It's Been A Couple of Days—How Are You Feeling About That Game of Thrones Rape Scene?

Comments

1
Isn't that the same show where lots of people are constantly murdering each other?
3
it really only stands out for those of us who have read the books AND watch the show. Now the question is how does this tweak carry out considering it strays from the books.
4
I don't see George RR Martin's writing as misogynistic. I see a misogyst world in which women have little power but despite that Martin writes some extremely feminist characters. Daenarys as a strong leader, Brienne as one of the best swords(wo)men in the land who defies all gender conformity. Arya as well.

5
where's the "there was consent in the book" option?
6
@ Danielle quote, "I think Game of Thrones fails women on multiple fronts (you can be queen, but only after you are sold like cattle and completely demoralized"

This is also why I hate reading history books. It's unintelligent comments like that, and a few weeks ago the article about how GoT glorifies the conservative economic and social agenda. Yes, it's set in a fantasy realm but it's based on European dark age mentality. Women get raped, objectified and treated as unequal, the men have a sword/axe/spear put in their hand and are forced to march off to battle for someone else's glory, etc....
7
@4 forgot to mention the hilarious and shrewd grandma. I'm really terrible with names, fictional or otherwise.
8
Yeah, who cares about murder and mutilation - it is the rape I don't like!
9
I dunno, does "art" have a responsibility to present an ideal world? Probably not. I feel sometimes that people who complain about this stuff in the arts think art has a moral duty to show us an ideal model of life. But if you want to represent a misogynistic society, you're going to have to present misogynistic characters. And sometimes I think people want heroes or role models on the screen, instead of just (terribly flawed) people.

I'd suggest bad art is bad art, and it's really the quality of the storytelling that should be judged. If they're simply using rape as a narrative crutch or means to gain unearned emotional resonance, then it's probably bad art and should be criticized as such. Rape is definitely a topic that a tv show or movie can explore, but they should treat it with the level of seriousness it deserves, not as some throwaway "and then this happened" plot point or a demonstration of "look how evil this guy is." I make exceptions for some of that kind of trashiness in Lynch films, but that's because he's a great filmmaker who pushes buttons on a more powerful level than the by-the-books medieval violence of Game of Thrones.
10
@5 - Whether there was consent or not in the book is a VERY open question. Remember, in the books, all the chapters are written from a particular character's point of view. The POV for this particular chapter in the book was Jamie's POV. It's very easy to see how something like this could shift from one person's warped point of view to another. All the show did was remove the ambiguity about whether it was rape or not.
11
it didn't have to be a rape. but life in westeros, like in 99% of human history, is brutish and short. and the point of GOT is that there are no good guys who live. Cersei sure isn't.
12
@5 Same thing I was thinking.
This post is making my headache worse. Is a poor televsion interpretation of a fantasy book series really a serious contributor to the undercutting of the seriousness and commonness of rape in our society?
I think pointing out that it IS different in the book and asking why the tv show felt the need to make it a rape scene would be a better topic for discussion.

I also think the tv show weakens all the female characters, relative to the book.
13
@12,

Screw that. A better topic for discussion is how fucking creepy the director is. "It was rape that turned consensual." BARF.
14
I loathe the ostensibly feminist characters on GoT. Not the characters themselves (because Arya and Brienne are apparently the only decent people in the realm now that everyone else is dead), but the absurdity of their presence, the tokenism of "strong female characters" in world drenched in unreconstructed male power fantasy. I like the show broadly for some performances and the brilliant visuals, but there is nothing socially redeeming about it.
15
I love ya, Danielle, and have for years, but I think you're way off base on this one. Long, nerdy, and involved explanation why.

In the story, the women live in a typically horrific and patriarchal society. Only two of the many, many societies treat women well:

* The lands directly under the control of Daenarys Targaryan (that's Khaleesi to those that don't pay attention).
* Dorne (the southern Mediterranean bi-sexual people we just met this season at last).

That's it. Everything else is as stereotypically partriarchal as actual history is. But that's the point -- it's a fantasy series that grounds itself in the real world squalor of history, and is in fact heavily inspired by the actual War of the Roses era, but with magic, dragons, zombies, and a Robert E. Howard dark fantasy Conan of Cimmeria vibe. "Westeros" is a terrible fucking place to live, no matter who you are. If you asked any sane fan of the series, "Would you want to live in Westeros?" the only logical answer would be "fuck you".

