Even in the modern world, far from the epic wars, dragons, lords, and ladies of Westeros, a woman is still told not to take up too much space. While what’s designated as “for girls” and “for boys” is finally, ever-so-slowly changing in 2019, those of us who grew up as young women in the ’80s, ’90s, and early ’00s still felt the pressures to be cute, petite, and not terribly confrontational. You could be confident—but not too confident that you make a man feel insecure. If you’re tall, you better also be runway-model-skinny. Don’t take up too much space in public or speak too loudly outside your home. All of these directives add up to a feeling that perhaps being yourself is just too much for the world to handle, so you better rein it in.
And then (and then!) Brienne of Tarth showed up on the world’s most popular TV show and shattered every one of those societal expectations with a swing of a sword and a grunt of victory as she knocked a pretty-boy knight down into the mud. It was glorious, and I’ve been here for Brienne, rooting for her, since the minute she arrived on the scene.