Unabashed, Unashamed: Game of Thrones On Its Brutal Rape Scene

Sansa-starkThe makers of Game of Thrones have finally spoken on debauchery, and how. Every year, the show comes out with a new season, giving netizens enough cocktail for the next one year. The internet swims in a whirlpool of plot twists, discussions, theories, spoilers, et al. And for as long as this show lasts, this is going to be an annual routine.

This season, however, has been unlike any other. While the plot has progressed, its aftertaste has changed. The season, so far, has been convincingly engrossing, with time-travel, resuscitation, ‘warging’ and fan theories taking off transcendentally. While the world witnessed bacchanalia after Jon Snow’s (re)birth, they shed copious tears at Hodor’s act of heroism and untimely death. And amid everything, important theories were contested and discussed.

But the foremost issue that the season addressed strikingly was of rape and abuse. If we recap, we will find more nudity, abuse and barbarism on this show, than any other. Viewers and critics have, on numerous occasions, slammed the content, calling it disrespectful and sexist. Let us rewind to the time when Sansa Stark was forced into marriage (yet again) by her uncle Petyr Baelish aka Littlefinger. Instead of being the runaway bride – that would have been ‘unbecoming’ of her – Sansa exchanged vows with Ramsay Bolton, the Lord of Winterfell, compliantly. The latter – a sociopath and a sadist – had no business with her, save putting a child into her. So on her wedding night, he raped her, and outraged his audience.

The controversial scene led many to boycott the show. Bolton’s new bride suffered the worst kind of torture, until she fled the castle. We cannot even fathom the travails of the young bride.

But here is the thing, while it was supposed to jolt people and coerce them to think, the infamous scene did throw light on surviving the cruelty. We were disturbed because we wished our beloved character would show more resilience in the face of adversity. And resilient she has become. So much so that this character has become indifferent to the horrors of physical and emotional exploitation, and is ready to face her wrongdoer at the battlefield.

In this season, we are witnessing the rise of an astute politician in Sansa Stark. The meek and submissive girl is gone and in her place is a woman, who is showing more grit, than she ever has. Admirably confident, revengeful and calculative, this is how Sansa broke the news of her rape to her ‘beloved’ uncle.

“The other things he did, ladies aren’t supposed to talk about those things but I imagine brothel keepers talk about them all the time. I can still feel it. I don’t mean ‘in my tender heart, it still pains me so’. I can still feel what he did, in my body, standing here, right now.”

The scene was insanely moving, one that pushed viewers to wake up and think. Rape is a horror and the ones that survive are often subjected to social discernment and ousting. Across the world, survivors are often judged. Instead of commiserating and showing strength, women are encouraged to keep mum, lest they become a social joke.

But the makers of Game of Thrones decided to rip the taboo to shreds. The plot that had amassed enough censure, has now garnered appreciation. We loved the way the woman spoke – probably the first time – about the revulsions of sexual exploitation and rape.

Being a girl who has experienced enough perversion, the episode gave me strength. It was like showing a mirror to the society and telling the world that rape survivors have global solidarity, and they are not alone.

Prerna Mittra


The Viewspaper