All that aside, as mentioned, George RR Martin writes some incredibly empowered characters who routinely fight back against their world, with varying degrees of success. Brienne, as mentioned, is one of the best warriors on the planet. She's possibly also the most honorable person as well. Arya as the story progresses grows from a little girl into one of the most authoritative and bad ass figures in the entire story. All the Tyrell women -- Margaery and Oleanna especially -- control their destiny and de facto run their House. The various female characters of Dorne are particularly incredibly powerful personally and in their political dealings. Daenarys is in a league of her own. She's basically the center figure of the story.

The Cersei thing is a horrible mess, and both her and brother in the story as portrayed are a complete and total mess that redefine and have previously unknown new personality disorders between them, from all the suffering they've undergone over the years, which is way too much to get into. Ditto for their father, Tywin, and Tyrion. The Lannisters are the most fucked up family in the books, full stop. Was it rape? As depicted in the show: yes. As depicted in the book: no, based on the facts behind the two characters. Here's why...

Everything in me rails against rape as a narrative device.


Unless they're dramatically shifting things around in the story, it's not a narrative device, and in the books -- this isn't made obvious in the show -- there was some implied consent, and lots of instances of Jaime and Cersie having forceful, hyper-aggressive relations with each other. It's their thing, because of how secretive and clandestine they are and their love is. It just bubbles and boils until one of them goes unhinged. She's done it; he's done it. It's not a thing; it's who they are as characters. The show did divert from it in presenting it that way, and the ordering of things are a bit off in how they're revealed. Having read the book series twice, I don't believe it was rape as a narrative device.

I've never seen it treated thoughtfully, and I think Game of Thrones fails women on multiple fronts (you can be queen, but only after you are sold like cattle and completely demoralized; you gain some strength, but only after you are separated from your family and then watch them all get murdered in front of you; rape, schmape, we're powerful men who just want to get down to fuckin').


Daenarys became queen after being sold out by her brother, yes, but the entire point of that part of her story was that -- in the end -- her perceived to be tyrannical husband Drogo, who was a King himself, put her on a pedestal of absolute love in the end and became completely her subject. Her cruel brother (who, sadly, is actually a broken and oddly sympathetic character once you know his own whole story) got the mother of all comeuppances for his atrocities toward his sister. Not the Golden Crown -- knowing BEFORE that happened that he was utterly wrong about everything. But it was too late. From that moment forward Daenarys is the strongest character in the books, bending her fate, circumstances, and whole armies to her force of will. She hems and haws and fails some, because she's young (16 in the books, early 20s in the show), but she's a vastly empowering character.

As for what happened to the Stark girls and their mother? Yes, they suffered immensely. Brutally. But so did every other single member of the Stark family, and their entire kingdom. That's the whole point of the story.

"A Song of Ice and Fire". Stark and Targaryan. The two most powerful kingdoms in the world, both torn down into rubble in the beginning, right when the literal apocalypse is about to bear down on the world in the form of the White Walkers.

And yes, these female characters are literally being all but dragged through broken glass, but so far Jaime, and Tyrion, and Jon Snow, and Theon Greyjoy (can you say, uh, emasculated), and a whole lot of others. Not a single character or family comes through unscathed. None.
16
I hate to be the "SPOILERS" person, but please even if you link to Salon / Slate, don't follow their horrible practices and spoil fucked up plot points in your headlines. At the very least try to wait a week or put things under a fold.

I know you lost at least one other person who dramatically un-bookmarked Slog.
17
@13 the director is indeed an idiot.

@14 that's a staple of both fantasy fiction and the Game of Thrones world. Two of the greatest military leaders in their world's history were women. Aegon Targaryan's sister-wives, Visenya and Rhaenys Targaryan. The original Targaryans from Valyria that conquered the Seven Kingdoms five hundred years earlier. And yes, Targaryans often marry their own kin and often take two wives. Here's a family portrait of Daenarys's great to the twentieth some-odd power grandfather and his wives.

Google all of these names with GREAT caution, because the Internet is dark and full of spoilers.
18
I stopped watching Downton Abbey after Anna's rape, and I haven't watched more than one season of GoT because of all the grotesque behavior--particularly toward women.

