She recalls first learning what feminism was and how she felt about it at 12-years-old when the media would ask—during her first interviews for the show—whether Arya was feminist.
I didn’t even know what a feminist was.
And then someone explained it to me. And I remember thinking, “Isn’t that just like everyone?” And then I realized everyone is not a feminist, unfortunately. But I also feel like we should stop calling feminists “feminists” and just start calling people who aren’t feminist “sexist” – and then everyone else is just a human. You are either a normal person or a sexist. People get a label when they’re bad.
Williams went on to explain her holistic view of feminism in relation to Thrones' general torture of everyone and everything in Westeros, regardless of gender.
[Feminism] works the other way, as well. A lot of men have it hard too. On the show specifically, it’s always been a constant debate because women are treated badly on the show, and they’re treated well on the show. But it’s the same as the boys and the girls and the men and the animals. The themes are very dark.
"Dark" is putting it lightly. Every season there's new fan outrage over some horrific scene of violence that's somehow worse than the last. Williams feels she needs to tread lightly in addressing public anger while maintaining her convictions.
I get it that people don’t want to watch scenes like that. I understand, and you shouldn’t have to.
But that’s the show that we’ve made, and I have no control over what’s written. I think it’s upsetting that so many people have found it upsetting. But I find a lot of things upsetting to watch. I get upset when animals get slaughtered. And lots of people are like, “But this is worse than that" – and I never understood that. I think everybody’s allowed to be upset about what they’re upset by.
And once people are angry about something, you start worrying about saying the right thing instead of just saying what you mean. It’s very easy to have an opinion. Everyone’s got one. But it’s very difficult to speak up about difficult subjects when people are angry with you. People say: “Why don’t you speak up!” [and I’m thinking], “Because you all got pitchforks and you’re ready to kill us!” It’s scary if you say something wrong.
But if the Hound doesn't stop Arya Stark from speaking up, none of you pissed off fantasy nerds will either.
Maybe I just have to get a backbone. I’m going to say this in this interview, but I wouldn’t say it with anyone else: I sometimes really worry about speaking up about feminist subjects out of fear of being bashed by women on social media. And there’s something not right there. Yeah, sometimes it’s men too. But there are women who are just nasty. I’m trying to do the best I can. I got a voice. I believe in equality and I know I have more power than the average person to reach people.
Game of Thrones returns later this month, the trailer for which you can watch below.