LOUD WHISPERS: Arya Stark As A Metaphor

Arya Stark killed the Night King. This will only make sense to fans of Game of Thrones (GOT) which has returned for its eight and final season, but please bear with me. Arya Stark’s family was destroyed when she was around ten years old. She lost her father, mother and two brothers, and for many years did not know of the whereabouts of her surviving sister and brother. She moved from place to place, sometimes protected by those who could find a place in their hearts to look out for a harmless little girl. Arya ended up in the House of Black and White, which was essentially a training program for assassins. Arya needed shelter, a roof over her head and a place where she could hide from the horrors she had been through. She however wanted revenge for her family, so she trained as hard as she could in the strange place she found herself. She was taught all the tools of the trade ranging from aptitude in a variety of weapons, adopting disguises, use of poisons, stealth and moving at the speed of light. There was even a time when she had to fight with no sight at all because she was temporarily blind. It was all part of her training. Eventually, Arya returned home as a young woman, a fierce warrior whose size could fool anyone into dismissing her or forgetting that she was even in the room. For seven seasons, the Game of Thrones writers and producers had set up a male hero, Jon Snow, to be the one to kill the mystical Night King. Everyone who is a fan of Game of Thrones would have made the same assumption, myself included. As I watched GOT in the early hours of Sunday morning (it is shown at 9pm E.T in the United States) I could not believe my eyes when diminutive Arya Stark jumped out of nowhere and landed the blow that finished off the Night King who had been responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths. Just like that, Arya did the job.

Cyberspace exploded with commentaries about how it was assumed/expected/so sure that Jon Snow, the handsome hero of the show and Arya’s brother, would be the one to save the day. I thought to myself, yes, it is always expected that the heroes will save the day because we hardly ever leave room for the existence of Sheroes. If we empower our girls with tools such as education and a belief in themselves, they can conquer the world. They will grow up thinking they can do anything, and they will slay all the many obstacles in their way just as Arya slayed the Night King – discrimination, exclusion, exploitation, abuse, poverty and so on. They will grow up into self-confident women who have control over their own minds, bodies and choices. Last week I was at the 3rd convocation ceremony of Elizade University in Ilara-Mokin, Ondo State. The best graduating student was a young woman, the same as last year. In addition, most of the First-Class degrees went to women. All around me people passed comments such as ‘Where are the boys? They need to wake up!’. I know the boys are there and are trying their best, but perhaps the girls have got the message that they need to make use of whatever opportunities come their way otherwise their lives will be unbearable. People who do not mean well for young women might say to them, ‘Don’t worry, when you get married, your husband will look after you’. Anyone who gives a young woman this kind of advice does not mean well for her. I am aware that there are some young women who are increasingly choosing short cuts to success by marrying into leisure and money. It is their choice as long as they are prepared to live with the consequences of their decision.  I applaud all those parents, particularly those who do not have much, for their investments in the education of their girls. As the rest of the world is making progress, we seem to be regressing in the area of gender equality and women’s empowerment.  Not only do we continue to grapple with pandemic levels of violence against women and girls, we are almost invisible when it comes to leadership and decision-making with barely 5% in the National Assembly. The implications of not having enough women in leadership positions is that institutions of state can be used to oppress and silence women with very little resistance because there is a dearth of women within these systems to make a difference.

A few days ago, there were reports that some night clubs were raided in Abuja and up to 70 women were rounded up and arrested for clubbing. Since when did going to a night club become a criminal offence? There is no indication that the clubs were raided on a tip off about any illegal operations such as doing drugs or under-age sexual activities. This is not the first time that women would be harassed on the streets of Abuja for having the audacity to be out at night, it has happened a number of times. None of the men in the clubs was arrested, only the women. This is a national disgrace and it should cease henceforth.  These acts of impunity against women are an indication that we are not wanted in public spaces unless we are in the company of men. Abuja is the capital city of Nigeria and the last time we checked, there are no laws there which prohibit the freedom of movement of men or women. It is hoped that this would be brought to the attention of the relevant authorities as soon as possible, this aberration needs to stop.

