Does Sansa Suck?

Recently, some of you put some great comments on the first post about Sansa Stark . One person wrote that it’s unfair to put Sansa down for not being assertive — after all she is a prisoner.  The comment writer also scolded me a bit for being sexist by equating femininity with passivity and denigrating them both. These are actually fair points.

Some of you have argued that finding Sansa annoying is subjective. Sure, it’s subjective. You can’t measure “annoyingness” and not everyone is going to agree on a trait like that. However, the fact remains that many Sansa haters are out there.

I’d argue that it says something about us as a society that we get frustrated with Sansa. Do all our female heroines need to be “kick butt” kung fu warriors or tomboys for us to respect them? Have action movies changed our perception of what it means to be a strong woman?

Nerdalcious wrote an excellent article about Sansa’s polarizing effect. (Check it out by clicking on the image below or clicking on this link.) As Olga so aptly put it, “”Stupid Sansa” and “Sansa push Joffrey” comes up in auto-complete in Google.” If that’s the case, I’d say clearly Game of Thrones fans grow restless.

Is Sansa stupid? Does Sansa suck? And, is our frustration with Sansa a sign of how much we have changed as a society? You tell us – either by commenting on the new forum I added or adding Comments under the Nerdalcious article.

 

link-to-nerdalicious

 

Jamie Adair is the editor of History Behind Game of Thrones, a website about the history behind George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels and the hit TV show, "Game of Thrones."

17 Comments

  • Reply August 21, 2013

    PatW

    I have a feeling that Sansa will eventually surprise us. I’m thinking of the books here, and the way she’s slowly, quietly picking things up and starting to show signs of thinking for herself.

    • Reply August 27, 2013

      Jaime Adair

      I think that’s very true.

  • Reply October 23, 2013

    Juliana P.

    I watched the TV series and am still finishing the third book in the series, and (sorry, Sansa fans) I still think Sansa sucks. And the problem is not her femininity or the fact that she is not a kick-ass, tomboy sort of girl that makes her suck. There are other characters in the series that are not your typical action-movie superhero girl, such as Margaery Tyrell, that do not have so many haters.

    That’s because Sansa is stupid, not for being girly, but for actually being stupid. And not a naive kind of stupid, but stupid actually in a pretty selfish and immature way. In the books, Sansa ultimately leads to her father’s death and to her own imprisonment by warning Cersei that Ned was trying to send his daughters back to Winterfell – all because she “dreamed” of marrying Joffrey, which had already proved to her that he wasn’t the nicest guy in the world during the travel on the Kingsroad.

    Despite all the suffering she’s gone through, and supposedly having a lot of lessons about how people are not always what they seem, and that not all pretty people are nice (such as Joff and Cersei), Sansa still mistreats anyone she believes “ugly” (such as Dontos and Tyrion, that she clearly hates for being ugly more than she hates for being a Lannister), and still guides herself by her stupid princess fantasies (when the opportunity of marrying Willas shows up – a chance that would free her from the Lannisters and make her future lady of Highgarden!), her first reaction is to be sad that he is a cripple and that she is not marrying Loras instead. As a matter of fact, in her POV chapters she is shown worried much more about who she will marry or when her dashing knight will come then about the well-being of Arya or any of her siblings/relatives.

    So, all I have to say is: people do not think Sansa sucks because she is feminine or girly, neither do they think she is stupid for these traits. People think Sansa is stupid because she is usually up to stupid actions/thoughts.

    • Reply October 23, 2013

      Jaime Adair

      I know Sansa is really controversial, but I *love* this comment. I’ve been trying to go easier on her, but then you made a really good point. She doesn’t really spend a lot of time thinking or worrying about her family, does she?

      I kind of mentally let her off the hook for the “lookism” because she’s a teenager, but you’re right. She would rather be with a Tyrell than Tyrion – despite would a good man Tyrion is at the outset. Admittedly, even before Robb’s death, Tyrion was part of the family keeping her hostage. But, really she’s repulsed by him being a noseless (scarred on TV) dwarf.

      I do think though that its okay for her to be a little shallow because she’s a teenager, but Arya thinks about her family (in her own “I want vengeance” way) an awful lot more than Sansa does. Even though Arya seems to be getting darker and darker, her desire for vengeance at least stems from the love she has for her family.

      • Reply October 24, 2013

        Juliana P.

        I know how you feel… sometimes I try to mentally go easier on Sansa, but I guess what gets me frustrated is that she doesn’t seem to mature according to everything that happens to her. And most of all, it really bothers me that she never thinks of other people. I know she is a teenager, but so is Robb (he is only 16 when he dies) and Arya, and Bran is only a child, and they do not act like Sansa.

