So I know I created this blog to document my summer adventures across country but I thought I would kick it off with a rant and plea about the much loved show Game of Thrones. (This is a forewarning that there will be ALL forms of SPOILERS on this post)
To situate you to my position. I am an avid reader of the series written by George R.R. Martin and have waited patiently for the new books and the new seasons. I am also currently a phd student studying women’s studies, popular culture, and religion. I am versed in how people create and use all forms of social media. It is this very reason that I have a huge beef with the writers of the television show.
To start, the series A Tale of Ice and Fire includes rape and violence in all of the novels as well as including all forms of sexual encounters. Martin has been very vocal in the discrepancies and problems he has faced with the adaptation of his books to scenes, most poignantly any visible scenes of women being pleasured. Game of Thrones exploded onto television filled with fantasy, heroism, honor, and violence. It also exploded with the graphic sexual scenes every episode. Now I don’t consider myself a prude but I do consider myself an equal opportunist. The amount of time spent on the naked female body is prolific. What is fascinating is that while the female body is heavily shown from top to tail in every season, the male main characters only truly have to show their butts. Even the scene where Theon gets his member removed, is done off screen. Even Khal Drago was not given a FULL frontal. Game of Thrones has become trapped into the Hollywood’s apparatus of showing the female body for the male spectator, for the pleasure of the viewers and it is never reciprocated. It is not a women’s pleasure being depicted but FOR the pleasure of the audience…unlike the multiple scenes in almost every episode that shows a man being pleasured, asserting his manhood, and driving home his member.
I should also probably state that Jaime Lannister is one of my favorite characters of the series. Mainly because he represents the figure of trying for redemption but having problems actually living out the steps. Even within the show, Jaime has been shown as an extremely complex and honorable character. Honorable in a true sense that does not seek out recognition, he knew what had to be done, what was right and he did it – regardless of the aftermath. His public shunning of being the Kingslayer. It is also his growth and relationship with Brienne of Tarth that is amazing. It is through Brienne that the readers and the audience see Jaime’s true character. He stops Brienne from being raped and later saves her. Yet, somehow the writers disregarded what they had been building up with Episode 3 and then so casually sweep it under the rug in the next episode.
So with this in mind, we come to Season 4, Episode 3. It is this episode that has hindered my love of Game of Thrones, to the point where I stopped watching and am currently forcing myself to watch the remaining episodes. And I am not the only one. Many fans of the books and shows have voiced their outrage, their concern, and their disgust with Episode 3. What I am talking about is the ‘rape scene’ between Cersei and her brother Jaime. The book details these two having sex in front of the corpse of their son and the only objections were that they would be seen. The writers for some weird and twisted reason decided that this scene wasn’t scandalous enough, you know brother and sister getting it on while their dead son lays in wake isn’t creepy enough.The scene plays out with Jaime forcefully kissing Cersei and proceeding to sexually advance on her despite her pleas.
What I am infuriated with is the apparent use of rape as a plot twist and as conflict narrative. To make matters worse, the director and writers of the episode have all gone on to say that while the scene initially played out as rape, in the end it turned consensual. The director states that you can hear Cersei finally screaming a Yes when the scene starts to fade. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Please lets continue the perpetuation of the assumed understanding that when women first say NO, they really mean Yes. And please lets continue stating that all women are asking to be rape, that they all enjoy it. This scene is one of the very reasons that rape culture exists, that victims of sexual assault are still put on trial for what they were wearing, where they were, and their past sexual histories. It is this very reason that many people do not truly understand the meaning of consent. Any person, at any time has the RIGHT and POWER to say no, to change them minds and stop.
Maybe my rage and disgust isn’t solely on the director and writers of Episode 3 but on our society’s lack of understanding of what the depictions of rape and violence on a woman’s body does. How it perpetuates the notion that a woman’s body is to be looked at, to be used, and to be broken. Just because we live in the 21st century, in a ‘civilized’ country does not mean that people, and especially women, have to combat the constant assault of depictions and experiences of violence on their persons. So please, dear readers, next time, question why there was a scene of violence on a woman’s body instead of pleasure, if the rape or sexual assault was necessary for the plot, and how it resonates with you.