When Tormund first clapped eyes on Brienne of Tarth at Castle Black in Season 6 of Game of Thrones, it seemed like love at first sight. Laughs were had by all (myself included) at Tormund making eyes at Brienne over the table, saucily ripping a loaf of bread with his teeth, and following her around the place like a hapless dog; and we were all pretty happy with the idea of Brienne finding love — I mean, she wasn't going to end up with Jaime after all, right?
But if you take a second to look at how Brienne has actually responded to Tormond's advances, the whole thing becomes much less funny, and indeed the idea of "shipping" them loses all meaning — after all, what is a ship if one party won't sail? But once you start down that rabbit hole, it becomes clear that what's most annoying is that the whole dynamic plays far too close into the old-school rom-com trope that if a man is just persistent for long enough, the woman will fall in love with him, displaying a total disregard for her (i.e. Brienne's) own obvious discomfort throughout each of their interactions.
It's A One-Sided Relationship At Best
At no time since they first met has Brienne shown the slightest interest in starting a romantic relationship with Tormund. In fact, all of their interactions have so far seemed to downright alarm her, which isn't surprising given that he's taken to creeping around, gazing at her with a hungry look in his eyes. While he might admire her for her fighting abilities, has he actually considered how uncomfortable he's obviously making her feel?
While we know that what Wildlings find attractive has more to do with physical strength and capability, and it's clear that Tormund is in awe of her, at no point are those feelings reciprocated, and for us as viewers it's important to acknowledge that the desire is only coming from one half of this duo.
As A Female Warrior, Brienne Has Dealt With Shit From Men Her Whole Life
To be honest, warrior or not, being a woman in Westeros is far from easy, and Brienne's had a pretty hard run of it. From being teased for her looks and stature by potential suitors as a teen to being constantly barraged with remarks from men (even men fighting on her side) about her height, looks, and abilities, Brienne has had to contend with sexism in Westeros on the daily — and it's clear that she's already not the most comfortable in her own skin.
It's clear that at this point all she can hope for is to be left alone, and then here comes Tormund. As he follows her around Castle Black and Winterfell, his exaggerated staring and raging sexual appetite for her makes her nothing but uncomfortable, and with good reason. Can you imagine attending a work dinner and having one of your colleagues stare at you the entire time as they munch a chicken leg suggestively? Yeah, you'd feel uncomfortable AF.
It's Perpetuating An Old Style Of Relationship-Building That Needs To Get In The Sea
Last but not least, possibly the worst thing about the Tormund/Brienne relationship is that it plays in perfectly with the outdated rom-com trope that if a man simply borderline-stalks a woman he wants for long enough, she'll fall madly in love with him. How many old (or new, for that matter) movies have you seen in which relationships are started by a man pursuing a woman like a creep until she magically surrenders? Just to name a few, we've got Say Anything (standing outside your lady love's house, blasting the song that you had sex to for all to hear? If you can say anything, say no.), Love Actually (constantly zooming in on your crush's face while filming her marriage to your best friend, then showing up at their house pretending to be a Christmas caroler and declaring your love for her via giant cards. Not stalker-y at all.), The Notebook (threatening to kill yourself if someone won't go on a date with you? How romantic.), 50 First Dates (can you imagine waking up on a boat every morning with some guy you don't know, and you're also freaking pregnant?!) — you get my point.
If you look at the dynamic between Brienne and Tormund, you see it's the same exact thing. Tormund's admiration of Brienne stems from nothing but his perception of who she is (he's never actually talked to her), and he seems convinced that if he just makes eyes at her often enough she'll eventually be into it.
We, the audience, are invited to share in the laughs about his failed attempts to "get the girl," but we're not encouraged to see her side of it it all — despite her obvious alarm. No, that would kill the fun. What's worse is that, by shipping this duo, we are also imagining a scene in which Brienne, so flattered that a man has finally noticed her, just goes for it, despite all of his previous shady behavior, simply because she finally feels some self-worth — not from herself, but from some guy. The showrunners have a couple of options here, they can either keep this going until one of them tragically dies, or they can go the idiot's way and have them get together — because what woman wouldn't love to hookup with the creepy dude that follows them around, amiright?
Now, feel free to comment, but before you angrily type out that I'm a terrible "feminazi" who has no sense of humor, do this for me: Try and visualize yourself as Brienne. You're worried about protecting your mistress and trying to stay as safe as possible yourself, in addition to your intense insecurities about being a big woman in a sea of men who have a lot of preconceived notions of what woman are capable of. Then, you show up in a new place and some dude starts staring at you like he would like to literally eat you up, doesn't respect your boundaries, and doesn't even speak to you. How would that make you feel?