Jessica Chastain on GoT: ‘Rape is not a tool to make a character stronger’

Paris photocall for 'X-Men: Dark Phoenix'

Even though the “royal baby” beat will always be one of our most popular gossip storylines, I thought it was telling that Monday’s Game of Thrones recap post got more comments than the birth of the Sussex Polo Baby. I don’t think that’s a slam on Baby Sussex, I just think GoT’s “The Last of the Starks” was THAT controversial. Now that the existential threat of the undead is no longer there, Thrones is back to petty sniping, misogyny, beheading and Cersei smirking like an a–hole. I still haven’t re-watched the episode because the first watch upset me so much.

One of the moments that people HATED was when Sansa finally got a moment with The Hound. The Hound had looked after her and tried to protect her from Joffrey and had saved her life at least once. When she was a prisoner in Kings Landing, he went to her and offered her a way out of the city, and she didn’t take it. That was what the two characters discussed – he said if only Sansa had gone with him when he offered, she wouldn’t have gone through all of that bulls–t with Littlefinger and Ramsay Bolton. He was graphic too – he basically said that her own bad decision led to her rape. Sansa responded with “Without Littlefinger and Ramsay and the rest, I would have stayed a little bird all my life.” Meaning, she would have remained a naive, scared little girl with princess fantasies if she hadn’t gone through all that sh-t with Ramsay and the others.

I didn’t sh-t on Sansa for saying that, because… I don’t think we should second-guess a (fictional) rape survivor’s reasoning for HOW she survived. If a survivor wants to believe that dealing with those adversities changed them for the better, or made them a different (less naive) person, why contradict them? Jessica Chastain doesn’t really agree. I think Chastain’s issue is that Sansa’s rape was used as a plot device initially, and it’s being reused as a half-assed way for men to develop a female character.

It’s important to note that Jessica and Sophie Turner star together in Dark Phoenix, that’s why Jess makes a “Phoenix” reference. Besides the GoT-criticism/Dark Phoenix promotion, I get Jessica’s point and I agree with that too. I think both conversations need to be had. One, a survivor got her revenge on her abuser/rapist and she believes she’s stronger because of her journey. Two, female characters (or women in the real world) don’t have to be “victimized” or abused or raped in order to change and develop and grow. But yeah, David Benioff and Dan Weiss are really destroying the female characters, huh?

I can’t wait to hear what Chastain thinks about Sansa spilling the tea to Tyrion about Jon Snow’s parentage.

sansa weirwood

Photos courtesy of WENN, HBO.

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107 Responses to “Jessica Chastain on GoT: ‘Rape is not a tool to make a character stronger’”

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  1. teehee says:

    Ehhhhhhh kinda way wrongly interpreted? The event happens, are we supposed to leave it out (not accurate) or only depict women as crying victims instead then (also not accurate)??
    This seems to be fairly realistic because women are actually always harassed and mistreated at some point (moreso back in time) so either she crumbles or she grows. Whats wrong with it…
    You can use anything to be a terrible or a great person. Its better to choose great, ……

    • Mia4s says:

      “Whats wrong with it” is when you add it to this show’s history of adding rape to female characters stories as some kind of character development. It’s not about one comment, it’s about the overall. “Oh but it was realistic in medieval times” some say. The show has f**king dragons, faces being pulled off, and ice zombies. Woman need other threats to motivate them? To put them in danger? The repeated use of rape by the male writers is creepy at this point.

      Every time I remember these show runners are doing the next Star Wars movies, the happier I am to have checked out of that series after Rogue One.

      • Naddie says:

        Thank you.

      • MD says:

        Amen. Thank you.

      • Kitten says:

        Exactly. I tried to watch the first season but it was just a bunch of neck beards raping women. It was gross.

      • Cate says:

        One reason (really THE reason) I refuse to watch the show is how much rape shows up in the books. It made me really uncomfortable just reading about how casually so many of the male characters just took whatever they wanted and didn’t think twice about it, were still viewed/presented as decent guys, etc. I mean, okay, sure, maybe that sort of behavior used to be “okay” in society but that doesn’t mean it needs to be normalized or presented as such.

      • Megan says:

        In the books, Sansa never even meets Ramsey. Adding a totally unnecessary and inauthentic-to-the-books rape is straight up misogyny. Ramsey was a shit person. Sansa would have fed him to the dogs for his treatment of Theon.

    • maya8 says:

      Back in what time? It’s fantasy.

    • Veronica S. says:

      Characters don’t choose to be anything. They’re fictional and don’t have agency. What exists is what the writers put there. It’s a cop out to suggest otherwise.

    • Melody calder says:

      I actually took this as the hound in his broken, uncomfortable masculine way is addressing it with her because he feels some guilt that it happened to her. She in turn, is “letting him off the hook” for his guilt by saying it’s ok. Maybe I’m projecting but I have had a similar conversation with my sister about her rape at 11 and feeling remorse that I “didnt see it” and she let me off the hook in a similar way

      • Lightpurple says:

        And she reached over and squeezed his hand when she said it. And they both laughed when she said she fed Ramsay to the hounds.

      • Turtledove says:

        Melody, I tend to agree with you.

