Everyone is freaking out about how HBO is making Game of Thrones extra rapey. From The AV Club: Why are the Game Of Thrones showrunners rewriting the books into misogyny? and from navigatingwonderland on Tumblr: I guess consensual sex isn’t edgy enough for hbo.
Let me quote from that last one.
Book: “He stopped then, and drew her down onto his lap. Dany was flushed and breathless, her heart fluttering in her chest. He cupped her face in his huge hands and looked into his eyes. “No?” he said, and she knew it was a question.
She took his hand and moved it down to the wetness between her thighs. “Yes,” she whispered as she put his finger inside her.”
Book: “Hurry,” she was whispering now, “quickly, quickly, now, do it now, do me now. Jaime Jaime Jaime.” Her hands helped guide him.
Let’s start with the Daenerys/Drogo case, as that one is easier. She’s 14 in the books, maybe 16 in the show? Let’s split the difference and call her 15 years old. As a society we do not accept that a 15 year old can give consent to a 30 year old in any meaningful sense. ESPECIALLY not with such a huge power differential (as he’s a king, a violent warrior, and has just purchased her). Is there any scenario you can imagine where a modern-day congressman or general is caught in bed with a 15 year old girl, and we let him go because she’s consenting? Not a chance in hell.
Now say that HBO portrayed this scene as it was played out in the book – an adult male buys a child bride, gets her permission to have sex, and the two of them consummate their relationship. Can you imagine the shit-storm that would ensue? The cries of pedophilia and rape-apology? HBO realized that Americans are not good with nuance. Any rape must be shown to be unequivocally bad. HBO’s safest course of action is to remove all doubt and simply show Drogo throwing Daenerys down and raping her as she’s crying. Because at least then there’s no implication that anything other than pure evil is happening here.
And I am NOT defending statutory rape! Drogo should go to jail for that scene, even as it was written in the books, because he is evil. What I’m saying is that many people would not have understood that if HBO didn’t portray it as a violent rape, and would have attacked HBO for “promoting rape.”
Moving on to Jamie/Cersei.
The quote above makes it pretty clear Cersei is willing. One could make this even more clear by quoting the next couple lines:
“Yes,” Cersei said as he thrust, “my brother, sweet brother, yes, like that, yes, I have you, you’re home now, you’re home now, you’re home.” She kissed his ear and stroked his short bristly hair.
But that’s jumping the gun just a bit. Let’s rewind a few paragraphs.
“No,” she said weakly when his lips moved down her neck
She pounded on his chest with feeble fists
What’s going on? Let’s take the passage as a whole.
She kissed him. A light kiss, the merest brush of her lips on his, but he could feel her tremble as he slid his arms around her. “I am not whole without you.”
There was no tenderness in the kiss he returned to her, only hunger. Her mouth opened for his tongue. “No,” she said weakly when his lips moved down her neck, “not here. The septons…”
“The Others can take the septons.” He kissed her again, kissed her silent, kissed her until she moaned. Then he knocked the candles aside and lifted her up onto the Mother’s altar, pushing up her skirts and the silken shift beneath. She pounded on his chest with feeble fists, murmuring about the risk, the danger, about their father, about the septons, about the wrath of gods. He never heard her. He undid his breeches and climbed up and pushed her bare white legs apart. One hand slid up her thigh and underneath her smallclothes. When he tore them away, he saw that her moon’s blood was on her, but it made no difference.
“Hurry,” she was whispering now, “quickly, quickly, now, do it now, do me now. Jaime Jaime Jaime.” Her hands helped guide him. “Yes,” Cersei said as he thrust, “my brother, sweet brother, yes, like that, yes, I have you, you’re home now, you’re home now, you’re home.” She kissed his ear and stroked his short bristly hair. Jaime lost himself in her flesh. He could feel Cersei’s heart beating in time with his own, and the wetness of blood and seed where they were joined.
It becomes clear that Cersei does want to have sex, but she’s worried about the risk of them being discovered. Jamie says “Fuck the risk, I don’t care.” She protests initially, then grabs his dick and guides him in. Was this consensual?
Discussing the book, one friend said “the original scene was complex but ended with Cersei enthusiastically consenting.” But in a separate discussion regarding the HBO scene (in which Cersei is very obviously raped, yet some people thought maybe not?!) she said: “ “No” is potentially the least relative term that exists in the English language. Everyone just needs to realize that when it comes to consent, NO LINES ARE BLURRED.”
But she said “no” in the book as well, at least once. She retracted that no soon after, isn’t that some blurring of the lines?
The answer that some people give is that it doesn’t fucking matter. The word “no” was used.
Imagine, again, that HBO had aired the scene as originally written, where Cersei first says “No.” It doesn’t matter if both of them wanted to have sex. Jamie was less risk-averse and he pushed Cersei for sex after she said no. If HBO had shown Cersei relenting under such “enthusiastic encouragement” and then enjoying the following sex act? Oh my fucking god, the internet would have EXPLODED. The Blurred Lines controversy would have nothing on this. Rape-apology, rape-promotion, “telling boys it’s ok because the slut wants it”, etc. Again – all of these are very real problems, and traditionally society has blamed the victim and let the rapists get away with it. There’s a reason that there is all this pent-up emotion behind such portrayals.
So HBO took the safe route. They jettisoned nuance, they jettisoned the complex sex real adult couples in relationships have, and instead they showed a violent rape with a crying woman. Perhaps it says something about our knee-jerk reactions when HBO considers it safer to show a violent rape than to show a troubling scene of consent granted under pressure.
A different friend said “GRRM is really out of touch if that he thinks that what he wrote was consensual. That scene was always rape to me.” HBO wanted to avoid that controversy.