, one that breaks the patriarchal mold of how a woman should behave. This can be empowering, but the constant regurgitation of this one type of “strong female character” limits the kind of women we value on screen and dismisses the merits of those who prove themselves in a different way. Male characters aren’t confined by the same standards, and more stereotypically “feminine” traits like patience, kindness and adaptability shouldn’t be seen as inherently lesser than more “masculine” ones like physical strength or the ability to lead an army into battle.”

It’s an analysis that applies towards many typically feminine characters that are so frequently hated in movies or television shows. So for those of you who hate Sansa Stark, read through this article first before you make up your mind about her.

Geena Davis, Represent!

Geena Davis received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University and the Bette Davis Foundation last Friday evening, March 28. The ceremony marked the opening of “Geena Davis: Actress and Advocate,” an archival exhibit detailing Davis’ Academy-award winning career in film, as well as her advocacy for equal gender representation in media.Geena_Davis_at_the_2009_Tribeca_Film_Festival

Davis, 58, graduated from Boston University’s College of Fine Arts in 1979 to pursue acting. She won an Oscar for Best Actress ten years later for her role in “The Accidental Tourist.” She is also known for her work in “Beetlejuice,” “A League of Their Own,” “Stuart Little,” and was nominated for another Academy Award in 1992 for her character in “Thelma and Louise.”

“I always wanted to play characters who were in charge of their own fate,” said Davis in a press conference at the event. “When [“Thelma and Louise”] garnered such a big reaction from women it made me think much more consciously about what the women in the audience would think about my characters.”

Davis started the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media in 2004 after watching family movies with her daughter, who’s now twelve, and noticing a severe under-representation of female characters. The non-profit research entity studies gender representation in film and television, particularly media aimed at young audiences. It works to reduce stereotypes of women by bringing attention to disparities in family films. Research from the last decade showed fewer than 1/3 characters in family films are female, and more than 95% of C-suite characters are male.

“I think it’s incredibly important, the images of women that we see,” said Davis. “If we’re showing kids female characters that are stereotyped, sidelined, or highly sexualized or not even there, we’re sending a message to kids. It’s basically saying that women and girls aren’t as important as boys.”

The institute is now the leading source of research on gender depictions in media. In 2013, it partnered with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality for a global study that will be presented at the Second Global Symposium on Gender in Media in the Fall of 2014.

“The ratio of male to female characters in film has been exactly the same since 1946… things just haven’t changed,” said Davis. “I’m hoping that finally this last year where “Hunger Games” was number one and “Frozen” was number four, we actually might get some momentum.”