I'm done with brutality porn of all kinds. It's not edgy or enlightening in any way. Most often, it's little more than either a shitty plot device or cheap thrills for those completely lacking in imagination.
19
Nobody claims that the writers/producers of "The Walking Dead" are advocating a society where everyone runs around eating other people's brains. The basic premise of "Game of Thrones" is that this is an awful, medieval society where there are lots of awful, misogynistic, sadistic people. It does not glorify those people -- it simply states that they exist. There may or may not be "justice" or "karma", but that does not imply that their actions are right -- just that, like in the real world, bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people, and life isn't always "fair".

If you need your stories to have a moral lesson behind them, there are plenty of Disney movies I can recommend. Otherwise, allow me to love the good characters in this show, hate the bad ones, hate the awful world in which they exist, and do my best to make this world a totally different place from that one.
20
The context of this post is brutally stupid. Its like Paul Constant talking about sports.
I think the writer's changing this scene from a consensual act to a rape, then the director trying to describe it as some kind of semi-rape are deserving of critical scrutiny and require some explanation on those folks behalf, mos def. However, to construct some kind of thesis about how this show "fails women" without acknowledging that it takes place in a time that mirrors the dark ages, a nightmare age for women, is just, well, shit.

This is also a show that portrays heinous murders constantly and recently had a male characters junk cut off for the sadistic pleasure of his captor. You have to be pretty fucking myopic to say that this show is singling out women for suffering and abuse.
21
Better not any Shakespeare then.
22
I didn't realize GoT was supposed to be some sort of social justice utopia. And it isn't it a little early to make proclamations about how the scene will play in the larger narrative?

Where was the outrage when Theon Greyjoy's dick got cut off?
23
Just because rape is a "plot devise" doesn't mean it's not a fairly common thing that happens in any society and as such has a place in many stories. The fact that anyone cares to boo-boo over it after a pregnant woman was shanked repeatedly in the belly last season is kind of hilarious. The real world is just as horrifying a place as any fictional world.

"you can be queen, but only after you are sold like cattle and completely demoralized"
That's a bullshit thing to say. Brienne is a strong, moral, kind and independent character from the beginning. Catelyn Stark was a good person before all her misfortune to (issues with Jon aside). Sansa and Arya are two sides to the same coin. A good obedient girl who does as she was told and was brought up to do, and a strong willed spitfire who defies all convention and attempts to control her.

Also Cercei deserved it. Yeah, I said it.
24
****Here be spoilers *****

I will piggy back on Collin's comment. In the books it was Jamie's POV and she didn't want to do it mostly due to the place/time/maesters nearby. (however, still RAPE). The scenario is totally different in that this is the first time she sees Jamie after his rescue from/with Brienne.

The show decided to have Jamie there for the death of Joffery and for weeks before this scene, therefore the scene in the show is more definitively rape. Which I think is better than the convoluted version in the book. Since the show can't have a POV, you get the real picture (to some book fans, who didn't read it that way, well...there you go).

GRRM spends a lot of time and energy creating complex characters, both men and women. There are certain things that all the characters go though that you can argue "isn't necessary" or whatever, but honestly it is all part of their character development and part of the world they are fighting against.

Brienne is a great example. She wants to be knight despite the odds against it and people who ridicule her. She deals with sexism like we do in this world. However, many of the women are in awe of her as she fights against gender norms.

Same goes for all the women in the books. Cersei wants to lead, but she cannot because she is a woman. She fights with her father about how she is just a sexual pawn for the family rather than treated like the ruler she should/wants to be. Sansa and Arya are children in the book that must grow up quickly and in different ways. The show does the best it can to represent this world, the character arcs, etc. Every character is dealing with different adversity which then informs their actions. I understand if you don't like fantasy as a genre, but these books are more political in nature, which does have a lot of violence and rape associated with a male-dominated world (which is touched on for SEVERAL character arcs).
25
I will also say that show-watchers (as us book-readers like to call them) are upset because they start with hating Jamie, for obvious reasons, then grow to understand him and even LIKE him. Then he rapes Cersei and they are like "OMG,I thought he was a good guy!"

but ***spoiler alert*** no one in this world is a "good guy". They all have their darkness/evil, some more than others (haha get it? Others?) and many characters cycle between bad guy and redemption over and over (Jamie, The Hound, Theon, Arya). The entire damn point of the books is the see the grey area in everything/everyone. It is to focus on the complexity of people, politics, and upheaval.

