Did anyone see Game of Thrones this week? How many of you balked at the rape scenes in Craster’s Keep? The violence towards women, constant nudity and rape in Game of Thrones is really starting to get to me, and I’m very close to giving up on the programme.
I don’t want this to be a feminist rant. It’s nothing of the sort. I happen to be a woman, yes, but I’m a woman who loves fantasy. I’m all for a bit of violence in fiction, mainly because I’m fascinated by how it shapes characters (take the scene where Shivers has his eye gouged out in Joe Abercrombie’s Best Served Cold. Shivers is now my favourite Abercrombie character). I understand that sexual violence is part of the world and George R R Martin made it part of his fictional world. But the programme makers have simply taken this too far.
Every single episode of Game of Thrones is fraught with the threat of sexual violence and rape. Having two episodes with rape scenes one after the other might be the last straw for me.
The thing is, while Martin argues that the shocking rape scene between Jamie and Cersai wasn’t in the book (arguable, if she said no or pushed him away at any point, we can consider it rape), the rapes in Craster’s Keep, a scene mingled with the screams of these poor girls, shouts of ‘f*** them till they’re dead’ and graphic visuals, are not in the book.
Why on earth did showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss feel the need to put this scene in? What did it add to the story?
Any sex scene, consensual or not, is a plot device and should only be included if it is adding something to the plot. What the rape scene between Jamie and Cersai adds we have yet to see. The near rape of the serving girl in the tavern the Hound and Arya entered a little while back perhaps helped us to hate the men, although it wasn’t necessary. You could argue that the rape committed by the mutineers of the Nights Watch in Craster’s Keep this week helped us to hate them. Fine. But we didn’t need to see it, or hear it.
What do Benioff and Weiss think of their viewers? Do we all enjoy frequent full frontal female nudity and sex, consensual and violent? Because that’s all the episodes seem to be recently. Some viewers may be put off by the full frontal nudity and maybe even the prostitution, but the frequent rape scenes really risk alienating viewers.
More importantly, what message are these episodes putting out? It was argued that Fifty Shades of Grey taught men that all women like rough, dominating sex, and taught young women that this is what they should like. Isn’t Game of Thrones now doing the same thing?
Not to mention that as we are bombarded with these images every episode, they become less shocking. Rape should never be allowed to become the norm. Ever. By suggesting at the mutineers raping Craster’s daughters rather than showing it, the effect would have been the same while helping to make the rare rape scene (where necessary) we actually see so much more shocking.
Every Monday night I find myself tense, on the edge of my seat. I’m not waiting for the next death, or action scene, I’m waiting for the next rape. It’s exhausting and horrific. The character arcs that I love in Game of Thrones (Arya and the Hound, Tyrion, my new found respect for Margaery, and the end scene from this week with the White Walkers – incidentally also not in the books but definitely worth it, so the programme makers can do something right) simply are not worth subjecting myself to waiting for sexual violence.
Add all of this together with the fact that George R R Martin hasn’t even finished the final book, what am I watching for? Putting myself through this awkward viewing when either the end is so far away (will Daenerys ever get to Westeros?) or might actually never come at all.
I no longer look forward to watching Game of Thrones. I wonder if this weeks will be my last, only Monday will tell.