Oh, Game of Thrones….I’m fed up with all the rape stuff

Like most gaming and fantasy nerds, I have been mostly enjoying the Game of Thrones on HBO. That series is one of the main reasons we buy the channel, on top of the fact that we enjoy being able to watch television that treats us as the adults we are. On HBO we can hear words and see things we couldn’t normally see elsewhere. It’s sort of pathetic we have have to pay on top of another fee to see those things and hear those words, but whatever.

Like I said, I am mostly enjoying Game of Thrones. There are a few bad points, though. First: no, I have not read the books and never will. I’m sure they’re a fine read, but to be blunt if I were to spend that much time reading a book or books I would rather read a non-fiction book, something that would literally teach me something about science or…real stuff. I’m actually a huge fan of fiction, but the heavy lifting is reserved for facts, not fantasy.

Anyway, I like many of the main characters, but am already tired of the pattern that any one of them could be hiding something or any one of them might die at some point. I understand it is a gritty series of books, written by a man who probably considers himself a “realistic” fiction author like Frank Herbert (Dune, other stuff) and so wants us to understand that no one is invincible. That’s fine…but an obvious point. We all die, everything ends, even in a fantasy novel with magic. We know this.

Setting aside some of the blander characters and predictable unpredictability, I am very, very tired of seeing raping or attempted rapes, hearing about raping, and of how much the word rape it pushed around in the series.

Now, look…I understand; it’s a story. The story is set in a horrible world filled with rape and incest. I get it. But let’s remember this one thing: it’s not fucking real. It was all made up in the author’s head. He decided that the world he was creating was going to be a rapist’s paradise. Again, I understand that he is attempting to tell a story set in those particular parameters, but again I say that it’s not fucking real. He could have made up any world possible.

Let me give you an example of why all of the rape might be even more disturbing to many more people.

When I found out I had Ulcerative Colitis, I was a bit depressed. I heard of the increased chances of cancer and thought it meant, I don’t know, something had changed in my life. I looked up information and became down about it. Of course now I know that the disease is not immediately and rarely life-threatening (they can always just cut out your colon) but to this day when I see a story on television about someone getting the bad news that they are sick, I can feel those moments when I first found out. I feel down and have to pinch myself a bit to remember that I am not that sick. Those thoughts were triggered by the story.

Now, imagine if your mother was killed in a horrible car accident. There’s a possibility that some of your mothers were killed in a car accident. If your friend had something similar happen to his or her mother, you would be reminded of the feelings you felt. That moment with your friend might trigger the feelings you felt back then, about your mother.

Now imagine that you had literally been held down, beaten, tortured and raped. Or, imagine that (and I can’t believe that I am going to say this) the crime was, on the grand scale of horrible crimes, not even that horrible. Perhaps you had been socked in the jaw by a random person at a bar, or called a faggot and pushed down. Most sensible humans would feel, at least, a bit disturbed by the violence of the very real event. If you had a friend go through the event, or saw the event re-enacted in perfect detail on television, you might have certain feelings triggered.

There are reasons feminist websites put up “trigger warnings” all the time. Yes, many feminist bloggers can be so over the top that they end up doing more harm than good, making nonsense out of what should be perfectly clear and sensible rage, but the reason they are all there is because rape and horrible things like rape happen in real life. They happen, for real.

Now, I am not blaming the author or HBO for triggering certain feelings in some of the viewers. That viewer can turn the channel and cancel their subscription. The problem I have is that, in the stories I write, I tend to want to avoid bad things like rape. Of course, I am not writing a story about a rapist, but that’s because I chose not to. I make it all up.

There is a bit of creepiness to an author who decides to write so very much about rape and incest, often including small children in the mix. The series is filled with certain moments that make me question why I even continue to watch it. SPOILER ALERT:There is a moment in which a soldier, while faking an attempt to help an injured boy to his feet (I mean a young boy) stabs a very sharp blade through the child’s throat and kills him. The child chokes on his own blood (we can hear it) and dies painfully and slowly. Of all the things in the books, why did we need to see what was the equivalent of a child snuff film?

Please, I am no softie. I’m not afraid of violent movies or sexually explicit television. I am a grown man. But, for some reason, I find it more disturbing that the author and HBO decided to include such details so painstakingly. There are many, many details they left out that could have easily taken up much of the screen time. Minus that rape scene, (sure, mention that it happened in dialogue if you have to) and put in more of the cool character interactions. And if I hear one more tale of incest I am going to scream.

