Back before Game of Thrones drove off a cliff with the last two seasons, I loved the complex relationships many of the characters had with each other. None were more interesting than the dynamic between Tyrion and his father Tywin.
Tywin hated his son Tyrion because Tyrion’s mother died giving birth to him, and because he was born a dwarf. In fact, Tyrion was not even going to be the heir to Tywin’s lands and titles, because he was not the oldest son. So, Tywin hated Tyrion, and on top of that, had no practical use for him. Tywin was known for his ruthlessness, and he never even hesitated to kill children, and yet, he did not kill his dwarf son at birth. In fact, in the first book/season of the franchise, Tywin starts an entire war just to rescue the son he despises.
Read the following exchange between the two from Season 3:
Tywin: “A good man does everything in his power to better his family’s position, regardless of his own selfish desires.” [Tyrion scoffs] “Does that amuse you?”
Tyrion: “No, it’s a very good lesson, only it’s easy for you to preach utter devotion to family when you’re making all the decisions.”
Tywin: “Easy for me, is it?”
Tyrion: “When have you ever done something that wasn’t in your interest, but solely for the benefit of the family?”
Tywin: “The day that you were born! I wanted to carry you into the sea and let the waves wash you away. Instead, I let you live, and I brought you up as my son… Because you’re a Lannister!”
And then, at the end of the following season of the show, right before Tyrion kills his father, they exchange this:
Tyrion: “All my life, you’ve wanted me dead…”
Tywin: “Yes. But you refused to die. I respect that; even admire it. You fight for what’s yours… I’d never let them execute you. Is that what you fear? I’d never let Illyn Payne take your head. You’re a Lannister. You’re my son.”
Even without these exchanges, Tywin was always open about his hatred for Tyrion. Despite his hatred, he never acted upon it. Remember Tywin even started a war just to rescue Tyrion from captivity.
Tywin has some serious personality flaws, but he is nonetheless a real man, at least when it comes to what he believes and following his own moral code. He believes family is paramount, and that even extends to the family members he despises.
Thinking about this subject reminds me of my own relationship with the mother of my child. I have never wanted to harm her, because I’ve always had enough common sense to understand that violence hardly ever solves anything in life. Yet, my ex-wife has claimed that I do want to harm her. Like a typical immature woman, she’s made accusations such as that I have threatened her and that I’ve stalked her.
She knows I’m not, and never have been, a threat to her. She only started making that up when she realized she had no case against me in court. The second time we went to court, I didn’t even need to make an opening defense statement, because her case was rejected right after she made her opening statement. Girls do love the attention that comes with waving that victim card around, but whenever it’s put to a real test, it always fails. You can lie to friends and family, but you can’t lie in court.
Anyway, despite the fact my ex-wife knows I’ve never been a threat to her, there is even more to it. More which she probably has never realized:
If she were in a dangerous situation, and I were able to protect her, I would.
I wouldn’t risk my life, because the only love I have left for her is microscopic, but I would nonetheless try to protect her. The only reason I would protect her is because she is the mother of my daughter, and kids need both parents. It doesn’t matter my personal feelings for this “woman,” because the plain and simple fact is: My daughter needs to grow up knowing her mother. I believe that equally as firmly as I believe she needs to be raised by me.
I sure as hell wouldn’t care to protect her if we’d never had a child together. I might have forgotten about her by now, or hell, I might not have even hated her in the first place since she wouldn’t have been able to use a child to do all the shitty things she’s done. But we do have a child, and my role as a father extends to her as well. I feel it’s my duty to, at least minimally, concern myself with her wellbeing.
Concerning myself with someone I despise. That is maturity. That is being a man. Men must obey the sense of honor we are born with.
What reinforces this, in my mind, is actually my own shitty mother. I still believe it would have spared me some emotional damage if I grew up at least having my mother around. Maybe I would have learned what she really is sooner, or maybe it would have made it easier to forgive her… Whatever the case, I still believe, despite my mother’s inability to be a real mother, that I would have been better off at least having her … available. She wasn’t a direct threat to the safety of her child, just like my shitty ex-wife, so therefore, I think I should have at least known her while growing up.
Therefore, I think my daughter needs the same. And therefore, my daughter’s mother is under my protection if … somehow … she ever needs it, but only to a certain extent.
Add this to the long list of reasons we need to stop demonizing masculinity. Only men, specifically real men, can even be capable of protecting someone they hate.