After watching last Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones (Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken), I’ve noticed that there has been a big outcry regarding a scene with one of the major characters getting raped.
Before I elaborate on this topic, I would like to preface this for the sake of brevity. Let me be clear: rape is a terrible, ugly thing to do to a person. I do not condone rape. That being said, there’s always a chance that some of my upcoming words will be misconstrued, and somebody on the internet will become immensely offended. Maybe they’ll throw out words like, sexist, mysogynist, or what have you. The internet has been warped into a place filled with people just waiting to be offended by something. If you happen to be one of those people, then it may be best to turn around now.
When I first watched episode 6 of this season of Game of Thrones, I wasn’t all that shocked. Part of me was excited that there was actually something going on in Sansa’s story. If you haven’t read any of the books, I’ll fill you in. Sansa is currently still back at the Eyrie, pretending to be Alayne, essentially sitting there doing nothing and continuing her life in her ignorant naiveté.
I’m not a fan of Sansa. At all. Almost all of her chapters are the worst of the book series. I’ve never been able to fathom why the community is so fond of Sansa. Horrible things have happened to all of the Stark children, and nearly every one of them has stepped up and braved through it. Each character has evolved immensely since leaving Winterfell — except Sansa. Sansa hasn’t really grown as a character at all. I will say that the show has attempted to amend this a little bit so they aren’t essentially paying her to do nothing. Still, even on the show she has still just been playing the weepy victim with an occasional snappy remark. Yet the Game of Thrones community is ready to kiss the ground she walks on. Maybe it’s because people thinks she’s pretty or something? I don’t know.
In episode 6, Ramsay weds Sansa in the Godswood at Winterfell, and Ramsay immediately takes her up to the royal bedchambers to consummate their marriage in the most brutal fashion. He even forces Reek to watch the scene to take place, further cementing everyone’s humiliation.
First of all, this is much more tasteful than what ACTUALLY happened in the book. In the book, it is Jeyne Poole (one of Sansa’s sewing friends) that is forced to marry Ramsay. Littlefinger sends her there as a token Arya clone, to persuade the Boltons that they are gaining more northern support. The consummation scene is much more gratuitous and upsetting in the book, because Ramsay forces Reek to “warm up” the girl before he has his way with her. SO, you can at least be happy that precious baby Sansa didn’t experience that.
Here’s my second point: WHAT SHOW DID YOU THINK YOU WERE WATCHING?! This isn’t the Fluffy Teddy Bear Feel Good Time Kumbaya Campfire Show, where puppies gently fall from the skies, and vegetables taste like candy. This is GAME OF THRONES. We watched a pregnant mother get stabbed right in the baby! Heads popping like tomatoes! Yes, there has even been raped performed. GASP! Look, as I said before, rape is wrong. So is nearly all of the other things happening every other scene. If you can’t deal with that sort of thing, there are other shows out there without it. What did you expect? For Sansa to unleash her secret ninja skills to kill Ramsay before he could take all of her innocence? Sorry, you’re watching the wrong show.
The people who are offended by this must not know that much about the universe. Nearly every woman in Westeros is forced into a marriage by their family. Nobody gets to marry who they want. Even Catelyn Stark, who loved her husband Ned fiercely, was initially promised to Ned’s older brother Brandon. I’m pretty sure Ned even bedded her than night, and conceived Robb right before storming off into Robert’s Rebellion to avenge his family. Marriages are used as a from of alignment and power, and having a child is the seal of those alliances. It’s clear that Sansa didn’t want to lose her maidenhood to Ramsay, but it is really no different than Lyanna Stark not wanting Robert and Robert not wanting Cersei. That’s just what happens. And the consummation of the marriage is a big deal in Westerosi marriages. They even make a game about it where groups of people share the responsibility of undressing the bride and groom and carrying them to their bedchambers. In a way, Ramsay was doing his due diligence by giving it to Sansa immediately on their wedding night. Best to cement the power of the Boltons in the North as soon as possible. A newborn child will add legitimacy to their claim on Winterfell.
But, oh no! She didn’t want to! Even on the show, Petyr offers for her to go back to the Eyrie, and to refuse this union. That doesn’t stop Sansa from riding down the hill towards her old home and her fate. She had to assume that sex wasn’t out of the question if she was going to be married.
The one thing that I found at least a little uncomfortable about the scene was that Ramsay forced Reek to watch the whole thing play out. Still, it was better than what he had to do in the books. However, this may have been more of a punishment for Theon than it was meant to be for Sansa. If you recall, Theon was pleading with Sansa to take his arm for their walk down the aisle, claiming that Ramsay will punish him if she doesn’t cooperate. Of course she doesn’t oblige him, so Ramsay punishes Theon for his incompetence. Naturally, Ramsay is just a huge creeper who gets off on upsetting everyone, so Sansa’s discomfort with the whole situation was only frosting on the cake for him.
That’s the thing, though. You’re supposed to be uncomfortable about it. It’s an unfortunate thing that she had to lose her innocence to the likes of Ramsay Bolton, but worse things have happened on the show. Way worse.
There has been a seemingly huge movement going on lately about gender equality, and sexism in pop culture. It’s aggravating, and frankly not nearly as bad as people are obsessing over. Feminism gives gender equality a bad name, nitpicking the simplest terms and phrases. I recently even heard about men’s rights activists (are you KIDDING ME??) complaining about how the new Mad Max movie is too feminist. It all needs to stop. People are just complaining to complain at this point. Most typical people have no reason to be offended other than their own boredom and personal lack of self worth. Get over it. Don’t disparage the writers for a character being abused on a TV show. They thought the Jeyne Poole storyline was interesting, so they brought Sansa into it because nobody who watches the show knows who the hell Jeyne is, and it had a much greater impact than it would have otherwise. While I haven’t been a fan at a lot of the liberties Benioff and Weiss have taken this season in regards to the story, this change did not bother me. I for one am actually interested to see where this string of events takes the unfortunate Sansa Stark. Maybe for the first time ever, I’ll actually care.