‘Game of Thrones’ Rape Scene Stirs Backlash

Game of Thrones Sansa Rape Controversy
Courtesy of HBO

HBO is on the defensive this week as a growing chorus of critics are taking aim at the cabler’s flagship drama “Game of Thrones” following a brutal rape scene in Sunday’s episode.

Those publicly blasting the show include Sen. Claire McCaskill (D.-Mo.), who tweeted Tuesday that she was “done” with the show because of what she called the “gratuitous rape scene” that was “disgusting and unacceptable.”

The episode titled “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” was written by Bryan Cogman and directed by Jeremy Podeswa. “Thrones” is based on the successful fantasy book series, “Song of Ice and Fire,” by George R.R. Martin. But the scene in question departed somewhat from Martin’s treatment of it in the book — as the author himself noted via social media on Monday as the reactions spread online.

In the TV scene, one of the central characters, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), was raped on her wedding night by her sadistic new husband, played by Iwan Rheon. Readers of the books have also noted that Sansa’s story has been altered significantly from Martin’s vision, making her a victim of the brutality as opposed to a secondary character.

The debate over Sunday’s episode follows an equally controversial scene last season in which the characters of Jaime and Cersei Lannister, a brother and sister with an incestuous relationship, had a forced sexual encounter as she grieved over the death of their son.

At that time, the New York Times ran a front-page feature about the outcry, quoting HBO Original Programming chief Michael Lombardo as saying “the choices our creative teams make are based on the motivations and sensibilities that they believe define their characters. We fully support the vision and artistry of Dan and David’s exceptional work and we feel this work speaks for itself.”

HBO declined to comment on the outcry over Sunday’s episode, adding that showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss would not comment. Martin and others have also noted that sexual violence has been a devastating consequence of war for centuries.

The backlash against “Thrones” creates a quandary for HBO, which has for decades burnished its image as the home of high-end programming that no other network can provide. McCaskill’s comment is an unwelcome swipe for a channel that has a strong presence in Beltway circles, in part because of its news and documentary programming.

HBO original series such as “The Sopranos” have long pushed the envelope on sexual and violent content. But “Thrones” has regularly spurred public outcries over the graphic depiction of brutality. And yet there is no question that the show’s popularity has been a significant factor in keeping HBO atop the pay TV pack. The clamor among viewers for “Thrones,” now in its fifth season, has also been a driver of HBO’s decision to launch its broadband-only HBO Now service earlier this year.

Defenders of the show maintain that the violence, sexual and otherwise, is organic to Martin’s creation of a savage world dominated by warring factions in a medieval-like period. The flouting of social norms and taboos has been key to adding depth to the mythology and characters.

“This scene felt of a piece with the way I’ve always understood ‘Game of Thrones’ and George R.R. Martin’s ‘Song of Ice and Fire’: as a story about the consequences of rape and denial of sexual autonomy,” the Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg wrote Tuesday in an online story headlined “‘Game of Thrones’ has always been a show about rape.”

Violence in the show is not limited to female characters; in a past episode, a key character was castrated.

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  1. L Hard says:

    Duh! Why do people keep saying it’s based on medieval times? Excuse me but they didn’t have dire wolves, white walkers and dragons last time I looked. This is a fictional universe with elements of the pre and post medieval era , fantasy and borgia type intrigue inspired by a great fiction writer. As such there can be no claimed authenticity to a rape scene – especially if it wasn’t in the book originally. Wake up people – why do you think HBO went for Game of Thrones? Because of the thousands of fans who read the books. The books are really well written – these new departures are not particullrly well written and they change the characterisation of the main characters (e.g. Danerys becomes another female victim). When this happens the departure from the original disappoints the very people who longed to see the series and illustrates something about the way in which HBO thinks the series ought to go ( in this case rape & further brutality). The sons of the Harpy are a case in point – in the books they are effete former slavers who could never take on the worlds worst bad-assed shock troops – the Unsullied – but suddenly in the departure they can defeat Ser Barristan and Grey Worm? The departures from George R.R. Martin’s writing say a lot about how HBO think they can sell this series. I hope he continues to write it in his own style.

    • therealeverton says:

      What you’ve effectively just said is that, for example, The Walking Dead is not set in “the present” because there are Zombies and there are no Zombies. Pirates Of The Caribbean isn’t set in the 18th Century because there are no real curses, fountain of youth etc.

      Just because there are additional elements, that doesn’t negate the ability to portray the political, hierarchies, class, race and sexual attitudes etc. The way people are treated, be it because they are poor, weak female or from the wrong place is relevant.

      given the near godlike power the wealthy, royal and powerful had over the majority of the populace is well documented. The use of women, princesses etc. as makeweights to seal alliances and treaties is a known factor. The idea that you can be raped by your legal spouse is a very new legal fact.

