Why Girls Hate Game of Thrones—A Rebuttal

After I found this highly sexist article called Why Girls Hate Game Of Thrones I’ve been on what I like to call a “slow burn”.  I’ve been stewing about it for two weeks now, biding my time until I got into full rant mode and now I’m ready to explode.  Maybe it’s because I’m feeling crankier than usual due to a strep throat, but either way I couldn’t resist the urge to refute this sexist, idiotic excuse for an article.

Because I’m feeling particularly rant-y I will now dissect the article piece by piece, but be warned that the original article contains coarse language you do not normally find on my blog.  No, there’s no swearing but there are terms I would not use in polite conversation.

So here is why Renata Sellitti thinks all girls hate Game of Thrones the TV series (which can also apply to the books):

Jaime and Cersei

Point #1: “We hate gross things. Know what’s gross? Screwing your sibling.”

Why yes, having sex with your twin is gross.  As for “We hate gross things”, there’s something I now recall from my tenth grade math class when we studied logic: starting out with a false assumption does not make your conjecture valid (i.e. 4=4-1, therefore 4=3).  The assumption that Ms. Sellitti is making is that all girls hate gross things.  But what are these ‘gross things’?  Having sex with your sibling?  Okay, that’s gross but using anecdata I have a feeling that most men would also agree that incest is disgusting.  Yet I don’t see the author arguing that men also hate Game of Thrones.

Also, the author is missing the point here and it won’t be for the last time.  The point is that the series (either the books or the TV show) is not about having sex with your sibling.  No, that’s just two characters that do that as well as a passing mention of the Targaryen tradition of marrying brother and sister.  The series is about a struggle for the Iron Throne between competing factions.  This is a case of not seeing the forest for the trees.

Westeros

Point #2: “It’s hard to follow.”

Oh no, my poor woman-brain can’t keep up with this series!  Obviously men, with their superior brains, are more intellectually engaged in the show and can explain it to poor little me.  The books are hard enough to understand because I had to read *gasp* but the TV show is just plain confusing!

Again, where is the data here?  There is no survey cited about how women find the plot of Game of Thrones harder to follow than men do.  All we have to go on here is the author’s generalization of women.  She thinks that because she finds the plot hard to follow, we all do.  That would be like me saying I hate Twilight, therefore all women hate Twilight.  Again, starting off with a false assumption does not make your conjecture valid.

Nerds

Point #3: “It reminds us of the kids that used to play magic cards in the cafeteria. And people who go to Renaissance festivals.”

So?  What’s wrong with playing “magic cards” in the cafeteria?  Or going to Renaissance festivals for that matter?  I’m not sure what game Ms. Sellitti is referring to, but I’ll assume that she means some sort of role playing strategy game taking place in a fantasy world.  That begs me to ask the question: What’s wrong with using your imagination?  If she’s implying that it reminds women of nerds and nerds are gross, she’s greatly insulting her audience.  I’m a book nerd and I’m pretty sure most of the people reading this are.  (This is a book blog after all.)

What’s wrong with going to a Renaissance fair?  Again, the author seems to be implying that there’s something inherently wrong with acting on your interest in history.  That’s like saying enjoying an author’s book and going to a convention to get your book signed by them is wrong.  As for the fact she seems to imply that women hate fantasy, why she’d be absolutely wrong.  Using that same tenth grade math lesson, a conjecture can be disproven by even one counter example.  I am that counter example because I love fantasy, therefore her conjecture is invalid.

Women of Westeros

Point #4: “It’s all naked chicks. In addition to the actual ladies of the night on the show, there seem to be a lot of…unofficial ladies of the night on the show.”

As a straight woman, may I ask what’s wrong with naked women?  I’m sure most males reading this would answer “Nothing!”.  But for us women is there really something inherently gross about seeing other women’s bodies?  I’m sure some women are uncomfortable seeing other women naked and that’s fine, but not all women are like that as the author suggests.

If Ms. Sellitti actually watched the show and/or read the books like I and many other female fans have, she’d know that it isn’t all naked women.  In fact, in the books there are almost an equal number of naked men.  But that’s not the main focus of the story!  In the books and in the show we are introduced to so many strong female characters fighting for power in a world where women are viewed as inferior to men.  There are awesome girl-power characters like Arya and Daenerys and there are other powerful women like Lady Olenna and Cersei.  This is obvious in the show and in the books.  Is there more needless nudity and sex in the show than I would like?  Of course.  But—again, I repeat—that’s not the main focus of the story!

