Game Of Thrones Author Says Not Showing Rape Scenes Would Be "Dishonest"

Photo: Courtesy of HBO
While some Game of Thrones viewers have quit the show because of its frequent depiction of violence against women — and others are still on the fence and scratching their heads about why the show chose to add a rape of Sansa Stark that technically didn't occur in the books — the story's creator is stepping into the conversation. Entertainment Weekly reached out to George R.R. Martin for his take on the issue. Apparently, it has something to do with honest storytelling.

"The books reflect a patriarchal society based on the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages were not a time of sexual egalitarianism," the Song of Ice and Fire author told EW. Even though this is a fictional world in which he has the power to write society however he likes, Martin insisted that he had to use the historical framework to make the fantastical elements of the story work. "I wanted my books to be strongly grounded in history and show what medieval society was like, and I was also reacting to a lot of fantasy fiction. Most stories depict what I call the 'Disneyland Middle Ages' — there are princes and princesses and knights in shining armor, but they didn’t want to show what those societies meant and how they functioned."

Fantasy can only go so far, Martin argues; he needs to depict real human nature alongside all those dragons and white walkers. "[I]f you're going to write about war, and you just want to include all the cool battles and heroes killing a lot of orcs and things like that, and you don't portray [sexual violence], then there's something fundamentally dishonest about that. Rape, unfortunately, is still a part of war today. It's not a strong testament to the human race, but I don't think we should pretend it doesn't exist."

Well, there's pretending it doesn't exist, and there's including 214 rape acts in your novel series (according to one Tumblr user's count), and 50 in the TV show based on it. At some point, you've gone past making the point that this is a sexist society that brutally victimizes women, and have veered into something more insidious — or at least repetitive.
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