        I understand why so many people take issue with that conversation between her and the Hound. I think the fact that the writers had already used her rape as a plot device makes it hard to ignore this “doubling down”. BUT….I also think that Sansa was not “just raped” (omg…feels insanely gross to type that, sorry) but also saw so many other horrors as well. She went to KL and wanted to be a pretty princess…and then the prince she was mooning for turned out to be a sadistic prick, she watched her father beheaded, was forced top renounce him and stare at his spiked head, was emotionally, physically, and mentally abused by Joffrey, then Littlefinger “saves” her, hits on her and then marries her off to someone worse than Joffrey. There was SO much that happened to her, and it it DID change her. She no longer thinks royalty/courtliness is something to envy. She is smarter. And knows when to trust and when to hold back. I know that the showrunners did try to say this all changed in her because “rape”. But I personally don’t think so. I think it happened because of everything she saw, learned and survived. If she had gone with the Hound, she wouldn’t have dealt with many awful things….but SHE actually saved herself and was able to gain so much more agency. TLDR…she didn’t need to get raped, she would have grown even if her life had faced a lot less horror —- but I don’t feel like she was telling the Hound that the rape was what made her who she is. (Or maybe the stupid writes WERE saying that…but we as viewers, can interpret it in a less problematic way if we wish)

    • It’s the suggestion that she ONLY could have grown through abuse, and that without it, she would have remained neotenic. Which is disgusting. Do all the men need to be raped, too, in order to become grownups? Ridiculous! Yes, strength can be found and honed through adversity – but there are all kinds of adversity! Women don’t need rape OR men to birth us from our girlhood. F THAT.

      • Mrs.Krabapple says:

        Thank you! I think a lot people miss the point. They compare it to Bran being pushed out the window, and then becoming the Three-Eyed-Raven. But while I can believe there was no other path for Bran to become the T-E-R. there are MANY ways a woman can become stronger without having to endure rape.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        Exactly, LadyPrincessJr.

        The phrasing of her scripted line reads that she would not have grown if not for the rape.

      • Yes, it’s the phrasing. It cannot be compared to Bran’s experience, nor should it be dismissed as “she grew through adversity”, and that’s all they’re saying. No, they’re saying something very specific and gross.

    • Penny.Poo.Bear says:

      I’m a huge GOT fan, and how I took it was kind of like this: In our lives there are lots of sh*tty things that happen to women; whether it is rape/harassment of some kind, or a bad breakup, or a miscarriage or a major job loss or an unexpected death or having your house burn down. It’s all the kind of stuff where you think of yourself as before and after that event took place. I sometimes wish none of those things had happened to me, but I also like who I am and a lot of that stuff defined me as a person and made me tough as nails now. So when she said that I really felt like “I gotcha babe.” Look who she is now and how far she has come. I don’t think if she had the chance to do it over she’d leap at it, but I think despite all the horror that continues around her she knows who she is and what her boundaries are now and I don’t believe that Sansa will ever let anyone f*ck with her again. Least of all the Dragon Queen … I also really like the comment another reader made about the Hound inelegantly trying to express his guilt over not taking her with him.

  2. grabbyhands says:

    In the hands of any other writers, I might have been able to see that exchange differently. In the hands of the GoT writers, they definitely meant “Thank god I was viciously raped and mentally and emotionally abused or I might never have grown!” because they are total sexist and misogynist hacks and it follows how they’ve written women for pretty much the entirety of the show.

    There were different ways that scene could have been handled and as usual, they picked the worst one.

    • MrsBanjo says:

      This exactly. They used the rape as a plot device, which is something they’ve done from the outset.

    • Eliza says:

      I stopped watching a couple seasons in because my stomach couldn’t take it. I heard the number of rapes slowed (not sure if true) but it was always filmed with such perverse pleasure. A tool to keep woman down and/or prop up a man to be a hero. There are ways to handle it better, they lacked the ability. And maybe for one it was a trauma that fueled a flame but it was probably not written with that intent, it just ended up working out that way years later in the story.

      • MarcelMarcel says:

        @Eliza I stopped watching for the same reason.

        Especially when I read an article that pointed the sex between Drogo & Daenerys was consensual in the books and it wasn’t in the show. (I haven’t read the books but their relationship makes more sense if he’s the first man who asks her opinion).

        When I tell that’s why I stopped watching they say it’s historically accurate (it’s a fantasy), the reality of war or it’s okay because a male character was assaulted too. I don’t bother arguing because I don’t have the mental energy. However it’s how the show chooses to portray rape & assault that I find despicable. There are respectful ways to explore the topic and the show runners have chosen not to.

      • Sof says:

        @MarcelMarcel I’m sorry but no, after their first time Daenerys had to teach Drogo how to treat a woman, he was brutal. It’s true that with time they fell in love, but as far as I recall, none of the female characters married at their own will and had a hard time adjusting to their husbands (even Catelyn Stark says so).

      • Emilia says:

        @marcel Drogo absolutely rapes Dany in the books. People like to try and claim he didn’t because he sort of asks for consent the first night but then there’s a whole passage where Dany describes being raped every night for weeks and she appears to be suicidal over it. The romanization of that relationship in the show AND books is disturbing.

