Four seasons in, most of the surviving women in Game of Thrones have been raped (Cersei, Gilly, a great many background characters), constantly live with the threat of rape (Arya, Sansa, Brienne), or are sex workers.
Intentionally or not, GoT has created an insidious kind of rape culture for its female characters to inhabit. And while it’s exciting to worry about whether Tyrion or Jon Snow will survive to the end of the episode, the fear that Sansa or Arya could be raped is a different matter entirely. After all, no one watching the show has ever had their head chopped off or been forced to fight a horde of ice zombies. Sexual violence, on the other hand, is all too real.
The typical explanation is that GoT is a realistic depiction of a world inspired by medieval Europe, when life was cheap and rape was supposedly everywhere. However, the way women’s bodies are filmed is another issue altogether.
We all know that GoT includes plenty of unnecessary female nudity and sex scenes. Why? Well, the show’s job is to entertain people, so why not make use of that adult rating?
Except this poses the question of which genre GoT is meant to be. Is it a medieval grindhouse series that capitalizes on the desire to see hot naked girls amid all the assassinations and intrigue? Or is it a sweeping epic that delves deep into the horror of the human spirit? The latter has an excuse to include sexual violence on a regular basis; the former does not. Not unless you’re saying that rape is entertainment.