The seventh season of Game of Thrones has begun, with an impending conflict between two Queens – Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) – over the coveted Iron Throne of Westeros. Meanwhile, though war with an invading horde of White Walkers is imminent, the seat of Winterfell has achieved a stability not seen since Ned Stark (Sean Bean) was Warden of the North. After defeating Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) in the Battle of the Bastards, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) was declared King in the North by his loyal bannermen. Finally, a Stark once again rightfully rules Winterfell. Except not really.

There is a Stark in Winterfell, but she doesn’t rule her family’s ancestral lands. Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) is a true born Stark, unlike her brother Jon, who still believes himself to be the bastard son of Ned Stark. However, as we definitively learned last season, Jon Snow is actually a Targaryen; his father is Rhaegar Targaryen and his mother is Lyanna Stark, Ned’s sister. Jon has less of a claim to Winterfell than Sansa or Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), who is the magical Three-Eyed Raven and aware of Jon’s true lineage. But even without this knowledge, why exactly is Jon Snow the King in the North? Why isn’t Sansa Stark instead the Queen in the North?

Sansa has had one of the most perilous lives of any character of Game of Thrones. In the first season, Sansa was the Stark whom even die-hard fans and supporters of the House of Direwolves hated. She was selfish, small-minded, and prized her betrothal to then-King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) over loyalty to her own family. Her reward was years of being held hostage by the Lannisters and torturous emotional and physical abuse by Joffrey and his mother Queen Cersei. Even when she escaped King’s Landing with the help of Lord Petyr Baelish (Aiden Gillen), she was in his thrall before he essentially gave her to Ramsay Bolton. Ramsay married her for her name and claim to Winterfell before raping her. However, Sansa’s arduous trials not only made her grow stronger and more resilient as a person, it gradually won her the love of Game of Thrones fans.

Yet even with the affection and loyalty Sansa commands from the Northerners loyal to the Starks, she doesn’t get to rule the kingdom in her father’s name. The patriarchal rules of Westerosi society immediately and unfairly overlooked Sansa in favor of Jon. This is a strange hypocrisy. More than the other people of Westeros, the Northerners cling most strongly to the “old ways,” down to still worshiping the Old Gods. Their rigid dedication to their ancient traditions should have disqualified Jon as King of the North in favor of Sansa, who is a Stark of true blood. However, Jon enjoys one apparently unassailable advantage: Jon is male, and that trumps the very idea of Sansa being Queen over a bastard who even once refused Stannis Baratheon’s offer to raise him to the Stark name. It’s no wonder Sansa openly bristles at Jon being named King and getting to rule while she is relegated to the sidelines.

The patriarchy being maintained in the North is even more unfair and disheartening when weighed against the sweeping changes happening all over Westeros. Women are asserting power all over the country. In Dorne, Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) gained control of her kingdom in a bloody coup. Olenna Tyrell, the Queen of Thorns (Diana Rigg), is now the sole Tyrell ruling Highgarden. The battle for the Iron Throne will be between two dominant and powerful women who have struggled their entire lives – though by very different methods – to be respected as the Queens they are. Sansa’s sister Arya (Maisie Williams), having survived her own life of hardship and peril, is on a personal quest of vengeance to systematically eliminate those who have wronged the Stark family. Even in the North, Lady Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey), though not yet a teenager, has earned respect for her fierceness and courage. However, even in this revolutionary environment, Sansa finds herself painted into a corner – though perhaps it’s these winds of change that are frightening the Northmen and making them cling to the “old ways” even further.

There are certainly clues that Sansa will not take being overlooked by her own countrymen lying down. In an interview with Variety, Sophie Turner shed some light on what Sansa is thinking now that Jon is King:

“She’s of course happy for him. He’s family. But there’s a certain level where she doesn’t feel like she’s been recognized for the fact that she effectively saved everyone’s asses and kind of saved the day in the Battle of the Bastards. So there’s a certain frustration there.. a little bit of frustration and hurt there — hurt that he didn’t say anything or hail her as Queen of the North.”

It’s absolutely correct that Jon would never have survived the Battle of the Bastards, much less won it, without Sansa. Jon ignored Sansa’s pleas to delay the battle until they could bolster their forces with more men. It was because Sansa reached out to Littlefinger, who delivered the Knights of the Vale to their rescue, that the Starks finally eradicated House Bolton. In turn, Jon continues to ignore Sansa’s sound advice, such as when she urged him to give the castles of the traitorous families who fought for the Boltons to the families loyal to the Starks. (Though Jon has a point about not punishing children for the sins of their father – something the Starks know quite a bit about.) Even when speaking privately, when Sansa urged Jon to be smarter than their father and brother (both of whom are now dead for making stupid mistakes), Jon was dismissive about listening to his sister.

The truth about Sansa, which Jon alluded to with suspicion, is that she has learned many lessons Jon has yet to learn. She learned them the hard way, and her teachers were Cersei Lannister and Littlefinger, two of the most ruthless and calculating minds in all of Westeros. Sansa learned from Cersei about how “dirty the world really is” (which her father tried to shield her from), and she’s right to fear Cersei’s ability to find a way to win and murder all of her enemies. Littlefinger also taught her how to see the game board, see many moves ahead of your opponent, and to do whatever is necessary to survive and conquer. Jon’s tendency is to react to the problem in front of him; Sansa has learned to see the dangers all around. In addition, her brief, brutal marriage to Ramsay Bolton was a painful reminder of what kind of pure evil there is in the hearts of men.

Turner has also alluded in an interview with Digital Spy that Sansa will become “unlikable” again in season 7 – albeit in a different way than how she was despised by fans in season 1. Though Sansa has “no desire” to sit upon the Iron Throne, likely frustrating Littlefinger’s dreams of ruling Westeros with Sansa at his side, her immediate future seems destined for a showdown with Jon over control of Winterfell – especially when the day comes that Jon’s true lineage is revealed to all. We don’t know what the future truly holds in Game of Thrones and who will survive the wars ready to explode in the final season, but by this stage in the game, Sansa Stark has proven herself to be a survivor who has achieved success against all odds. By all rights, Sansa should be the Queen in the North, and after all she has lived through, Sansa now has the cunning, motivation, and if need be, ruthlessness to make it happen sooner or later. If and when she does become Queen in the North, to quote Sansa herself, “Would that be so terrible?”