Despite how boob-y its small screen adaptation has become, those who've read the five books in George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series—on which Game of Thrones is based—know that the real meat isn't on the female characters' chests, but in their stories. HBO sex scenes be damned, the women of Westeros are more than sex objects—they're subjects of their own narratives. And it's something that Martin, as a "feminist at heart," did deliberately.
There's a reason that half of the fantasy series' avid fan base is made up of women. While the realm that he has created isn't exactly woman-friendly, the hardships and limitations it creates for its female inhabitants lends itself well to the rich development of their characters. Women like Cersei Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, Brienne of Tarth, and even Sansa Stark, are not only multi-layered, but emblematic of the different ways that women respond to being designated as second-class citizens. What makes their stories interesting—certainly more so than someone like Robb Stark—is how they maneuver in a realm that values power as its highest commodity when they were born with very little of it, strictly by nature of being women.
In an interview with the Telegraph, Martin credits his "humanizing" of his female characters with his feminism, even though he's not sure if he's allowed to be one:
‘There was a period in my life when I would have called myself a feminist, back in the seventies, when the feminist movement was really getting going and growing out of the counter culture of the sixties,' he says. ‘But the feminist movement has changed. Sometime in the 80s and 90s I read some pieces by women saying that no man can ever be a feminist and you shouldn't call yourself that because it's hypocritical, so I backed off. I thought if the current crop of feminists believes that no man can be a feminist, then I guess I'm not one.'
‘To me being a feminist is about treating men and women the same,' he said. ‘I regard men and women as all human - yes there are differences, but many of those differences are created by the culture that we live in, whether it's the medieval culture of Westeros, or 21st century western culture.'