It was a desolate afternoon at work on the shop floor, customers were sparse and conversations between my colleague and I turned, as all conversations do eventually, to television. I learned to my great and perhaps little-too-excited surprise that she loves Game of Thrones. The sentence is barely escaped from her lips before I am clapping my hands and jumping up and down (I’m a fangirl, sue me) before reciting an ethereal speech about my unabashed love for Cersei Lannister. What I am met with however, is what any fan dreads to see; a furrowed brow, shifty eyes and a look of befuzzlement. I stopped my speech (just when it was getting good too) and arched an eyebrow in question, she opened her mouth to speak and I held my breath.
“But why do you like her? She’s a bitch.”
The sentence echoed and for a moment – just a moment – I was tempted to beat her about the head with a coat hanger. I instead chose rationality and tried again (and more slowly) to insist why Cersei is such a great character.
“Cersei Lannister is a product of a male dominated environment,” I began in hushed tones, so as not to spook my now nervous looking colleague, “She is a ‘bitch’ because she has no choice but to be one. She has two choices: A) She can sit idly by and become just a man’s wife, or, B) She can fight, she can take a stand and she can make bold decisions. They are not always right decisions and they do not always go to plan, but she stands by her choices and she makes the best of it. She rules and leads with an iron fist because she is conditioned to that, she uses it as a weapon of power and also as a protection mechanism.” I pause for breath and am met with a glassy stare of horror (was I shouting this?), customers hurriedly put down there shopping baskets and leave in fear and my colleague rolls her eyes, juts out her hip, smacks her gum and sighs “Yeah, but she’s still a bitch.”
Now this got me to thinking about not just Cersei Lannister, but in fact women in general. There seems to be some predisposed fear about women in power, that if a woman has any of the traits of a man, she is a bitch whereas men are just doing their job. This is what makes me angry about people’s knee jerk reactions to women in power, there has to be something wrong with her in order to bring her down a peg or two. She must have an archetypal fault that reminds us all that she is in fact, a woman, and thus not a threat.
But, here’s some earth shattering news, hot off the presses. Come closer, it’s the world’s biggest secret and you are going to be able to do amazing things with it: being an intimidating, queen of stone is not a bad thing, nor something you should feel ashamed of, or bad for doing.
You think Cersei Lannister hears some dude call her a bitch and she rolls over for it? Does she get judged for being a woman of stone? Heck yes she does, but does she let it defeat her? Heck NO. She knows that this is what she is, she is doing what any man would do in her situation and she’s doing it to the best of her ability. And if that makes her a bitch, then where the fuck do I sign up? For many women (and not just fictional ones, either) it can be tough in a position of power because scarily, so many are still really uncomfortable with the idea of a woman who is in control, when actually, she is doing the exact same as a man in the same position.
What I’m saying, in a very long, round about way, is that it’s time to take a note from Cersei. People call you a bitch for doing your fucking job? You just smile, hold your head up high, have a massive glass of wine and do your job bigger and better than before.
Alternatively, you could have them killed.