Jaime Lannister

Point # 5: “Dudes get their hands chopped off. And their nipples. And their balls. Really? How is it that you guys like this again?”

How many times can one person miss the point of a show and/or book?  Men getting body parts chopped off is obviously not why guys like the show and it’s not the main focus of the story.  Jaime gets his hand cut off, an Unsullied soldier gets his nipple cut off and Theon Greyjoy gets castrated.  In three seasons and the four books I’ve read so far, those are the only main “chopping off parts” incidents.  Yes, it’s disgusting.  No, it’s not gratuitous because George R. R. Martin wrote those in to make a point.  He is one of the few authors who is deconstructing an entire fantasy genre by showing that Medieval life would have sucked in reality.  These were the sort of things that happened in Medieval life in Europe.

Game of Thrones

How many times do I have to repeat this?  These points are not the main focus of the story.  If Ms. Sellitti could follow these “hard to follow” plot lines, she might see that Martin is trying to send out important messages, challenge stereotypes and overall, just write a good book.  These good books have quite deservedly been made into a TV series.  And guess what?  42% of Season 3 viewership was female.  No, it’s not split 50-50 and that’s okay.  What’s not okay is that assuming because you don’t like something that your whole gender doesn’t either.

If I applied that reasoning to my life, every girl obviously loved playing with tractors as a kid, loves reading, hates chick flicks, etc.  If similar reasoning was applied to men, well I know a guy who likes creeping on women so obviously all men are creeps.  Or, I know a man who loves romantic comedies, therefore all men love romantic comedies.  It’s ridiculous and is a case of anecdote being the singular form of ‘data’ for some writers.

TL;DR?  Just because one person doesn’t like something doesn’t mean that their entire gender doesn’t as well.

58 comments

  1. ajsefton.com

    Good comeback! However, the writer, as you said, applied her own views to her entire gender, which is wrong so really not worthy of you commenting.

    The women I know love this show but they are all well educated and most know the Medieval period very well. Maybe that’s why the author doesn’t ‘get’ it. Women with narrow minds are not good for womenkind generally.

    At least you have gone some way to redress this. Well done!

    • Carrie Slager

      To the contrary, even if the original article was not worth replying to, what’s worth replying to is the greater perception that Game of Thrones (books and show) is a ‘guy thing’. It’s definitely not as myself and many other women here can attest to. You’re right about the narrow minds in that regard.

      • ajsefton.com

        I didn’t realise that it was considered a guy thing until I read that piece. It was very offensive to women, especially the bit that said that it was hard to follow. Not a good article – unless it was supposed to be humorous. Even then I didn’t laugh.

    • Carrie Slager

      Definitely a bad accomplishment! But at least the backlash against her article has proven to be LOUD. Both bloggers like myself and major newspapers have taken a stand against her article and that makes me happy because they actually addressed the sexism in it.

  2. Book Blather

    Yep, I’m female and I’m nutso about this series. 🙂 For ever female in proverbial chains there’s a female warrior, a queen etc! It’s awesome.

    • Carrie Slager

      Exactly! It’s not like women are the only ones in proverbial chains and the women actually play a large role behind the scenes in contributing to the battle for the Iron Throne. (Some not even behind the scenes in the case of Daenerys.)

  3. 90vinitablog

    superb …me too female…and my friends and I love discussing about the show ….and u mentioned it quite correctly about awesome girl characters ….Arya’s character is worth applauding .

  4. Author Unpublished

    I LOVE the series, the person who wrote that article is INSANE. Also. speaking for a large vast of the population here *holds up hand* girl D&D gamer geek. I’m insulted by her thought that we girls don’t like RPGs.

  5. greencat365

    *Raises hand.* This chick loves Game of Thrones! It demolishes the tropes you expect to see in a Tolkienesque fantasy. Not only does it contain strong women characters, but there’s a variety of them – they’re not all Mulan wannabees. Peter Dinklage steals every scene he’s in and won an Emmy award for his efforts. And, yes, Ser Loras takes his shirt off.

    • Carrie Slager

      So true, Margaret! Peter Dinklage is awesome and he certainly deserved that Emmy. After the first book I thought Martin was going for typical fantasy cliches, but seeing the changes in the series later on just goes to show that I missed how much Martin really demolished old fantasy tropes. I love Game of Thrones! 🙂

  6. adtrosper

    I haven’t read or watch GoT yet, however this chick loves Ren fests, fantasy, RPG games, Sci-Fi, etc. I feel no shame in my geekiness and have every intention of remaining a nerd.