    • dsgd says:

      exactly, this show has not earned the benefit of a doubt

    • Gaby says:

      Yes, the problem here it’s that the racist/misogynist showrunners previously used the rape scene and talked about it as a plot device to “humble/break” Sansa because I guess they and a huge number of people still blame her for being a naive child manipulated by Cersei, thinking she could save her dad, to only have him be killed instead. These are the same people that will create a show where the South won the Confederate War, after all.

      I feel that even her obsession with the North being independent is side-eyed and judge by many people, while for me she just seems terrified to ever have to obey someone else after all the abuse she suffered at the hands of Joffrey, Cersei, and Ramsay. Emotional abuse is just as scarring as physical or sexual abuse.

      • ReginaGeorge says:

        Every awful incident that any of the major characters have endured is a plot device though.

        Arya having to see her father get beheaded and walk into a situation to find out her mother and brother were brutally murdered was a plot device. She wouldn’t have become Westeros and Essos baddest assassin if that didn’t happen.

        Jon being raised as a bastard child, dealing with the negative label and being alienated by the only mother figure in his life (Catelyn) was a plot device.

        Bran being violently pushed out of a window and becoming paralyzed made him the 3 Eyed Raven

        Theon getting tortured and having his manhood cut off gave him the redemptive story arc that turned him into a hero at the end.

        Tyrion being born a dwarf and having to deal with the stigma of it. He literally tells Jon to use those tribulations and wear them as armor.

        It’s literally one of the major themes of the show.

        “Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things.”

      • AryasMum says:

        @ReginaGeorge, I agree with all your points, but Sansa witnessed Ned’s beheading. Arya was present but did not see the actual act.

      • ReginaGeorge says:

        @Aryasmum

        She didn’t actually see it, but she knew exactly what happened. Still traumatizing. She also had to experience the murder of her buddy, the butchers boy thanks to Joffrey.

      • Mrs.Krabapple says:

        @ReginaGeorge – There are differences in all of those examples. It may very well be that Bran could not have become the Three-Eyed-Raven without being pushed out that window and that moment. But there are many ways a woman can become strong without having to endure rape.

        Tyrion being a dwarf and Jon being a bastard led to bad/sad character traits in both of them – being outcasts, never connecting to their family, never having a feeling of belonging. The plot devices are not solely to say “it made them better” but also “it made them loners” or “it made them bitter” or “it made them long for something they can’t have.” With Sansa, it’s “It made her stronger! Rape is good in the end!”

        Same with Arya – yes, she became an assassin, but that didn’t really make her “better” because she had a strong personality to begin with. And we are shown that she became a mass murderer, and has lot part of her humanity. But Sansa is better and smarter because of the rape!

        For Theon, he did horrible things. And I don’t entirely buy the show’s excuse that he should be forgiven now, because he’s trying to make amends. Some things you cannot make amends for. BUT, he is TRYING to make amends, and is genuinely sorry for the horrors he committed. Was Ramsey ever sorry? NOPE! And he doesn’t have to be, because now Sansa is stronger and smarter – she should thank him!

        So how the “plot devices” affected other characters is very different from how the writers are using Sansa. I think the problem is they have to retroactively make excuses for the rape, and because they don’t know how to properly SHOW Sansa becoming stronger and smarter. It’s poor writing. And not surprising since they apparently don’t know how to write for women or POC.

      • Kendra says:

        @ReginaGeorge,

        “Broken things” in this case being … women as victims of sexual assault?

        Um…

    • Becks1 says:

      I also don’t think they could have shown her growth without the rape – meaning, I don’t think the writers knew how to do that. So instead it was, look, she was abused, raped, and now she is stronger! She has changed!

      I would have less issues with the whole plotline if it was more about her just changing – which would be reasonable, most women WOULD change somewhat after living through some like what Sansa lived through with Ramsey. but, I don’t like the emphasis on “growth” and how it “made her stronger.” They could have had that development without her being raped.

      At the very least, its another example of the writers telling us something, and not showing us. They are telling us that Sansa is stronger now, but they need to show us (we have seen some signs of it, but its like they wanted to make sure we really understood.)

      • @Becks1 Yes. They haven’t “earned” their “character is stronger now” moments. They just tell us it’s true, but don’t work to take us through the process.

        It’s lazy writing.

    • ChillyWilly says:

      Yup. The writing was very ham fisted. “I heard you got broken in hard”? I know the Hound is rough and crude but that was just awkward and gross.
      I am rewatching the show from the beginning and just watched the scene where Jamie raped Cercei next to Joffrey’s corpse. Did this happen in the books? It just seemed so random and unnecessary to the plot.

      • AryasMum says:

        I haven’t read the books, but those who have say it didn’t seem to be rape in the books. But it’s also added that the scene was Jaime’s POV, not Cersei’s.

    • Turtledove says:

      OMG Grabbyhands. I just posted a comment above that is WAY too long and convoluted …….and you just said it so much more concisely.

    • sommolierlady says:

      It’s the reason I stopped watching.

  3. Monicack says:

    Both are valid. It’s okay to criticize the misogyny of the very real showrunners and it’s okay to support a fictional character’s growth and agency after surviving a violent sexual assault.