      But the only thing that matters is the scene was not pruiet, it was not even shown…it was horrrific because we had been watching Bolton for several episodes and knew how sadistic and brutal e could be (look at what he’s done the Theon! It was an effective scene because we could empathise with Sansa and because it was well edited / shot. But the idea that somehow we saw anything we shouldn’t, or that made rape seem like “fun” or something not as devastating as it is is laughable, all the more so when considering the numerous horrors we have seen o this show including other rapes, or attempted rapes of both men and women.

  2. Joan Robinson says:

    GOT has gotten disgustingly more and more brutal and depraved with each episode! It is a sad statement on our society that it takes snuff porn to “entertain” these days! What happened to great story-telling with insinuations but without graphic depictions being thrust into your face during “family viewing time”?!?!?!? HBO – CLEAN IT UP!!!

    • therealeverton says:

      There’s nothing that says great writing cannot incorporate sadism, brutality and other harsh themes and acts. In a tale aimed at adults that attempts to accurately show the collateral damage of open and prolonged warfare, and cold warfare. Especially the devastation on the general public and the potential for those caught up in the schemes and greed of the powerful who seek yet more power.

      There are many people around, of all ages. Fully adult material for adults should be encouraged,especially when it is the quality of ~GoT, Breaking Bad,and so on.It’s been very clear from te first 5 minutes of GoT that it was going to be pushing th envelope to portray this tale in as “realistically” as possible.The show gets the global ratings and critical acclaim because of the quality of the characters and the writing, directing and acting.

  3. Maggie says:

    If you do not like the content of anything on the net, the TV or the Movies, People have the right to turn it off, turn to another station, or leave the theatre. I am continually amazed that for some reason the general public is always looking for some big brother to hold their hand and do for them. Worse yet, people think they can dictate what is correct and acceptable. I mean really? Gladiatorial games were the rage just over 2000 years ago, Men and women died while the rich supped on fruit and other candied treats. Now at least we get our entertainment where the director cries “cut” and everything is back to normal, Well as normal as we have in these days. Le Sigh.

  4. aerodoe says:

    Ramsay did not perform an orchiectomy (aka castration) on Theon/Reek. He assaulted him sexually by performing a brutal penectomy. Castration is removal of zee ballz, not zee weisenheimer.

    • branthebuilder says:

      I’m definitely going to use “zee weisenheimer” when referring to diddlydingdongs from now on.

  5. Rosa thomas says:

    Freedom of expression is paramount in a democratic society. The congressperson must remember this. Secondly I’m betting there will be a lot of embarrassed helpers when the next episode airs. That scene didn’t appear to be over. We will learn something new. I’m guessing. Also, am so annoyed when people watch a historical piece and hold it to the social standards of today. It’s stupid and invalid!

    So would all the shrill naysayers just stop watching the show if they are so offended? As Ramsey Bolton states, “If you think this ends happy, you haven’t been paying attention”.

    • Dave says:

      I agree with you but “a historical piece”? To judge history by today’s standards is bad enough but I would say it’s even worse when people hold up a fantasy/fiction to any social/moral standards at all.

  6. mzeva says:

    Oh please, a Senator upset about this scene? Who cares what she has to say–she’s in the den of prostitutes herself….

    …and the scene wasn’t a rape….perhaps she didn’t like the method of intercourse, but the Senator should just mind her — and the public’s_-business.

    Go back to groveling for lobbyist money..

    • Yes, this is rape. No isn’t the only thing that means no. Being coerced into it is rape. So yes this is rape.

    • Auto mechanic says:

      Yeah, if you don’t think that was a rape, you might need to be worried about yourself. Like, “go immediately find a shrink for your warped & perverted mind,” kinda worried.

      • Don says:

        She wasn’t raped, no matter how much you want it to be so. Sansa consented to the act. She didn’t run, fight, or even protest. She willingly allowed Bolton to take her.
        Now yes, she knew if she fought, or ran, she would suffer dearly, but she ultimately still made the choice herself
        As for violence against women. We live in aa world where men women are supposed to be tlike ed like

  7. canlitvde says:

    I think this is best of the world tv series and more people watch this series why always people make a rules something about past life…