I don’t know, it’s hard to explain. I recently picked up a new Weis/Hickman book in the hopes of escaping into a good fantasy adventure, like I did with The Dragonlance books when I was young.

Instead I found a tale of a typical barbarian male who, although he was the “hero”, was known to ransack villages. That meant taking women and using them for whatever he wanted. He killed, stole from people and generally acted like a typical barbarian from a typical barbarian story. The women in his village wore aprons and, beside the one or two “strong female characters” in the story, were mainly housewives. I felt disgusted with the lack of imagination and bland character plots.

In the story I am writing now, women will be on equal (and I mean equal) footing with the men. The funniest part of that statement is that it would easy for some people to say that I can easily say they’re on equal footing because it’s a fantasy. It’s not reality, after all.

Exactly. It’s MY story. And in MY story the women ARE equal and do NOT get raped. Rape is punishable by death. It does not happen in my made-up society.

Why should that be a fantasy, and why would many gamers and fantasy fans consider that a fantasy? Because in reality women are not always on equal ground with men, and rape does happen….a lot.

The point is that I don’t give a flying shit if the author of the Game of Thrones (whatever the series is called, I get confused) wanted to make a realistic fantasy novel. He added fucking DRAGONS to the story…it’s nowhere near reality, so why include so much rape and incest? To build character? To show what many of the women must go through in order to gain strength? Sure, go for it. Write your detailed descriptions about rape and incest (although I have heard that HBO has added much of the sex into the series) and be sure to say that it is for the sake of reflecting a “realistic” society.

Fuck that. I think it IS realistic that women will one day not have to suffer in the ways they suffer in the series and books. I KNOW it’s possible. I choose to explore that possible reality because I know women have the abilities and power to do whatever men can do, if the society they live in allows them the freedom. Unfortunately, many societies do not.

Like I said, I enjoy much of the show. I do. But every time some dumbass scene comes on, showing some woman being treated like dog shit while other women in the story are treated only as special cases of power, I cringe. Just tell me a good story about dragons, magic and intrigue. Keep the rape fantasy crap to yourself.

It’s been said that comedy is much harder to do than tragedy. It’s so, so true. Try making your next group of friends laugh their asses off, then try telling them a story that will make them frown. Comedy is hard. Tragedy is easy.

I do not need to literally see the goriest details of a grand, sweeping story to know they are there. I hear the words “epic battle” and I know what it means. I’m not stupid. I simply do not see the need for such exact details in a story that claims to be “sweeping.” Those silly, over-the-top moments of violence and sexual brutality only remind me of how unrealistic the story is. When I see a head being chopped off, I know they did not really kill anyone. It feels silly, not shocking. Tragedy, gore, rape, horrific death….that’s an easy way to spend a special effects budget and make some viewers cringe. Telling me a grand story that makes me feel as though I have escaped into a fantasy world while avoiding such graphical detail takes guts. It takes real, real talent.

We knew bad stuff happened in Lord of the Rings. Horrible, bad things happened to good people. But, how many rape scenes were there in those books? Did the lack of rape and incest make the story less grand?

 

 

 

Beau

 

 

 

 

 

 

29 thoughts on “Oh, Game of Thrones….I’m fed up with all the rape stuff

  1. I think that the problem with generally avoiding the issue – mentioning it in passing as you said, instead of showing the act – is that it becomes a matter of fact, and the horror of the act is lost, there’s no impact. Think about it, if you’ve watched the show, there’s all these battles that we only see the aftermath of, and only hear about in passing or after the fact, there’s no development. Sometimes to get the point across that this is a messed up world, one that would allow this to happen, it needs to be shown. It can’t just be avoided for the sake of offending a few people, because by trying to be safe, the important meaning is lost. Sometimes the impact of actually seeing the act, making the audience feel the horror and emotional turmoil of it, IS the point. And creating a messed-up world can serve as a commentary on our own, so I don’t think that GRRM is a bad person for having created a world where these messed-up things happen.

    As well, my concern with the idea of creating a world where rape is punishable by death is that there are reasons why so very few crimes are worthy of captial punishment – that someone who’s afraid of getting caught is going to go much farther than they would have because they’re going to die anyway. That’s not even getting into the moral dilemma over capital punishment in the first place. I hope you’ve thought about that aspect really carefully.

    • It’s possible that the horror of the event is lost to you, but possibly not to very many people. Also I am not claiming that the show should clean it up in order to avoid “offending” anyone…I say that they can turn the channel if they are disturbed by it. Trust me, the importance of the horrific event is not lost on many, many, many women. Read the stats on how many women are raped even just here in the US…women who do not report it out of fear. And those numbers are only based on women who are far removed from event in time or are actin anonymously. There are horrible estimates that show that rape is way more common than uncommon.

