I confess that I watch Game of Thrones on HBO (on demand, because I don’t watch scheduled programming, ever). Every time I watch a new episode I tell myself I am done with that show just like I am done with the books. Shows like Game of Thrones are written to entice male viewers with promises of breasts and buttocks and violence and lots of sex. It is a show full of taboos being broken fully visible to all who dare watch.
Is it a daring attack on silly, random cultural taboos that need to be broken? Some might think so.
I personally think this show, and Martin’s series of books, is the continuing story of a violent world where there is absolutely no value to human life at all. Passions must be released. Greed and murder are commonplace, ho hum. Read Martin’s books and watch the HBO series enough and we might all be at risk of becoming desensitized to rape, murder, and hatred. Ho hum.
I don’t recommend George R.R. Martin’s books to anyone. I have read a few of them, and skimmed Book 5, A Dance With Dragons. He is so full of himself that he obviously thought that he didn’t need no stinkin’ editor for Book 5. No, whatever flows from his fingers is precious and never to be criticized, cut or abridged. Good grief, there were whole paragraphs and pages of meaningless dribble that no one cares about. I left my first ever negative review on Amazon on one of Martin’s books. I will say that the first book in A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Game of Thrones, was well written even if it was very disturbing. I digress.
So, on to the subject of this post. If you are not familiar with Game of Thrones, this post might not mean terribly much to you. And it contains spoilers, so if you have not seen the new episodes and want to see them in the future just close this window. Do not read this post. Just don’t.
In Episode 3 of Season 4, lots of awful stuff has happened: Joffrey has been poisoned, murdered. Tyrion, Joffrey’s uncle and dwarf brother to Cirsei Baratheon and Jaime Lannister, has been arrested for the dastardly deed at Cirsei’s command. Actually, if you are like me, you were happy to see the sadistic brat go. He deserved it ten times over. I digress.
Forward to the scene where Cirsei is standing over her dead son laid out in the temple surrounded by hundreds of candles. She is twisted and perverted enough to love a son as twisted and perverted as Joffrey. Oh, Joffrey is actually one of two son’s and a daughter that Cirsei conceived with her twin brother, Jaime (but that’s a secret between the two of them). Cirsei and Jaime love one another with a very special love, the kind that extends into the bedroom. We call that incest. Well, all of Cirsei’s children are actually the result of their incestuous relationship and not her relationship with her deceased husband, King Robert Baratheon (Cirsei had him killed).
Circe’s other son, Tommen, leaves the room where he had been keeping watch with his mother. Jaime Lannister arrives. Cirsei falls into Jaime’s arms looking for comfort as one can only get from the brother with which one is having regular sex. But, they haven’t been having sex, not since Jaime got his sword hand cut off. Jaime and Cirsei begin kissing — loving brother and sister that they are. Cirsei sees Jaime’s fake hand, and suddenly she is disgusted. She pulls away from Jaime.
What follows is the controversial part. I know, right? Like all that has happened before this point isn’t controversial. No, that is typical Game of Thrones fare. Suddenly, I am wondering what is going on. I have read the books, remember. Jaime is forcing himself on Cirsei after she turns away. The incestuous brother and sister had been kissing beside the dead body of their son. I was repulsed. Cirsei was repulsed. For once I actually felt something for Cirsei. She was a sympathetic character for a brief moment.
She said, “Not here, Jaime!” He said, “Yes!” He rips her dress and rapes her. It was disgusting. It was detestable. It was rape.
That is not the biggest controversy at all. I saw that it was rape. I figured everyone else would see it as rape. She said “No!” and he forced himself on her. That is rape, right? Not according to the director, Alex Graves.
In an interview on Hit Fix Graves is quoted as saying that the sex act “becomes consensual by the end, because anything for them ultimately results in a turn-on, especially a power struggle.”
Methinks Graves is confused. And this is what is wrong with the idea that when women say “No!” they really mean “Yes!” When I say no to something, I mean no.
The idea that women don’t know their own minds, that they just need a little convincing to see things the right way is misogynistic. It is delusional thinking.
Rape is rape. Rape is a man forcing a woman to do something that she doesn’t want to do of a sexual nature.* Rape is wrong. Rape is bad. Rape is never okay. Rape is never not rape. Never, ever.
I am comforted somewhat by seeing outrage all over the internet. Some viewers are outraged that Graves deviated from the book where Cirsei actually does give consent. Some viewers are outraged that Jaime, who was undergoing a transformation from the dark side, would deviate from that path so dramatically, so violently. Some viewers are outraged that the director thinks that what he created in this episode is not considered rape at all because Cirsei stopped fighting at the end.
On this point, Graves touches upon the heart and soul of rape: a power struggle of one person to overcome the will of another person. That is the heart of rape. It is an act of violence perpetrated by one person upon the body and will of another person. If Graves identifies the intent of the scene to show the power struggle between Jaime and Cirsei with the result being that Jaime overpowers Cirsei, how can he not see this as rape?
Graves’ response, what he states in his interview, is the most disturbing of all. It is a sign that men do not understand women at all, still. It is a sign that something is very wrong with his moral compass and his view of male/female relations.
Rape is rape, folks. Always and forever.
*Rape can also be perpetrated by a woman up on a woman, a woman upon a man, a man upon a man, and so on.