..What understanding defies.
I think my biggest issue with the hate that Sansa receives(and Cersei!), is that they are championing characters like Arya and Brienne, that openly mock women and belittle femininity in general.
Arya and Brienne fall victim to that “Tough Girl/Action Femme" trope, where they -throw away- their femininity because it is considered weak. They mock, cajole, and look down upon women that adhere to sociological conventions.
We, as a culture, have this preconception that STRONG FEMALES aren’t allowed to cling to their emotions. That they can’t be polite, conservative, and girly. That they have to be like Arya and Brienne. Tough, hard-as-nails, dismissive of other women.
What I love about the majority of the female cast in Martin’s series is that the women ARE strong, in different contexts. In this time period, young girls were raised to be wives. They were taught tools that would help them navigate the circles they were wedding into. Cersei Lannister and Margaery Tyrell are great examples of period-appropriate women that use their ‘feminine’ attributes to their advantage. Both are major political players; they employ manipulation and deception— coupling it with their innate charisma. They’re intelligent, cunning, intuitive, and POWERFUL— WITHOUT giving up the attributes of their gender.
That’s just TWO of the many ladies of the series: I could go on for days about Catelyn Tully, and others.
Sansa is the average young teenager of her time. She was betrothed to Joffrey; people belittle her over the encounter between Joffrey, Arya, and Mycah. She lied because she knew she would have to live long-term with Joffrey. Arya, her father, they wouldn’t be around to protect her from him long-term.
Likewise, Sansa continues to navigate in the royal court long after Arya flees— surviving situations that her sister would have floundered and drowned in.
She survived beatings, a siege, the death of her father and all of her family.
And yet, she’s the weak one.