        Besides, although I know Sansa’s situation is not an easy one, she is one of the Stark kids that has less immediate worries at hand – while Robb has a war to win, and Arya, Bran and Rickon (after those two leave Winterfell) are always hungry and trying to survive, Sansa even has lemon cakes, and there is little she can do to change her situation as a hostage. In other words, she should be the one with more “spare” time to worry, but in her POV chapters I don’t find her ever bothering about her siblings or mother (or at least much less than she fantasizes about Loras, for instance).

        As you can see, I seriously have troubles understanding and dismissing some of Sansa’s actions, lol. I really hope that we see some evolution in her character in the next books…

  • Reply March 10, 2014

    StephenR

    Sansa can’t get any worse, so at least there’s that.

    Plus, she doesn’t seem like a Stark at all (and doesn’t look like them either… hmmm).

    • Reply March 15, 2014

      Olga

      All of the Stark children bar Arya actually look like Catelyn. In fact Arya looks so unlike her brothers and sisters that she worries she is illegitimate when she is younger and asks Jon Snow if she is, because her and Jon are he only children the resemble Ned.

  • Reply March 11, 2014

    Jaime Adair

    Lol. Good one! 🙂

  • Reply May 16, 2014

    Tim

    “However, the fact remains that many Sansa haters are out there” put as if it’s evidence of something is fairly unpleasant. This is the internet, which is full of whining arseholes. There are also many, many lovers of the character, who aren’t even trying to pretend the bitching is somewhat fair, which this blog seems to be doing. You want a good assessment of the Sansa hate you think is so reasonable? Type “Sansa Stark Haters Bingo Card” into google for a spot-on series of quotes, especially the “It wouldn’t have been rape” crowd. And the weary, self-approving smugness of it all. Goodness me, would some of those posts fit with the “I’ve tried to go easy on her” penises above? Yes. Exactly.

    • Reply May 16, 2014

      Jamie Adair

      Hey Tim, If anything, I (personally) feel guilty about not liking her more – but she is growing on me as she matures. With that said, I’m not going to defend the piece or apologize for not liking her. The point of the piece is to say that Sansa has polarizing affect. I believe that says something about who we are as a culture. Why don’t people like Sansa? Is it because we (unfairly) expect 13 year old girls to be superheroes? Does every female heroine have to be Catness Everdeen?

  • Reply May 16, 2014

    Tim

    I imagine the above will get some ugly, defensive response, so I’m off. Bye folks.

  • Reply May 17, 2014

    Watcher on the Couch

    I felt sorry for the kid. I agree that she is shallow in the early stages but I know I made loads of mistakes when I was Sansa’s age (book at first 11) (show13). I wasn’t that interested in pairing off when I was 11 – I thought boys around my own age were older versions of my little brother with whom I had sibling rivalry at the time, so I kept boys as friends rather than as romantic interests.Technically speaking, the people who blame Sansa for Ned’s downfall are partially right, but then Ned didn’t tell her the full story, so she didn’t know about the incest etc (I imagine Ned was trying to protect her because of her youth). I hope this hasn’t been an “ugly, defensive response” – just a different one.

  • Reply May 17, 2014

    Jun

    I agree with Olga. Sansa is very realistic. I do remember being a teenager with a head full of romantic notions of knights in the shining armor sweeping me off my feet, even though I was not raised by my mother to be a high-born lady. I was just like her! Remember Madame Bovary? There is an Emma Bovary in most women’s youth. I don’t know how the author knows girls’ fantasies so well but it is true. As for her “look-ism” in favor of beautiful people/men, who doesn’t have it? The entire human society has that problem. It is uncomfortable to see our follies in Sansa, which is why she seems to draw a lot of instinctive venom from some fans (not reflected in this blog).

    Sansa’s informing on her father made perhaps a little difference in the outcome of the crisis, but not much. If she had not informed, the girls might have been able to get away from King’s Landing, but Ned would still have gone to Little Finger for the coup, and Little Finger would still have betrayed him, and he would still have failed and ended up in the dungeon. Perhaps he would not confess to being a traitor, if the daughters had not been in the Queen’s hand, but he would have been just as likely to lose his head and ignite the War of Five Kings. It seems to me that George RR Martin is careful to set up major events (this and RW came to mind) with lots of contributing causes so that any cause is but one straw that collectively breaks the camel’s back.

  • Reply June 23, 2015

    Brigette

    I think the people who complain about Sansa aren’t a tenth as brave as she is. People demand perfection in their heroes because they’re used to that in modern story telling. We don’t do anti-heroes, we don’t do gods with human imperfections, as the Romans did, everything is black and white. She was just a teenage girl with romantic stars in her eyes, and now she’s nothing like that anymore, I get very sick of people picking on her, especially other women. It’s not a trait I’m not sure I’ll ever understand.

    • Reply June 23, 2015

      Jamie Adair

      By the way, you should be happy to know that I’ve changed my mind about Sansa. (I didn’t necessarily hate her when I wrote the article…) It is easy to lose sight of the fact that she was little girl at the beginning of GoT and ASOIAF. When I was eleven, I’m sure I was far dreamier and far more naive than Sansa.

