How Rape Culture Helps People Excuse Last Night’s Game of Thrones

lannister

 

[This post contains both spoilers from the most recent episode of Game of Thrones. You've been warned.]

In some ways, I almost didn’t want to touch on this topic because I feel as though the AV Club’s article, Rape of Thrones, tackled last night’s scene (and many other scenes throughout the series like it) perfectly. Key passage, for my purposes, is here:

Changing a scene from consensual sex to rape is not just a pedantic issue of accuracy—it’s a problem with story. The Daenerys Targaryen who falls in love with a man who granted her respect when no one else would is different from the Daenerys Targaryen who fell in love with her rapist. It changes that relationship. (Dany falling in love with Drogo, and calling him her “sun and stars,” makes a whole lot more sense now, doesn’t it?)

Similarly, Jaime is a figure of chivalric love in the books—despite his arrogance and ruthlessness, his devotion and sense of duty to Cersei, the only woman he has ever loved, is so fervent as to border on adoration. Admittedly, the show can’t rely on his point-of-view chapters, as the book does, to communicate that love. But given what we have seen Cersei Lannister capable of—her ex-husband is hardly the only man she’s had killed—is it even conceivable that she would stand for it? Jaime raping Cersei is a major anomaly for these two characters—even based purely on what we’ve seen in the show. It’s just not something that either character would do.

So because everything I’ve tried to write so far winds up being a poorer version of AV Club’s article anyway, I thought I’d instead tackle the article’s incredibly troubling comments instead.

User ShakeyGrapes writes:

Honestly, the way the scene was done, it seemed to me Cersei was only sort of saying no…she appeared to be grabbing/kissing Jamie back. I do wonder, of course, if that’s because I read the books first, so that might have skewed it for me.

Right. So you read a scene involving two consenting adults where the woman literally said, “Do it now, do me now” and that colored the way you then watched a scene involving a woman sobbing and repeatedly saying, “Not here!” and “It’s not right” and “No.” So basically what you’re saying is that if you read a book, and then watch the movie or show, and any scenes are different, you don’t really notice? That’s the argument you’re going with?

Oh, and when someone responded by saying “She was still saying no,” our friend ShakeyGrapes replied:

Saying no, while responding favorably, kind of takes the meaning of the word away from it.”

If you take sobbing and pulling away as “responding favorably,” I think we may need to get the police involved.

Now let’s move on to a similarly disturbing comment:

JenNobody argues:

129 school girls get abducted in Nigeria by Muslim extremists over the weekend, all of whom are undoubtedly being raped and/or murdered as we speak, yet feminists are more concerned and outraged over a television show.

What a morally bankrupt dead philosophy, this creature called “feminism”.

First, it’s the AV Club — not CNN. But second, and more importantly, the fictional media you consume can have an effect on the way you view the same issues when they actually happen. These two stories — a rape scene on one of the most-talked-about television shows in the Western world, and the way the media ignores real rape when it happens — are undeniably both part of a larger problem. Less than a day after this episode aired, people have taken to the internet in droves to debate whether the scene was rape, whether incest isn’t basically as bad as rape anyway, whether Cersei really had the “right” to consent, and whether her actions proved she “secretly” wanted it, even while saying no. Add to that the fact that this person (who claims to be a woman) thinks that all of this is proof of feminism being morally bankrupt, and you have the cherry on the rape culture sundae.

More?

Mike Pisciotta opines:

I never saw the Dany “rape” scene as a rape but more as rough sex for a girl being devirginized by a barbarian. Yeah they changed it around but it is more likely that a young woman having sex for the first time would feel that way. Also, rape is also ever present in the books. It’s not something that the show is decided to just make up.

Well let me tell you, Mike, a 13 year old saying “No” and crying while being flipped onto her stomach and forcibly penetrated by her new husband to whom she’s essentially been sold in slavery is not what most girls’ first consensual time was like. If you think that’s par for the course, allow me to introduce you to Chris Hansen.

 Malcolm Warner wonders:

So……. the AV Club is now Jezebel?

So if an entertainment site that re-caps a TV show has issue with a rape scene, that means that the site must have gone “feminist.” You can’t object to a rape scene on the grounds that it’s morally reprehensible. Good to know, Malcolm.

One thing I found consistently entertaining was that people would point to Jaime throwing Bran out the window as evidence that he’s basically always been a villain. This flies in the face of the fact that most book readers would agree that the book does quite a bit to redeem Jaime, particularly after he gets his hand chopped off. But from GranpaJoe‘s comment here:

HE THREW A KID OUT OF A FUCKING WINDOW. HIS REDEMPTION IS ALL IN YOUR STUPID FUCKING HEAD.

It’s important to point out how many people are happy to say that throwing a child out of a window and crippling him is horrible, horrible (and it is), but rape? Eh, I mean, that’s sort of a grey area.

At the end of the day, the real trouble with this scene is that the creators took a character that by now people pretty universally like (Jaime) and had him rape a character that people pretty universally hate (Cersei). I cannot believe that there wasn’t an intention there to make this scene feel cathartic for people who hate Cersei. She acts superior, she schemes, she plots, she plays with people’s lives… and then her autonomy and power are taken away from her in a savage and degrading way by someone she loves (and we like).

