Skip to main content

Wow, people really like their rape, huh?

Okay, I know that last week I said I was going to purge all the rape stuff and just go back to writing about whatever else.  But Google News just won't stop showing me headlines about "Game of Thrones."  Like right next to that recent NOAA report saying that climate change didn't actually slow down in the last few years, there's some asshole with a blog (irony, I know) talking about Sansa Stark.

This is what I see pretty much every day.

Sure, I suppose I could - and should - just click on the "No" button to omit GoT stories.  But... now I'm hung up on this again.  It just won't go away.

Here's George R. R. Martin saying that not depicting rape would be dishonest.

Here's somebody saying that Sansa's rape is part of a longer plan to outwit Ramsey Bolton.  (Y'see, being raped was all part of her intricate web of deceit....)

Here's somebody else saying that Sansa's rape was a mark of heroism, but for slightly different reasons.

And for the hell of it, here's somebody who's tallied up all the rape scenes in both the TV show and the book series to date.  (It's up to 214 in the books, btw.)

All this noise keeps popping up on my homepage, and I just keep thinking... is everybody dumb?  Do you guys just not get it?

We aren't saying that you can't use rape in your TV show.  We're saying that it's extremely upsetting.  Whether or not you consider that to be a mark of successful storytelling depends on how much of an asshole you are.

Listen, I signed up for a show about sword fights and political intrigue, and instead of giving me the good stuff, you keep shoving my face in misery.  There's only so many times you can watch a child get murdered or a cat crushed to death or women get raped before you say, "You know what?  I'm good.  Thanks, but no thanks."

Last year I wrote a post about what it means to be offended.  That particular post was in the context of comedy, but my points remain true here, too.  If you're going to deal in risible material, then a) you can't act all pissy and surprised when people are upset by it, and b) you need to try a lot harder to have a goddamn point.

Yo, Martin!  You have 214 rapes in your books because "that's what it was like in the Middle Ages?"  You know what else life was like back then?  People used chamberpots.  In fact, I'd wager that people used chamberpots a hell of a lot more than they raped.  Do you have 214 chamberpot scenes?  No?  Then shut the fuck up about realism.

(Also, you're kinda wrong.  Women in the Middle Ages were definitely subservient to men in most ways, but they were hardly punching bags. Women didn't totally become second class citizens in Europe until assholes invented witchcraft during the Renaissance and screwed everything up.  Let's quit pretending that your fantasy about dragons and ice zombies is a clever historical metaphor.)

As for the people who think Sansa's rape is necessary to define her character... I'm just at a loss.  Every time I see a headline about how the rape is part of some bigger plot or character arc, I just keep imagining a story about a man doing something similarly horrific.  Like chopping off his own penis in order to sneak into a convent for a weekend.

"Are you sure you have to cut it off?"

"Yes.  I have to disguise myself as a woman."

"Okay, but I was kinda thinking you could tuck it back and wear these tight-fitting briefs."

"No!  Cutting my dick off is the only way."

"Or you could just, y'know, not take off your pants..."

[Gets knife.] "The only way."

I don't really buy that Sansa is actually a strong presence, anyway, since she's pretty much always been a nothing character.  (Apologies to Sophie Turner, but your character has been a damsel in distress since day one.)  But if the showrunners actually are trying to tell a story about how she's plotting cold-blooded revenge or a calculating ploy, why do you have to default to the most extreme thing you can think of?  Are you so stuck for ideas?  It's simultaneously upsetting and boring.

Hell, here's some ideas right off the top of my head:

1) Sansa keeps Ramsey at bay by promising him a slew of maidens, each one filthier than the last, while pretending to enjoy "the show."  While he gets more impatient to bring her into the act, she plots his murder.

2) Sansa negotiates the terms of her marriage by discussing an exchange of military support she doesn't actually command, taking a page from Littlefinger's book and basically bullshitting her way through a series of tense meetings.

3) Sansa goes the total opposite direction and embraces her sexuality, deciding to turn Ramsey's acts around on him and gradually becoming the dom in their relationship until he becomes her finger puppet.  His death is optional at that point, I guess.

Any one of these would be more interesting and maintains a vested interest in the show without defaulting to your stupid standby.  The only problem is that they all require Sansa to be, y'know, a character.  So... whoops.

Ugh.  Anyway.  I think I'm done with rape for awhile.  At least, I really hope I am.  I'd love it if I could go just one day without it coming up.

All the Other Nonsense That Got Pushed Off the Main Page (Post Archive)