It dismisses tropes of good/evil....there is no knight/Lady in shining armor that is going to "SAVE THE DAY". In fact, you generally aren't really sure WHO to root for in this series and that is the damn point. Yes, it is a brutal scene. The books are totally, unabashedly brutal to all characters. It is a brutal, cruel, weird, evil little world. I mean, one of the houses uses the Flayed Man as their flag. Come on. If that bothers you, then don't watch the show or read the books. I totally respect and understand not liking violence and not wanting to be apart of it. But don't negate a work of art because it is brutal.

Ok, I think that is the end of my rant.
26
The rape alone was difficult to stomach.

Raping YOUR SISTER while your DEAD insest-created madman boy-king of a son lies in state JUST A FEW FEET AWAY is what made me skip to the next scene. Few scenes in tv history have ever truely made my stomach turn. That was one.

Oh, yeah, I would have put a spoiler alert, but I figure we're past that now.
27
I only saw an episode once at a hotel a few years ago, but I'm still mad about finding out about this. Now if I ever watch it I'll be waiting through however many seasons there are wondering when that scene is going to happen.
28
@22
Oh! Oh! I know the “Slog Approved” answer to that!

One simply cannot compare the horrific brutality of using a woman’s naughty bits without her consent with the perfectly reasonable act of removing a man’s naughty bits without his consent. The first is a violation from which one never (NEVER) recovers (AT ALL). The second is merely an aesthetic adjustment, a “disarming” if you will, that actually benefits society by disabling an offensive tool of oppression (and preventing countless other women from being raped).
29
Shakespeare has brutality, and yet, Shakespeare also has character development, nuance, and poetry.

HBO, on the other hand, is where old men go to wank themselves into thinking they're watching Shakespeare. Pretentious wankers they are indeed.
30
It's incestual rape beside their dead kid. Am not sure anything going on is particularly conventional. What makes one pick & choose what they're bothered by in a fantasy story? The murder isn't offensive, but the rape is? What about wargs being able to force themselves into the minds of others? The wildling patriarch raping all of his daughters?

Am only a lowly show-watcher, for now, but the things I care about politically are mostly delightfully showcased. Brienne genderbending, Dornish bisexuality. I understand though. If fighting against rape culture in reality was something I was active in doing, I might take all sorts of offense. But as a female that doesn't particularly want to be raped, I'm very much enjoying this fantasy story. And Littlefinger's stupid face offends me more than anything.
31
"Shakespeare has brutality, and yet, Shakespeare also has character development, nuance, and poetry."

So rape in the arts is ok if done with panache, a bit of character and rythming couplets. Not this stuff for the masses on HBO.

Got it.
32
The scene was gratuitous. But like #8 - every episode shows beheading, drawing and quartering, mutilation and torture - all fine. But RAPE! Oh NOES! Now they've gone too far!

The TLDR version of this article:

"I insist all my art be a perfect reflection of my worldview and in no way threaten or challenge my perceptions and sense of comfort."

Or the for those of you into the whole brevity thing the TLDR TLDR version:

"I prefer propaganda to art."
33
Danielle, you should watch the rape scene in Almodovar's Kika. I don't know if it's "thoughtful" or not, but it certainly is... unique.

That being said, GRR Martin is not a good writer. Yes, he has quite the imagination. But instead of translating that to the written word, what really comes across is a hatred, an anger, and ultimately a profound lack of respect for his readers, something for which he cannot be forgiven. I don't have that high of an opinion either on his fanbase, either.
34
Given how rapey the books are (and child-rapey, since all of the characters are at least 5 years younger in the book than they're presented in the HBO series), it's surprising why they've felt the need to make the show so much more rapey. In the book, Daenerys' wedding night is not at all how it it's presented in the show, and the desperate sex between Jaime and Cersei at near Joffrey's corpse is fraught, but consensual.
35
@33

Judge much?
36
I like the books, overall. I see them as an indictment of the feudal system, including its rigid patriarchal hierarchies. It's also a critique of certain fantasy tropes -- the idea that a righteous king can make everything okay, or that power is clean, that people were better behaved in the chivalrous olden days, or that good people are always good and bad people are always bad, and it's easy to tell the difference between them.