    • otaku fairy... says:

      This. The same can be said for how famous and non-famous women are treated in real life when it comes to this issue. We can support individual survivors’ growth and agency in how they discuss their experience, while being critical of attempts to project their experience onto all women, and being critical of the misogynistic way that rape speculation gets used to explain away behaviors that people frown upon in real world women.

  4. ReginaGeorge says:

    Bran literally exchanged the same sentiment to Jaime when he told him he wouldn’t be who he is right now if he hadn’t gone through what he did with Jaime pushing him out of a window and getting paralyzed.

    What they are both conveying is that they are survivors and as unfortunate as their pasts were, they’ve risen above the tragedies and become stronger and wiser for it.

    • teehee says:

      Yes thanks- I was trying to think of a parallel, cos men characters are always going though all kinds of battles and murders and attacks, but they grow. So…..

    • maya8 says:

      That was not Bran talking. If you watch the show then you know Bran left the building seasons ago lol…

  5. NJ says:

    But i don’t think the point was that because she was raped she’s stronger, its EVERYTHING thats happened to bring her to this point. The rape was just one of the things thats has happened to her since she first left winter fell.

    Thats just how i see it, but i get why people would be annoyed/angry about it.
    Sorry for bad grammar, english is only my third language.

  6. dsgd says:

    i’m glad she said this

  7. SK says:

    Okay. I have some thoughts on this one.

    I was raped at 17 – it is how I lost my virginity. Of course I am not glad that this happened to me – it is sad and f-cked up and it should never have happened. But if you obsess over what might have been and the different decisions you could or should have made, you will spiral down a vortex of depression and shame and self-doubt that you will never get out of. So I think to myself: yes, I wish that never happened; but in many ways it formed part of who I am today. It made me a much fiercer feminist, it gave me a huge understanding of sexual assault and rape and an interest in it – which has enable me to educate many others about it, including many men. It made me not put up with certain sh*t. It made me stronger in who I am. And I don’t know who I would be without it. So no, I’m not glad it happened; but it forms part of who I am and I see my survival of the trauma associated as a key part of who I am now.

    So, on one hand, I think what Sansa says is somewhat consistent with how a survivor might think. I also think that Littlefinger did teach her a LOT. On the other hand, I think the writers and showrunners eff this stuff up a lot and it is also problematic in some ways. The wording could be better, etc. That’s why some good female writers should be employed.

    • dsgd says:

      there have been 73 episodes of this show and only THREE have been written by a woman.
      and it shows

      • SK says:

        Yes it does! And especially with so many string female characters, it’s something they really should have considered – getting some female writers involved.

    • Myrtle says:

      Bless you, SK. You are a strong woman. xx

    • SM says:

      @sk thank you for sharing that. I am lucky enough to get to where I am not not being raped and I hold every single woman who had to go though that horrible experience in their lives as heros, rock stars. I don’t think that something like that won’t change you and every single woman who stands back up on their own feet after something like that are the definition of strong women and so in a way saying whatevz, women are strong anyway and don’t dare saying that a man who violated a woman had a hand in what she becomes, is the minimization of the experience and how transformative a crime like that is to women who had to go though it. So unless Chastain is talking about herself, I would prefer she did not stick up her opinion in this way.
      Also I don’t watch GoT, so my comment is generic, but it is a fictional story and so the question is – isn’t every incident that any of the major characters have to endure is a plot device? Because usually it is how fictional stories work.

  8. Mia4s says:

    Look as a survivor Sansa can say what she wants (although she was not raped in the book, so that’s TV Sansa) but coming from the pen of the male writers of this show? It falls flat. Their penchant for adding rape to the female characters’ stories is creepy as f**k.

    • Lightpurple says:

      Sansa herself wasn’t raped in the book but another character, her friend Jeyne Poole, whom the Lannisters passed off as Sansa to the Boltons, was. And the book’s description of what Ramsay and Theon did to fake Sansa was far more graphic than what was shown on television.

  9. Starkiller says:

    Says the woman who works for Brian Singer and posts photos on her Instagram of herself kissing and rubbing up on known abusers. Take several seats, Jess.

  10. Karen2 says:

    What you have to remember is ( as far as Im aware) GoT is written by men for men. Its about war & violent sex. Thats it. & the books were known for that too. Which is why Saint Ange being one of the few ppl to question & highlight that disgusting aspect of war is outstanding.

  11. FredsMother says:

    This kind of talk by Chastain, I hope is just media fluff. Because if it is not she can just go back and do some deeper thinking on the subject of victimhood and tragic life experiences. All I hear sometimes from those movie stars is rich, white woman privilege. A lot of us women, particularly one’s from poorer circumstances or from not so privileged lives in developing countries know mostly hardship. It is built into the fabric of our DNA and sometimes passed down from grandmamma to granddaughter. We struggle, took, live through the shit, get educated and rise. And you know what: we celebrate our arrival and use our life lessons to teach the next generation about persevering. So, barring the sexist writing on GOT, I just want to say that rape, deprivation, etc. gives us perspective, vision, strength, the ability to continue to rise and triumph. Chastain can’t see that side of tragedy because it is obscured by present or past privilege.

    • Karen2 says:

      That is such an interesting perspective. I want to deny its validity though. Many ppl do not rise up thru adversity. Many ppl are basically defeated by the never ending cycle of adversity. Thats what social stats show apparently.

    • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

      This all day. I’m not religious, but I grew up with, ‘Growth often means pain. And growth without pain is an oxymoron. Suffering is often how God shows us himself. Suffering is part of the call to serve Jesus.’ We are taught from a very young age that through trials and tribulations, we discover ourselves. No pain no gain? Where did that come from? Having an existential crises can be as deep or shallow as the interpretation. Have this conversation. Allow Chastain’s tweet to spark something. I’ll never condemn women for finding fault in crimes against women within entertainment venues. The crimes are much more than tweets. But in lieu of words, action eventually sets in, and any rise from trauma produces strength of character. It’s a story as old as time. We elevate. We overcome. We learn and then we teach and protect.

    • ReginaGeorge says:

      There is a saying that goes along the lines of the test of someone’s character is how they respond and deal with the crap that life has thrown their way.

      I’ve been through some stuff as a child and as an adult that were less than charming.

      I had to go through family therapy between the ages of 9 throughout HS due to issues with an older male sibling with mental illness that developed in his teenage years who would get violent and had to watch him hit and abuse my mother and father and get it myself. I’ve also experienced DV with my kid’s father.

      When I think of how far I’ve come and how the experience has ironically made me a tougher cookie for it, I’m not saying that Im happy that I went through those things. But I accepted them and instead of being just a victim and letting the experiences break me, I became a survivor.

    • Naddie says:

      As someone who’s always been poor and had to struggle for everything, I say that our fight is overrated. We don’t need all the shit to happen to have perspective. It’s like women’s day: everyone congratulate us “warriors” but in the rest of the year, they don’t mind adding more challenges just to praise our “resilience” later. It’s not a movie, or a cartoon, or a Tv series, and honestly I’m tired. And I can’t even be because there will always be someone to remind me that poor people can’t be tired, we have to be always this hero, this restless poster women of strenght. In fewer words, I’m not saying everything should be handled easily, but this endless fight is just unecessary. Sorry for the rant, and althoug I disagree I respect what you said.

  12. Veronica S. says:

    No, we can absolutely criticize a fictional character implying rape made her stronger because fictional characters don’t have motivations. Fictional characters are written and created by real people, with real responsibility for how the words they put to program are interpreted, particularly with the kind of accessibility that a show like GoT has. People will bend over backwards to defend this garbage, but context matters, and D&D’s context does not win them the benefit of the doubt. They chose to make Sansa Ramsey’s rape victim, changing the plot from the books. They chose to take her character from spoiled brat to Cersei-lite, then have her credit that as a good thing, which leaves us with the implication that horrific female suffering can be character development. You don’t put that shit in a story unless you explicitly have other characters denounce it as false because otherwise it’s a tacit support of the idea.

    I am telling you guys this as somebody who writes professionally and has been reading and writing since they were a child – stop giving white male writers the benefit of the doubt. Stop believing they mean better. Stop thinking they know better and just didn’t think it through. They’re not children. There’s plenty of critical pieces out there telling them to stop treating and minorities as concepts in their stories. Every single time they pull this shit, it’s an active choice. It was an active choice to wipe out all of the Dothraki and murder the remaining WOC on screen in chains. It was an active choice to force the only remaining MOC witness it. It was a choice to have Daenerys, a sex trafficking victim, reduced to an emotional mad woman after seven seasons of development. It was a choice to have Sansa say that line. Everything is a choice made by the writers, thought through by the writers, and then willingly put to paper. That story decision made it through multiple levels of editing before it got put to camera. What the hell does it say about the industry that nobody batted an eye at it?

    • Rhys says:

      Agree with you @VeronicaS.

      This “you have to earn it first” thing really alters the only truth of life – it is DIFFERENT for everybody. You don’t HAVE to go through rape to become an admirable, strong, stable, happy person. Or, as another example, if growing up, all you see is passive aggressive parents, you become convinced that’s what families are like. Unless you see other examples of loving, caring people around you, you will never be able to build that on your own.

    • North of Boston says:

      Well said!

    • Mrs.Krabapple says:

      Here, here! Well said.

  13. jbap says:

    The thing is that it is entirely in character for someone like Sansa in the GoT universe to say and think that. Indeed, it would probably be a necessary coping mechanism. So, I actually don’t buy the criticism.

  14. Lex says:

    Thr worst bit for me about this scene was the way he said it. Broken in rough or something. He said that to her face! Disgusting and humiliating to her. I thought he was meant to have grown.

    Sansa saved face the best way she could in that moment but the criticism should be on him for confronting her in that dreadful way. She doesn’t want to be a perpetual victim so she had to say it made her stronger to stop him pitying her and imaging the things she went through

    • Veronica S. says:

      The criticism needs to be put firmly on the writers. They wrote the dialogue for both of them. They created that situation. Again, giving agency to fictional characters is pointless. The only people who hold responsibility for it are those holding the story reins.

    • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

      When has The Hound ever been not hateful? During the entire show, he’s smiled less than a handful of times and two were directed at the Stark girls. Reading some complaints during the entire series has proven this genre isn’t for everyone. It’s dark. It’s harsh. It’s bloody disgusting. Dark/middle ages were horrifying, and people actually lived through them. At the very least, these types of works have historically been written and told by men. It’s a slow change, but I think we’re slowly growing into more all-inclusive storytelling. Through historical adversity, female authors and writers will inject new ideals. See how that happens?

