At first glance, the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros (and the Wildlings and Others that live past the northern border) are dominated by a male society. Daughters are wedded off for political advantage, and wives and betrothed who disobey their husbands are slapped across the face.
Despite what appears to be a misogynistic message, HBO’s critically acclaimed series Game of Thrones has managed to appeal a large base of female fans. From bloggers analyzing women’s hatred toward the more conniving female characters to women-run forums dedicated to what female characters they can’t wait to see next, the fairer sex is as enamored with the world that George R. R. Martin created as their male counterparts.
“I could see how men would be more attracted to it. It’s a lot of sex and violence – and there’s a lot of boobs,” Rosanne Stern said. “(The episodes) were based off the time period they were written about. But, a lot of the girls who have seen it — after they (got over that) there was a lot of sex and violence — we’re drawn in as well.”
Stern, a 26-year-old English student, faithfully watches the HBO series with her boyfriend. She had previously read the series before the show came out. Despite the fact that she believes that it is “one of the most well-written series I’ve come across in a while,” Stern rarely found other female fans that shared her passion for the series before the TV show came out. Now, she’s noticing that men and women alike reading the books and catching up with the A Song of Ice and Fire* saga.
Part of what Stern feels draws women to the series is the strong female characters like Daenerys, the Dothroki princess from House Targaryen, and Brienne of Tarth, a warrior who will be featured on the second season of the show.
Diya Chaco, another female fan of the series, agrees. “You have these women set in this time where there are knights and yes they are princesses, but none of them act like a princess,” she explained.
Chaco was first introduced to the series when her mother bought the first book, A Game of Thrones, in an airport and gave it to her back in 1999. “It was way too early for me to read it,” the 25-year-old editorial producer said, laughing.
When Chaco heard HBO was making a show, she immediately re-bought the books that she had lost during Hurricane Katrina and read them over again. She was drawn in by the fantasy series because it didn’t conform to typical tropes.
“I know that there are graphic sex scenes in the book, and to see those graphic sex scenes on the screen is a bit shocking, but it’s HBO,” Chaco explained.
At the end, what draws most women to the show is the series’ universal appeal of a nail-biting plot where no person is safe and strong characters, regardless of their gender.
*Corrected, 2:22 p.m. EST – Thanks, Vanzilla!