It's brutal by design, though, so I can easily see why it's not for everyone.

I don't see the series until it comes out on DVD, so I can't talk about this particular scene. But Jaime and Cersei are both seriously messed-up people, in spite of being sometimes sympathetic. Everyone in that world ends up pretty messed up, because the world is messed up.

In GoT the mutilations bother me a lot more than the rapes.
37
@15- Thanks for writing that all out.

Accusing GRRM of sexism because the awful men in his books do awful thing to women sort of misses the point that they're awful human beings who do awful shit to everyone. It wouldn't make any sense for them to treat women with any respect. So I can see why someone wouldn't want to read his stuff because of all the awfulness, but it's not sexist awfulness (which can be found in many a fantasy series, like David Eddings' stuff for example.)
38
I prefer my depictions of fantastical and historical feudal and medieval life to exclude the fact that they're all pretty fucking shitty.
39
Rape jokes are never ever funny. Then, depictions of rape are never ever ok because they have "never" (wow, "never?" 5000 years of narrative history across five continents and rape has never had a thoughtful narrative treatment? ok) been treated thoughtfully. Then something else happens, I guess. And then the patriarchy is finally over, apparently.

Republicans must be utterly delighted by these kinds of posts. Every second wasted on discussing whether or not it's ok to depict rape in a narrative, is another opportunity for the real enemies to continue to fuck the rest of us over. Modern social justice is fucking pathetic.
40
@34, I totally agree. Neither scene Danielle mentions was rape in the books, and it's really fucking weird that the show producers decided to take it there.
41
@40: This is the heart of the issue. It is okay to use rape in fiction. What isn't okay is to use it as the only trope for female character development. I don't think GoT has gone down that path, but it is strange that they changed the plot. What I fear is that the directors of the rape episodes didn't realize they were depicting rape (as appears to be the case with this last episode). If that is the case, they certainly won't be able to write about it accurately. And if they don't write about it accurately, they will indeed make a contribution to rape culture by showing rape, but pretending that it wasn't. I think this is what we need to be worried about.
42
@10, the books are not epistolaries. The chapters are not supposedly written BY the characters, they aren't even first-person narratives, they are ABOUT the characters. I can't recall any incidents of unreliable narration that would infer that we shouldn't trust that what is written is the actual story. So I sincerely doubt that the Jamie/Cersei scene in the book was meant any other way than a straight account of what went down.
43
Personally, I blame the costume director. I mean, did you see what Cersei was wearing? She was practically asking for it...
44
I think you may be heading towards the greater question of whether or not storytellers have an obligation to only tell 'nice' (utopian?) stories, and then the messier question of who decides what 'nice' is. If the discussion veers towards the greater social value of storytelling, idea that the crisis to resolution arc is absolutely vital to stories and the characters themselves is going to butt itself up above your wish to pick and choose what kinds of crisis are permitted in the narrative.

Your poll questions seem to come from your personal gut reaction to a particular type of awful situation (rape.) Not picking on you for that - being intensely anti-rape is a perfectly noble position. But to be inclusive to everything in the story, you might have added one more option:

It's an awful brutish world, and rape is merely one of the awful brutish things that happen in it, and let's see how everybody resolves it.

(My two cents - there's these long angsty posts about rape, but for me, personally, I am far, far more upset by the murder of infants and small children. Other people might be desperately bothered by slavery. So, if you demand that the storyteller skip the bits that really upset each person, you've ended up with... dunno. Goodnight Moon?)
45
But it's all good because they didn't use guns, which are far more efficient at killing than knives.
46
I thought this post addressed the issues pretty well. http://www.avclub.com/article/rape-thron…
47
Like Dany's wedding night, in the book this was a consensual scene. Starting to wonder what gives with the changes. I can't see how it is valuable to the plot or character development, and in Dany's case, it was hard to see how she could come to love Drogo in the TV version.
48
I think anyone who was "disgusted" by the rape needs to stop watching the show and get some perspective. We've seen hundreds of people murdered for no reason on this show. Burned to death. Hunted for sport. Killed for mere pleasure. In the books it's even worse - people die after miserable, meaningless lives. In this context, rape is barely even a crime. Like Mirri Maz Dur said to Daeenarys, "Was that the first man who tried to rape me?". It's impossible to commit crimes of power against most of the world of Westeros - the serfs are already completely powerless, their lives of literally no value (witness Cersei's purge of Robert's suspected bastards); freely bought and sold.

