Why Isn’t Daenerys Targaryen a White Savior?

There are a multitude of articles, blog posts, tumblr posts and so on describing reasons why the Game of Thrones character, Daenerys Targaryen, is a white savior. There don’t seem to be many substantial internet posts, other than what’s on tumblr, that argue against this theory.

Maybe it’s another one of those bandwagons, where everyone piles on because it seems like a good idea for us to think that way too. Heaven forbid we should use our own intelligence to formulate our own opinions. Especially about a television show. I mean, let’s face it, Game of Thrones is a damn good show, but it’s NOT real, and it does NOT represent real life.

I only got into Game of Thrones recently, but I have seen all 40 episodes. I don’t remember every single teeny tiny detail, but I have a fairly decent recall when it comes to Daenerys. Her character is one of the main reasons why I started watching the show, Arya Stark and Knight/Lady Brienne being the other reasons. But what makes Daenerys my favorite character, is the way she is thrust into the real world, and forced to live with people who are not royalty, or heir to the throne.

Daenerys is obviously frightened of the Dothraki people and culture, no two ways about it. If you were fourteen, and married off to a man you don’t know, and had to watch people have sex then murder each other on your wedding day, you’d be frightened too. Daenerys has to learn, kind of the hard way, how to interact with Khal Drogo (Dothraki leader who she is married to) in a way that will not only benefit her safety, but also benefit their relationship. Daenerys goes from behaving like a victim (which she has every right to behave as), to embracing the Dothraki and learning to understand.

Daenerys wears their clothes, eats their food, learns their language, and practice their customs. My personal favorite, is the ceremony in which she eats a whole horse heart. It’s a little nauseating to watch, but she doesn’t call this ceremony a violent, uncontrolled behavior. This ceremony is about her child, she knows it, and she embraces it.

This arranged marriage also introduces her to slavery. When Daenerys protests Khal Drogo taking more slaves, and raping them, he listens to her, instead of just doing what he’s always done. It has been argued that the Dothraki are meant to be dark skinned savages. If your idea of savagery is a group of people who travel together and have an established and complicated social order, then you need to look up the correct definition. Animals are savages. But Dothraki are repeatedly referred to as people. And these people, had the option to refuse this arranged marriage. The Dothraki had no interest initially in conquering Westoros, and the only thing that inspired it was the unborn child of Daenerys and Drogo. Sure, that’s a little sexist, that you want a better world for your son, and not your wife. But still, this so called “white savior” had nothing to do with it.

It is important to note that one woman Daenerys saves from being raped and made into a slave, is put off by the young woman’s desire to help her. Daenerys doesn’t know what it is like to be a slave. She has seen it in action, but she hasn’t lived it. Her character takes several steps to understand this. When she travels to Slaver’s Bay, she infiltrates the city of Astapor and kills the leader. She offers the slave army known as the Unsullied, a choice: They can leave the city, or they can fight for her. It’s not perfect, but she offers a choice, rather than orders.

The most definitive proof, in my opinion at least, that Daenerys is not a white savior, is her infiltration of Yunkai. Ser Jorah Mormont tries to tell her that she does not need to take the city. Daenerys asks him how many slaves are in Yunkai, to which he tells her there are 200,000. “Then we have 200,000 reasons to take the city”, Daenerys says. After the leader of Yunkai is killed, hundreds of slaves leave the city to come face to face with Daenerys and the Unsullied. Her advisor, Missandei, tries to tell the people that they owe her their freedom. Daenerys stops her, and tells the people that they do not owe her their freedom, because it is not her’s to give. And the people proclaim her Mhysa, which does not mean savior, it means ‘mother’. Now she understands.

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