|Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) in Game of Thrones S5 E6: Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken|
I'm sick of talking about rape.
Forcible rape, date rape, grey rape, acquaintance rape, spousal rape, statutory rape and now fictional rape. I'm sick to death of explaining why the callous rape of women and girls in media is a very bad thing for our culture and why we should cut it out. *wags finger*
This Game of Thrones storyline is just the latest in a long line of excuses and equivocations for why the depiction of brutal and gendered violence against women is a storytelling necessity. People are sticking their heels in on both sides but to me the moral position is clear: there is nothing to be gained from lazy representations of rape in a media landscape that already devalues women and reduces them to objects and property.
Now I've read the arguments in favour of the narrative value of Sansa's rape. That it showed that Ramsay was a sadist. That it would help Theon come back to himself and help Sansa escape. That it would motivate Sansa to seek vengeance. But it's all bullshit.
What did that scene add that we didn't already know? Did the writers think that cutting Theon's penis off was too subtle to indicate Ramsay's sadism? Did they think the brutal murder of her mother and brother were not strong enough motivators for Sansa to want revenge against the Boltons? Could they not conceive of a single other way in which Theon might be able to mentally recenter himself? What about this particular rape scene added such probative narrative value that it had to be transposed from one character to another even as the original victim is excised from the story? All it was is more rape on a show already replete with rape, for the sake of having rape. None of this is new information.
And it's not that rape should never be represented in fiction. Rape is everywhere. It's unfortunately an all too real danger of the world we live in. But it's not as though there is some dearth of rape representation in media. Using rape as a narrative tool is lazy, and especially so when it's invoked this many times in the same show. We are now at three female characters (all of whom are considered major point of view characters in the novels) who have been raped in the series, two of whom weren't raped in the source material. It's just rapes on rapes on rapes up in this bitch...