If you stomached all that, but a little brother-on-sister-can't-we-do-this-somewhere-else? rape turns you off; you ought to examine what the things are in this world that the Regrettable Portions of Acceptable Life versus the Unacceptable Products of A Civilized Society.
49
@47 The scene in the book served a different purpose than the scene in the show. In the book Cercei is screwing Jaime to basically convince him to kill Tyrion. In the show this scene is clearly meant to show Jaime becoming fed up with Cercei's awful bullshit. He's done with the bitch now.
As for Drogo and Dany's scene, I think they made it more brutal in the show to maintain the audience's sense of horror and unsureness of Dany's fate. But that's just a guess.
50
This post seems to struggle to understand the distinction between depicting and endorsing.
51
Let's face it, GRRM's books are Grim and I am not a fan of Grim, but that having been said, the characters he has created present truly courageous moral dilemmas and conundrums that create useful debate over the simplistic moral perspective we are usually served up by our regular media. The reason for the upset over the rape scene is that GRRM's most powerful moral debater in the books is Jaime and the scene as presented in the tv series is clearly a rape and becomes a direct defilement of the best ideas the books offer us.
52
@50 [snark] you misogynist asshole! how can you not understand that in america's RAPE CULTURE there is no difference! Fictional depiction == Real-lfe endorsement! Because, RAPE CULTURE! Trigger warning, RAPE CULTURE! Even the act of giving birth is a rape because the mother can't refuse consent. Even nature is RAPE CULTURE! So since you raped your mother when you were born, you have no right to talk about what is and what is not rape, you filthy rapist! Because in RAPE CULTURE everything is RAPE! [/snark]
53
@52 Impressive. Must have been really hard to type all that with just one hand available. Endurance!
54
@41 You hit it on the head there, I think. What was disturbing wasn't that it was rape, but that the directors didn't SEE that it was rape.

I want to give them the benefit of the doubt – like, when he made that comment, he hadn't seen the episode as broadcast, and there was some HBO editor that truncated that scene artificially to make it fit time, or something. The more time passes, though, the more I realize that the director just didn't recognize it for what it was.
55
@40 Nope.

The scene in the book was rape. Just re-read it last night. I had completely forgotten the scene. But just read it and all this noise about it is nonsense.

Cersei says "no" multiple times. And then after Jamie rips her clothes and holds her down and penetrates her she finally says "take me."

THAT'S still rape, okay.

In real life is it okay to keep holding somebody down and penetrating them until you get to that "yes?" Uh. Nope.

Sorry. It's the very definition of rape.

It's rape after the first "no." Not until the eventual "yes." That's what the last thirty years of feminism has been attempting to educate people about.

An it's all irrelevant. There is a huge chasm between depiction and endorsement. You either want art that challenges you and occasionally offends - or you want bland mindless pap.

This "controversy" is just the projection of social justice hobby horses onto popular entertainment whether it fits or not.

Back in the day it was the far right religious nuts who did silly pearl clutching shit like this.
56
@52- Go away.
57
@56 - No. And what are you gonna do about it? Force me against my will?
58
I've watched the scene three times to try and fully understand it, once with the sound off to focus more on the body language, and I cannot for the life of me see any hint that there is anything whatsoever consensual about it, so I reached the conclusion that Alex Graves is an idiot. If he was aiming for dubious consent - which is what the scene was in the book - he missed. In the end, though, it's not really all that untrue to the book once I thought about it carefully. What Jaime did to Cersei there was horrible and awful and painful to watch, but I could understand it, and see the process of thoughts and emotions that led him to it. Martin has stated that he doesn't try to make his characters likable or sympathetic, he aims to make them real and human. Well, Jaime and Cersei both felt plenty real and human in both versions of that scene, if you ask me, so mission accomplished.

When thinking about the violence, misogyny, and misogynistic violence that is depicted in Game of Thrones, it's important to remember is that Westeros is based on Europe in the Middle Ages, a society in which a level of misogyny that we would consider shocking and hateful was essentially normal. There's a difference between depicting misogyny and promoting it. I understand that some people have a hard time telling the difference and that it makes them uncomfortable to see misogyny explored in any way that isn't explicitly 100% condemnatory, but personally, I'm glad to see it explored sometimes in a more neutral and ambiguous light, because it feels so much more honest and real than politically correct broadsides.

