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Game of Thrones finally frees the penis, but it's not exactly redressing the balance

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Game of Thrones has long been known for its abundance of sex scenes and nudity, but other than a couple of mild flashes from the men, it's always been women disrobing for the cameras.

It's taken until season six for the show to really free the penis, as star Emilia Clarke campaigned for, and the scene predictably set the internet alight. But did it really redress the balance?

Here, Stylist contributor and Game of Thrones fan Cat Collins discusses whether a few seconds of pulled peen is a match for five years of boob-baring...


For a show replete with Strong Female Characters, Game of Thrones has been surprisingly lacking when it comes to one important feminist issue: nudity.

Much like their male counterparts, the women of Westeros are many and varied in character. From the beautiful to the plain, warriors to weaklings, the vain and vacuous to vulnerable, all facets of femininity are represented. But there's a serious problem when it comes to naked equality.

Since the very first episode of season one, we’ve seen lady parts aplenty on screen. Some scenes have been completely relevant to the plot and justifiable, such as Daenerys’ powerful emergence from an inferno (twice), Cersei's literal walk of shame that saw her supposedly atone for her sins, or the Red Woman’s shocking wrinkly revelation.

Unfortunately, though, there's also much gratuity – particularly when it comes to background brothel wenches and plot device one-night stands.

game of thrones male female nudity feminist issue

The Red Woman's disrobing was relevant to the plot

Sure, such displays are true to George R.R. Martin's original prose – and even the rich medieval history that inspired him. So far though, the full-frontals have been pretty gender-biased.

There’s been a peep of pectoral here, a bum cheek or two there, and even a quick flash of phallus from both Theon Greyjoy and Hodor (though courtesy of the prosthetics department). But on the whole, the men of the Seven Kingdoms seem pretty shy when it comes to tackling the issue of… well, tackle.

Until now.

Having more than done her part for nudity as Daenerys, show star Emilia Clarke has been outspoken about her wish to redress the balance, and this week’s installment, The Door, saw that dream fulfilled. A penis was indeed completely unexpectedly freed – and in extreme close-up, no less. But sadly, it wasn’t quite the iconic moment it might have been.

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Emilia Clarke has campaigned for GoT to free the penis...

Rather than echoing the pomp and circumstance of previous episodes, the scene saw teen assassin-in-training Arya Stark watch from the shadows as an unnamed actor in a local theatre troupe contemplate his bared member while checking for genital warts.

Charming.

Perhaps the rather repulsive, throwaway nature of it was meant to be a feminist statement in itself. Perhaps the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-moment was a riff on how unimportant and irrelevant men are. Perhaps the whole point was to make some sort of metaphorical commentary on the flaccid nature of the patriarchy.

Or perhaps the show’s producers were just getting away with whatever they could.

game of thrones male female nudity imbalance

Cersei's walk of shame

For a show so groundbreaking in so many ways, it’s frankly disappointing that the opportunity for objectification doesn’t go both ways. One can only hope that this glimpse of anonymous penis is the first of many more freed peens to come.

And as Twitter continues to argue over whether Kit Harrington as Jon Snow or Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister should be next to brave it and bare all on camera, we’ll mostly be feeling sorry for veteran actor Richard E. Grant, whose surprise cameo was completely overshadowed by the whole thing.

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