OP: Belittling Maisie Williams makes you part of systemic toxicity

7 May 2019

Zachary Engelman

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With the final season in full swing, nearly everyone is looking forward to watching the newest episode of Game of Thrones every Sunday.

Part of this show’s success comes from its brazen use of
uncensored gore, language and nudity. Most of the show’s cast (male and female) have had scenes with partial or even full nudity.

On April 21, one of the shows biggest stars  showed a little more of her body than some fans were comfortable with.

Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) got a little frisky on the eve of battle and decided to hook up with a blacksmith of secretly royal bloodlines. As a result, the character stripped down and exposed a tasteful bit of “side- boob.”

With how common nudity is in this series, one might expect this small scene to go relatively unnoticed.

Immediately after the episode aired social media was full of people expressing their discomfort with seeing Arya’s breast. They have watched Williams and her character grow up on screen since she was 14, and this magnified their reactions.

Reactionaries tweeted jokes about her age with gifs of people covering their eyes.

This kind of reaction may seem innocent, but is actually part of a major problem in the US.

Sexuallity should not be viewed as something that will ruin or taint a young woman.

These women should be just as comfortable as anyone else when it comes to navigating the world of sex. Sex is a part of life and criminalizing it in this way belittles women, especially those with body types that do not fit the norm of what is considered sexy.

Because of her height and youthful face, Williams  looks a bit younger than she actually is: a 22 year old woman. She is fully capable of consenting to the filming of any part of her body that she wants.

Negative attitudes about the sexuality of women like Williams have consequences for young men as well.

Those familiar with internet trends might have noticed the rise of “incels” or involuntary celibates, a group of men who spread hateful rhetoric blaming women for their inability to find sexual partners.

This group is known for shaming women who lose their virginity because they want to find a woman that is “pure,” even expressing a desire to rape young women before they ruin themselves by having sex with someone else.

This likely comes in part from the way that sexual education is taught in America. Girls at my high school were told in health classes that they are fragile flowers and that with each sexual experience they become more wilted.

A rose was passed around the classroom between the boys and we were told to take a pedal off before we passed it to the next boy in the class. The resulting tattered ugly rose was supposed to represent a woman who had too much sex.

This negative connotation assigned to girl’s sexual desires directly contribute to hate in America. By stigmatizing women’s sexuality, we have created a systematic disdain for young women with an interest in sex.