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This post contains frank discussion of several plot points from Season 8, Episode 2 of Game of Thrones. If youre not all caught up, or would prefer not to be spoiled, now is the time to leave. Seriously: this is your last chance, and you wont have another so, get out while the getting is good.

Theres a lot to process in this episode, between Brienne and Jaimes poignant reunion, Theon and Sansas sweet shared meal, and Podrick Paynes surprisingly lovely voice. But without question the most adult moment of the episode belonged to Maisie Williams as Arya Stark, who has come a long way from the girl we knew and made sure to get exactly what she needed on what might have been her last night on earth. Nudity and sexuality are nothing new on Game of Thrones, but female-driven sexuality has been fairly rare. With the White Walkers at Winterfells door, though, its about time the girls started having a little fun too.

Half of the main cast of characters in George R.R. Martins books are children. Not just the Stark kids, but also Daenerys and the Lannister brood, Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen. The kids were aged up for the TV series, not just for practical reasons, but also to make an already controversial show slightly more palatable to viewers. We were spared the image of a 13-year-old Dany getting raped, a 7-year-old Bran sailing out the window, and a 15-year-old Jon killing his mentor and celebrating with steamy cave sex.

However, this made for some strange storytelling in the earlier, more faithful-to-the-books seasons. Book readers would frequently have to explain things to their frustrated show-watcher friends. “Sure, I understand Sansa is a bit naive, but shes only 11 when the books begin so, I swear, it makes more sense.” It only got worse as the gap between the age of the characters in the show and those in the books widened. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Martin said: “This is a serious concern. Maisie was the same age as Arya when it started, but now Maisie is a young woman and Arya is still 11. Time is passing very slowly in the books and very fast in real life.” (Maisie Williams was actually 12 years old when she was cast in Game of Thrones. Arya Stark is nine at the start of the book series.)

As long as the show remained book faithful, something was always going to be a little off. Game of Thrones was peddling the plots and actions of children acted out in increasingly adult bodies. This seemed only somewhat confusing with the men on the show. (Would an adult Robb Stark really have made such an ill-advised marriage? Doesnt that seem like the impulsive action of a 15 year old?). But the incongruity had even worse implications for the female characters.

Possibly because of its early penchant for gender-imbalanced nudity, Game of Thrones has often come under scrutiny for being somewhat sexist—especially when it comes to sex itself. The issue of sexual violence aside (which well get to), Ive been a bit frustrated that Jon got two girlfriends before his sisters got even one healthy consensual kiss.

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Speaking of Jons girlfriends, there were obviously several exceptions to the “boys have all the fun” rules on the show. If we look past the Daenerys getting raped in the show, but not in the books, on her wedding night, he can fairly say she (eventually) took charge of her sexual relationship with Khal Drogo. Her sexual appetites were even more on display with her boy toy Daario Naharis and for awhile there actor Michiel Huisman almost single-handedly carried the load of representing male nudity on the show.

Ygritte seduced Jon, its true. (But then, weirdly, the virgin Jon just naturally knew how to have sex better than she did.) Gilly gently led Sam through their first sexual encounter just as Missandei did the honors for Grey Worm. Ellaria Sand and Yara Greyjoy represent more sexually fluid and adventurous appetites on display, as does Cersei if you want to label incest a kink. And its perhaps best to leave all the women who were paid to have sex out of this particular conversation.

Still, far more women than men have been naked on the show—except, until tonight, Arya. The show tried to present Arya as a sexual creature as early as Season 3:

But backed away until she saw her first crush, Gendry, again.

Sansas evolution from her childish crush on (the patently gay) Ser Loras into the flickerings of her awareness of her sexual power over Littlefinger was cut short in the aftermath of Ramsay Boltons brutal sexual assault. Read More – Source

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Vanity Fair

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