Games of Thrones” is a beloved American fantasy drama based on the “A Song of Ice and Fire” book series authored by George R. R. Martin. Although the setting of the series looks to be based on late medieval Europe, specifically the 15th century, one of the most powerful characters on the show is Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, a stunningly beautiful young woman who has mustered up a great army all on her own, that which includes freed slaves and three dragons, in hopes to claim her throne as the Queen of Westeros.

A Strong Female Lead

In any imagination, one would presume Daenerys to be the natural feminist role model.

She is the classical strong female character and a fan favorite. Along with punishing her brother for his cruelty, she has walked through fire, bore dragon eggs, freed slaves, and convinced several armies to follow her risky yet righteous lead.

Without closer analysis, one would never question her feminist disposition. And it was not until The Queen’s Justice (S7E3) that I gave her due process.

Bend a knee

In The Queen’s Justice unofficial King of the North Jon Snow acts on his invite from Daenerys to bend a knee to her reign. He, however, has ulterior plans. Jon intends to ask Daenerys to mine the land Dragonstone, where she currently stays, in order to obtain dragon-glass to appropriately defeat the dreaded White Walkers.

Now, White Walkers are much like climate change in the sense that there is a set of people– in this case, a large set– who believe that they do not exist, resulting in the White Walkers (and climate change) being a largely ignored problem that has the indubitable capability of causing drastic harm. Also, White Walkers were created by the Children of the Forest– we can compare them here to Mother Nature– as a reaction to men, or fight men in an ages-old war.

White feminism in action

To the point, Daenerys does not believe Jon, and she does not want to bend a knee. Jon is stubborn and refuses to pledge his loyalty without good reason. He reminds her that she will be ruling over a graveyard if his request is not granted, as White Walkers will terrorize all of Westeros otherwise.

Of all people, Daenerys should know better than to deny the narrative of those who have been victimized, especially of those who do not normally get a chance to speak or to be heard, like most men who find their way in the Night's Watch.

But Daenerys is adamant and is only worried about her kingdom. She thinks Jon is foolish and argues that she is the rightful taker of the Iron Throne. Jon does not give in. I think he is the first to do so.

This is the moment that I realize Daenerys has strayed far from her feminist beginnings. As aforementioned, she alone could convince armies to follow her lead. I now see that many times this was based on her beauty rather than her merit. And while I believe fully in women endorsing their own vanity, there is something about exploiting the beauty of a conventionally attractive, able-bodied, cisgender White woman, that seems counterproductive to an intersectional feminist platform.

Jon does not get a gold star for being the first man to count her beauty for less than his altruism, and the welfare of Westeros, but Daenerys does not get a gold star for being a White feminist either.

Daenerys relies on her hereditary rather than her merit for her right to the throne. Such a thing is utterly disappointing. Because it is almost always hereditary that transforms into hierarchy, something so deeply intertwined with patriarchy.

It is a title, of course, that only she can assert as the daughter of the Mad King, whilst her two perhaps most faithful servants, Greyworm and Missandei– both Black, by the way– stand beside her, born into slavery.

Jon, contrastingly, never even wanted his own title. And maybe this is so not because modesty is rewarding, but because the authority behind deserving titles is questionable in itself. His reluctance to bow down to Daenerys proves that he is challenging this system, as he a bastard himself grew up being ridiculed for his unworthy name.

(He is the son of Ned Stark, former and deceased King of the North, but his surname is Snow as a display of his birth’s season and his bastardly origin.)

Intersectional feminism takes a seat in GoT

It is a sad day when a White man proves himself to be better to me than a White woman. But that is what White feminism does.

In a plea for her entitlement, Daenerys outlines her life story:

“So many men have tried to kill me, I don't remember all their names. I have been sold like a broodmare. I've been chained and betrayed, raped, and defiled. Do you know what kept me standing through all those years in exile? Faith. Not in any gods, not in myths and legends. In myself. In Daenerys Targaryen.”

She makes me remember why I used to love her.

Her pathos is moving. Except, Jon has a story to compare without any voice to express it. From bastard to King, bringing two entities having perpetual animosity towards each other– wildlings and men– together, coming back from the dead to life.

Doubtless, the many sufferings Daenerys has been subject to are on account of her being a woman. And I would disagree vehemently with any person who dares try to discount that. She has been raped and vilified, taken for granted, and still, she has survived and thrived. (Even my judgment of her here could be related to my own internalized misogyny.)

For all that, in the end, she craves power just like all the rest. And she uses her privileges rather than her merit to justify it. Daenerys is no longer a symbol of feminism. She is White feminism with a pretty face.