Sophie Turner’s Take On Sansa's Brutal Sexual Assault Scene May Surprise You

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Sansa's (Sophie Turner) wedding night with Ramsey Bolton (Iwan Rheon) is etched in our memories for its brutality against the beloved character. If you haven't seen the season 5 episode, it's difficult to watch. She was raped by Ramsey on their wedding night, and was tormented and abused by him later. In that season, she remains locked in a room, covered in bruises, a hollow shell of her self. It's a testament to Turner's skill as an actor that we feel so deeply for Sansa.
That rape scene has inspired a lot of criticism. Here at R29, we remarked that Sansa "deserves so much more." Several TV showrunners had committed to thinking about portraying sexual assault in more nuanced ways, or eliminating it as a plot line altogether.
But how does Sophie Turner, who told Sansa's story, feel? Previously, when the episode aired, she said "This was a fictional character, and I got to walk away from it unscathed … Let’s take that discussion and that dialogue and use it to help people who are going through that in their everyday lives. Stop making it such a taboo, and make it a discussion." For a new Marie Claire story, she echoes that same sentiment, telling the mag, "I was happy people were talking about it. But I was angry they put all their effort into [debating] a television sexual assault when it happens around the world every day, and you barely hear of it."
Turner is right. As a culture, we don't like to discuss sexual assault. And when the topic does come up, it's presented in a myriad of ways that place some, or all, blame on the victim. Lately, though, the conversation has really centered around the victims of sexual assault. The downfall of Harvey Weinstein has prompted women from all industries to come forward about the sexual assault, harassment, and abuse they've dealt with, and every day we hear another story.
Still, we wonder if Turner agrees with some of the criticism surrounding Sansa's horrific rape: that women's bodies are not vehicles to help advance the character arc of men. In this case, it was Theon Greyjoy, who was forced to witness the act. It began to chip away at his traumatized Reek persona. Sansa, by contrast, was relegated to wear burlap sacks with a face covered in bruises; she walked around Winterfell as though in a daze.
We're grateful for the distinct lack of sexual assault in the past season of Game of Thrones. It allows us to focus more on the intrigue we love so much about the show. After all, the interpersonal dynamics of the writing are how to characters truly develop. Not through rape.
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