  8. Aarika says:

    One, it is a Fictional television show. A show that consistently includes some of the most gruesome and depraved acts one could conceive (where was the outrage over a particular occurrence between the two male characters from this very scene?). It doesn’t just cross the line, it completely obliterates it. That is part of it’s appeal and that’s part of why it’s turned into one of the biggest pop culture phenomenons of recent years. People need to separate fiction from reality. And lets be honest, the vast majority of people can indeed do so. Two, Game of Thrones, while entirely fictional & set in an entirely fictional world, is based on medieval times. It may be an ugly truth, but during that time period women were essentially possessions. They had little to no rights and men were allowed to do with them as they pleased. What we today know as rape was a disgustingly common occurrence. So of course it is going to be included in a violent, envelope-pushing tv show. Three, this scene wasn’t even portrayed in a rape-glorifying way. Of all the things this show has done, this was one of the more tactful. It showed rape for what it is; an awful, violent, heartbreaking act that is not to be taken lightly. Rape is most certainly an issue in our culture and throughout the world. It always has been. And it’s an issue that very much needs to be addressed. But attacking a fictional tv show does next to nothing for that cause. If anything, demanding that the entertainment industry not portray such heinous acts only contributes to pushing the issue back into the closet.

  9. Scott K. says:

    Yes, it was a horrific, hard to watch scene, as it was supposed to be. He’s a terrible person who does terrible things. And yes, they could have done it less brutally, and they also could have done it more brutally but it would have had less emotional impact. This tells you more about him, gives you more information about him when he gets his due (IF he does, this is GoT) and also helps you understand her better in the future.

    And only one person in the room was enjoying themselves so it’s not like it glorified rape or rape culture.

    It may have also enlightened some viewers of a smidgen of how terrible rape can be.

  10. Sergei says:

    Just who the hell is complaining about a fictional TV show? Sounds like a bunch of overly protected little social justice warrior snowflakes.

    Welcome to the real world of make believe you titty babies. IT DIDN’T HAPPEN! FICTION!

    Rape culture! Trigger warnings!

    Change the channel.

    • Lee says:

      Spoken like someone who is too immature, insensitive or self centred to realise that trigger warnings exist to protect real life rape victim.
      You do know that rape actually does happen right?
      And maybe former victims don’t want to be reminded of their previous ordeal in the middle of a peaceful evening on the couch?
      Honestly, with defender like you, these people don’t need enemies.

      • AdHonorem says:

        Well, not to sound callous, but that’s their problem isn’t it? I’m always amazed at the mentality of people like you that think it’s society’s job to protect all the various kinds of victims or persecuted groups out there. If we’re talking about actual rape victims and not overly sensitive social justice warriors I agree that rape is a horrible thing and it must be terrible to have flashbacks, but that shouldn’t have anything to do with anybody else other than the victim and their rapist. It seems you want to make a few people’s problems everyone else’s problems. People should be able to create fiction about anything they want without the PC brigade coming in and trying to censor them. Also, as another poster pointed out, if somebody was sensitive to things of that nature it would be fairly obvious to them after one or two episodes that GoT was not the series for them. Oh and as a final thought: I read an article which suggested trigger warnings could be counter-productive as they stop people from ever facing and dealing with their issues. They also close things off to people- you can’t judge something unless you actually see it. It would be far better in my opinion if the focus was on individuals changing themselves and facing their demons rather than expecting the world to change for them.

      • Rosa thomas says:

        Someone dealing with PTSD following rape would definitely have stopped watching GOT long ago.

      • Mort says:

        95% of the under thirty-five crowd are over sensitive squishes. A generation of sissies.

  11. The Editor says:

    Reblogged this on Jane Doe (at-your-service).

  12. KJHSWERYU says:

    THEY. DIDN’T. SHOW. ANYTHING!!!!!

    This ‘controversy’ is full of shit. You people claiming you will no longer watch the show are full of shit. You never watched it to begin with.

    THEY. DIDN’T. SHOW. ANYTHING.

    The camera was on her face the entire time, and she was ‘acting’ being raped. The other actor probably wasn’t even in the room for the scene.

    Ya fuckin’ phonies.

  13. Guest says:

    Too bad someone can’t create a world without the rape of women

  14. Shari says:

    It definitely was a scene that pushed me over the edge of no longer wanting to invest my time into watching the show. Tipped me into feeling the show was devolving too much to the likes of torture porn.

  15. Nanny Mo says:

    As always I think the world misses the opportunity for a lesson. You just know Ramsey is going to pay and pay big for what he did to her. Would the critics deny the lesson that rape has consequences? And frankly why are they mad here, last season had terrible male-rape, torture and mutilation? I didn’t hear anything. Hypocrites are always so one-sided. It was powerful story-telling and made me angry that she was raped and frankly I got to see a little picture of how horrible rape can be.

