I was late to the GoT obsession.
It was mid-July, I reluctantly sat down on my couch as my cousin flicked on the first episode of Game of Thrones. I had seen this scene alay out before, but unlike many other times I kept watching absorbed by the world of kings, queens, would be royals, and prostitutes. I was horrified at verbal and physical abuse the women are dealt in just the first episode, but a month later when I caught up on all seven seasons (I know.) I felt empowered- there's a reason Khaleesi merchandise does so well.
Who else needs this?
For me, being a Khaleesi stands for so much more than power or a cute internet trend. To me being a queen is sufferance, it is knowledge, it is wit, it is charm, it is working a system that is so against your favor that you must comply to get ahead. It is dark and twisted like Cersei, bright and brave like Daenerys, poised and poisonous like Sansa, unforgiving and proud like Arya. Yes, after season seven, I was felt like I was Daenerys emerging from the flames.
The unfortunate reality is that the real world is not far off from the heightened world of violence, sex, and patriarchy depicted in GoT. The difference are some period costumes and rules that apply to some people.
At the end of season seven, *spoiler alert* I realized that I was unabashedly turned on by Jon Snow bending the knee to Daenerys. "That's weird," I thought. I felt a burning desire for someone to bend the knee to me. One night, walking around the West Village, I lamented to a friend, "Ugh I just want someone to bend the knee to me." She questioned my uncharacteristic pop-culture reference. "It's so hot. There's nothing hotter," I decided. She laughed, "Of course you do." I guess the wanting men to do what they are told part was more characteristic.
"I guess that's a weird thing to want," I admonished myself, but stuck to my guns and wondered what was so appealing and why I thought a man would bend the knee to me. What does that even mean now? I go back to the scene that stopped my heart and made me realize that it's not ok to accept less than what you deserve. Sure, "bending the knee" is an archaic, monarchal term, but for all intensive purposes bare with me. To me "bending the knee" is humble. It's recognizing that your partner can lead; in GoT's case the seven kingdoms but in real life I think it's trust in your partner to excel in their passions. It's the humility to be proud of your partner even when their success is accelerating faster than your own. At it's simplest, it's support and respect. As a creative, I know it's important to find a partner that is both supportive and respectful of my intense career path.
With all of that thinking and on a bored Tuesday evening I decided to try my gaunt on Bumble and crafted a clever bio that I thought explained what I was looking for:
"Just a girl, looking for a guy to bend the knee. (in the GoT way of course) Happy human obsessed with what I do. IG @anie_delgado"
I smiled to myself happy with my creation. "And now we wait," I thought. As the connections rolled in and my initial hellos were responded to I saw a number of reactions. At first I was proud that my joke was even being received, but as I conversed with my online-suitors, I realized that my Bumble bio was not only controversial, it also is a great way to find out what kind of man you're dealing with.
He just wants to talk about Game of Thrones
This guy is simply excited that I like Game of Thrones. Maybe it's the allure of a woman being into a show that so well appeases a man's fondness for violence and sex in entertainment or perhaps they're just big GoT nerds and want to exchange fan theories. Either way, don't expect this guy to give his opinion on gender roles to you.
I'm often met with a clever GIF, a icebreaking "so I guess you watch GoT," or a "Have you watched the whole series?!" This guy is fine. He's not playing games. He's trying to connect. I'm into it and quite frankly get me talking about GoT I can go for hours. Here I am writing an article about it.
This guy took the joke as intended: an icebreaker, a glimpse into my sense of humor, a reassurance that if things go well, I'll be able to watch Season 8 with him (in over a year...) because I'm all caught up.
He wants you to bend the knee.
I was in my happy little world where my bumble bio could be passed over for a simple joke and clever pop culture reference when I realized that you can never doubt the patriarchy's ability to ruin everything too much. Also waiting for me in my Bumble messages were a few of this guy. You know him: in one photo, he hugs his mom. In another he is flanked by several hot young women, in another he is flexing in an ill lit Planet Fitness locker room. This guy is not having your independence. You can forget about hot (and somewhat disturbing) Dany-Jon role play. He's having none of it. Or is he?
"I'm not going to bend the knee," he greets you boldly. You roll your eyes. You were on the fence about swiping right for him in the first place and now he takes your goofy bio as a reason to exert the power of the patriarchy? Ok bro. "Well looks like this won't work out then," I reply smiling hotly. "Game on," I thought. "I'm really bored," I reasoned.
"Well there's no way I'll bend the knee, but you're mad cute." he continues. "That's not how this works," I don't budge. "I'd like to see you bend the knee for me," he hints presumptuously. "Fuck off," I reply plainly deleting him from existence in my world at least.
I felt bad for being profane initially but why did his words make me feel so disgusted? This is when I realized that my stupid Bumble bio was perhaps a brilliant filter to see what men think about the equality and gender roles in a relationship. I decided that this guy probably wanted someone submissive and that's just not me (no judgement if that's you). I decided his directness warranted equal directness and moved on.
He's totally willing to bend the knee.
This guy is fun. He's totally down to bend the knee to you. He calls you Khaleesi which is, not-going-to-lie, very hot. For ego's sake, you think you're getting what you wanted, but don't be so sure. His willingness to bend the knee might be pure and rooted in supporting his girl, but I ran into unexpected over-sexualizing women deal with every day.
With some guys, you give them an inch and they run a marathon and that was exactly the case here. While I may have gotten the respect I hoped for, at the same time, I ended up with a lot of suggestive messages about "liking a woman who likes to be in charge." It seems like my want for respect and my confident manifestation of that to some men hinted at my likes in the bedroom and they felt the need to tell me.
To set the record straight: I just want you to be proud of me when accomplish something amazing, I do not want to dominate you in the bedroom and if I do, my Bumble bio isn't going to tell you that.
Among the pervs who twisted my essentially innocent joke of a bio into a sexual fantasy was the occasional good guy who could handle a confident woman. While that's exactly what I'm looking for, I was surprised by an alternative mind set.
He wants to bend the knee together.
Surprisingly, I had only one response like this. I don't know why it's surprising because it makes the most sense, but if I was so unmoving in what I wanted, I expected my suitor to be equally stubborn or submit. This guy offered me a compromise. "Why can't we both bend the knee?" he asked. Empowered and hard-headed from my idolization of Daenerys and her ability to stick to her mission, I gave this poor guy a hard time. "Haven't you seen Game of Thrones?" I asked, "That's not how bending the knee works."
"I don't think Jon really bent the knee," he explained. I was all ears. While technically Jon has vowed to be loyal to Daenerys as his queen, he saw their relationship as a compromise and confessed that he too admired them (minus the incest lol) and hoped that he could find a partner that empowers and inspires him the way Dany inspires Jon.
While like many Bumble connections, my Jon Snow and I fizzled out, our talk taught me a valuable lesson. While I want someone to support and respect me, I also want someone who will in turn accept my support and respect. While I am brave, strong,, and passionate like Daenerys, I know that I can also be stubborn and impulsive. Just as important as it is for my passion and ambition to thrive in a relationship, it's important to learn and be lifted up by someone who is different than you.
So, if my Jon Snow is out there, I call a truce. I will bend the knee to you if you bend the knee to me. Teach me patience, humility, and compromise and I will teach you how to walk through fire.