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[Spoilers for Game of Thrones seasons 1 and 4/Song of Ice and Fire books 1 and 4]

I've long been of the opinion that what's problematic for children is not violence in movies, it's violence without consequences. In my world, showing guns firing without showing the bodies falling (as was done in the Matrix broadcast television cut) would get the more restrictive rating, because it emphasizes the badassery but not the grossness of death. When people complained about the rapes in Game of Thrones, I saw it as asking for gunfire without bullet holes. It's a violent, misogynistic world, and rape is one of the consequences of that.

Some people argue "but it has dragons, so realism cannot be a thing it aspires to." This is dumb and it should feel dumb. Speculative fiction, and to a lesser extent all fiction, is based on making some weird ass assumptions, and then drawing logical conclusions from them. Dragons are an assumption. Violence and misogyny are assumptions. Rape is a conclusion. If you would like to read a less violent book, I support your choice, but if it is going to be violent, it needs to have rape.

I'm especially bothered by people who want to have the same penetrative acts, but make them consensual. I consider Danny and Drogo's wedding night to be rape because a 13 year old sold to a warlord is not capable of giving enthusiastic consent as we define it now. Making it ugly to watch was a moral improvement over the books. I thought Jamie's rape of Cersei was artistically worthy: yes, this man risked his life to save a woman he didn't even like from being raped, but that's not going to stop him from raping a different woman when it was convenient for him. I saw it as symbolic of him being tired of being manipulated by Cersei, and is his own mind taking his power back from her very real manipulations. We the audience know it's deeply wrong to take power back in that way (and that the reason she's sexually manipulative is that the world has denied her any other form of power), but it's completely believable that Jamie doesn't, and this is the logical consequence of that.

Then this article pointed out that the other logical consequence of GoT's assumptions is men and boys being raped. Not as much as women and girls are raped, but more than zero, and certainly in places without women like the night's watch. The article came out before season 3, and Theon's prolonged torture is both a counter argument and a reinforcement- the torture is at times highly sexualized, but he's never penetrated. You could argue it's implied, but not as strongly as it is for the female rapes we've seen. And it doesn't address things like "really? we're terrified Gilly will be raped but that's never once come up as an issue for Sam himself?"

So Game of Thrones is showing gun fire, and showing the gore of bullets hitting flesh, but only for half the population. The other isn't hit, or shakes it off. That's not an okay compromise. GoT, you can either be more uncomfortable or less, but your current level is not justifiable.

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May 2014

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