Why does every powerful female in the show need to be taught an ugly lesson of who is really in control?
SPOILER ALERT. You probably shouldn’t read on if you’re a die-hard Game Of Thrones fan and you haven’t watched the latest episode yet.
We didn’t see it. We didn’t need to.
Muffled screams and the tortured look on an onlooker’s face was more than enough.
But last night, Game Of Thrones‘ least graphic sex scene became its most shocking.
Because, SPOILER ALERT, fans: One of the show’s main protagonists, Sansa Stark was raped by one of the worst people to have ever walked the (fictional) world of Westeros, Ramsay Bolton. While Theon Greyjoy was forced to watch.
After one of the least joyful wedding scenes ever committed to film, the act of sexual violence was as difficult to witness as it was inevitable.
If you have no idea what we’re talking about, two things:
1. You’re missing out
2. You’re lucky.
You’re missing out because all of the hyperbole about Game Of Thrones is true. It’s an epic, surprising, beautifully produced pot-boiler adventure of the highest standard. One episode and you’re binging for life.
And you’re lucky because facilitating a Game Of Thrones addiction means overlooking graphic sexual violence and horrendous gender politics on a tediously regular basis.
A large chunk of the world loves and worships at the altar of GOT. It’s Cool TV. It’s the jewel in the crown of the New Age of Epic Television. But it also uses sex and violence to sell itself in a way that far less revered TV shows and movies have done for decades.
Brothers and sisters fucking. Men’s heads being popped like watermelons. Orgies at every turn. Willing slave girls and dwarves with enormous penises are just wallpaper on the world’s most loved fantasy show.
Let’s face it, it’s not an episode of GOT unless someone is stripped, raped or humiliated in some way.
There are few mainstream television shows that have so many excellent strong female leads. And there are few mainstream television shows that are as happy to rape and murder them.
The bad-ass women of Game Of Thrones (post continues after gallery):
Which brings complicated questions. Because yes, this is FICTION.
It’s not Struggle Street. It’s fantasy.
But it’s a fantasy manipulated for maximum shock value. It’s a fantasy that’s even manipulated beyond the lurid imagination of the show’s ‘father’ George RR Martin, the man who wrote the series of novels that the TV show is based upon.
Martin makes no apology for the sexual violence in Game Of Thrones. It is a story about power and war. And rape has always been – and continues to be – a weapon of war.
“Rape and sexual violence have been a part of every war ever fought, from the ancient Sumerians to our present day,” Martin told the New York Times. “To omit them from a narrative centered on war and power would have been fundamentally false and dishonest… We are the monsters. Each of us has within himself the capacity for great good, and great evil.”
An excellent point. But although Snoop Dogg is confused on the issue, Game Of Thrones is NOT a history lesson. It might be inspired by real events (The War Of The Roses), but it also has dragons, and Fire Gods, Giants and magical marching monsters. And so – of course – there can be a choice about just how violent and graphic – and dark and depressing – events needs to be.
Game Of Thrones’ most shocking scenes. So far. (Post continues after gallery):
In Martin’s books, Ramsay does not rape Sansa Stark. Yes, it’s splitting hairs, because the putrid little man rapes and flays and mutilates many other women. And he does indeed rape his wife on their wedding night, but it’s an imposter he believes to be Arya Stark, not Sansa.
This would not matter, as the matter of WHO is getting raped is irrelevant compared the act itself, but for many, many female fans, we just want to hang on to the idea that some of our heroines are not going to be humiliated and defiled, reduced to powerless Things.
Sansa, for all her vain and ambitious faults, has managed to live in this world, and survive in it, with superhuman inner reserves and at least some dignity intact. Until now.
Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa, was less troubled than the fans
“When I read that scene,” she says. “I kinda loved it. I love the way Ramsay had Theon watching. It was all so messed up. It’s also so daunting for me to do it.”
“Messed up” is right. And incredible, addictive television, brilliantly acted by everyone involved.
But does every powerful female in the show really need to be taught an ugly lesson of who is really in control?
We would still watch GOT if every one of our heroines wasn’t torn down in the basest way imaginable.
Or would we?
How do you feel about the sexual violence on Game Of Thrones?