  16. I understand the concept of representing the way these people behave in a true way, however it is not necessary to portray rape in a graphic fashion to get the point across that these people are depraved savages. The fine art of telling stories in the visual medium does not require shoving heinous acts of sexual violence in the viewers’ faces. Use intimation, nuance, and subtext. Blah. I hate Game of Thrones now.

    • Nanny Mo says:

      When you get to watch it, watch it again. It all played in the mind. You didn’t actually see anything. So, it did do exactly what you said. The fact that you thought you saw something you didn’t means it affected you emotionally.

  17. Jacques Strappe says:

    Murder porn, snuff television–it’s one of the reasons Game of Thrones is so popular. The rape scenes are way, way over the top and totally unnecessary for the quality of the story and series. There are many ways to make these scenes much less explicitly brutal. This isn’t the first time this issue has been raised for this series. Popular go-to responses in defense of these scenes have always been, “well, the books are very explicit and the television series is only trying to match the book” or “it was a different time when brutally raping women was really popular and acceptable”. First of all, Game of Thrones is not reality or historically accurate so that last argument is beyond silly. The series should be pulled and banned because it is so disgusting and depraved. Sell it in adult bookstores or online streaming porn sites for those who crave their sex nasty and depraved..

  18. missy says:

    It was a different time back then women had no rights and men basically did what they wanted.It was very barbaric .

    • Rachel says:

      Did you miss the part where this is a fantasy series? Where everything might have had historical inspiration but was made up? Why is everyone going on about historical accuracy in a show with friggin DRAGONS??
      This world can be anything the creators want it to be. Which means the creators chose to make it about rape. At least with Martin, he used sexual violence as part of the world-building which is one thing, but the guys in charge of this show have put it front and center.
      I can’t believe the people who are all ‘this show was always about rape!”. Well, NO. That is not why I watched this show! I watched this show for the fantasy and the interesting characters and the rich interplay of politics. I’m fine with this being a world where sexual assault happens, but for $#%& sake that doesn’t mean I want to watch a show where it is the main focus.

    • David Benjamin says:

      OMG..THANK YOU!! I was about to eat my hat because of all the stupid talked in this thread. Put it in historical context..people like Ramsay/joffrey and the like a royalty..they do as they please..unless someone stronger prevents them..which usually means killing them. Feminism doesn’t exist..women’s rights is a fallacy. STOP forcing 21st Century opinions into a medieval FICTIONAL setting! If you want cultural reference, remember ka historical douchebag named Henry VIII? he did his share of raping and murdering. I don’t see any of you tin foil hat feminists hopping in your time machines to decry those atrocities. So..Enjoy the show, or don’t..just STFU about it! And “God” help you with what’s coming up later this season. I can sense the aneurysms building up already. Dim bulbs!

    • Reader says:

      Did they also have dragons back then?

  19. Ted says:

    If rape should not ever be depicted on this show then why not also ban:
    Slavery
    Assaults
    Castration
    Dwarf tossing
    Forced marriage
    Stabbing men
    Stabbing women
    Stabbing fetuses
    Pushing children out four-story windows
    Incest
    Prostitution
    Immolation
    Torture
    Amputations
    Be-headings
    Bad manners

  20. As a woman, i honestly had no problem with Sansa’s storyline. Yes, the scene was very hard to watch and I was saying “No” to my TV. Lol. Sansa has not had her rock bottom and in this world shit like this happens. Now Sansa has to find her way back up. Just like when Dany had sex with Khal Drogo and obviously she didn’t want to. Her ass is crying with Drogo behind her. At that point we did NOT know if Drogo had a conscience or sympathy. She had that Dothraki girl teach her to use her sexuality to her advantage. Dany learned to rise up from what she married into. Of course we ended up learning that Drogo was not sadistic and loved Dany. Obviously, Ramsey is nothing like Drogo, but Sansa still has her chance to get her power back and use it like Dany did. Something similar to this is happening to a male lead character in Outlander right now and i don’t hear ANYONE shouting in defense of him. Given Outlander isn’t as popular as GOT, but in the same week everyone is talking about a girl being raped, when a man is getting or about to get raped in Outlander. Where’s the outrage for the male?

    • Kajal says:

      Agreed. Plus I think Sansa gave us a hint of who she will become when she told Ramsey’s mistress that this was her home and she was not afraid of her. This will be one of those turning points in how her character changes from the mouse we have seen so far. It should be interesting to watch as she develops into what I suspect will be Ramsey’s worst nightmare.

  21. Crowbane says:

    The marital rape scene in The Tudors was FAR, FAR worse. Where was the politically grandstanding outcry there? Oh right, that one wasn’t as popular as Game of Thrones and could garner as much political book.

