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This post is going to have spoilers so if you haven't seen the most recent episode of Game of Thrones, just keep on scrolling.


So GoT took a huge departure from the books this week and had what was pretty clearly a consensual sex scene turn into something that could easily be construed as rape. The showrunners call it rape though the director seems to be vacillating between it being a rape scene and a "well it started out as rape and then she decided she wanted it" (which imho is even worse). I'm not going to post all the links because they're easy to find and they all seem to contradict each other anyway so there's no point. My take on it is that the writers wrote a rape scene (they say as much in the video that I linked to) and the director decided to turn it into the fucked up fantasy of it starting off as rape but being so awesome that she got into it anyway because non-consensual power struggles are hot.*

The scene is obviously pretty divisive between people who have read the books or only watched the show, since in the books, Cersei protests at first, mostly due to the locale (being in a church next to her dead son) but quickly relents because it is the first time she's seen her lover in over a year...and weirdly the scene needs to bring up the fact that she's also on her period, which makes me believe that GRRM thinks period sex is icky and that that was just the horrific icing on the twincestual sex in a church next to a dead kid scene and that for whatever reason, that wasn't enough for the show (or who knows, maybe depicting menstruation sex -was- too much for the show and that's why they went the way they did)

the show went a different route. the writers state that Jamie is angry about being constantly rebuffed by Cersei (who in fact essentially broke up with him in the first episode of the season) and takes advantage of her and her grief and even though she resists, forces himself on her. it's pretty cut and dried as a rape scene, she never consents, she fights him every step of the way in regards to having sex, repeatedly tells him "no", "stop", "please, this isn't right", and the scene ends with a shot of her hand with a death grip on a piece of fabric that is hanging off of the altar that her son's body is laying on.

yes, she kisses him,she loves him, he's been the only person aside from her children that she's ever loved. the idea that her kissing him makes the scene less rapey is disgusting. this scene is a pretty accurate depiction of date or marital rape. she knew him, she trusted him, they'd had relations before, and yet when she said she did not want to have sex, he didn't listen. some people have suggested that she didn't fight back hard enough, as if cersei suddenly turning into some sort of westerosi rambo would've made sense, as if some rape victims -don't- stop struggling after a certain point due to fatigue, to lessen the physical attack on their body, or just because they don't want to elicit any more violence or because they just give up or are in such shock over what is happening that they don't know what to do, sort of a psychological version of fight or flight.

what is bothering me isn't the fact the scene happened. the writers have taken liberties with the story previously, and have even turned consensual sex scenes into rape scenes before. i admit that i'm anxious about how they've derailed jamie's character growth since in the books he was trying very hard to become a better person, envisioning himself as redeeming himself from the kingslayer into jamie the gold...what is freaking me out is that the writers have said it was rape, the director has sort of see-sawed on what it was but learning more toward the horrific "it was rape but then she got into it and it wasn't rape anymore" trope which is just terrible in and of itself, the author of the books has said it was a huge departure from what he wrote, and yet people are still debating whether or not it was rape. It worries me even more because honestly, in a bunch of arguments that I've seen on FB or Reddit, women have been the majority of people calling it a rape scene, and men have been in the majority for defending it as not at all rape, with the usual arguments that she physically responded to it, that she kissed him, that they'd had sex before. that is just really upsetting to me because it seems to imply that we as a society expect rape to be exactly how it is portrayed on SVU or in that movie Irreversible where the victims end up dead or braindead or at the very least horrifically scarred for life both physically and emotionally by their experiences.

it's frustrating because at times i find bemoaning rape culture for the sake of feminism to be kind of tiresome. i don't agree that a dude smiling at a woman on the T is rape culture, i don't agree that getting a compliment on your appearance from a stranger is necessarily rape culture (obviously it depends on the compliment, "you're very pretty" is fine, "i could drill you all night long", not so much), so in a lot of instances I find myself vehemently disagreeing with a lot of what proponents of rape culture define it to be because honestly, i've seen a lot of inconsistencies. I've seen women elated when a cute stranger compliments them and outraged when they get similar attention from someone they don't find attractive...and that to me is hypocritical and confusing and at the end of the day it should be clear what is rape, what isn't rape, and that we all know that rape is bad.

That said, I find the fact that the scene from the last episode could even be remotely up for debate as to whether it was consensual or not could be seen as an example of rape culture influencing how we view things. because it wasn't violent enough, because she physically responded at first (even though some victims orgasm during rape), because she was ok with kissing, because they'd been intimate before, all of these excuses seemingly ignoring her saying no from the beginning. Even the director said it was essentially ok because she was clearly into kissing Jamie which just lends itself to the very dangerous trope of rape turned consensual...and the fact that in this day and age we even need to argue whether or not that concept is total bullshit is honestly really terrifying. seeing so many women on so many message boards essentially saying that that scene more closely mirrored their experience than not and STILL being ignored by people (again predominantly male) was just really alarming. it's alarming because the group of people that statistically are most often the victims of rape are saying "yeah woah, that was totally a rape scene, that was rape" the the group of people who are most often accused of rape are saying, "no that totally wasn't rape, look at how she responded during these 3 parts of the scene". it's frightening because it seems to be completely illustrative of the fact that there's a pretty big disconnect going on between how people are viewing rape, and anecdotally it seems to fall pretty firmly across gender lines that tend to have different experiences when it comes to rape.

it's frustrating because while I'm a feminist, I'm not Andrea Dworkin. I don't look for the potential to turn any scene into something about the patriarchy or about rape and i don't think that penetrative sex is the devil's work...as it stands, while I'm annoyed about Jamie's potential character derailment, I don't even mind the inclusion of a rape scene in the series because it's not like Westeros is the land of puppies and kittens where nothing ever bad happens. No, this is a series where children have killed, men mutilated, babies get used as sacrifices, loads of people murdered, tortured, raped, killed, fed to rats, fed to dogs, fetuses have been stabbed, it's clearly not a -nice- world, but up until the Jamie/Cersei sex scene, at least everyone could agree on the fact that the images that we were seeing were in fact, quite wrong.

Who knows, maybe all of this will be addressed next week and it will eliminate some of this argument.

The other thing that bugs me is that I was really psyched that this season is doing such a great job portraying a poly couple as loving and stable, and possibly the most sane and healthy couple in Westeros at this point. they don't have any of the power struggles that many of the other couples have, in fact they come from dramatically different backgrounds with one being a prince and the other a bastard. yet they don't care, they genuinely seem to love one and other and they take genuine enjoyment out of seeing each other experience pleasure, even if it's with another person. On top of all that, they're both bisexual and -still- not portrayed as kinky deviants who have no concept of right or wrong. So it's kind of a bummer to see this excellent portrayal of individuals who don't adhere to traditional relationship models intertwined with a really confused portrayal of what is or isn't rape.

*this isn't to throw shade at people who find consensual power struggles hot. there's clearly a difference between role playing and actually struggling and for whatever reason, scenes like this try to pretend it's a thin line, when really it's a line about 100 miles wide.
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