George R.R. Martin Defends Rape Scenes on ‘Game of Thrones’: ‘Rape is a Part of War’

game of thrones
AP Photo/Matt Sayles

As Game of Thrones critics line up, George R.R. Martin is defending the HBO hit series from accusations the show is not only sexist, but features too much sexual violence.

While Thrones is known for its overt violence, as a never-ending series of characters are introduced, only to be killed off a short while later, a scene from a Season 5 episode has its creator on the defensive.

After the May 17 premiere of the episode “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” which featured the rape of the northern princess Sansa Stark by her new husband Ramsay Bolton, critics lit up the series, including Claire McCaskill, who promised a boycott.

During a conversation with Entertainment Weekly on Wednesday, Martin, the famed A Song of Ice and Fire book series author, on which Game of Thrones is based, said the show’s story-lines would be “pretty boring” if Westeros had been “portrayed as a utopia.”

The 66-year-old author told EW:

“I’m writing about war, which is what almost all epic fantasy is about, but if you’re going to write about war and you just want to include all the cool battles and heroes killing a lot of orcs and things like that and you don’t portray [sexual violence], then there’s something fundamentally dishonest about that.”

“Rape, unfortunately, is still a part of war today,” he added. “It’s not a strong testament to the human race, but I don’t think we should pretend it doesn’t exist.

Martin also argued that although his books are fantasy, they are set in the Middle Ages, an era which was not egalitarian, but rather classist and patriarchal.

It is “not in our history and 21st century America isn’t egalitarian either,” Martin said. “People will say ‘Well, he’s not writing history, he’s writing fantasy – he put in dragons, he should have made an egalitarian society.’”

He continued:

“Just because you put in dragons doesn’t mean you can put in anything you want… I wanted my books to be strongly grounded in history and to show what medieval society was like…. Most stories depict what I call the ‘Disneyland Middle Ages’ – there are princes and princesses and knights in shining armor but they didn’t want to show what these societies meant and how they functioned.”

The author concluded: “I want to portray struggle. Drama comes out of conflict. If you portray a utopia, then you probably wrote a pretty boring book.”


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