[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:
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.
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.