      I’m also never claiming he is a bad author because he wrote a book that is set in particular parameters. If he wrote a book about a serial killer in real life, I would forgive him for writing about the horrific details. We’re talking simply about a fantasy world here. A made-up world that has magic, dragons and all sorts of things that could never, ever happen in real life. If anything, it might be more of a commentary oh FAKE like, not real.

      I agree, we can save the discussion about capital punishment. But remember, we’re talking about a fake world. It’s not real. And in my fake world rape is not happening for many reasons, mainly because you will die if you do it. You would rarely get a chance to do it because women are largely in power, at least to the same capacity as men. The sad part is that a book about women being in power would be considered more of a fantasy than a book that contains dragons and magic but contains “realistic” things like rape and war.

      My imagination does the job. I do not need graphic details to remind me how horrible rape is. And I’m not alone.

      Beau

      • Fucckkkkkk yeah.

        You go, Beau! Let me say this: YOU wield more noble and awesome power here and today than an entire court of dragons. Being a man who recognizes these things and is vocal about them, YOU represent a shamefully, grotesquely, inscrutably scant populatio– and a population that wields tremendous power! …and, as a young female, let me tell you that it’s wildly hot.

        I thank you and attribute to you mad respect for simply doing whqt you’re

    • I’d argue that repeatedly showing scenes of rape does the exact opposite to what you said. It’s shocking and horrifying at first, however it’s gradually accepted as the norm. Like violence and sex. No one cares about seeing that kind of thing on TV any more. So HBO ups the shocking factor by adding in rape. If the rape scenes were few and far between, they’d be a lot more sickening and disturbing. Considering how frequently they occur, it more so just seems like they’re playing to viewers sexual fantasies, or they’re attempting to utilise the shock value to attract more viewers. Either way, I think it’s a bit sick.

  2. Told ya to read “Ghosts of Ascalon”. Let me know if you want it borrowed, I have the kindle version.

    Anyway, I’d like to share that I went through the pain of reading the entire “Sword of Truth” series. A fantasy series. The first book is very good, there is mystery, and magic in ways I had never thought before. But as the series goes on, the author starts on a lot of torture and rape.

    At first, I feel bad about those parts, because I actually try to imagine what is going on in the book. It is uncomfortable. But hey, it is a story, and I go on reading.

    11 books later, the worst that could be happens: I feel numb about the torture and rape. When a part about it starts, all I can think is “ok ok yet another, go on I’d like to know if the character survives or not”.

    To me that is the problem with showing so much of this kind of material on TV and books. We start to care less. It becomes part of reality in a wrong way, as if it is “normal” and it doesn’t matter anymore.

  3. I sometimes have the feeling that when an artist is not creative enough he will use the “shock the audience card”.

  4. Man it’s a good thing you didn’t read the books because, let me tell you, there is like 300% more rape. And a lot more borderline pedophilia.

  5. Thank you. As a woman that has been violently raped I find it deeply disturbing and repugnant that people find sexual violence a good source of entertainment. Thank you for not enjoying it. Thank you for thinking about it. Thank you for writing about it.

  6. Are you a feminist? Cos that’s all i read from that you cant condemn an author for a certain aspect there will be a reason for the rape … revenge etc and the book can be realistic in the aspect of social conventions, hierarchys etc not content or characters women suffer men suffer that’s life men and women suffer equally in this collection of books and quite frankly the author is a genius

  7. And how can you judge if you’ve not the books the books are different from the series. Rape adds shock war adds violence sex adds intrigue and i don’t mind all of the above and im female. its fiction and fantasy and amazingly written. Im also writing a book and women and men suffer equally. Half of your post is contradictory, and the nasty stuff yes is not very nice to read but is necessary to develop the characters. As for the realism all the nasty stuff has happened in history especially rape. To attack an author for this wrong

  8. Lol @ Laura. “You’re wrong the author is amazing!” isn’t actually a point. Try actually responding to what was said, as right now you’re doing a terrible job of defending the show.

  9. This is the single most ridiculous post I think I have ever read regarding fantasy vs reality.

    Are you going to condemn all the people who create science fiction that have murders happen? After all murder is part of real life and may bring up bad memories for someone. Maybe we should stop movies that show children living in violent home situations also because that happens in real life.