    As far as gross and icky, that woman obviously has no children. Young children have a way of making one immune to gross and icky. And after one has been through three of them, there is nothing in the world that is that gross or icky anymore.

    I hope people who read that post of her’s realize that most women are not brainless twits.

  7. Phillip McCollum

    I feel this was a stupid fluff piece that wasn’t thought through very well. Someone had to meet a deadline…

    That being said, my wife loves Game of Thrones and she is normally not a fan of the Fantasy genre.

    • Carrie Slager

      Of course it’s a stupid fluff piece! I was fully aware of that when I wrote my rebuttal, but I also wanted to address the perception that Game of Thrones (both the books and the TV show) is a man’s thing. No, we women like it too! Your wife, myself and so many other commenters on here and the original article are living proof that’s not true. I think the gender divide will decrease even more when Season 4 airs as more women want to see what the fuss is all about.

  8. TheGirlWhoKeepsReading

    Great rebuttal! That article succeed on making me angry for the way it portrayed a series I love and women in general. Thank you for writing this!

    • Carrie Slager

      Thanks and I’m glad you enjoyed it! This is the sort of thing people need to get angry about: sexism even if it comes from someone of the same gender. Not only did Ms. Sellitti misrepresent a TV show and book series, but women in general. I couldn’t stand for that, even if the original piece probably was just a fluff piece designed to get hits. Either way after this I’m boycotting Thrillist (the place where the article was published) and I think everyone who is outraged should as well.

  9. thedailyopine

    Game of Thrones is one of the best shows on T.V. Clearly the author of the article prefers mindless shows (and perhaps books) to ones that are well written, complex, and provoking. There’s nothing wrong with not liking GoT but don’t lump all us girls into that category. Enjoyed your rebuttal and a good rant is priceless!

    • Carrie Slager

      (Sorry for the late reply; your comment got lost!)

      You’re absolutely right in saying that there’s nothing wrong with not liking Game of Thrones. Some women like it and some don’t in the same way that some men like it and some don’t. But do you see Sellitti lumping all men together and saying that because a few of them don’t like it all men don’t? Of course not. It’s terrible that such a thought-provoking series of books and TV show faces that kind of bizarrely one-sided discrimination. And it’s not only men saying it’s only a men’s show; it’s women like Ms. Sellitti too!

  10. Diantha Jones (@DianthaJones)

    Okay I would say get sick and ranty more often but that would be rude 😉 Awesome rant, as usual. First of all GoT is NOT hard to follow. The show is practically fed to us from a spoon. And what year is this again? 2013? Who gives a damn about a naked woman on TV! Seriously! And I’m wondering just how many episodes of this show did this lady actually watch??? Clearly not more than two. It appears everyone else agrees with you, Carrie. Did you read some of the comments on the article? They went off on her ^_^

    • Carrie Slager

      I’m pretty sure this woman has only really watched one or two episodes and made her own skewed judgment from that. And I’m happy everyone is outraged as I am, especially in the comments section of her original article. Some of the sarcastic replies are priceless!

      As for the naked women it’s like “And…?” It’s 2013 as you said; it’s not like there aren’t naked women on other TV shows.

  11. Jeri Walker-Bickett (@JeriWB)

    I’m very much addicted to the HBO series, but still can’t get into them as books, probably because I’m not a huge fan of fantasy books, but film is another matter entirely. The author of the article clearly can’t take in the whole picture and the larger ramifications of the themes present in the series, but so be it. I don’t think it will matter one iota to George R. R. Martin 😉

    • Carrie Slager

      I’m pretty sure the opinion of one online writer doesn’t faze someone like George R. R. Martin. Especially since the writer in question obviously doesn’t get his series or even the blatantly obvious themes in the show.

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  13. Sinead

    I am a bit different to many of the commenters here, because from what I’ve seen of the show and know about the books, I am a female who doesn’t like GoT. However, I still think the original article is ridiculous. Your counter arguments are so true! I’d also like to add, using a show I watch and adore as an example, a further argument against points 1 and 2 – “it’s gross” and “it’s hard to follow”: Supernatural is a show that could be easily said to be both of those things. And yet the audience is heavily skewed towards women. I’d say a lot more so than the GoT S3 viewership percentages. If women don’t like gross things and violence and hard to follow plots, why would so many enjoy Supernatural?

