Chat Corner: The Gang Discusses Game of Thrones S05E06

Welcome to a new series on Unfettered Equality called CHAT CORNER, in which we discuss current events, pop culture, and of course politics. These conversations are compiled from a our daily GroupMe chats and edited for your viewing pleasure.

SPOILER: This is a discussion of Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 6. It contains spoilers for the episode and minor spoilers of the books.

Courtesy of HBO

Courtesy of HBO

SARAH: Game of Thrones this week was a whole lotta nopes.

SEBASTIAN: Yeah it was pretty rough. Though I was confused by the general outrage, given the level of fucked-up violence that occurs on the regular in Westeros.

ANGIE: The treatment of rape overall on GoT is horrible. With Craster’s Keep, Jaime and Cersei, and Dany’s wedding night, I don’t think Benioff and Weiss (the showrunners) have handled rape well in the past, so I don’t think they earned a gritty thought provoking rape scene in Sunday’s episode.

SARAH: They also keep using rape as a way to empower the women that are abused. That sounds backwards but it’s weirdly correct.

ANGIE: You can’t keep presenting rape without the appropriate gravity and expect your audience to accept the rape of a main character, especially a main character in which rape has been hanging over her head for seasons.

SEBASTIAN: How do you guys think they should have handled it?

ANGIE: My idea is a bit of a pipe dream, but I think when Sansa was turned around and Ramsey was talking to Theon, I think she should have revealed a sword under her humongous wolf dress and killed Ramsey. Thus allowing her to take back her agency which has been continually denied since she left Winterfell. It would have matched her conversation with the Myranda, the dog keeper’s daughter, and given Sansa the appropriate story arc she deserves. Also, it would have shown her growth as a character under Littlefinger’s tutelage..

ANGIE: I recognize rape can be used as a plot device, but it requires time and attention. However, I think Benioff and Weiss have relied on it too much because George RR Martin relies on it too much. Between excessive use of rape fantasy (woman begins sexual encounter being raped, ends it with an orgasm), use of rape as a spoil of war, or to show the grittiness of the world, rape has never been given the gravity it deserves, and as Sarah said, it is often used as false empowerment.

SEBASTIAN: Yeah, I feel like the issue here is the source material, rather than the showrunners. Though I will say (at risk on mansplaining) that your scenario with Sansa stabbing Ramsay Bolton would have made me more mad than the actual scenario with marital rape. Since marital rape is really the only outcome that would have made sense given what we know about the characters and the universe of the show.

ANGIE: Why?

SEBASTIAN: Ramsay Bolton is a psychopath, and in Westeros men feel entitled to women’s bodies. The the function of marriage in Westeros is the formation of alliances or for the profit of men, not for love or the benefit of women. So in most cases, a wedding night is going to imply marital rape. Granted, having Theon watch was icky and the scene was really, really uncomfortable.

ANGIE: I do have to give it to Benioff and Weiss though, they avoided the quasi-rape circus that usually follows a wedding in the books– woman is paraded through the castle as she is undressed by other people and then everyone stands around the room or outside of the room and watches them have sex.

SEBASTIAN: Yeah, that would have been way worse. And unnecessary.

ANGIE: Which I believe is historically accurate for many anglo-saxon wedding nights. At least there is no Prima Nocta, which is alluded to be a favorite activity of Roose Bolton.

SEBASTIAN: Yeah, that’s how Ramsay Bolton was born. You watched the The Tudors right?

ANGIE: Yes

SEBASTIAN: There’s a scene early in season one where Henry VIII happens upon a newlywed couple and has sex with the woman in the forest and it’s implied that the woman likes it.

ANGIE: I remember that.

SEBASTIAN: THAT was way worse than anything in Game of Thrones because that’s just catering some male fantasy about being powerful enough to have sex with whoever. At least GoT doesn’t dress up sexual assault as some romantic notion. Except with Cersei and Jaime and that was legitimately terrible.

ANGIE: It is implied throughout a lot of the ASoIaF books that a woman will eventually like her forced sexual encounter because the reason she refused in the first place was due to her either being a virgin or a prude.

SEBASTIAN: Yeah thats fucked up

ANGIE: Benioff and Weiss have strayed from adapting that to the books. Well except for maybe Dany’s relationship with Drogo. Which I honestly never had a problem with, but have been thinking about a lot the last couple of days.

SEBASTIAN: I think you could make the case that the Ramsay/Sansa scene could have been implied. like, he says take off your clothes and then tells Theon to stay, and then Theon closes the door and then credits. Maybe the actual scene wasn’t necessary and they could have telegraphed what happened.

ANGIE: It is always easy to play watercooler critic the next day

SEBASTIAN: Watercooler criticism is a growth industry. Without it, the internet would wither on the vine.

ANGIE: It is my favorite industry.

JEREMY: These GoT episodes are diverging entirely from the books. Sansa never marries Ramsey. She’s off learning how to manipulate people still. It’s not the source, it’s the show.

SEBASTIAN: Good point. Though, from what I understand the scenario in the book was waaaaay worse.

JEREMY: Yea Jeyne Poole.

ANGIE: Since Benioff and Weiss have veered from the books, why give Sansa the same fate as Jeyne Poole?

SEBASTIAN: That is also a good point.

ANGIE: I really hate the argument “It’s fiction so it doesn’t matter.” or even worse, “Shit like this happens in real life. Stop getting upset about a tv show.” Case in point, I should stop reading Facebook comments under New York Times articles.

ANGIE: I am upset about the final scene in Sunday’s Game of Thrones. It made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. I think the treatment of rape on the show has not been handled well. Three main characters have now been raped in the series, and neither of the previous two were allowed the time needed following either rape to evaluate the psychological effects and emotional consequences of such a horrific act. I won’t stop watching Game of Thrones. I just expect more from the showrunners. If they are going to veer from the source material, they should veer from the source material with purpose. That includes the Ishtar plot of Bronn and Jaime. That entire part of Sunday’s episode looked like a scene from Xena.

SEBASTIAN: Yeah, I hate every scene in Dorne. Everyone sounds like Inigo Montoya. I don’t think they meant it to be as laughable as it was.

ANGIE: The Dorne Affair– that sounds like a really good name for a laughably bad fish out of water buddy adventure movie.

SEBASTIAN: “The Dornishman’s Wife”–Starring Chris Pratt and Adam Scott

PRatt

Courtesy of Getty Images