Are any of you watching Game of Thrones? Have you seen the ‘extended breastfeeding’ scene in episode 5? (Not there yet, then look away, look away, this post is probably going to be full of SPOILERS from the first season). And if you have seen the scene, did you laugh?
Because isn’t the mother, Lysa Arryn lots of people’s bad idea of a quintessential attachment parenting type*? First of all, she’s quite mad, and I mean the full use of that word – unstable, angry and eccentric. Then you have the fact that her parenting style seems both permissive and suffocating; her breastfeeding son (is he aged 6 or 13, the Internet is uncertain?) is a spoilt brat with a serious streak of cruelty in him because she has such trouble denying him anything. (You know, I don’t think she’s ever cried him out). Also, she breastfeeds wantonly in public and as you can see from above, she does not cover herself while she does it. And finally, she has also lost her husband, so I think you can assume that her ‘attachment parenting’ may be precluding her from having a normal adult sex life, too.
Speaking of sex, can I quickly add something general here about the sex scenes in Game of Thrones? I don’t particularly like fantasy, it’s not my genre – so I’m there for the politics, the zombies, the shots of horses galloping across expansive scenery and the HBO sex. Several men who had already watched the first season promised me that this was honest to goodness HBO television and that I could be assured of lots of fun adult content, including sex and violence. And that’s true, it is ‘adult’, which I like, but the sex scenes, what a disappointment. This is a boy’s own porn adventure. So porny, so cliché. They forgot to mention that. And I may be feminist but I can roll with a bit of objectification of women in my TV viewing and yet this seems distractingly one-sided in its focus on hetero male fantasies to me. For example, the doe-eyed white innocent being not only raped by a ‘swarthy brute’ but also later going through a college lesbian stage with her handmaid in order to learn how to better please him? And then, the most gratuitous sex scene ever happens during a scene where a male character (Lord Littlefinger) essentially fills you in on his back-story by way of a monologue delivered to camera. This monologue is occasionally interrupted by him issuing orders to two women he is training for his brothel who are having sex together in the background (and sometimes foreground). There can be no mistaking the centring of the male gaze in this scene because not only is the man in the scene entirely in control of these women – he’s fully clothed while they’re naked, and he tells them exactly how he wants them to have sex and when to change positions – but then, when in all their excitement they invite him to join them (see, hot faux lesbians not real lesbians), he actually sharply dismisses them. What a rude prat, and yet choices are so limited that he is my favourite character; I always gun for the Machiavellian types in a political drama.
OK, I get it that these are feudal times and not feminist times, and that women were often little more than breeders and sex slaves in that era but all the same, the sex scenes and sexual relationships depicted in the show could be just a little more even-handed. I mean, I can do sex and unequal power no trouble, I love True Blood. But something has going wrong when you have a cast of handsome men, as in the case of Game of Thrones, and yet none of them are filmed in such a way as to make them appear all that hot for me as a female viewer.
Or is this just me?
Anyway, now go read some analysis of Game of Thrones by people who actually love fantasy; it’s much better. Racialicious on the sexism and racism in the show (“swarthy brute” etc), and then here is Overthinking It on the sexism and ‘the rape that was consent in the book’ scene, and lastly, here is AfterElton on the only male gay sex scene so far.
P.S*. Also, don’t you love this says-so-much-about-the-world comment from here? “That’s the entire point of the scene, you’re supposed to see that Lysa is utterly deranged and there’s no better way to do that than showing her breastfeeding an 6-7 year old.” People torturing other people to death in the show, and other people in incestuous relationships with their siblings and yet ‘extended breastfeeding’ is the sign of true derangement.
P.P.S. Game of Thrones as feminist propaganda? Try here.