I agree that we need to crack down harder on rapists in the real world, but the need for better enforcement of our laws against rape is no reason to go on an intellectual witch hunt against anyone and everyone who seems squishy on the issue or wants to talk about it or depict it in a different way, even one that challenges our assumptions or makes a rapist into a complex or even sympathetic character. Must the conversation on this subject be treated like it's a war in which we must wholly silence alternative views in order to achieve victory? A good faith effort to find the truth has to give a hearing to all perspectives.
59
Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, TRIGGER words!!!!!!
60
Quick solution: If you dont get why the scene was in the show, READ THE DAMNED BOOKS ALREADY because the scene happens EXACTLY as described in the books.

Also, there is a LOT more rape in the books (you know, the things that the show is based off) than the show has revealed. I understand the need to avoid glorifying sexual violence, but its a freaking show about sexual violence based on a book in which sexual violence is both intrinsic to several plot points and revealed throughout the story.

If we want to make GOT nonoffensive, go ahead. Itll lose its appeal to all but the smallest % of watchers who will clap and say "Good job" while the rest of us move on to some other show. Thats not including we who read the books and have been repeatedly disguised by the TV show poser fans faux outrage after outrage.
61
Moving forward the plot isn't as important as publicity and viewership. Hey, if the viewers are willing to pay for the repetitive scenes of they guy being tortured and eventually having his dick cut off, those viewers are game for pretty much anything. But, do we really want to know what HBO would do if they can't keep the ratings as high as they want for the run to pay off as projected?
62
@60 Read the book again. In the book Cersei switches from saying no to saying yes after he lifts her skirt and then gets downright enthusiastic once he starts fucking her. In the show it's a straight up rape with no ambiguity that I can see. Saying that it's exactly the same is simply, factually wrong.
63
Love it or hate it, I'm just pleased as punch that people are discussing the TV adaptation of my favorite book series so passionately. I feel like I don't have full perspective on the show since I've read the books so many times, so I appreciate all the comments that can provide a newcomer's perspective.

And thank you, Danielle, for the post. I appreciate you taking special care to not hate on those of us that love the show.
64
The defensive argument here in the comments as well as across the internet has been to equalize the violence of rape with other violence on the show. The difference between showing a woman being raped by her lover and showing a man being flayed by a stranger should be obvious, but it seems not to be to many of the men in this discussion.

Women are taught to fear rape every day from childhood. Rape is very common as well as difficult to prosecute effectively; the process of doing so often further traumatizes the victim. The fear of rape limits where we go, with whom and at what time, what we wear, and confuses our sexuality because we know we are likely to be blamed for it if it happens to us. Images and stories of women being raped are often used by well-meaning people in our lives to control us for our own protection. "Are you sure you should walk outside alone in the dark?" When we go out, especially alone, we are constantly negotiating and evaluating our environment for our safety with strangers and friends. All of this is referred to colloquially as "rape culture".

When you show an image of a woman being raped on a nationally televised, record-breaking-illegally-downloaded show, you are sending a message to men and women that supports the normalization of rape culture. (Especially when this debate is still at such a low place at the national level - arguments about whether or not a rape is "forcible" or "rape-rape" IS STILL GETTING DEBATED IN CONGRESS.) Like maybe that wasn't really rape. Maybe it's normal when your lover says no, to keep going, to force her into a kiss. She probably secretly likes it.

You are NOT sending the same message to people when you show beheadings, flaying, castration, etc, because those acts aren't used as weapons against a specific group of people in order to control them and make them smaller in the same everyday way here. We don't live in a flaying or castration culture (I grant that our country tortures prisoners at war and there are messages around that on the show, but as the victims are highly unlikely to be watching, and the potential perpetrators are limited to soldiers rather than the considerably broader category of "men" with everyday opportunities to participate, it seems to be more of a guilt-inducing anti-torture message.)

I get that HBO didn't create rape culture and I'm not asking them to shoulder anything more than the most basic responsibility to their female viewers, which is not to make an already problematic scene EVEN WORSE by omitting one simple word: "yes."