      • AryasMum says:

        I like the Hound, and I’ve always enjoyed how he sheltered Arya and did his best to protect Sansa from Joffrey. But I will never forget that Arya was his captor and he wanted to sell her for ransom, and he was sexually interested in Sansa. Sansa found him in her room sitting on her bed. I’m not sure I would have taken his offer either – it seemed to have some strings attached.

  15. Mimisnowball says:

    Yawn, FFS. It’s just a stupid show. Chastain and Eva are totally joyless.

    • Meadow says:

      If you get joy from anyone, even a fictional character, being raped, there’s something seriously wrong with you.

    • Naddie says:

      Do you really think what we see in fiction, specially somethig so omnipresent as GOT doesn’t influence or is not a result of what a society thinks (question button is broken).

    • otaku fairy... says:

      Because you don’t find them desensitized enough, they’re joyless? What a boringly masculine way of looking at women.

  16. Veronica S. says:

    I’m going to pull myself out of this thread before I get upset because I’m already getting frustrated with some of the comments here, but I am going to leave behind a last statement -

    Some of you really need to think about the implications of your stating that traumatic events make people stronger, that their character is defined by that events. Because you need to think about exactly how that feels to victims who didn’t necessarily come out stronger for their experiences. What is that saying to the millions of victims who suffer from crippling PTSD, anxiety, stress triggers, suicide attempts, etc.? Who rely on medications, endless amounts of therapy, etc. to get through that event? Because for every “tough” survivor, somebody who fought back, you need to think about the ones who were utterly destroyed by that experience, who had to claw their way back to normality or may never have gotten back there.

    We need to stop bantering around this idea of suffering being inherent to character development – or at least the presumption that it creates BETTER character. Because that isn’t fair to the complicated experiences of survivors. And it certainly doesn’t contribute to society’s understanding of just how awful trauma really can be.

    • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

      You might need to take a step back because authors have been creating villains and terrible circumstances as part of plot development since the beginning. Education enlightens in this aspect. Literature is all encompassing, and whether fiction or non, certain antiheroes, climaxes and settings aren’t palatable. I’m leaving this thread as well, because my studies in literature are being attacked indirectly through desires to rewrite history, remove the unsavory and criticize anyone who has found themselves stronger because of a shit ton of crap they had to overcome. Life isn’t fair. And it doesn’t smell pretty. And writing about it gets so many of us through the muck. This is a silly TV show, but because some elements are sickening, it has to be somebody’s fault. How do you tell a story? Do you leave out the nasty parts of life?

      • Meadow says:

        If the only way you can get a character to have growth is by having them be raped, you are a poor excuse for a writer.

      • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

        Lol, being reductive doesn’t help any conversation. I’ve never written about rape other than to finally acknowledge, on this site no less around the Weinstein revelations, my personal experience with the criminal act. It’s triggering. And I have to leave rooms to avoid heart palpitations. But I realize, know and fully understand it’s a part of our lives. It’s been a horrifying part of so many stories told through literature and film. Shutting others down because we don’t like what they’re saying should be a subjective choice and not unilateral censuring. I’ve never read any complaints about the red witch practically raping Gendry. That pissed me off as well.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        ” I’m leaving this thread as well…”

        If only.

    • ReginaGeorge says:

      Someone telling their story of feeling empowerd after experiencing some type of adversity to others who have experienced it helps to empower them.

      What benefit is it to ones present and future to continue to force themselves to relive past traumas that they cannot go back and change or control?

      They’ve made it out. They survived and thankfully are still alive and able to decide to take control and make good use of that life. To refuse to give perpetrators power over one’s life by allowing them to continue to victimize you emotionally and see that they were NOT able to break you.

      Survivors shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about the way they have chosen to cope with things just because it may make someone else feel uncomfortable or inadequate. But I’ve noticed more often than not, survivors who tell their stories who have managed to overcome their trauma actually help other victims harness their inner strength and take back their lives.

    • Jensies says:

      I agree, @VeronicaS. I feel like this whole idea minimizes the impact of rape, makes it kind of a means to an end for growth. Eff that. My rapist doesn’t deserve the credit for me having to get stronger after the rape so that I literally wouldn’t kill myself. I was strong before the rape, I didn’t need that to develop as a human. I feel like this idea that they’re putting out there kind of excuses people who sexually assault others.

    • Ali says:

      @ Veronica S – Thank you.

    • otaku fairy... says:

      The other side of that coin is when it gets used as ‘the reason’ why a woman in fiction or in real life does anything that’s bad or ‘bad’. Sometimes you want to just ask, “Do you really think that’s how being female works?”

  17. HeyThere! says:

    I just hate that violence against women is entertainment to some. Could have gone without every single rape if they wanted to.

  18. Mia4s says:

    I think we should also note that Ava DuVernay called them out for fridging basically the only Woman of colour on the show. Actually, the only one they have at this point (it’s been awhile since Dorn was a factor). She was brutally killed to….serve the plot of a blonde white woman. Oof. Not good optics boys, not at all.

