thinking about the spectrum of female characters in asoiaf is so fascinating especially the way they relate to their femininity because they all respond in such wildly different ways
i mean the character with the most anger and resentment about her gender, who frequently out-and-out wishes she was a man and seems to loathe most women is not one of the more ‘masculine’ female characters like arya or brienne but cersei, who of all the female characters is probably one of the most overtly feminine and sexual in her appearance and the way she manipulates people around her.
whereas brienne, one of the most ‘masculine’ female characters in appearance and stereotypical behaviour, doesn’t seem to resent her gender the way cersei does. she wants to be a knight, but her internal monologue doesn’t have the same resentment towards her gender as cersei’s, she doesn’t try to ‘pass’ as a man and she dislikes it when people call her ‘ser’. she never expresses a wish to have been ‘born a man’ like cersei does. she also lacks cersei’s powerful internalised misogyny and has a certain amount of respect more traditionally feminine women (see her line about catelyn having ‘a sort of woman’s courage’).
speaking of catelyn, she’s fascinating to me because she’s one of the few (if not the only?) female characters who accept their prescribed societal role almost entirely, and find that fulfilling it comes to them naturally. she never resents or questions her assigned role as a wife and mother. in fact, she’s wholeheartedly committed to it, and many of her thoughts in her pov, mostly about brienne but also about arya, show the extent to which she has internalised the patriarchal westerosi view of women (‘is there any creature on earth as unfortunate as an ugly woman?’, having dresses made for brienne).
dany’s gender is used a certain amount in her political rhetoric, (‘mother of dragons’, ‘i am only a young girl’), but her struggles as a ruler come more from her cultural alienation from meereen, and she doesn’t tend to struggle as a military leader explicitly because of her gender. asha uses her gender in her own rhetoric as well (‘i am a woman wed…and here’s my suckling babe’), and she doesn’t seem uncomfortable with her gender the way cersei is despite being one of the more ‘masculine-acting’ women in the series. and like dany, she is able to command the respect of men and act as a military leader.
arya, another ‘masculine-acting’ female character, also identifies herself as female to the point of frequently correcting people who misgender her. her issues with her gender don’t direct themselves outwards at women in general like cersei, but manifest internally as feelings of inadequacy for failing to fulfil her prescribed role. she doesn’t hate feminine women, she wishes she could be like sansa and worries that her family won’t want her because she isn’t a ‘proper lady’.
idk i find it really interesting that none of the ‘masculine-acting’ female characters seem to out and out dislike women or femininity (let’s just quietly ignore the show in this regard because why have subtlety when you can have bullshit like ‘most girls are idiots’ and ‘you sound like a bloody woman’).
yeah there isn’t really a point to this i’m just so excited about the diversity of martin’s women it’s almost like women in this series are separate characters and not a monolith