    While we are at it, lets cut out family guy from television because its possible someone gets offended by the fact stewie (a baby) beats up Brian (a dog) with a golf club, shoots him in the knee, all the while yelling “where’s my money man”. Since animal abuse is wrong and may offend some, we should end that cartoon also, and sense gang violence is wrong we should end it also.

    It doesn’t end there either. Lets end all cartoons because the depict violence and violence is real and not funny – so some cartoon may very well be bringing up past memories of violence.

    Hell tell ya what, being as how there are so many realistic scenes in fantasy – lets just stop all fantasy and science fiction all together.

    So as fed up as you are with all the “rape stuff” I am equally fed up with all this “censor the world to protect others” belief.

    • If you think this is about censorship, you need to rethink your position. You are putting it in such a simple, silly way… it reminds me of trolls who often claim “freedom of speech” while on a forum somewhere.

      Censorship… the thing everyone goes to when they are not understanding the point or didn’t read the writing.

      Beau

  10. Thank you, thank you for your post. I wish more men, in particular, would voice that they feel this way. I think rape is being glorified and sexualized way too much in the entertainment industry. Any rape should not be sexualized in any way, and it should definitely not be used for gratuitous nudity. What if this pushes would be rapists over the edge, seeing it portrayed as something “sexy,” as it’s often shown? Thanks for your post, Beau

  11. Martin’s world is very dark and definitely not for everyone. There is nothing wrong with finding it objectionable. I do, however, disagree with the idea that, because it’s fantasy or sci-fi, or whatever, why make the viewer/reader feel horrible or uncomfortable. I mean, this is what you’re saying, right? Seems to be an odd opinion to hold for a writer. I do think that there should be a trigger warning for shows or movies that contain sexual violence in order to warn those who suffer from PTSD.
    Plus, so called non-fiction can contain more fantasy than any work of fiction.

  12. So murdering of men is OK, but raping is bad? How many women die? You have a group of 10 people, 9 get killed and 1 saved. Oh, how convenient, that 1 person is a female.

    • Actually, MN, I write an entire section about how the violence is disturbing:

      “SPOILER ALERT:There is a moment in which a soldier, while faking an attempt to help an injured boy to his feet (I mean a young boy) stabs a very sharp blade through the child’s throat and kills him. The child chokes on his own blood (we can hear it) and dies painfully and slowly. Of all the things in the books, why did we need to see what was the equivalent of a child snuff film?”

      … you might not have actually read the blog, so that’s cool. But, yeah… it’s in there. Anyway, this is a blog about rape on the screen and in the books, not shooting people with arrows or burning them with dragonfire. Once again I understand that you probably didn’t actually read the blog, but we have pretty much done away with army versus army sword and arrow battles, and we have never had dragons in our history, so the violence is much more of a fantasy. Rape is not. It happens every day.

      Anyway, thanks for not reading. hehe

      Beau

  13. Thank you so much for this. I know I’m way too young to be even watching this show, but i did, and all these stuff are seriously seriously bothering me. I know people will say dont watch it, but I watch it for the plot. Even little comments like “there’s women you can have” (after raiding a village) or the scenes of women getting raped just make me feel horrible inside. And the babies and children getting killed…ugh.
    And yea, you’re right, the guy making up this fantasy world DID mean it to be all sexual, perverse and rapey. I’m just glad there are truly good people out there who actually give a goddamn about what happen to women and kids.

  14. Fantastic post beau, totally agree. Good to know I’m not the only one who feels that way.
    And let me know when your book is out!

  15. Pingback: Where to watch The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and Doctor Who this weekend | Brokelyn

  16. Holy fuck this was the dumbest post I’ve ever read… I think I’ve literally lost braincells from that stupidity. I have a great idea- don’t watch the show if you are an overly-sensitive pansy. Rape was very common back in the days, and the author is portraying the realism as best as he could. You got a problem with that? go cry about it. You and all the feminazi’s will always try to censor anything you disagree with. How pathetic is it that you have to write that entire garbage, making it out to be like this is a big world issue. Should we ignore it as if rape doesn’t happen? It adds shock value to the show. I’m wasting my time trying to explain common sense to you morons, you won’t ever be pleased and will continually find something to whine about.

    Like I said before, don’t watch it if the show bothers you because the rest of us love it the way it is. You’re a nobody and your rant is meaningless, seeing as the author is the successful one and he makes the calls. Maybe you’re just jealous because nobody is going to buy your garbage book? Maybe you should stick to movies and shows that are rated PG, fairy boy.

