With roughly 275 days until the premiere of Season 4, Game of Thrones fans have ample time to re-watch previous episodes, peruse fan fiction online, and, heck, even read the books.
While hooked by the many intricate plots and complex characters in Martin’s morally problematic (and therefore wonderfully delicious) universe, fans of “the sapphic persuasion” may wonder if their libidinal desires will ever be met on the screen. Sure, we have the gender-bending rainbow knight, Lady Brienne of Tarth; our butch in shining armor. And, yet, we know that Lady Brienne is head-over-heels in love with (the deceased) Lord Renly Baratheon, the raging homosexual claimant-king who was effing the Knight of the Flowers, and for whom Brienne blindly and passionately served in his knights guard. The series’s other butch-in-training, Lady Arya Stark of Winterfell, alas, is just a wee tomboy. For all the “gay” in the Ga(y)me of Thrones, there’s really little of the lady gay.
For those of you not inclined to pick up a book, this lady gay literature professor heretofore presents you with ALL THE
THINGS SAPPHIC MOMENTS of the first five books of Game of Thrones.
(Below is a discussion of the sapphic moments ONLY; no major spoilers concerning any plot or character lie ahead. And I am using the term “sapphic” rather than “lesbian” to denote the profound difference between female-to-female homosexual interactions and a chosen, modern, socio-political sexual identity.)
Let’s begin, shall we?
The “How To Fuck Your Khal” training session between Daenerys and her handmaid Doreah in episode 2 of Season 1 is a scene only intimated at, when read through a pair highly perverse spectacles, in Book 1. In the text, Dany asks Doreah to sup with her, and they chat amongst the moon and stars, but Doreah never once straddles Dany or grinds into her while whispering “don’t make love like a slave.”
Books 1 and 2, actually, have no blatant or suggestive female homosexuality or homosociality, so the aforementioned constructed scene in 1.2 could on the one hand be construed, much like the “lesbian” porn market, as fodder for men’s delight — blah blah, the “male gaze,” blah blah, “objectification”—we all know this psychoanalytic-inspired hermeneutic because, hello McFly, it’s not 1985.
Or, this fabricated-for-your-screen scene could foreshadow the specific type of sapphic events that unfold in books 3 through 5, which will hopefully make their way onto our television screens in the coming seasons. In books 3 and 5 the sapphic scenes involve Khaleesi; in Book 4, Cersei. All three scenes involve a sexual interaction precipitated by a power differential between an aristocratic woman and a serving woman—because, well, power is hot.
As depicted in Season 3 of the HBO series, Daenerys’s storyline culminates with her victory over the Slaver Cities. Instead of racing home to Westeros to regain the Iron Throne, she decides to stay abroad to help rebuild the cities that her army of unsullied soldiers (and dragons!) have decimated in battle. Dany’s mind, in other words, has been focused completely on political, rather than sexual, matters. Not to mention that she’s not been in the mood for seski-time at all since her Khal died in Book/Season 1.
In Book 3, Ser Jorah Mormont kisses her, and that kiss awakens the “dragon”—her lady-parts dragon—and from that point forward, with a reawakened sexual desire, Dany has to negotiate her libido with her quest. Instead of bedding a man, which would result in a host of complications because she is the “The Queen Across the Sea” and doesn’t have time for any upstart man trying to take her power or steal her claim to the throne (through marriage). History buffs know this is straight up Queen Elizabeth I; the woman who ruled England through its “Golden Age” in the sixteenth century was celebrated as the “Virgin Queen,” but we lesbos smell a different story—ammi right, or ammi right?
Dany solves the problem of getting off by using her hand,
“so tormented she could not sleep, Dany slid a hand down between her legs, and gasped when she felt how wet she was. Scarce daring to breathe, she moved her fingers back and forth between her lower lips, slowly so as not to wake Irri beside her, until she found one sweet spot and lingered there, touching herself lightly, timidly at first and then faster.”
The problem here is that Dany is sharing a bed with Irri, one of her handmaidens, who wakes from all of Dany’s manual rustling.
Irri, the good handmaiden that she is, knows exactly what to do, and, without a word, sates her queen’s desire without delay:
“the handmaid put a hand on her breast, then bent to take a nipple in her mouth. Her other hand drifted down across the soft curve of belly, through the mound of fine silvery-gold hair, and went to work between Dany’s thighs. It was no more than a few moments until her legs twisted and her breasts heaved and her whole body shuddered. She screamed then. Or perhaps that was Drogon. Irri never said a thing, only curled back up and went back to sleep the instant the thing was done.” (324-325)
The following night Irri, who, perhaps joyously hoping this “task” will become a nightly ritual, is rebuffed by Dany, who would rather be alone than to share some seksi-time with her handmaid. Because of the relation between the two women (both of whom, in the books, are teenagers, mind you), the sexual encounter was spontaneous, yes, but it was an encounter that was more like a transaction between master and servant. Because sex is always a transaction, and it is the relation between the two entities involved in that transaction determine and define its significance.
Because of their relation, Dany, the queen, sets the parameters of their sexual dalliances. This is and is not a case of “Person of Least Interest,” whereby the person with the least interest in a relationship holds the most power. Their transactions undoubtedly bestow Irri with a favoritism that elevates her status among all those who serve Dany—because not everyone has the privilege of fucking the queen, or even sharing a bed with her. From the transaction, two very different desires are fulfilled: Dany gets off without having to deal with political complications, and Irri is satisfied because her privy access to the Queen translates into an increased sense of importance, as well as status.