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Leslie Loftis


April 6, 2014 - 11:35 am


Almost as dreaded as writing a cover letter or the first minutes of a job interview, I was stuck in one of those new group settings that needs an icebreaker. The coach made us each ask a question for everyone to answer. I asked, “Dogs or cats?”

I got compliments for a simple, illuminating question that didn’t risk TMI. Over the years, I’ve become a connoisseur of such preference questions. London or Paris? City or countryside? I think I’ve discovered a new one in Game of Thrones.

Female fans of the show like all of the badass women (who Elle has helpfully summarized and ranked by style) but I’ve noticed a strong preference for either Arya or Daenerys. Those who ship for Arya tend to think Dany is just cool and vice versa. So I started comparing their characters.

Both are women of privilege and duty. They are the younger daughters of two of the houses competing for the throne. They are no-nonsense, take charge women who maneuver over obstacles in their path with courage, cunning, and self-reliance. But Daenerys does it by embracing her femininity. She birthed and nursed dragons after the premature birth and death of her son, an event brought about by magic to revive her husband, a man she seduced to love after her brother traded her to marriage for an army for himself. Men give her their sword. She leads as a mother; that is the name the slaves she has freed have given her. When told by her new handmaid “Valar Morghulis” or “all men must die” she replied, “But we are not men.”

Arya, in stark contrast, overcomes her challenges by hiding her femininity. She escapes and evades capture by cutting off her hair and posing as a boy. She spies on her family’s enemies by posing as a cup boy. She is on course to become a dangerous stealth warrior and fights with a small sword given to her by her brother which she named Needle, a reference to her sister’s embroidery needle. “Sansa has her needle and now I have mine.”

The differences in Daenerys’s and Arya’s characters track with the major fracture in feminism: will women achieve equality by mimicking men or by or by unleashing feminine power?

So Arya or Daenerys?

For the record: London, Dogs, countryside, and Daenerys, unequivocally Daenerys.

Leslie Loftis is a recovering lawyer, a housewife, and a mother of 4. She is also a serial Texpatriate, most recently returned from London, England.

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Top Rated Comments   
Which one's naked?
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (22)
All Comments   (22)
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Daenerys is intriguing, but why do these men swear their allegiance to her? There must be some compelling reason, but it isn't being portrayed well on the screen. She is a beautiful woman, but not that nice.

Arya is learning to survive by using her wits, and will be a powerful woman in the future.

The red-haired archer gal, Ygritte, from beyond the wall, seems to be a lusty wench, who expects to be bedded with authority and conviction. She is not a woman to be regarded lightly; she seems both dangerous and passionate, and could haul my ashes anytime.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bread. Circuses. Useful idiots.

33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
How can you friggen remember their names?

The dragon lady, kaleesee, or whatever, is a leader. She got naked last season for about ten seconds. Looked very nice naked. And I'm in favor of leaders that get naked on TV. Anyway, she

The kid is um interesting. I'd like to see how she turns out. I won't ask to see her naked, but I won't turn away if they show it. The actress is probably 37 yo anyway (just kidding). Her changes in growing up don't make her a better person. While she is generally likable she is placed in situations that require her to be an SOB to survive. She eats her revenge cold.

I'll vote for kaleesee.

33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Like leaders getting naked eh?

I bet you can't wait for the upcoming Hillary + Pelosi scenes on Gay Pride day 2016.

Try to bleach THAT out of your mind. Muhahahahahha
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't watch "Game of Thrones."

Tell me which one gets naked the most, and I'll tell you she's my favorite.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Chicks with dragons turn me on.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Meh... neither one. None of the women in this series interest me in the least. Tyrion is the only one worth a damn.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
If the question is about the best role model, I dunno. Daenaerys frees slaves and is loyal to those who are loyal to her. But if this a "Ginger or Mary Anne" question, then I would also have to go with Daenaerys because in order to say Arya I'd have to be a perv which I'm not. But as for the show, neither one is Sansa and that is a good thing.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
I like Ygritte, a free woman.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Let me see . . .

Daenaerys, who spends the first five books whining about her responsibility while refusing to actually accept it, interspersing that with brief bouts of grief-laden shrieking, aggrieved foot-stamping, and perhaps three actual decisions, and who might, if Martin lives long enough and writes from time time, actually have grown into a proper adult sociopath suitable to the setting;


Arya, who spends the first book running around as the indulged, jealous, tomboy brat, the next two books running around as the moping, impotent, revenge driven, refugee, and the last two books training to be a master assassin expecting to subvert the religious requirement for her personal vengeance.

Gee, I don't know, how about . . .

Now mind you, both do make the "live long enough to make the rest of the characters die screaming", but that is as long as they need to live and then they can die, screaming or not, like the rest.
There is simply nothing particularly endearing about either one of them, beyond a casual love of 747-sized reptilian engines of destruction or mystical shape-changing powers enabling one to be a super-assassin, but those attend to their possessions or abilities and not the individuals themselves. Well, there is the whole under-age sex angle, but we aren't supposed to really be impressed by that.

As for the alternates named:

Cersei is an incestuous sociopath, willing to slaughter tens of thousands for her own lusts and aggrandizement, with no actual competence for ruling or leadership beyond seizing power.
Melisandre is a monotheistic sociopathic, willing to burn babies alive in pursuit of prophecy, and not displeased at the personal power she picks up in the process.
Both are thus firmly in the "die screaming" category, no matter how nice their female parts may look.

For an actual decent female human being in the story, I will nominate Gilly, the daughter-wife of Craster, who left her infant brother-son behind to save the son of Mance Rayder (her putative "king") from Melisandre, along the way getting Samwell Tarly to do a considerable bit of manning up.
Of course she's not "really" a character, which helps keep her off the lists of character who need to die screaming and characters who can be allowed to live long enough to make the others die screaming, but she is still way beyond any of the other options mentioned so far.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
At the beginning of the books Arya is 9, 11 on TV. Daenerys is 13 in the book, 16 on TV. They are not women but children. Each are fugitives with a price on their heads for their capture or death.

Cersei is a women. She achieved power by embracing each end of the so-called fracture.

The real fracture between feminists today is between old school egalitarians and the cult of bigoted supremacy known as intersectional third wave.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
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