This last season of Game of Thrones has probably set some sort of record for how many fans have publicly broken up with the show. For some, the frustration is based on the numerous crazy-boring episodes preceding the (arguably) best episode of the series. For others it’s the book divergences. But for most of us, it’s being sick and goddamned tired of the way the show treats its women. In the world of Game of Thrones gender disparity, what’s really upsetting is not every breast shown or even every rape. It’s the fact that women are relegated to a place of sex and sexual victimhood, not on occasion, but as their default. Even Brienne of Tarth, a warrior whose sexuality is barely ever discussed, had a rape scene. For the women in Game of Thrones, sex is a weapon or a punishment or a major motivation for entire story lines (or, for the multitudes of background actresses, it is their entire character), but either way, they are inextricably tied to it. So while everyone in this world is at a near-constant threat of violence or murder, women have to deal with that threat from under the weight of their own vaginas.
Nowhere was that more clear than in last night’s season finale, which saw Cersei and Jaime both finally facing consequences for their atrocities. Both were atoning (not by their own choice) for the same things: for the murders committed by their families and for their own incestuous behavior. And while it would be weird to complain about these two monstrous Lannisters finally getting their comeuppance, their punishments were less than egalitarian. And the unequal division of the consequences suffered says everything about the world that’s been created for them.
The first Lannister punishment of the episode came after Jaime actually received forgiveness for his dirty dirty sex things. He was forgiven for sex and punished for his family’s violence and murderous ways.
Conversely, Cersei’s punishment was all about her “shame.” She didn’t seem to be punished so much for the crimes of her family like Jaime was, but was instead tailored for the sex stuff. Because she dared to do the deed, she was punished in the typical Game of Thrones lady-character manner: by having her body exposed and abused.
Now, obviously Myrcella’s death is a punishment for Cersei too, and we’ll likely see her devastation next season when she learns of her daughter’s death. And no one is saying that being publicly shamed is a worse fate than watching your niece/daughter die in front of you. But Jaime’s scene was presented as a quick plot progressing event, while Cersei’s walk of shame was a painful, unrelenting eternity (or maybe 10 minutes, but it FELT like an eternity), obviously intended to emotionally devastate the audience. It was a completely tragic scene, deliberately exhausting to watch, but I can’t help but feel it would have been more effective if it weren’t so in keeping with the gender fuckery we’ve come to expect from this show. When a couple is made of two equally horrendous people, but the dude’s punishment (WHICH IS ALSO A MAJOR PUNISHMENT FOR THE OTHER CHARACTER) is preceded by his absolution, and leaves him physically unharmed (if emotionally devastated), while the woman’s punishment is an extended, violent full-frontal sexual shaming, that should, at this point, basically be called the Game of Thrones Special.