Emilia Clarke hates this sexist interview question. She makes a good point.

Let's be real: Daenerys Targaryen is the best character on "Game of Thrones."

She's walked through fire. She's the mother of dragons. She inspires undying loyalty in others. And most of all: She's not afraid to take charge when she needs to. (Did I mention the dragons?)

A character who can literally call upon the power of scaly, fire-breathing helpers at any time ain't someone to mess with. Oh, and she's kind too!


Photo via "Game of Thrones"/HBO.

Daenerys is a total BAMF — but don't call her a "strong female character."

She's much more than that. She's brave; she's honorable; she's venerated; she doesn't give up. And Emilia Clarke, the actor who plays her, wants everyone to stop viewing female characters in a "weak/strong" binary.

Speaking to Variety at Cannes, Clarke said that she's tired of being asked what it's like to play a "strong woman," calling the trope out as reductive and sexist. And you know what? She's absolutely right. Instead of telling reporters what it's like to play "a strong woman," Clarke's just going to tell you what it's like to play a woman.

"Take the 'strong' out of it. Find another adjective, dammit. I'm just playing women," Clarke said. "If it’s not strong, what is it? Are you telling me there’s another option, that there’s a weak option? You think a lead in a movie is going to be a weak woman?"

Clarke went on to point out that such questions aren't posed to male actors, whose characters' are thought of as strong regardless of whether they're toting rocket launchers through the tundra or fighting emotional demons. You'd find it weird if Netflix had a category for "Strong Male Leads," so why is the opposite OK?

Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images.

Clarke's right. And she's not alone.

The "strong female character" descriptor is being taken to task in Hollywood. After decades of being seen as a compliment, more and more actors, producers, and directors are making it clear that explicitly stating a female character is strong is making the assumption that other female characters, and women in general, somehow aren't.

In early 2018, Shonda Rhimes got real about the fact that "women are women." Stop with the compartmentalizing.

"There are no Dumb Weak Women," she wrote. "A smart strong woman is just a WOMAN. Also? 'Women' are not a TV trend — we're half the planet."

Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain quickly backed her up, pointing out that she's often told to go for "strong characters" when the reality is that Hollywood should be focused on "well written women" instead.

Clarke also has some ideas for better questions to ask.

"'What does it feel like to play someone with power?' or 'How does it feel to play a female lead in a big blockbuster movie?'" Clarke suggested. These types of questions are far more interesting anyway.

The questions asked in interviews affect the way women, and women characters are seen. Viewing women only in the context of "strong or weak" perpetuates the idea that these are the only ways to describe them. Reporters aren't the only ones who need to be more aware that female characters should be conceptualized outside their gender. We've got to do better.

More

Mom and blogger Mary Katherine Backstrom regularly shares snippets of life with her two children on her Facebook page. One particularly touching interaction with her daughter is melting hearts and blowing minds due to the three-year-old's wise words about forgiveness.

Even adults struggle with the concept of forgiveness. Entire books have been written about how and why to forgive those who have wronged us, but many still have a hard time getting it. Who would guess that a preschooler could encapsulate what forgiveness means in a handful of innocent words?

Keep Reading Show less
Family

California has a housing crisis. Rent is so astronomical, one San Francisco company is offering bunk bedsfor $1,200 a month; Google even pledged$1 billion to help tackle the issue in the Bay Area. But the person who might fix it for good? Kanye West.

The music mogul first announced his plan to build low-income housing on Twitter late last year.

"We're starting a Yeezy architecture arm called Yeezy home. We're looking for architects and industrial designers who want to make the world better," West tweeted.

Keep Reading Show less
Cities

The U.S. women's soccer team won the Women's World Cup, but the victory is marred by the fact that the team is currently fighting for equal pay. In soccer, the game is won by scoring points, but the fight for equal pay isn't as clearly winnable and the playing field isn't as even.

We live in a world where winning the World Cup is easier than winning equal pay, but co-captain Megan Rapinoe says there's one easy way fans can support the team: Go see games.

Some people argue the men's team deserves to get paid more because they are more successful and earn more money for the United States Soccer Federation. Pay depends on merchandise and ticket sales, and in general, men's sporting events tend to draw a bigger crowd than women's sporting events. It's not about sex, many argue; it's about the fact that people just prefer to see men play.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

You think you know someone pretty well when you spend years with them, but, as we've seen time and again, that's not always the case. And though many relationships don't get to a point where the producers of "Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?" start calling every day just to chat, the reality is that sometimes partners will reveal shocking things even after you thought you'd been all shocked out.

That's the case for one woman whose Reddit thread has recently gone viral. The 25-year-old, who's been with her boyfriend for five years, took to a forum for relationship advice to ask if it was normal that her seemingly cool and loving boyfriend recently revealed women shouldn't have a fundamental right. (And no, it's not abortion — although there are a lot of "otherwise best ever boyfriends" out there who want to deny women the rights to bodily autonomy, too.)

Keep Reading Show less
Recommended