Actress Jessica Chastain ripped HBO’s Game of Thrones‘ storyline for using rape as a crucible of adversity through which Sansa Stark — a central character played by Sophie Turner — forges her growing strength.
Jessica Chastain framed Sansa Stark as a “Phoenix” — a reference to fictional character Jean Grey’s manifestation of a burning phoenix in the X-Men universe, also portrayed by Sophie Turner — prior to her perseverance through the hardship of sexual abuse.
Rape is not a tool to make a character stronger. A woman doesn’t need to be victimized in order to become a butterfly. The #littlebird was always a Phoenix. Her prevailing strength is solely because of her. And her alone.#GameOfThrones pic.twitter.com/TVIyt8LYxI
— Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) May 7, 2019
In Game of Thrones‘ most recent episode, Sansa Stark credits villains — who abused her sexually and otherwise — with being catalysts for her strengthening. All villains she listed — Littlefinger, Ramsay, and Joffrey — have since been vanquished.
Left-wing news media outlets echoed Chastain’s rejection of forging strength through adversity, denying Sansa Stark’s own self-evaluation.
In an article entitled, “What ‘Game of Thrones’ Gets Wrong About Sansa Stark and Abuse,” a Daily Beast writer — who describes herself as a “survivor” of rape — claimed, “Sansa Stark has been able to thrive, to govern, to strategize, and to make decisions independent of men’s counsel in spite of her history of abuse, not because of it.”
Refinery29 characterized Sansa Stark’s self-assessment of her maturation as a “celebration” of villainous characters:
Yet, Thrones chooses to take away all of Sansa’s self-built agency and give credit to the harmful men in her life. During her “Last of the Starks” conversation with The Hound (who says he heard Sansa was “broken in rough,” as an awful euphemism for her rape), she holds his hand and tells him, “Without Littlefinger, and Ramsay, and the rest, I would have stayed a little bird all my life.” With one sentence all of the hard work Sansa has done is washed away in favor of congratulating every monster in Westeros for creating the Sansa we now know and respect. It’s not only, rude, it’s wrong.
Chastain describes herself as a “feminist.” Her Twitter feed regularly features celebrations of Game of Thrones heroines — including a message like “Girls Kick Ass” and “Fight Like A Girl” — but not of its heroes.
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.