Brow Beat

On Game of Thrones, Dany’s War Council Proved You Don’t Need a Penis to Run Westeros

Three gals, a “half-man,” and a peaceful place.


Did you notice something unusual about Daenerys Targaryen’s first major war council since touching down in Dragonstone in Game of Thrones’ “Stormborn?”

Girls! We run this mother (yeah).

As Dany is gearing up for her takeover of Westeros, she’s marshalling her armies, and nearly all of them are run by women. Houses Martell, Tyrell, Greyjoy, and Targaryen were all represented by badass bitches, accompanied by three eunuchs, a handmaiden, and, to use the epithet once thrown at Tyrion Lannister, a “half-man.”

In other words: a conspicuous (near-)absence of cock. A 9:1 person-to-penis ratio, in fact.

Game of Thrones has never been a show to shy away from dick, from Theon’s to Hodor’s, but “Stormborn”—named for Daenerys’ occasional title, taken from the torrent that raged during her birth—was defined by penile absenteeism.

It was a powerful sight to behold, not least because for six seasons of Game of Thrones, government cabinets have tended to skew heavily male. Robert Baratheon’s small council had more dudes than a Donald Trump photo op, with Jon Arryn/Ned Stark, Maester Pycelle, Littlefinger, Varys, and the Baratheons, Renly and Stannis. Joffrey’s original council included one woman, Cersei, to four men—six if you count the absent Tywin and Jaime—while Tommen’s was 5–1 female-male, and after the death of his grandfather and imprisonment of his mother, 4–0. Even Daenerys’ early councils were certified dudefests, with the queen seeking counsel from her herd of male admirers.

Not so anymore.

For a show in which so many men have been brought down by thinking with their sex organs, there was nary a penis in sight—and only one safely out of sight. Is it telling that Tyrion, who used to be one of those dick-driven men, hasn’t used his, at least to our knowledge, since Shae’s death in Season 4? Daenerys knows what her nearest testosterone-fueled relative would have done in her shoes. “If Viserys had three dragons and an army at his back, he’d have invaded King’s Landing already,” she says.

It is a sad fact that Dany’s pussy-powered alliance was so noteworthy. The show’s creators were aware of the gender politics of the scene; in the 72nd episode’s “Inside the Episode,” co-creator D.B. Weiss observed, “I don’t think there are that many situations in film or television where you see four women sitting around a table discussing power and strategy and war.” Indeed. The “Stormborn” war council easily passed the Bechdel test, featuring four female speaking characters, although Tyrion still did more than his fair share of talking, and the topic was warfare, not men. Not so the scene that follows. Lady Olenna, the wisest woman, and Daenerys, the most powerful, spoke woman to woman … about a man. Wary of trusting Tyrion’s plans, the Queen of Thorns advised the Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea to ignore the man and forge her own path—because really, why is it that even when in the minority men continue to dominate the floor?

“He’s a clever man, your Hand,” she mused. “I’ve known a great many clever men. I’ve outlived them all. You know why? I ignored them.” Hear, hear! (But not really. Listen to Tyrion. He’s only half-man, after all.)

A woman is soon to rule Winterfell as well, with Jon leaving Sansa in charge of the North as he travels to ask Daenerys for aid in fighting the White Walkers—even though all she’s interested in is seeing him “bend the knee.” Let’s hope Littlefinger, a character driven by lust if there ever was one, isn’t able to worm his way into her orbit.

Even the moment in “Stormborn” where we might have expect to see a man’s “manhood” was ultimately defined by its absence. In a tender scene between Grey Worm and Missandei, the Unsullied warrior revealed his weakness—his feelings for her—and the two finally consummated their love. The scene’s tension was entirely built around his eunuch-hood: How is this going to work? Problem solved: The castrated Grey Worm goes down on his lady love in a fantastically feminist, empowering moment for the show, which in previous seasons has been dominated by sexual violence against women and male gratification.

But just as the Mother of Dragons’ queendom was beginning to look like a cockless feminist utopia, in swung Euron of House Douchebro, King of the Fuckbois, Protector of the Patriarchy. And of course he arrived on a long, phallic plank.

Euron’s arrival interrupted what would have second penis-free sexual encounter—a “foreign invasion”—between the rightful queen of the Iron Islands and the mother of the Sand Snakes, bringing unwanted and brutish violence to the episode. These savage, gore-heavy scenes are the worst part of Game of Thrones, and this one was no exception.

For a moment though, before Urine Joystick/Eurin Mysnatch slid into our DMs, we got a glimpse of that sensual, euphoric, pussy-powered society. Game of Thrones’ women and castrated men have shown that you don’t need a penis to lead. Maybe someday America will understand that, too.