  22. fredrixen says:

    Out of curiosity – did the same people react the same way to Khal Drogo´s marital rape of Daenerys in the series very first episode?

  23. Franco says:

    Too many stupid people out there if they can’t take it as millions of us can simply change the channel n don’t make a fuzz we love a good movie n shows with good acting people it’s just a great show to enjoy n watch if any close minded person or persons can’t take it let those of us enjoy it game of thrones the best it’s coming open your mind n enjoy as millions do Sayonara

    • blip says:

      It’s “stupid” not to find rape entertaining? Try “stupid” on size yourself, smart boy.

      • David Benjamin says:

        Fictional make believe rape? Have you even read the books? So much worse has gone on. I guess you cry in bed every Sunday night, tenderfoot.

  24. Don says:

    how is this scene worst then Khalisi being raped by Drogo? There have been horrible acts in all 5 season and people want to complain about this? Com’on if you don’t like what you see then change the damn channel.

  25. James Pratt says:

    “creative teams”? Oh, you mean the usual filth peddler’s, of course.

  26. Ruth says:

    I haven’t read the book and understand that this development was changed for the TV series. However as a grandma I wasn’t shocked or surprised at all. Just what did viewers expect would happen when a ghastly sadist is left with a beautiful young bride after an arranged marriage? A scene from “Love Story”?

    In the Middle Ages (and probably today as well) we can assume that many young brides were/are raped after an arranged marriage. GoT is a TV show and no one is forced to watch it! I have never watched fantasy in my life but am completely hooked on GoT. I understand that lovers of the book series may be annoyed at changes but for the rest of us, it is pure magic.

    • blip says:

      If you can’t see the problem with making rape a regular part of modern televised “entertainment,” then… well, you scare me. You and everyone else like you.

      • Ruth says:

        First of all I agree that GoT is definitely not for children (at least not in the country where I live – perhaps kids watch it in Europe or the USA). Secondly it would have been appalling if the rapist had been presented as a “nice character”. However we have already been introduced to the vile nature of this character and hence the horror as to the suffering of Sansa during this scene wasn’t a surprise to anyone. As soon as it became apparent that she would have to marry Ramsay, I realized that something very nasty was going to happen. People ask “why didn’t she retaliate”. Well the storyline is based on the middle-ages when women were just chattels and the daughters of wealthy men were simply used as barter. Their pleasure was of no interest of anyone even if the husband wasn’t such a bad guy. By the way I’m sure that such things happen today particularly in countries where arranged marriages are common.

        As for television entertainment, I watch very few American shows because of the violence and sheer stupidity of most of them. I have never watched fantasy in my life and really started watching GoT because of the amazing British actors who bring such talent and brilliance to the storyline. No one is forced to watch anything! People watch GoT because it is brilliant story-telling, performed by an outstanding cast. I would also like to return to the days when such scenes were not shown on TV but sadly that is not going to happen. Children are exposed to far worse via the internet everyday and that is something which should be prevented. Let us enjoy GoT and good luck with the boycott!

    • Rachel says:

      I agree, Ruth. Horrible as it was, I thought it was necessary to show a woman’s fate in an arranged marriage. A worse scene was shown in Craster’s Keep when his wives were raped graphically by the rebel night’s watchmen, because it was done in a flippant manner with the camera panning across and a random woman with no name or voice or characterisation being brutalised in what appeared to be a soft-porn style way. The Sansa scene was completely different, showing Ramsey’s sadism but not revelling in it. Having Sansa, a main character, suffer this, was a brave move but also completely in keeping with the story. It was not gratuitous at all, and people need to tell the difference between being offended by a vile crime or being offended by it’s depiction.

      • Ruth says:

        Sadly too many people are unaware that such customs still exist today. Everyone thinks that the love shown in Hollywood romantic comedies is the norm but that is not the case. It would have been untrue to change Ramsay’s character and present a situation whereby Sansa “falls in love with him” thinking that he is so “nice”! That would have been dreadful considering the atrocities that he has already committed. I thought that Alfie Allen (Theon) was absolutely brilliant in that scene.

  27. wiles11 says:

    All this hubbub over a series that cast a former hardcore pornography starlet in a major role its earlier seasons? Giving a prime acting gig to a common semen sponge was ok (because she had a brief fling with indie arthouse respectability, most likely), but depicting something that would commonly happen in a world such as this –acted out by actual actors acting — gets everyone in an uproar? Geez . . .

  28. JemimaK says:

    Must take a lot of moolah to get George R.R. Martin to defend the indefensible. Sure, rape has always been a by-product of war, but what has that to do with Sansa being dumped with Jeyne Poole’s story and fate? Despicable.

