This article explores the idea of cross-gender viewer identification, the act of watching a film or television show, and imagining oneself as a character of the opposite gender. This idea counters common understandings of the "male gaze" as it relates to film. Specifically, with the rise of the girl hero and other non-sexualized heroines in film, male viewers can consciously imagine themselves as films' heroines, not just as films' heroes who possess the heroines, as Laura Mulvey argued in her essay "Visual Pleasure in Narrative Cinema." This article explores the possibilities for this type of identification through analysis of sisters Arya and Sansa Stark in the HBO series Game of Thrones, who represent two types of fantasy heroines: the warrior and the maiden. The article investigates the roles of stereotypical femininity and masculinity in constructing the "ideal" fantasy heroine, and ultimately finds that fantasy heroines today are not admirable for their "masculine" traits, but for their capabilities to operate outside of gender binaries.


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pp. 161-179
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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