Back to Arya Stark. When she struck the blow that finished off such a major threat to the peace of the planet, I was shocked at first. I did not know it would be her. And then I asked myself, ‘Why not’? She had the training. The skill. The motivation. The focus. The talent. The relentlessness. The opportunity. This is what all our girls need. Then they will become phenomenal leaders who will never allow the oppression of other women. Have a great week.

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She is currently the 1st Lady of Ekiti State. She can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com

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14 Responses to LOUD WHISPERS: Arya Stark As A Metaphor

  1. Eric Onuoha April 30, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    Inspiring story I must say. Although I am not a fan of Game of Thrones, this story teaches that with proper preparation, determination and endurance, one can achieve success.

  2. Femi Diipo April 30, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    I always admire your perception. I also expected Jon Snow to had been the eventual hero, it was generally thought that this was the sole reason why he was resurrected by the Lord of light. But if we have learnt anything from game of thrones so far, it is that women are always very capable and we just need to keep striving to create a soothing society where women can thrive as much as men, and gender is not a barrier to leadership and influential positions in our society.

  3. Dom Dom April 30, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    When we think of the smartest, strongest, fastest and the most intelligent; when we think of heroes who swing in to save the day, we often make the grave mistake of imagining a man. But the truth and reality is that girls and women are very capable as history as proven so many times. I anticipate having many girls and women like Arya in our societies who through them, we may yet live through this long night of corruption and poverty

  4. Veronica Imaseun May 1, 2019 at 11:09 am

    You over nailed it ma.

  5. Victor Udoh May 1, 2019 at 11:11 am

    In fact, when the internet blew up because of Arya, I was like, wow. She deserved it ooooo. What do we tell the god of death, Not today!!! That scene blew my mind and I hope people can see the lessons embedded in that scene. Girls are the future!!!

  6. Olabode Olasunkanmi May 1, 2019 at 11:14 am

    Wisdom. Wisdom. I hope our country wakes up. I really hope.

  7. DSEED May 2, 2019 at 6:54 pm

    Right from the first season of GOT I have noticed that Arya will end up becoming someone spectacular. She knew what she wanted for herself right from her childhood and she have the support of her father and brother. She was prepared. She might not have thought that she will be the one to kill the night king but when the opportunity shows up she was ready/prepared to face it. We can’t avoid to fail when the opportunity shows up. Not today.

  8. Mr Chucks May 3, 2019 at 10:10 am

    when you see things in the minutest of things, you will have the opportunity to change the world. That is the story of Arya Stark and that is the lesson that this article encapsulates.

  9. Edwin May 3, 2019 at 10:19 am

    We saturated with beliefs that women cannot be superheros even though we heard different stories of women changing the game. This is a reminder that women can be more and are made for more.

  10. Sheila Luke May 3, 2019 at 10:26 am

    Thank you for seeing the lessons in that episode. I was totally blown. For those who aren’t watching GOT, you all are missing.

  11. Olumide Adegboye May 3, 2019 at 10:27 am

    I expected lessons from that episode and I GOT It! Thank you ma.

  12. Emelda Joseph May 3, 2019 at 10:28 am

    When you have a bunch of women who know what they want in life, they know that they need to get all the resources available and not depend on a man to breathe. Thank you for sharing ma.

  13. Lara Odugbemi May 3, 2019 at 10:30 am

    I have been following this platform on social media and it’s been awesome. I would say that this is my first time commenting here on the website. This is a great platform ma and i am pleased that positive vibes alone live here.

  14. Olakunle Olajide May 5, 2019 at 7:44 am

    Mama! You are a gifted writer..The way you campaign for gender equality from every situation is worthy of praise. We really need our laws to change and sincerely it won’t, if we still have less women on the seats of our legislature. The men there; if not all but most, are not ready to serve the nation but themselves which will keep hindering progress. There is this believe we will get it right soon with articles like this depicting the characters of women in good light.
    And to Arya Stark of GOT, she had always been my best, and I had a feeling she would be very influential in the great war..She has fulfilled her destiny in closing a lot of eyes..I hope she would be one of the last people standing at the end


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