    Thanks for writing a good, solid defense. Female geeks and nerds exist in large numbers, and we deserve to be heard, not bashed by our own gender!

    • Carrie Slager

      Exactly! That’s perfectly okay that you don’t like Game of Thrones; not everyone does. But you’re absolutely right when you say female geeks and nerds need to be heard, not bashed by our own gender. The original article was just ridiculous.

  14. Dennis Flynn III

    Hi. I am unfamiliar with your blog posts or other articles. This is honestly the first one I have read so I will not pretend to know more than I do but I WILL say that I absolutely LOVED what you have written here. I completely agree! I hate the usual, played-out & frankly stereotypical & prejudicial reasons popular culture & people in higher positions or positions which have the ability to greatly influence others continue to push these old archaic beliefs that genders may as well be different species. Yes, men and women indeed are different but in my opinion & research’s conclusion that difference isn’t that big. It really stems down to small differences in our bodies physical forms, brain chemistry & sexual needs/behaviors/appetites. As far as phsycial strength or capabilities go, men & women are both perfectly able to be equals. I think women could make equally skilled warriors as men. As far as intelligence goes, we are identical, there is no difference. We are human, through & through. The only difference in our past & main reasons there were no female greats like scientists, inventors, musicians, politicians, etc. back then are the social & cultural restrictions of the time. Women were not encouraged to learn as much as men or be schooled like men or even given a chance in any work fields. For a long period of time they couldn’;t even vote or own land!!! But now with our society finally reverting to a normal human oriented society (hopefully, lets just keep working on it moving forward & getting rid of any ignorant obstacles in our way!) things should be showing the true nature of the human brains power, regardless of sex, gender, race, religion, etc. Now in the modern age we are seeing amazing female leaders (as much as it pains me to say it “Margaret Thatcher”, I don’t dislike her due to her gender, I dislike her because of her anti-Irish sentiments during ‘The Troubles’; in Northern Ireland during her reign & her refusal to negotiate with Bobby Sands (MP) & the Irish hunger Strikers….or negotiate with the IRA in general,….that [Censored. –CS]!) like Angela Merkel or Mary McAleese (the former President of Ireland).We have brilliant women emerging in every field & a burgeoning new wave of young women ready to prove the world their strength, intellect & integrity. I think everything you wrote was truth & the original woman who wrote the article was not somebody who should be speaking for other women. Its a shame when people have a voice that they know can be heard or will be heard by many others & influence even more & then fail to take care in what they say. People should try to inspire one another. I don’t know. It disappoints me that somebody would be so dumb to write what she wrote in the first place. Its one of a many signs that people in our modern era are becoming more & more stupid & selfish. But I hope its just a random coincidence & not a new trend. Thanks for writing that, I appreciate it. I want for my daughter & nieces to be old enough to go online & read & see the other side of things too instead of being told they should sit & be stupid.

    • Dan

      I agree with everything you said except the part where you stated “As far as phsycial strength or capabilities go, men & women are both perfectly able to be equals. I think women could make equally skilled warriors as men”
      Men and woman are built differently, two different physical capabilities, yes their are exception to the rule be it a physical exception but over this is not the case.
      I served 6yrs in the marines did two combat deployments and I’v seen the face of war, I’v served with women and I’v see good and bad from both sides of the gen pool, but females had a harder time, running, training, environments, pain tolerance.
      In G.R.R Martens books Brienne is a good character that I’v grown to like and resect, a out of place female that is fighting to find her place in the world but also loves the sword, she’s a fighter and is built that way unlike other women, she is not beautiful but she is skilled and she does not poses common sense in some areas of how the world works(aka how she continues to go on about “True” knights” and honor) but she can Perceive if she is in danger or how she guards her self and has little trust of men.
      But back to your statemt, I disagree not any woman can be as good a warrior as a man, just this year a male UFC fighter Fox Fallon had a sex change, he still wanted to fight in the UFC but after he did two mock fights and K.O’d the two females he/she fought it was talked about the she should not continue to fight females, in a radio interview UFC commentator stated that he/she should not be fighting women because he has the muscle system and bone structure of a male regardless of changing his gender, I agree he has had a clear advantage over his/her Fellow competitors.
      But this is all just my opinion.