And hey, look at all of the comments on the article — she basically wanted it. No doesn’t really mean no when you act like you want it, right?

Rape culture, boys and girls. You’re looking at it.

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13 thoughts on “How Rape Culture Helps People Excuse Last Night’s Game of Thrones

  1. […] in our twenty-first century society. The post addressed comments on a post from another blog (http://tealeavesdogears.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/how-rape-culture-helps-people-excuse-last-nights-ga&#8230 ;) that viewed the episode in the same light, explaining how the very nature of comments like […]

  2. […] thoughtful, great reactions, including Sarah’s takedown of the comments to Saraiya’s article at Tea Leaves and Dog Ears, Memory pointing out that Jaime is one of the very few characters who is explicitly against sexual […]

  3. […] Tea Leaves and Dog Ears talks about rape culture, how it justifies dubious consent and the GoT’s scene. […]

  4. bojangles says:

    Everyone was okay when the show was depicting murder, treachery, massacres, slavery, torture, child soldiers, incest, alcoholism, a woman giving birth to a demon, sacrificing newborns, burning people alive, hunting human beings for sport, Eddard being beheaded while his two daughters watch on in horror, children murdering children, robbery, prostitution, and pimping, but rape crosses a line?

    • People have been complaining about the murder, torture, child abuse and “demonic” themes on this show since it started. So I don’t completely agree that this criticism is somehow unfairly balanced. After the torture scene at Harrenhal and Joffrey’s murder of Roz, a LOT of people were up in arms and complaining.

      But even if that weren’t the case, I’m not complaining about the fact that rape was shown on a violent show. If I have a complaint about the show itself, it’s that the scene was changed from the books in a way that took a consensual scene and turned it into rape. I don’t quite see the point of that and I think that it does change Jaime’s character in a way not intended by the author. Yes, yes, he’s a murderer and he tried to kill a kid and he’s awful. But — and this is an interesting character choice on Martin’s part — he’s always been very anti-rape. Why? I don’t know, but the show has already worked to establish that. So this is, if you want to be as technical as possible, a confusing choice that goes against past choices and the source material. There ought to be a reason for that. Maybe there is, but I don’t quite trust the show runners to follow up on this when they don’t agree that the scene is rape.

      And that’s what this article was actually about. A lot of people either don’t see the scene as rape, or don’t see why Cersei should’ve had the “right” to refuse her brother sex. I was writing exclusively about the reaction to the scene — not necessarily the scene itself.

      It kind of seems like you’re reacting to what you think most people are talking about, rather than this particular argument. If I have that wrong, I’m sorry, but otherwise investigating the “reaction” is still different from arguing that this scene “crossed a line.”

  5. Hayourekiddingright says:

    Felt like justice to me. After everything Cercei has done, she deserved to have something horrible happen to her. Don’t like that? Well too bad

  6. Brian says:

    I find it ironic that when a show that depicts drama has a scene like this, it brings out the “special interest” or “offended” types.

    If I told you to shut up, and not comment, you’d quickly tell me that its your 1st amendment right….well that works both ways…same with the show. Did you protest the movie “The Accused”?? That was far worse. Even if you’re “attacking” the “permissive” or rape excuse culture…its because something provoked the response. I’d bet someone was offended, someone offered their INTERPRETATION of the story, based either on the books or what they saw, and because it didnt line up with someone’s personal values…the person or views are instantly deemed unworthy and whatnot.

    Funny….calling someone a “racist” does the same damn thing. No one can have ANY damn opinion on shit these days, because too many people are quick to throw out labels..mostly because (I feel) that they lack the intelligence to have a rational conversation about the subject at hand….its all knee jerk. “Eww, he raped her. Soandso says it was asked for…” instead of asking WHY they felt that way, you go on to just assume that they are assholes and are approving of rape culture. Sickening at best.

    This is why Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, racism, homophobia etc will thrive…because no one…NO ONE will have an HONEST conversation about anything. Its all about “being offended”….being offended gives power to those that have little in their lives.

    Well…being offended doesn’t matter one whit to me. I dont personally give a crap if it bothers you….why? Because of “freedom of choice”. You CHOSE to get HBO…you CHOSE to watch the show…and only NOW you’ll cry foul of view opinion??

    I laugh that women and some men are crying foul over a perceived rape issue, but never mention the incest between the two in the first place…..uhm….

    HYPOCRITES….that’s the word…right?

  7. Demetria says:

    Well said. I find it incredibly disturbing that so much of the commentary on this has revolved around whether she was “asking for it” or “wanted it in the end” when what was happening on screen was very clearly rape.

    • Thanks! Ultimately, that’s my main concern as well. At least in the book, there is clear verbal consent. Here, there simply isn’t. So the idea that someone feels that they can “see” that someone is giving physical consent even while actively refusing consent verbally, is more than a little uncomfortable.

  8. Hoofy says:

    Thank you for wasting your life and writing this pointless article. Keep this website up. I like how it keeps you away from providing opinions on things that really matter.

  9. Durphurp says:

    There’s a rape culture as much as a murder culture, not at all

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