    • Mrs.Krabapple says:

      Yep. And you know that when it’s time for the final credits to roll on Episode 6, the only characters left standing will be white.

  19. Ellaus says:

    I think that Sansa’s speech was a way to say don’t pity me, I am better, I am stronger I am capable. Thank you for worrying Hound.

    IMO hardships tend to make you stronger, to learn strategies, to develop your strong points to discover your flaws… And they can break you. In life you see it, and in GOT as well. You need battles -big or small- to change, to test yourself.

    I however agree that it is lazy writing -and sexism- to rely almost always in rape and abuse to make a female grow and be a mature character. Sexual violence shouldn’t be the the facto hardship for women in fiction.

  20. Notyouraveragehousewife says:

    It is a fictional/fantasy tv show with a large amount of different and complex characters. They each have their own fictional issues and fictional storylines. Every storyline is not going to be happy. People get hurt, people die, people get raped etc. I respect her opinion but without storylines that make us uncomfortable, tv and films would be pretty darn boring.

    • ReginaGeorge says:

      Thank you for putting this in a way I couldn’t. Agree 100%

      Uncomfortable and provocative enough to evoke a dialogue. Stories need conflict. We wouldn’t have some literary masterpieces without it. Especially when it comes to stories in the historical fiction category. Alex Haley’s Roots comes to mind.

      GoT is set in medieval times. Those times weren’t kind to women. But in this story many women break the chains of an oppressive male society and do their own thing. Arya, Brienne, Yara, Dany, Sansa and even Cersei rising to power despite them NOT having cocks as Varys past convo with Tyrion suggests.

  21. Shasha says:

    Constantly pushing this narrative that rape makes their female characters stronger, is pushing the narrative that rape is good for women and gives them better characters. Even the writers themselves said Sansa needed to be “broken/humbled/put in her place.” They’re pushing the idea that being put into their place via rape makes for better women.

    I know A LOT of people who have been sexually assaulted and raped, and a whole lot of them didn’t become “stronger” because of it. A lot of them were broken and never recovered. Spiraled into self-harm, drug use, and suicide.

  22. Jay (the Canadian one) says:

    Ramsey wasn’t just a rapist, he was an abuser. I have a friend who survived an abusive relationship (that included multiple drug-fueled instances of rape) and, for better or worse, she expressed that it taught her who not to trust and how to defend herself. So it didn’t seem odd to me for Sansa to say that.

    And as to Sansa being a victim of abuse in the first place, Ramsey was an equal opportunity offender. Just ask Theon (when you could).

    • ReginaGeorge says:

      Yep. And in one scene Theon was about to get raped by a soldier himself and thats when Ramsey used that attempted rape to lull him into a false sense of security by “saving” him and taking him back to the Dreadfort to continue torturing him.

      Also it was Sansa’s wedding night and it was obvious to me, knowing how psychotic Ramsey’s character was, that her “bedding ceremony” (which certain characters had earlier mentioned as barbaric) was going to be brutal to her.

  23. Emilia says:

    “Monday’s Game of Thrones recap post got more comments than the birth of the Sussex Polo Baby.”

    Lol where is that Royal baby poster that claimed nobody cares about Thrones?

  24. Thatwhichkillsyou says:

    My mother was raped by a family friend at 13, started drinking at 15, ran off and got married at 17, had it annulled, dropped out of college had me and two more kids all with different men, struggled with addiction her whole life and died at 65 from a pain pill overdose.

    Life’s challenges don’t always make you stronger. Sometime they steal your soul and then you die.

    • buensenso says:

      you’re absolutely right. people either romanticize struggles or they make up stories like ‘it made me a resilient winner’ to cope with it easier, to make sense of the trauma. but there’s nothing great about trauma. it’s not something that should be celebrated nor should we forget that bad is bad and bad is never good.

  25. Ali says:

    The thing that bothered me most about that line is that Sansa was already incredibly adept at political intrigue and manipulation long before she fell under Littlefinger’s wing and was raped and tortured by Ramsay. Sansa single handedly convinced Joffrey to go where the fighting was most dangerous during the battle of Blackwater all while convincing him she was a stupid little girl who knew nothing about war. She saved that knight by manipulating Joffrey into making him a fool. So it’s an insult to everything she went through in King’s Landing to say she is only who she is by the brutality of Littlefinger and Ramsay. She stopped being a little bird the moment Ned’s head was chopped off.

  26. Caitrin says:

    I agree with her. Keira Knightley’s made some similar comments, which Celebitchy has also covered (https://www.thedailybeast.com/keira-knightley-why-do-female-film-characters-nearly-always-get-raped).

    Sexual violence can be utterly consuming and destructive, and depicting it as a mechanism for personal growth and overcoming pain is…not the direction in which I’d like to see pop culture continue.

  27. Mrs.Krabapple says:

    The writers don’t know how to write female characters. Remember when they had Sansa say Littlefinger “loved” her in his own way? Either Sansa is STILL a dumb@ss (which I don’t think is the writers’ intent, since they literally and continually have characters TELL the audience how smart she is), or they are totally clueless about how to write for women. (As a side note, I wonder if the writers are married? Can you imagine being married to a man who thinks Littlefinger “loved” Sansa, and that rape makes a woman stronger?)