    • The most glaring error you made in your post, sir, is your statement ” Rape was very common back in the days.” As Beau pointed out many many many times, as did other responders, the show is based on FANTASY novels. There is no “back in the day”.
      There was no suggestion of censorship. Beau was merely expressing his opinion that portraying that much violence: violence against women, violence against children, incest, violence in general is maybe not quite necessary in the show. I personally congratulate him for going against the grain and expressing an opinion that very few people would feel comfortable expressing.
      Several times he mentioned that the show was fantasy, that if people who don’t want to see that kind of violence can turn it off, and that he has lost some interest in the show because of redundant scenes, scenarios, plot lines, etc.
      Rape is a very real world issue: not a community, state, or national issue, a WORLD issue. It’s not something that happened just “back in the day” it happens everyday here and now. I agree wholeheartedly with Beau that while fiction does and will probably continue to use rape as a plot device, it would be nice not to see it in fantasy. It’s a REAL issue so why does it have a place in Fantasy? I hope I haven’t misquoted Beau or misinterpretted him.
      Beau, Bravo!!!

  17. I am a rape victim. And I read game of thrones.
    “Gasp!” you might say “but how can you stand it?!”
    Because, unlike what you say, i appreciate the difference between fact and fiction. fantasy and reality. While yes, there is a lot of rape and murder and child death in game of thrones, most of it is set in a nigh-lawless, warring world where sexism is rife, murder is common. Its not glamorizing rape, its not showing it to be pretty or sexy. The characters, for the most part are utter bastards. we KNOW they are utter bastards.
    Except, of course, for ned stark, who *spoilers* gets killed for being a trusting, honest guy.
    That in itself should give you an indication of the tone of the show. not to mention its portraying a war. a war continued by a sadistic, spoiled king who orders people to kill babies and mutilates prostitutes. Its not meant to make us like him. everyone hates joffrey. those that dont are morons, and if you dont like the fact that most of the characters are as bad as each other, then its really not the series for you.

    Back to my original point… Yes, i was raped, and i still watch game of thrones. i even defend it. because ive seen it benefit people. I know other women who have admitted that theyve undergone similar treatment after seeing it in game of thrones. as common as it is, most women still wont admit it occurs, especially in wife / husband scenarios ( dany/ drogo) or sibling (viserys/ dany). i’ve had several of my male friends who didnt *quite* understand how it impacts. its just something that IS. men find it hard to understand violation unless they experience it.

    Rape in westeros IS punished… when its not in a warlike environment. rapers are castrated, or sent to the wall which is practically a death sentence in itself. unless of course, they are the bad guys. One of the best (and by that i mean impactful) scenes, for me, was the scene *spoiler* in season two where the whores baby is taken from her and murdered. it wasnt shown. it was implied. would only implying the rape happens make it less vile? Then, in honesty, i would be offended. just passing over it as something that happens off screen cheapens it. you dont see the fright. you dont relate to those emotions. And unless youre a particular kind of messed up, you wouldnt be getting off on it anyway. Rape is by far the most cruel, brutal thing that can happen to a person. to just say “oh, BTW, X got raped. you didnt see it, but trust me, it was horrible.” would make it blase. as in “oh, this happened to X, but it wasnt important enough to show”.

    Game of thrones is no different to soaps that portray spousal abuse, or drug addiction, in my eyes. These things exist. they happen. And in a world where the rich are too busy bickering to pay attention, EVERYONE suffers. men, women and children. it humanizes the characters in the show… and unfortunately, not all of human nature is kind.

  18. It may be fantasy, but as with most if not all fantasy it draws from reality. The time frame seems to be set medieval time period and no body just assumes rape and violence didn’t happen, likely, most people assume it was a huge part of medieval society. Yes, the series could do without the scenes but it does add to the story. significantly in some character plot lines. you can’t expect someone to hinder their work to spare people feelings. no one claims game of thrones is a butterfly and rainbow fantasy series, that is for fairy tales. The two lines that have become like a motto for the show “you win, or you die” and “Winter is coming”give a feel of upcoming doom before you even sit down to watch it.

    The rape may also be playing off of sexual fantasy as well, hell they have rape pornos because there is a demand for them.

  19. Just wanted to add another voice to back yours, Beau. GOT is disgusting and not the direction fantasy should be taken. It really should have its own section – maybe “pedophilia and snuff shock fiction for sex offenders in solitary confinement.”

  20. I appreciate your thoughtfulness beau, thank you for taking time to write this! I was thinking it and hoping someone out there was, too. Entertainment/integrity/ human-psyche-well-being is a slippery slope to walk it seems.

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