  29. Andrew Hout says:

    It can be violent as it wants to be until it’s something realistic I guess. This whole uproar is stupid. It’s a TV series. If you take out every little thing that might offend TV/Movies will be very dull. Now bring on the comments from the angry people saying if we defend this kind of thing then we must love rape or be rapists ourselves.

  30. Heidi Gonzales says:

    Yes it was harsh, but I will not stop watching the show!!! From the first season, you already expect this kind of thing to happen. Of course it shouldn’t have happened to her, I hope she gets revenge!!!!

  31. Shay says:

    The article outlines how the scene departed from the book. But if you look into it you’d find that the scene in the book is MUCH more gratuitous. It features the raping of an innocent girl who Ramsey believes is the younger sister of Sansa. He also forces Theon at knife point to join in.

    All this aside we don’t know how this will impact the characters. Maybe this is what will motivate her to be less passive. Maybe this will snap Theon out of his shell. If you made it this far in the series than you really can’t complain. It’s a violent show. But i believe this scene was depicted this way because it is setting up events to come.

  32. Jamie says:

    If you are watching HBO Porn, you get what you get. How many series have they had now with foul language, frontal nudity both female and male, rapes, murders etc. If you don’t want to see what they do in everything they run, don’t subscribe.

  33. Michael says:

    If the internet existed in the fifties Lucy never would have had some ‘splainin to do.

    • blip says:

      Bit of “comfort” in the situation: most of the losers who watch this crap aren’t subscribers. They’re pirating their “Thrones” garbage fix illegally.

  34. Josh in Champaign says:

    What happened in the scene is disgusting, but that’s the point, we’re meant to hate Ramsay Bolton (and root for Lady Sansa as it would be a good plot point for her to get revenge, though that’s not guaranteed in this show). We’re meant to recoil at the reality of something that happens far too much on this planet, something we probably never give much thought to otherwise. I felt awful seeing this scene, just as Theon Greyjoy did as he was meant to watch, I think his presence was an indicator of how such an act is meant to be viewed, with deep abhorrence and anger. Rape happens, what are we going to do about it? Are we going to rail at the fictional reminder? Or do something to put an end to the real thing?

  35. From a woman’s point of view in this century, it wasn’t so much the rape scene (and, yes, it was rape even tho Sansa didn’t say no. Ramsey knew he was hurting her by her outcries. Plus, being married doesn’t absolve a man from rape)…as I was saying, it wasn’t the rape scene that was so appalling but the fact that Sansa is being portrayed like the most passive, idiotic character imaginable. After what she’s been through with King Joffrey, watching her father being beheaded & then being made to view his head on a pike should have made her stronger, more defensive, angry—not as pliable as Play-doh. Sansa has basically not changed or developed in any way. You’d think that by now she’d would have learned how to protect herself. When she began unbuttoning her sleeve, I was hoping she’d have a knife hidden. She could’ve blamed it on Theon, after killing him too. Better still, she should’ve run away & taken her chances elsewhere or postponed the wedding & poisoned the bastard. Actually, she should’ve never left The Vale. She was safe there. But noooo…she just plods along with every monster that comes along. So it’s her lack of character development that bothers me. Sansa doesn’t make sense. She’s being portrayed like a complete moron. She hasn’t changed since she was the starry-eyed pre-teen infatuated with Joffrey. And that what’s insulting to me. It’s just bad writing. Characters are supposed to grow & change from their experiences, not stay stale & stagnant repeating their same mistakes over & over, learning nothing from them.

    • therealeverton says:

      You’ve completely misread her character. Aside from being duped by Little Finger (like almost every other character he has met, she has gone into this situation with her eyes open and knowing that, whilst it may be terrible, it is the only way she is going to get any power. All any of the plans” you said she should have had would have accomplished is her dying. Choosing to live in the hopes of coming out the other side with her enemies defeated is strength. Throwing her life away by killing, going to kill, one person in the middle of his father’s fortress is just suicide.

      Her character has developed.
      But here’s a better point, not all people change you know? If her character didn’t developed, that wouldn’t automatically make her an unrealistic character, especially in a world where power for people like her is almost non existent.

  36. Jeff says:

    There are some other trends on this show that nobody seems to be disturbed by:

    Castration: Varys, Theon, 8000 Unsullied castrated as boys.

    Boys 12 and under being murdered: the Butcher’s son Mycah, the boy Arya killed (doesn’t count since it was self-defense), Arya’s friend Lommy, the two boys Theon killed, Robert’s bastards including an infant killed in front of his mother, and all of Craster’s sons.

