We’ve been debating sexual violence on Game of Thrones since the show began, but the discussion has gotten more heated in the past couple weeks, with The Mary Sue essentially ending its coverage. But is the show just being true to George R.R. Martin’s books, or is it adding more violation? One fan decided to find out.
Over on Tumblr, Tafkar responds to a fan who claims that the Game of Thrones show has featured rape more prominently than in Martin’s books. To evaluate this claim, she went back and did a statistical breakdown of the books versus the television show, and this is what she found out:
Rape acts in Game of Thrones the TV series (to date): 50
Rape victims in Game of Thrones (to date): 29
Rape acts in ASOIAF the book series (to date): 214
Rape victims in ASOIAF (to date): 117
The books contain over 4 times as much rape as the show (and probably even more; the method of analysis likely underestimates the rape in the books - see below).
Warning: If you click on the link, you will see a whole lot of triggering descriptions of brutal acts from both the TV show and the Song of Ice and Fire books. I came away from this needing to bleach my brain.
Of course, there’s a lot more everything in George R.R. Martin’s books, because he packs in a ton more incidents in general, and the TV show could never hope to cover that much ground in its 40-something episodes thus far. That said, the tally of unthinkable actions in both versions is just nauseating, when you read them in a list like that.
As Tafkar explains in an email:
I have been reading the books for a long time, but I managed to push many of the rapes out of my brain. The thing that shocked me the most was the realization that only two rape victims in books tell their own story rather than having a man tell it for them - and they’re both villains. One is Mirri Maz Duur and the other is Cersei Lannister.
Or, as Tafkar writes in a follow-up article:
George R. R. Martin uses nameless women’s bodies as character development for male antagonists in A Song of Ice and Fire. Rape victims serve as props and set decoration to illustrate a man’s depravity. Social class does not protect them. The only raped women who tell us their tales, either directly through inner monologue or by telling their story to another character, are villains. Despite numerous claims, Martin’s portrayal of rape is not supported by history....
There are also many people that argue that George R.R. Martin is only showing us what history was really like. However, the story is not directly reflective of history. While it is true that most of the horrific events took place in history at one time or another, Martin is using horrific events from over the course of a thousand years – but squeezing them into a story with about a 2-year span (so far). In addition to cherry-picking his horrors, he’s also cherry-picking the social elements of society in a way that doesn’t stand up to a historical analysis.
I’m left wondering if Martin’s books have gotten more of a free pass because it’s easier to deal with horrendous actions when you read about them on paper, versus seeing them acted out on screen.
Note: Please keep the discussion civil and respect that this is a triggering topic for many people. Thank you.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.