Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Raping of Sansa Stark (TRIGGER WARNING)

Screen shot from Episode 6.
Image: HBO

Getting away from how blatantly obvious the differences between the books and show are (GRRM even comments on such differences here), episode 6 thankfully had some substantial plot movement: Arya has finally earned her first face, Jorah and Tyrion have been picked up by slavers, Bronn and Jaime's rescue of Myrcella was botched, and Queen Margaery has been arrested by the Faith Militant. One of the most notable plot advances, however, was Sansa's marriage to Ramsay Bolton.

Theon giving Sansa away in marriage.
Image: HBO

Once I came to terms with the fact that the Jeyne Poole story arc had been superimposed on Sansa's arc, I found myself enjoying the episode immensely. Sansa is a much stronger character than she was just a few short episodes ago, almost as if the death of her Aunt Lysa and her subsequent defense of Little Finger brought her a new sense of strength and maturity. In this last episode, the scene where Sansa confronts Myranda showed Sansa's strength and renewed sense of autonomy and her place as mistress of Winterfell.

Not everyone liked Episode 6, however.The new story line, particularly the most recent rape scene, has caused many supporters of the show, like The Mary Sue, to cease promotion of GoT.

Sansa and her new husband, Ramsay Bolton.
Image: Helen Sloan/HBO

This is the second rape scene in GoT that has caused fans to rage against show creators Weiss and Benioff. Just like the "maybe rape" scene between Jaime and Cersei, many fans feel Ramsay's rape of Sansa was unnecessary, glorifying rape and detracting from the flow of the story. You can read similar opinions in this VanityFair article, this Vox article, and this terribleminds post.

A lot of fans find Sansa's rape to be in-line with the general treatment of women in the ASOIAF world, including writer Sara Steward in her New York Post article "It's a Stark reality: Outrage over Sansa rape scene misses the point":
. . . I’ve heard far less about the regular treatment of the female extras who largely play whores and war casualties, who are regularly treated as property and playthings by the men of Martin’s Seven Kingdoms. The scenes in which Joffrey tortured and murdered prostitutes came and went without much viewer push-back. 
If Jeyne Poole suddenly appeared as an unknown character, and was summarily married to and tortured by Ramsay, how much would we have to say about it? How vocal was the “GoT” audience after scenes depicting Ramsay’s hobby of hunting live, anonymous women with dogs? . . . But repellent as its misogyny may be, the show has been mostly faithful to the material provided by Martin. And the world about which Martin wrote — based, partly, upon actual history — is a dark place in which women are used and abused by men on a nauseatingly regular basis.
Other fans believe the rape scene could be a catalyst for Sansa's character. Sophie Turner (the actress who plays Sansa in GoT) had this to say in her interview with Entertainment Weekly:
When I read that scene, I kinda loved it. I love the way Ramsay had Theon watching. It was all so messed up. It's also so daunting for me to do it. I've been making [producer Bryan Cogman] feel so bad for writing that scene: "I can't believe you're doing this to me!" But I secretly loved it.
As Turner states, this new change in plot could mean interesting things for Sansa's character later on in the series. Perhaps even what deviantartist slothmaker suggestes in the following graphic:


The idea has merit; after all, Sansa has heard from many workers at Winterfell that "The North remembers." Perhaps her character will end up being much stronger than we all once thought.

Still interested in Episode 6? Watch the HBO Inside the Episode below.

Inside Season 5, Episode 6: Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken



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