Game of Thrones Shocker: Arya Stark Had Sex

Courtesy of HBO

NEWSFLASH: Arya Stark, like many 18 year old womxn, had sex. She wanted to know what it would feel like, and she wanted to have sex with someone she knew, felt comfortable and safe with. And she wasn’t afraid to tell him what she wanted.

So, naturally the internet melted at the idea.

A male friend of mine said, ‘I don’t know, I just felt kind of weird watching her have sex. We’ve grown up with her. She was only 11 when she started the show. It just didn’t feel right.’

I wonder if Bran (Arya’s younger brother who was 7 years old at the when the Game of Thrones story begins, 4 years younger than Arya), was to have sex, that anyone would bat an eyelid?

As I watched it, I began to think that what people were really outraged about wasn’t the fact that HBO were parading a womxn’s sexuality on screen (I mean, if that were the case, Game of Thrones would have been cancelled 7 years ago, right?); nor do I think it has too much to do with her age (Maisie Williams, the actress who plays Arya Stark, is 20 years old IRL). No: what I think it might have something to do with, is the fact that this 18 year-old girl, who has never been seen in a sexual light, felt empowered to take her sexuality into her own hands, spoke up about what she wanted, stated her boundaries and decided what she wanted for herself.

When we think of sexuality in terms of the stories and characters on Game of Thrones, we have seen sex be used to assert or gain power, to manipulate men; the womxn who are sexualised pertain to the stereotype of ‘sexy’ (whether that’s the Mother of Dragons or the womxn in the brothel constantly in rotation in King’s Landing).

Esquire (the men’s magazine), wrote: “Arya and Gendry's sex scene felt out of place, likely because it was completely out of character for Arya and utterly unnecessary.” The author assumes that the point of the sex scene was to ‘prove’ Arya’s maturity, which felt futile because we had already seen it under the tutelege of the Faceless Men and in her long journey back to Winterfell. It couldn’t possibly be that Arya Stark just wanted to have sex, with no agenda, no need to ‘prove’ anything.

Of course I can’t speak for the reasons HBO felt that the scene was necessary. But the reaction of this scene does say a lot about the portrayal of real, authentic female sexuality. It’s interesting that the negative reactions to sexuality in a show like Game of Thrones have been (mis)directed towards a womxn who is exploring her sexuality, discovering what she may desire and feeling empowered to ask for what she wants.

Could we be the first post-porn generation? We are seeing sexuality and pleasure featured more and more in the media, on social channels and in film and television (not all for the better, I have to admit). It’s important that we have these conversations and check our reactions on why we are having such negative reactions to what should be a normal rite of passage for an 18 year old womxn. Especially considering Arya Stark has displayed strength, courage and power in every other aspect of her character and story. Why should sex be any different?