As Game of Thrones winds down and the fictional epic fantasy TV drama ends in May 2019, I cannot help feeling a strong sense of anticipatory grief.
In spite of the high degree of violence, and nudity, it has been one of the few entertaining 1TV shows that have embraced the idea of putting strong female characters into powerful leadership roles.
Ranging from the slightly unhinged Queen, Cersei Lannister, to Brienne of Tarth – a female knight functioning in a hostile, misogynist, male-dominated medieval world these “dames kick ass.” Who can forget Lady Oleana, the tart grand dame with the acerbic tongue, played with such aplomb by the fabulous Dame Diana Rigg?
As an aside, Diana Rigg was one of the few female role models that I clung to growing up as a child in the sixties. She played Emma Peel of the Avengers. She was a strong attractive woman who held her own with whichever nemesis there was that dared to get in her way, male or female. She was my hero or, better said, my ‘S’hero.
So, who are the female heroes of today?
Or maybe the better question to ask should be: Where are our ‘S’heroes?
Those strong female role models that our young women can hang on to.
Author, George. R. R. Martin in his writings has endowed his female characters with strength, knowledge, power, and ability. These female characters not only stand in their power – they have power.
The most significant female character in GOT is the Queen of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen. Can we learn from her story arc and heroes’ journey and use her as a modern-day ‘S’hero?
We first meet this young woman, abused, physically and emotionally, by her tyrannical older brother, as he sells her as a child bride to savage warrior Khal Drogo, chieftain of the nomadic Dothraki tribes.
We witness her growth as a young woman coming into her own. Connecting to her inner dragon, or inner self; she stops being a passive victim and chooses to take control of her situation by taking control of her sexuality. She learns about sex, and she learns about her body. Once she finds her sense of power there is no stopping her. She refuses to stay on the sidelines and gets into the game.
Daenerys knows who she is, where she has come from and who she is meant to be.
She fiercely states the following about her own personal journey of growth and development:
…. “I was sold like a brood mare; shamed, betrayed, raped, and defiled. Do you know what kept me standing all those years in exile? Faith. Faith, not in any gods, myths or legends. Faith in myself.”
It was the conviction in herself about who she was that gave her the ability to garner an army of 8,000 unsullied soldiers, and belief and self-confidence in herself that allowed her to conquer the Dothraki tribes.
Yes, she has advisors, and she listened to them, but in the end, we see her making her own decisions based on her own personal vision and on what she feels is important for her to do in order for her to reclaim her rightful place as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.
She is the one who, with her shrewd and cunning ability, who alone skillfully manages to negotiate and purchase an army of 8,000 men – men who willingly fight for her having been freed from enslavement.
Through her own skill and initiative, she is able to destroy the upper echelons of the savage Dothraki leadership her former husband’s tribe. Not only does she conquer the savage tribes’ people, but she is also able to get them to cross the seas with her, to help her reclaim her throne, something the Dothraki tribes had always repudiated from the beginning of time.
Daenerys as a character presents as being a combination of Cleopatra, Queen Boudicca, and Queen Elizabeth I – all strong, powerful women in leadership roles needing to find their own way in male-dominated societies.
Embracing more stronger powerful role models for the young women of today, even if it is in the world of entertainment, is one of the ways that we can enable them to become more empowered.
Teaching young women about their self-empowerment begins with teaching them that they have power over their bodies and their own sexuality.
Teaching young women about their self-empowerment means teaching them the importance of finding their voice and standing in their own personal power.
Teaching young women about self-empowerment means helping them to recognize the power in having supportive advisors that will allow them to embrace other perspectives, but also reminding them to own their own vision for their future and to operate from it.
Finally, empowerment always means teaching young women that they need to be being willing to take massive action when necessary.
These are all solid lessons we can learn from the epic storyline of Queen Daenerys Targaryen in the fantasy drama GOT. In this regard, entertainment can be both educational and informative. Through the development and presentation of story, character, images, metaphor, and symbols, entertainment provides a vehicle to present powerful messages of importance. It is through these powerful symbolic messages and stories that we can build grow and develop our ‘S’HEROES.