Today is International Women’s Day, which has commemorated the movement for women’s rights since 1909. In celebration, Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke has agreed to guest edit the All Women Everywhere edition of The Huffington Post UK, a month-long project that will provide “a platform to reflect the diverse mix of female experience and voices in Britain today.”
Clarke wrote an editorial to go along with the project. She discusses, among other things, how her experiences in the film and television industry have shaped her take on gender equality. “The roles I’ve played have given me an insight into what it feels like to be a woman who stands up to inequality and hate, and stands out as a feminist.” It’s not hard to draw a line between that statement and her role as Daenerys Targaryen.
Do I get treated equally at work? Not always. Does every woman? No, and the statistics back that up. Do I get asked questions at press junkets by men and women alike, specifically because they will get headline grabbing responses coming from a young woman? Yes.
If you’ve watched Game of Thrones then, spoiler, you will have seen me in the nude. There are plenty of ways in which people want me to respond to questions about this fact. And plenty of reasons why I do not feel the need to justify myself.
More generally, on this International Women’s Day, Clarke put out a call for kindness. “I am not proposing a big idea, I will leave that to the leaders and politicians; instead I propose that each and every one of us start to re-energise our kindness gene, give it power and share it with each other, with our sisters and brothers.”
As I read recently, kindness is sexy, it’s good for us, it makes us feel happy and valued. Positive action starts with small individual deeds that accumulate over time and become a movement… a movement toward a more equal society where kindness anchors our feet to the ground while giving us the momentum to keep chipping away together.
With my voice, I hope the feminist mind set my family instilled in me becomes the new normal, and boys and girls are raised to know they are equal.
Clarke isn’t the only Game of Thrones cast member getting the word out on International Women’s Day. Writing for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) discussed her work as a Patron for Women for Women International — she visited the organization’s program in Rwanda, where people are still dealing with the aftermath of the country’s 1994 genocide, in which 500,000 women suffered through sexual violence.
The women I met in Rwanda have inspired me in so many ways. They’ve shown me that no matter how bad a person’s situation can be, whether financially, emotionally, sometimes even physically; it is possible to heal and to get yourself back on track, through sheer perseverance and the power of teaching and friendship, it’s possible to do and become whatever you want.
Turner was inspired to seek out Women for Women International after seeing the response to “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” in Game of Thrones season 5, where Ramsay raped Sansa on their wedding night. “At first I was angry,” she writes. “I was angry that there is such a taboo surrounding rape and that depicting it on screen was seen as vulgar. Sexual violence happens every day all around the world and yet for that to be represented on television, when other forms of violence are so often represented and more importantly, accepted and even welcomed in some cases, was considered disgusting instead of important. It made me think: why such a taboo?”
My anger over the response then turned to excitement that the show had caused such a stir among the public and that a dialogue had been created; a dialogue that was very important. Although, I wondered why people feel so impassioned to speak out about a fictional rape when this happens all over the world every day? So unless we continually keep broadcasting people’s stories of sexual violence, then how else are people going to respond?
Happy International Women’s Day to everyone!