  • Reply March 14, 2019

    Green

    Ugh, I’ve tried giving Sansa a chance, rereading her POV chapters the 2nd time around and I still cannot bring myself to like her. It boggles my mind that people actually like her and try to defend her, but I suppose everyone’s got their own opinions. If you like Sansa, just stop reading now because you won’t like what I have to say.

    I’ll say what frustrates me. Sansa is just seemingly perfect. I’m tired of all times it’s mentioned how beautiful and pure she is. Catelyn is beauitful, Dany is beautiful, and Cersei is beautiful – but they have more substance than their beauty. What exactly does Sansa have? Innocence, sweetness? (Her behavior towards her sister, towards Tyrion, towards Jon Snow is many times less than sweet). Yet she’s somehow protected by those around her and treated with kindness in this world that’s known for violence against women. I don’t mean she hasn’t suffered at all. Being manipulated and groped and assaulted and all that while she was a hostage, I remember. But this is a world where women get raped left and right and get their limbs hacked off and whatnot. Lollys got raped in the sack of KL’s, Sansa is saved by the Hound; Sansa is forced into a marriage with Tyrion, and had it been another man she would’ve gone through the bedding process and the consummation and worse. See? And she still treats Tyrion coldly. I know you can’t force physical attraction, but Tysha was able to see past Tyrion’s exterior and love him, so what’s different about Sansa?

    Even though she has no qualities to make her actually deserve it, Sansa just time after time gets rescued – by the Hound, then by Littlefinger – all very conveniently. She doesn’t have the cunning of Margaery/Cersei, or the courage and leadership of Catelyn/Dany/Arya. In the earlier books, her naivete, stupidity and shallowness can be explained by her young age, but her arc shows very little maturity or growth. Everything that’s interesting in her POV chapters usually involves what’s happening around her or what other people are doing, not what she’s actually doing. All I can say is, by the time we get into TWOW she does seem to be getting a more active role in the story, but it’s still very subtle. She’s still just hanging behind the scenes, hiding behind that courtesy. (I actually like Show!Sansa better than Book!Sansa, because Sansa had to actually truly suffer in the show at the hand of Ramsay and really grow as a result.)

    I find it ironic that some of the criticism against Sansa hate is that Sansa is the most realistic character in fantasy books, when to me neither her or her situations are realistic at all. She’s painfully bland in personality to a point that I can’t relate to her (despite the fact that I am a girl and I do remember what my teenage years were like), and her situations are up to now still very damsel-in-distress patterned. I’m still waiting for that redemption in her arc. Will she get her pretty face marred? Will she finally take action and do something KNOWINGLY that sets events in motion? I hope she does. I think GRRM does have her set up for something big.

    But until then, I truly am unable to like her.

  • Reply July 17, 2019

    Alan Frick

    I absolutely detest Sansa. Let me count the ways starting from Season 1 – 8. Please contribute if I miss any Sansa “d’oh” moments:

    1) naive foolish twat that likes Joffrey and has stars in her eyes
    2) sees Joffrey’s first act of malice vs Butcher’s boy and stays on Joff’s side. Lies to the king and her own father
    3) idiotically tells Cersei about her dad’s plan despite the rest of her family hating on the Lannisters resulting in her father’s death
    4) convinces her dad to betray his honor and lie.

    End Season 1

    5) manipulated by Cersei to write a letter to Winterfell about how her dad was a traitor
    6) does not push Joffrey off gangplank
    7) gullibly trusts littlefinger
    8)does nothing else interesting in Season 2-4

    Her biggest whoppers come in Season 4-8

    9. Kisses littlefinger- gross
    10. lies under oath to a trio of family who could protect her from that scum littlefinger. Could have changed her life around completely at this point
    11. Dresses in goth immediately afterwards to appear as a disgusting Baelish ally and pretend to be grown up and a badass
    12. Gets a redo when Brienne of Tarth swears to take her away and protect her. Instead, decides to stay with littlefinger and agree to be married off and raped.
    13. Picks a fight with Arya for no apparent reason except that she thinks she deserves to be lady of winterfell
    14. Finally wises up to littlefinger after being given irrefutable evidence by Bran
    15. Turns on Jon Snow and Dragon queen despite both coming to her crappy north’s aid. Even more inexplicable afterwards when they defeat the WW’s. No thank you? Rude as btch.
    16. Swears to keep Jon’s secret and keeps it for about 15 seconds.
    17. Inherits the north even though she is the least qualified person and deserves zero respect. If the north’s respect is earned (as they told Daenery’s), wtf has Sansa done.

    It’s unbelievable that there are so many Sansa fans out there. What has she done that is the least redeeming – get raped? On her own poor choices. This dumb broad didn’t get 3 strikes. She got 17.

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