    • JemimaK says:

      You will notice that barring Theon, none of the other abuses were shown in slow, graphic detail. They were not shown at all. Which is the case with the women.

      • Kevin Plarry says:

        You’re wrong. Lommy’s death was slow and graphic, when Polliver put needle through his neck. Robert’s bastards were brutally killed onscreen. Janos Slynt slit the throat of a baby offscreen with nothing but the mother’s face to show for it (but then again, Sansa’s rape was also offscreen, with no ‘slow, graphic detail’ aside from Theon’s face, so there’s a parallel there). Not to mention Vardis Egan’s blood spilling out his neck.

  37. mypoorhoney says:

    I don’t think he actually raped her. She never said “no.” It was her wedding night. He’s an evil jerk who was rough and sadistic but he didn’t rape her. She consented as his gold digging wife… Let’s not forget she married him for power. Anyway, people can always spin things can’t they.

    • mb19339 says:

      Rape is forcing someone unwilling to participate – in this case, in a brutalized form of “sex”. Most rape laws don’t require that you say “no,” only that it’s clear you did not invite the actions or say yes. The “no” part comes in when something starts out consensually – but if it goes too far, either person has the right to say no. Somehow that’s been twisted into saying it’s just fine to brutally attack someone sexually as long as they don’t beg, “Please don’t do this.” Sansa did not WANT him to brutally attack her from behind, or for Theon to watch. Pretty sure loud screaming is similar to saying “no.” Sansa had no choice in this scene, that is completely clear. She’s in a dangerous environment where her decision to marry for political reasons – and yes, she probably knew she was at risk for being raped by making that decision. Does that make the rape her fault, or mean she “wanted” to be brutalized? absolutely not. It saddens me that in this century people still think marital rape is just fine.

    • Rachel says:

      Oh my god, are you even watching the same show as everyone else??? Did you not hear Sansa crying as he brutalised her? How, after seeing that, can you say it’s not rape? Being married does not stop rape occurring. As for her being a gold-digger, that is nonsensical. Ramsey’s father murdered her family and she is marrying Ramsey for vengeance, not gold. Do you even think women back then had any agency over their fates and who they married? I am staggered and appalled by the stupidity and heartlessness of your comment.

      • I think you are missing the point. Sansa is marrying this person as part of a plan devised to give her power. Enough power to be able to enact some sort of vengeance. She absolutely knew this was going to be part of the plan. Did she struggle? Its sad that she has had to constantly be submissive and play the damsel in distress but it is how her character began this series. Arya was the aggressive, brave daughter while Sansa was the naive, coward. While Arya was practicing sword fighting, Sansa couldnt wait to marry Geoffrey… This scene actually proves your point that women in this sort of medieval-esque setting did not have a big say in how things happened. The rape scene gives us viewers more reasons to hate Ramsey and, in a way, gives us a new Geoffrey for Sansa to eventually enact vengeance on.

  38. Thistle Dew says:

    Thank you Sen. Claire McCaskill. It is nice to know our elected officials are looking out for us. Based upon her outrage, Ms. McCaskill is just fine with incest. Murder by: beheading, stabbing, burning (both by fire and molten metal), poison, or strangulation seem to be both acceptable and non-disgusting, but let someone survive a simulated rape, and she brings all of her senatorial power to bare.

    I will let you in on a little secret, these people were actors, playing a part. No real humans were killed in the making of this show.

    • Not to mention the good Senator must be fine with, Pregnant women being stabbed several times in their belly, men having their genitals cut off, Dothraki Women being Raped, and Dany, being raped on her Wedding Night !

  39. James Heckel says:

    “GOT” is a teleplay. It is a fiction. It is an entertainment. Does it mirror much of life as we know it? Yes. Is much of that life unjust, distasteful, and shockingly violent? Yes. If Ms.McCaskill objects to GOT’s content, she can change the channel. Political correctness and worthwhile art cannot coexist. Now please be quiet senator.

  40. PaulET says:

    To me this was just lazy writing. Raped or not that’s not what bothered me about it. This girl has been the victim for so long. When is she going to grow a backbone? Her father died in front of her. King Joffrey psychologically abused her, she was forced to marry the Tyrion, her brother and mother were murdered and now you put her in the household of the person who did it and have her sexually submit to Ramsey Bolton the lunatic. Save for John Snow last season, Arya just now this season and Tyrion last season I don’t see much character development or much getting resolved in regard to the major arcs. Most the characters are in the same boat they were I would say since the second season. We only have 10 episodes I believe this season and not much has happened. The writers take FOREVER to push plots along. Dany in that city whose name I don’t remember (gold figure), Arya with The Hound for all that dang time on the road, now Tyrion on his way to Dany, its so slow at times. Well shot, great cinematography, acting, score, but writing….long dry and at a snails place with little kernels of controversy to keep you dragging along. If things don’t pick up by the end of this season in pace I am done. Hell I can just read the headlines every Monday to see if anything develops and save myself an hour of watching the same old sh.. with no new character development.

