I am not afraid of rape on my TV screen. I greedily consumed all 14 Netflix-available seasons of Law and Order SVU in far less time than I’d care to admit. I realize that rape is a thing that happens, both to men and women (though you wouldn’t know it from watching TV). I understand that rape is a bad thing and that rapists are bad people. I doubt many would argue these points, even the most misogynist of people.
But, lord, does Game of Thrones love to remind us that WOMEN GET RAPED. I say women, because (mild spoilers), to date, only one man was threatened with rape/almost raped. To be fair, we never see anyone raped on the show (unless I wasn’t paying attention), but, lord, do men like to remind women that THEY CAN AND WILL GET RAPED. And, boy, do bad guys like to THREATEN TO RAPE WOMEN.
In last night’s episode, (more mild spoilers) there are three instances of rape threats:
1. The Hound tells Arya she’s lucky he found her. Would you believe it, but there are men who would rape a little girl like her. Also, he saved Arya’s sister, Sansa, from being raped by random dudes. DOES ARYA REALIZE THAT
PEOPLE WOMEN GET RAPED IN THE GoT UNIVERSE?
2. The douchey soldier dudes threaten to rape Dani, and her servant, after they triumph in battle. One asks to see her cunt. Yes, they use the c-word. Also they have a fun window-dressing prostitute who doesn’t speak.
3. Geoffry (refuse to look up the spelling since google images will show me his horrible face) threatens to rape Sansa after her new husband has passed out drunk. He even threatens to have his guards hold her down while he does it. JUST IN CASE WE DIDN’T REALIZE GEOFFRY IS A BAD GUY YET.
Yes. The rapists are not the good guys. But, on this show, almost no one is a good guy. Even the good guys think little of a woman being raped. That’s just what happens to women. They deserve it for the crime of having tits and a vagina. Men are always reminding women they can/will be raped, as if to put women in their place. Look. You are the weaker sex. You will be over-powered and violated and there is nothing you can do about it.
Rape is not viewed as a horrible thing. It is a commonplace, accepted reaction to the presence of a woman.
I wouldn’t go so far to say that GoT glorifies rape. But it normalizes it. It presents rape as not that big of a deal. The constant threat of rape towards women, especially young, strong women, turns women into victims. We are constantly reminded that this amazing warrior, this feisty child, this woman with magical dragon powers, is nothing more than a potential rape victim.
And, sure, we can say “it’s pretend” all we want. But lets not pretend that we don’t internalize fiction. Lets not pretend that TV, movies, and books do not affect us. Lets not pretend that it’s OKAY to make a TV show where women are victims and pawns as often as they are players.