If This Cersei Lannister Theory Is True, ‘GOT’ Is Reinforcing Harmful Female Stereotypes

Sunday's episode of Game of Thrones was a big one for Jaime Lannister. First of all, the Kingslayer lived through a potential death by dragon fire, and then he got news from his sister and lover Cersei that she's pregnant with his child. In classic GoT form, no plot line is presented without being followed by a barrage of fan conspiracy theories. The most popular theory is that Cersei is faking her pregnancy in order to control Jaime. But I hope Game of Thrones doesn't go that route, because the fake pregnancy is a sexist trope that reinforces ugly stereotypes about women's bodies being used for — and requiring — manipulation.

Women's bodies and the politics surrounding them are entrenched in a long history of manipulative and strategic pregnancies. The idea that a woman's body is the site for "claiming one's territory" dates back to ancient wartime tactics when outsiders raped and pillaged villages, impregnating women in order to "weaken" their enemies' bloodlines. Fake pregnancies only perpetuate the idea that women's bodies are dangerous, and potentially diabolical (hello, Rosemary's Baby), so they require outside governing, aka men, to make decisions for them.

It is worth noting that Game of Thrones has shown rape as part of wartime strategy before, so it wouldn't be surprised if a fake pregnancy were another way of showrunners representing a woman's body as a weapon, in this case, of deceit. However, the idea that women cannot be trusted and that their bodies themselves are sources of unpredictability is at the root of many sexist patriarchal ideologies. For decades, a woman's womb was thought to float, or "wander" around a woman's body and cause hysteria. This colossal misunderstanding, funny as it may be, led to many mistreatment of women who were thought to have a "wandering womb" and centuries of sexist stereotypes that women and their bodies are irrational and untrustworthy.

Because of this assumption that women are — by nature — crazy, paired with the fact that they have the power of maternity, entire tropes about women faking pregnancies to fool their boyfriends or gain attention. Another theory about Cercei is pregnant, but she's lying to Jaime about him being the father. This is another whole sexist trope that contributes to the perception that women, especially when it comes to reproduction, are not to be trusted. Even Kanye sings about it in Gold Digger, which is all about women using men for their personal gain. "Eighteen years, eighteen years, and on her eighteenth birthday he found out it wasn't his," Kanye raps.

In the Game of Thrones scene in which Cersei tells Jaime that she's pregnant, she says, "Never betray me again." This is a desperate, and cliched thing to say. Coming from a woman who has shown incredible strength with or without Jaime in the past, it's a horrible sentiment. It is out of character for Cersei to be this needy, and if she is faking the pregnancy out of a desperate plea for Jaime's devotion, it would be a disappointingly sexist move for the show.

Of course, this isn't the first time that Game of Thrones has used women's bodies as sources of embarrassment, so it unfortunately wouldn't be a big surprise if Cersei were lying about being pregnant and again portraying women and their bodies as untrustworthy. There are, however, theories that she is pregnant also, which I choose to believe.