Emilia Clarke has words for anyone under the regressive illusion that being a feminist and being a sex symbol are mutually exclusive — or that beauty and intelligence are an unlikely combination in a woman.
In her new cover story for Rolling Stone, the Game of Thrones star opens up about her identity as both someone who both wins titles like the Sexiest Woman Alive (Esquire, 2015) and considers herself feminist as fuck. "It doesn't stop me from being a feminist," Clarke told Rolling Stone of her status as a sex symbol and her nude scenes on the HBO series that made her famous. "Like, guess what? Yes, I've got mascara on, and I also have a high IQ, so those two things can be one and the same."
The actress also spoke frankly about her daily encounters with sexism — something she didn't always recognise. "I feel so naive for saying it, but it's like dealing with racism," she said in regards to the incredibly pervasive, ingrained nature of sexism. "You're aware of it, and you're aware of it, but one day, you go, 'Oh, my God, it's everywhere!' Like you suddenly wake up to it and you go, 'Wait a fucking second, are you... are you treating me different because I've got a pair of tits? Is that actually happening?'" Clarke continued, "It took me a really long time to see that I do get treated differently. But I look around, and that's my daily life."
Of course, Clarke's daily life also involves playing one of the most badass woman leaders to ever grace the small screen, on one of the most popular shows of all time. And that role has inspired Clarke to find a similar strength and power within herself. "You don't get to be a mother of dragons without a change or two," she said of playing Daenerys Targaryen for seven seasons now. "Being able to encompass and understand the kind of woman who could conquer armies and topple societies allows me, the actor, to stand firmly in those shoes."
And after Game of Thrones ends, you can bet Clarke will continue to topple sexism and the patriarchy like the Khaleesi she is at heart.