    And Dany will be killed for becoming a “mad” queen, even though she hasn’t done anything bad yet, and what she planned to do was no worse than what Robert or any other King would do (except Jon, maybe).

  28. A.Key says:

    Well the show, or at least Martin, was aiming for a realistic depiction of the fight for power set in medieval times. So realistically very many women in past times went through either a forced marriage or rape and no one batted an eye. People maybe forget that women had zero rights before the 20th century and were considered male property. So in that sense, the show isn’t far off in its depiction of how women are treated by ambitious toxic men most of the time.
    Also lets face it, the abuse of women has not died down today just because women have suddenly won their rights. On the contrary, women are still being abused, raped and they suffer sexual and other forms of physical and mental violence by the millions around the world.
    I don’t understand and find it hypocritical that people would then be offended when they see a woman raped on tv. It happens too often. Open your eyes.
    You see murder on tv shows all the time and no one bats an eye. But god forbid you see women being abused, suddenly we all wanna pretend that never happens and no one should talk about it.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I haven’t seen any comments that say rape should never be on TV. They are objecting to the idea that her growth was only because of her rape. Very different things. Constructing a straw man that says comments are saying “we all wanna pretend that never happens and no one should talk about it” is pretty awful. No one is advocating for that.

  29. Catherine Page says:

    GoT is not historical fiction, it’s fantasy. Fantasy worlds are intentionally and carefully crafted since there is no established history or expectations. There are no societal norms because there is no real society; all common practices for the world must be specifically chosen.

    GoT used that power to normalize non-consent. They chose to portray sexual assaults alongside hypersexualized naked women and violence. The assaults become weirdly sexualized. Any assault scene should be hard to stomach because assault IS disturbing.

    The world GoT created is gross as hell and I want no part of it.

  30. Halfdot says:

    On Twitter, in response to Chastain’s tweet, they’re sharing an article called Zero Dark 30 was Erin Brockovich for Fascists.

  31. Original T.C. says:

    First of all Sansa’s character was never raped in the books nor ever met Ramsey. They used a fake Arya (Jayne Poole) to convince the people of Winterfell. Second the GOT writers keep “telling” us that Sansa is so much more different and smarter but then again have her revealing a Stark family secret (Jon is a Targaryen) to a Lannister (Tyrion) who she hopes will take action to achieve her individual wishes (independent North). Flashback to season I when Sansa went to tell Cersei her family’s secret plan to leave Kingslanding because she hoped that she could stay longer to become a princess to Joffrey. So the un-ironically have Sansa regressing but think they are showing her as maturing. Passing on info that Jon is a Targaryen can equally make him a target for assassination.. see the ‘Dance of the Dragons’ as Targaryen and their loyalists fight each other for the throne.

    A more mature Sansa would have made a petition to Queen Daenerys out loud in the hall after the battle of Winterfell as a condition of any Northern men/women following her to KL. Adding that Jon (and Sansa in his absence) as her ally would be Warden of the North and friend to Queen Danerys. Dany would have been pinned down. That’s how you play the game of thrones.

    • Mina says:

      The books aren’t finished so how do you know what the rest of Sansa’s journey is going to be like?

  32. Amyday says:

    Catherine’s Page – ^^^^^this!. I have never watched GOT because I knew that they portrayed rape. I would never want to watch it for entertainment. I hate that this show is so popular. Get a grip people, don’t support shows like this. Just.Don’t.Watch.It

  33. Mina says:

    That moment didn’t bother me as much. I get what Jessica and others are saying, but it was a statement that felt true to the character of Sansa and to the world they live in. People sometimes forget that fiction isn’t always supposed to be the moral lesson its creators want to instill on the audience. Characters go through shitty things, say shitty things, doesn’t mean that the writers think that rape is a valuable tool for a woman to get stronger.

  34. CLTex84 says:

    Ill say this:

    Because the writers changed Sansa’s story from the how it is in the books, I don’t think they knew what to do with her. Remember, Sansa may not have known what Ramsey Snow was like, but she knew at least Roose Bolton betrayed and murdered her brother. How she allowed Littlefinger to send her there made no sense to me. Bookwise, where she is and the situation she is going through, has allowed her to continue to hang onto her child like fantasies of a strong white knight who will save her, and the sweet gentle Lord she’ll marry. I believe the writers put her in the situation with Ramsey of marrying him and being raped by him to destroy that fantasy for her. Yea it’s a terrible way to do it, but I say she is stronger because of it as id Theon.

    Look what was done to them and the fact they actually successfully escaped means a lot to them I’m sure. Yes the Hound is the Hound and says things in a dumb way, but she took that to say basically “I’m still alive with but with both eyes open now”. You have to remember how she was before: she didn’t leave with the Hound because she thought Stannis the great savior would win and she’d be saved. She didn’t leave with Littlefinger when she could have because she fooled herself into believing she’d marry nice handsome Loras (in the books its his other brother) and again, she’d be saved. But both times she was let down be her own falsehoods and remained in the grasps of the Lannisters.

    Perhaps her plot is not meant to be used as a source of strength. But for her, being the Lady of her childhood home with the support of the North, she’s now speaking from that as a source of strength. That no one will be able to take advantage of her again.