  15. patricksponaugle

    REALLY enjoyed your rebuttal. My lovely wife is not a fan of fantasy, but she took a chance on reading A Game of Thrones on my recommendation, and she then left me in the dust on reading the rest. Because it’s really, really great.

    • Carrie Slager

      Thanks. I was initially reluctant to start reading the series, but a friend of mine made me watch the TV show and I was hooked. I went through the first three books in the span of a week as if I recall correctly. They’re pretty darn good and there’s no reason why women can’t like the show or the books.

  16. Girl

    In my opinion the lady who wrote this article is a true imbecile and narrow-minded. Therefore she cannot comprehend the brilliance of Game of Thrones.

  17. Ash

    Yeah, my entire family watches this show come Sunday night, there are defiantly some women in there, including me. I also read the books. I can see how someone being stupid on the internet can piss you off, but clearly the original post wasn’t worth writing about because clearly she’s a nincompoop. Not all women are, or are not for that matter, nincompoops just that one in particular. 🙂

  18. Isobel

    One of the reasons that I love Game Of Thrones is because of how it goes against sexism. Even though it is set in a medieval time, when women would’ve faced even more restrictions and prejudicial views than today, it is still filled to the brim of strong, powerful and plain bad-ass female characters. Daeneyrs has succeeded in leading a huge army, liberating slaves and gaining respect from the whole of her following. Catelyn was a dedicated mother who cared for everyone and would’ve risked everything (and did, numerous times) for her family. Arya has saved her own life, along with the lives of others, more than once and she is only 14. She also does not see her gender as an obstacle, as many others would have, to prevent her from getting what she wants, revenge. I could go on for hours about the amazing women in these books and TV series. Although we still see women’s inferiority in that society, with women being beaten and raped etc., the female characters always show that women can be just as powerful, respected and feared as the highest of men. I feel as though women can enjoy this programme as it shows that we are not inferior in any way to men.
    Furthermore, does Ms. Sellitti honestly thing that women are repulsed by a woman’s naked body? Funnily enough, I know what women look like naked. If I was so disgusted by the look of breasts, then I would never be able to change my shirt. Admittedly, it does make it a bit awkward to watch with your friends or, especially, your family, but avoid those situations and you’re fine.
    The whole ‘gross’ point annoys me as well. Yes, some of it is gross, but who cares? She’s assuming that women don’t like gross things, yet she’s forgetting about then large female following of shows like Hannibal, Criminal Minds and Grey’s Anatomy. These shows are packed full of gross things, yet a vast number of men and women alike love them. I know that some parts are gross, but they often add to the plot or demonstrate the gravity of the situation (for instance, Oberyn Martell’s incredibly graphic death showed how awful it all was; watching made me shocked at the gore, but also the whole outcome).
    To me it seems like she is watching a completely different show to us. Perhaps she googled some plot points and just wrote about those, without actually paying any attention to the rest of the story. I am female and I love Game Of Thrones, so do many of my female friends.

  19. Vance

    I know way more women into game of thrones (books and show) than guys, so from my perspective the entire assumption of the article is fallacious.

  20. stephswint

    I found this late due to your post today…sorry about those search terms, but they did create a laugh. I am not a fan of GoT, but I love fantasy, and gritty fantasy. I find articles like the one you responded to embarrassing and make me angry to. It’s articles like that that do a disservice to everyone. It’s fluff as mentioned above, sure, but fluff that isn’t responded to can be just as damaging. People read it, don’t think about what they are absorbing, and over time it becomes a way of thinking. Thank you for making a rebuttal.

  21. chancyjohnson

    Hilarious and insightful. My wife introduced me to Game of Thrones initially, and her cousin (female) introduced her before that. We love watching the show together and reading the books as well. As a writer and literature enthusiast, I love the complexity and honesty that “A Song of Ice and Fire” holds. Bad things are done because people make mistakes, choose between terrible options, or are just terrible people in general. How is this different from reality? I even get the feeling sometimes that this is not a series about the Iron Throne at all, but an intricate, cross-cultural study of human psychology. I’m off topic, sorry. Overall point is that I loved your article and I agree.

  22. charybdis

    Oh dear, that original article is insanely rough. That said, I was pretty turned off of the show because of all the gratuitous nudity, although not because I don’t like naked women, but because I hated how they were used as props and for sexposition. And it’s not like I’m not a fan of massively long, graphic/adult fantasy novels (Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders series is one of my all time favorites) but nothing I hear about GoT really draws me to it.

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