Much like death and taxes, one of the few things you can really rely on in this world is that every new season of Game Of Thrones will bring with it a revitalized debate about whether or not Game Of Thrones’ portrayal of women is sexist. Not that the debate isn’t worth having, of course, it’s just that—unless the show or the internet go through some drastic changes—nobody is really going to budge from the position they had last season, no matter who weighs in this time. Sophie Turner and author George R.R. Martin defended the show’s continued use of sexual assault as a plot device last year, but director Jeremy Podeswa suggested that showrunners Dan Weiss David Benioff listened to the debate about sexual violence and decided to cut back on the rape for the next season of Game Of Thrones—though he ended up walking that back a little bit.
The latest season of Game Of Thrones doesn’t start until April 24, but Entertainment Weekly has already gotten a head-start on this year’s debate by asking star Emilia Clarke about how she feels when the show is criticized for being sexist. Her response, essentially, is that the accusations are pretty baseless. Clarke says that Thrones specifically highlights women “in so many different stages of development,” whether they’re “sexual tools,” “have zero rights,” or are even “literally unstoppable and as powerful as you can possibly imagine.” She says Game Of Thrones “shows the range that happens to women, and ultimately shows woman are not only equal, but have a lot of strength.” As for the controversy in general, she says it takes Game Of Thrones “out of context” and puts an “anti-feminist spin” on it by discounting its wide range of female characters.
Outside of the show, though, Clarke does note that there’s often sexism surrounding Game Of Thrones. She points out how often the female actors on the show are asked about nudity or how they feel about the sex scenes, and yet the men—she specifically references Daario actor Michiel Huisman—never have to talk about it, no matter how often they might get undressed. Really, though, the overall point is that sexism on Game Of Thrones is a complicated, prickly topic, and everyone already knows how they feel about it.