I’m not trying to be cute. I’m warning my friends because I know some of them are die hard Game of Throne fans, and I don’t want to ruin it for them.
That being said.
DON’T READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN LAST NIGHT’S GAME OF THRONES EPISODE: BREAKER OF CHAINS.
I am a Game of Thrones fan. Both of the show and the books. There are issues that I have with the books, but they’re not major enough to detract from the enjoyment of reading them. Except for A Dance with Dragons. That shit didn’t get good until the last half. But, overall, the books are good and I want to find out what happens when the next book comes out.
The same can be said for the show. I look forward to Sundays because I want to know what happens next, I want to live in Westeros for a little while with a group of perfectly cast actors.
And then the directors had to go and throw in a(nother) rape scene.
In case you don’t remember, the pilot featured Dany getting raped by her Dothraki husband, Khal Drogo. In a sweeping change from the book; Khal does not ask permission from Dany, rather he takes what he wants while she cries and cries.
Sun and Stars doesn’t make much sense, does it?
Just like Cersei forgiving Jaime and demanding Sansa’s head in the next episode won’t make sense after last night. Rape is not something easily got over. There’s trauma and a whole lot of emotional/physical pain.
I’m not Cersei Lannister’s most ardent fan. I sympathise with her in the books because she’s trying her damndest to be the son her asshole father wants and never getting there. Tywin Lannister only sees his daughter as a pawn. So, Cersei grabs whatever power she can and, like a dog with a bone, she keeps it by any means necessary. She’s ruthless, but not entirely smart about it, neither in book or television show. She’s a bitch, and I hate her in the books, I wanted to keep hating her in the show.
Now I feel sorry for her. And now, I hate Jaime. Jaime, who had just gotten done being redeemed by Brienne and Tyrion. Jaime who has a promise to keep to Catelyn Stark, who made that same promise to Brienne, who was on his way to being a good fucking guy has now become an asshole that takes what he wants.
The great dynamic between these two characters in the book was Jaime’s absolute arrogance and belief in his own awesome. Cersei is a power hungry bitch and she wears the pants in the relationship. Jaime was just fine with that. He wanted nothing more than to be a Kingsguard because it kept him close to his sister and their children. He gave his power to his sister and the relationship – as uncomfortable as reading/watching it is – works for them both. Cersei gets to play the power game, Jaime gets to play with his swords. Copacetic.
Without going too much into the book plot lines and REALLY spoiling the series; we see Jaime turning into a different person and Cersei regressing. It’s interesting. It keeps them human.
The problem now is all that character development, all of that interpersonal action and reaction between the two, is gone. By raping his sister, Jaime has claimed control over the relationship both past and present. He has taken every bit of power Cersei had for himself, asserting his dominance and re-asserting the overall misogyny of the show.
Even watching the scene felt wrong; felt out of character for them both. Book Cersei wouldn’t have let it happen, and book Jaime wouldn’t have taken her because – as they’re written – Cersei holds the reigns and Jaime adores her. If you were paying attention thus far in the show, Cersei even rejected her brother’s attempts, telling him he came way too late. Which was just awesome. That’s the Cersei I wanted to see, the woman who made the determination to get her goddamn throne back, fuck anyone who got in her way.
Instead of taking that plot and running with it (a deviation from the books that wouldn’t have bothered me all that much), instead of taking the Cersei they’ve built over the last three seasons; the writers and director decided to have Jaime claim his manhood in the most base and horrible way possible.
Adding salt to the wounds is Cersei’s apparent forgiveness of the heinous act in the previews to next week’s show and demanding Sansa’s head.
The show has already made a point of showing its female viewers that the women in Westeros need a man to save them. Lord Baelish’s rescue of Sansa made that abundantly clear. Margaery needing a wedding to hold on to her throne is another jab. The subtext in Westeros is the same that’s been hammered into our brains for centuries : When a good woman is in want of a place, property, protection and power; she must needs marry a wealthy man.
If only, if only Lord Varys was Lady Varys and she had her little birds that whispered secrets to her. Then Westeros might be a whole lot more interesting and much, much, much more dangerous.
But it seems, as lauded as he is for his female characters, GRRM is still a man and was still okay with the rape scene.
And I hate myself because the writer in me wants to keep watching. I want to see how this will play out. I want to see if the directors are going to make mention of the rape, or if it will be written off as ‘consensual’ like the book hinted at.
The woman in me is outraged. The feminist in me is pissed right the fuck off. A whole other part of me wants to write off the rest of Game of Thrones and is even more pissed off because I know I won’t.
GRRM has made no excuses for Westeros being a dangerous place for women, and I accept that. Our world is a dangerous place for women. It’s a known quantity, and I identify with that.
The draw of Westeros is Danaerys Targaryen sitting in Mereen, Margaery Tyrell, Olenna Tyrell, Catelyn Stark, Arya Stark, and even Cersei Lannister and Sansa Stark. These women are vying for power in a man’s world. They’re struggling to gain control of their own destinies, and that’s what keeps me watching and reading.
Rape isn’t okay. It’s not. No amount of clever writing or subtext or ‘yeah but’ can ever make rape okay. It can be used in writing if there is a point to it. Character development, plot development, plot starter; rape can be used.
Rape should never, ever, ever be used as a plot device or for exploitative shock value.
Game of Thrones already has gratuitous sex in it. Much more than I remember being in the books. The show’s line should have been drawn at stabbing pregnant mothers in the stomach, it wasn’t. The Red Wedding was watched, it was reacted to, and it was absolutely horrible. A bloody goddamned wedding that I couldn’t take my eyes off of. A message that women and their unborn children are not safe; are a means to an end.
I can only hope the writers and directors take a step back from shock value and go back to storytelling.
It’s a misogynist world we live in, that doesn’t mean the point has to be driven home at the tip of a knife.