As anyone familiar with the series knows, Game of Thrones is grisly – perhaps the grisliest show of the decade. In virtually every episode, a character, usually a bloke, is brutally murdered, tortured or mutilated. Limbs are hewn from bodies, heads are severed from necks, and skin is flayed from living flesh.
In one scene, a Lannister knight crushes the skull of a Dornish Prince with his bare hands, sending blood and brains everywhere. Another character, the Stark turncoat Theon Greyjoy, endures many gruesome scenes of graphic torture before having his dick lopped off by the sadistic villain Ramsay Bolton.
That’s all fine, of course. Everyone accepts that Game of Thrones is a series that prides itself on graphic hyper-realism. It was never intended to cater to the faint-hearted, which is why, although the show is famous for shocking spectacle, such as the infamously bloody “Red Wedding”, its gratuitous violence has not historically generated any moral outrage.
No-one has accused the show’s creators of being “bad people” for staying true to the brutal world of the books.
Until now, that is – because, for once, the victim of on-screen violence is a woman. The apparent rape of the northern princess Sansa Stark by new husband Ramsay Bolton is, it seems, a step too far. Despite the fact that most people who read the books knew what was coming, that didn’t stop the pearl-clutchers of social media from coming over all triggered.
— Wonko the Sane (@saneashouses) May 18, 2015
Fuck d&d lmao u guys are cocky for a couple of pieces of trash who dont know how to write women
— sat (@yunchanu) May 19, 2015
hello @HBO thank you for turning game of thrones into a misogynistic piece of trash!! thank you for using rape as a plot device!! amazing
— wriggly (@lil_ta3miya) May 18, 2015
D&D are trash bags go back to the sewerage where you belong
— goldie (@foresunrise) May 18, 2015
D&D are so gross I hope they burn in hell.
— Inactive (archive) (@mybaabyblue) May 18, 2015
I AM FUCKING FURIOUS I WANT D&D TO DIE THOSE PIECES OF SHIT
— pari (@paricherie) May 18, 2015
“D&D” refers to the show’s creators, Daniel Benioff and Daniel Weiss.
If any other group were caught making tweets like this, they would probably be labelled a hate group. But that can’t happen to feminists, so publications like Vox instead blamed the show’s creators for “provoking the ire of the internet”. It’s hardly surprising, of course. These are the same people who had nothing to say about #killallmen.
This isn’t the first time that violence against female characters in Game of Thrones has attracted attention. The first was over the graphic murder of a prostitute by the sadistic King Joffrey. Then people were upset when Robb Stark’s pregnant wife was stabbed in the belly. Robb himself was impaled with a sword before his corpse was decapitated and paraded around with a wolf’s head stuck on his neck, but no one minded so much about that.
But the latest outrage has surpassed all the others, with odious, risible “geek feminist” blog The Mary Sue announcing that they would no longer promote the series.
— The Mary Sue (@TheMarySue) May 19, 2015
If these aggrieved Tumblrinas took a minute to think, they might figure out why violence against female characters seems so shocking: it’s because on-screen violence against men is so common that it doesn’t surprise us, and that in turn makes on-screen violence against women stand out.
It isn’t hard to figure out, but it does require you to question and interrogate your feelings with reason, which, as we all know, is basically the same as misogyny. (Reality has a well-known patriarchal bias.)
The outrage also misses another point: it isn’t even clear if Sansa was raped. The scene in question is her wedding night, and while she is clearly repelled by the brutal Ramsay Bolton, she also, it could perfectly well be argued, reluctantly consents to all of his requests. It would have been perfectly obvious to Sansa that her new husband was not a beta orbiter satisfied with a Dr Who marathon on his wedding night.
Although the TV show has diverged from the George R R Martin novels on which they were based, the author himself has also felt some of the rage. In a recent blog post, Martin said he had received a “flood” of emails and comments, and urged fans to discuss the show elsewhere, carefully avoiding joining the conversation himself.
Maybe now he understands what the Sad Puppies were getting at when they said that social justice warriors were a menace to creative freedom.
But it isn’t just their intolerance for “triggering” plot devices that makes social justice warriors so tedious. It’s their perfectly transparent hypocrisy. On the one hand, they demand more “strong female characters” like Imperator Furiosa. Yet they throw their toys of of the pram whenever female characters are subjected to the same level of brutality as men.
This is all fine… As long as no-one gets raped!
As well as exposing modern feminism’s fixation on “trivial bullshit” (to use the words of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, one of the last serious feminists), incidents like this also expose… well, what can we call it, besides sexism? These people will sit through hours of male characters – and even babies – being maimed and mutilated without even noticing, yet fly into a frenzy of moral outrage at the mere suggestion of a rape scene.
Is it any wonder that no-one pays attention to feminists any more? I note with interest that the show’s producers and even the actress who plays Sansa have all dismissed these concerns out of hand. Little wonder: give an inch, and you get run off Twitter, as Joss Whedon discovered recently.
Fictional rapes are indeed a growing problem that demands society’s attention. But it’s not the ones on Game of Thrones we ought to be worried about.