  41. James says:

    They are trying to cash in on 50 shades of grey.

  42. Ed says:

    Where were all these outcries & threats when the exact same thing happened to Deny is season one? In fact, that scene actually SHOWED the events rather than remain offscreen like in Sunday’s episode.

  43. colig says:

    what was so brutal. nothing was even shown. he ripped her dress bent her over and then you heard her whine while they zoomed in on theon. people need to stop whining and finding fault and negativity where there is none. either watch the show and enjoy it for what it is or if it offends you just shut the fuck up and change the channel.

  44. Kajal says:

    The definition of rape must have changed since I was in law school a couple of years ago. Last I checked a bride on her wedding night having consensual relations with her husband (albeit he is crazy and cruel from what we know of him) is not “rape”. Wow, people just say anything now a days without any real thought as to what they are saying. I don’t even need to point out the other flaws, most commentators have done that for me. Thank you all for giving me hope that we are not all idiots.

    • blip says:

      “Law school” in Afghanistan, perhaps? Or any other Muslim country that barters off teens and preteens as “brides”?

      • Kajal says:

        Wow! You took it there. Well then yes even in law school in Afghanistan as well I guess. I have never been to a law school there but I would assume the legal definition is the same.

    • Amber says:

      I am shocked an appalled by your claim that this is not rape. I pity anyone who you have served counsel to as a lawyer. You are erroneous to believe this scene was “consensual” with Sansa. You can be married to someone and still be raped by them. Just because she starts to undo her sleeves of her dress does not make her a willing partner. When you threaten someone into consenting, it is not consent. Apparently your law school needs to reevaluate how they educate their students, because they failed in that regards.

      • Kajal says:

        Such anger over 1) fiction 2) the fact that you know something that the character doesn’t know – that Ramsey is a sadist. It is hard to hear, because we didn’t actually see the scene we heard it. She was a virgin having sex with her “husband” for the first time. I know it’s difficult to put aside all your modern conventions as well as what we know of Ramsey and see the scene for what it was, but I would suggest you try. And yes by all definitions, it wasn’t rape. Good luck to you. Get that anger in check, you might blow your top soon if you don’t.

      • therealeverton says:

        My poor honey. .. It was rape, clearly. Between what Ramsey’s girlfriend said and the fact that he, very threateningly, said “I don’t have to ask twice do I?” It was very clear that she was unwiLlong. Even IF she ONLY didn’t want to force herself to have sex with him because he made The on stay, that would still be him having sex without her consent. ..or in other word… rape

      • Rachel says:

        Kajal, I’d like to know of any sexual situation you’ve been in where you’ve either been forced to have sex in front of someone or where you’ve made someone stay and watch. I don’t object to GOT showing the scene at all – it was done tastefully with real sensitivity for the actress. What I do object to is crass morons like you denying that a rape even took place. This is Ramsey Bolton – he doesn’t have ‘normal’ sex. It’s terrifying there are actually people out there who know Ramsey’s character but still insist, for their own repugant reasons, no doubt, that forced sex is ok if the girl doesn’t say no or if she’s married.

      • mypoorhoney says:

        At what point did he threaten Sansa? Never! I’m pissed that she didn’t daily anything. If she did then yes it would have been rape. She said nothing and even started undressing. Sure she wasn’t happy to do so, but she seemed willing to do it with her new husband. I thought she was more upset at him for making that dude watch.

  45. Keith G says:

    Okay. A few seasons ago, Theon was tortured for weeks and then had his genitals hacked off, but now some say last week’s off-screen rape scene was too much?

    Right.

  46. enrgodinez says:

    Also it bothers me how people are making stupid assumptions and they don’t even know what will happen next. Audiences now are so idiotic.

  47. Stephen says:

    Just a politician going for a headline grab. This is at least the third rape scene in the TV series, not to mention all the incest. She’s not a real fan of GoT.

  48. PJ Weiss says:

    Utter nonsense. HBO should be praised for showing how rude and evil fictional men could be.
    The off switch still works if it bothers you.

  49. Aaron says:

    What would of been worse- what happened or if she was forced to feign affection etc? Either way it’s horrible but an interesting question.

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