I’ve been grousing about Game of Thrones a lot since the new season started. The rampant degrading treatment of women is pissing me off. I’ve been bitching about it on Facebook, but I find I have a full post’s worth of disgust to express.
Martin’s created a world of beautiful pornographic sex and pornographic violence too. By that, I mean it feels like a lot of times the sex *is* violence, and the violence is getting somebody (Martin?) off. It’s easy story-telling. A shiny object designed to fake the viewer into thinking something is going on.
I call it pornographic because the sex or the violence turns characters into objects and uses them without acknowledging their humanity.
And all with a wink to the audience. See how cool I am? How clever? See what nasty and degrading things I can say and get away with? Oh, but it’s fine because I’m awesome!
Martin throws in token undegraded women in positions of (secondary and compromised) power. But Arya! but Dani!
Even Yara Greyjoy, elevated to the position of heir, couldn’t get away with it unmolested. Her brother had to feel her up and talk dirty to her all way from the docks to the castle.
But it was supposedly okay because she had snappy comebacks.
The show tries to pull me, the viewer, in on it. Puts me in the position of compliance, agreement. I’m not compliant. Do men who watch this crap get off on it? Do other women feel abused by it like I do? I don’t find it clever. I find it lazy, abusive. It makes me wonder if only men are involved in positions of power on the production team.
There are two scenes in Firebird where characters are abused sexually for different reasons. They were difficult to write, and I debated whether to keep them in. In the end, I did because they are essential to the story. But I don’t try to make the reader enjoy the scenes or think of the abuse as clever or entertaining.
It comes to this: I’m not against abusive sex or violence in stories. I’m against presenting them as sources of gratification to the reader/viewer. At least, that’s my hypothesis. I’m still testing it.
I’m still watching Game of Thrones. I keep watching for Dani and Arya and Dinklage. But I feel myself losing interest. I feel myself not wanting to waste my time.
Wow, LK, I am soooo glad I don’t have HBO and therefore have not succumbed to its thrall. So many people I know (m/f) claim it is a great series and great books…..scary.
Phyllis, it is a great series, except for the icky parts! It’s frustrating because it’s so well done, with such great actors. Peter Dinklage is marvelous! Kind, cruel, sweet, ruthless, braver than he thinks. There are many exciting and fun story lines. It’s still worth watching, despite everything.
I was watching one of the making-of documentaries for the second season, and some members of the cast were remarking how the television adaptation has been called “pro-feminist” because of it’s portrayal of strong women. Maybe Arya and Dani don’t do it for you, but skipping Catelyn and Cersei is an oversight.
And that’s not even to say the nudity isn’t gratuitous or unnecessary. Those really aren’t the scenes that interest me. But this is HBO and a decently adapted presentation of the books, which are brimming with innuendo and pillow talk. This is a very adult fantasy, and anyone would only need to read a few pages of the books to expect that. I don’t find it hard to gloss over the provocative bits to get to the real value of the show-its story.
One last point of disagreement. You didn’t realize that Asha (ahem…Yara) was toying with her brother when she let him do that? She trapped him. Especially after his quip about his position when they meet, the egg is firmly on his face, and he’s exposed for being so out of touch with his homeland that he can’t even recognize his own sister. Beautifully executed!
Jason, I love Arya and Dani. I was pointing out that their characters are used as examples of the strong women in GoT. We won’t point out that one is a girl who passes for a boy.
Is Yara’s name Asha? I haven’t read the books. Yes, it was obvious she was putting her brother on and that he was destined to be the butt of the joke for his hubris. I’m objecting to the objectification of the female in that scene – beginning with the humiliating scene with the “ugly girl” in the ship before he went ashore.
This seems to be a trope with Martin: degrade the woman but excuse it by saying (somewhere) that the man is a fool for degrading her. Ten minutes on the one, ten seconds on the other.
George Martin is showing us the reality of the times. Westeros is largely based on medieval England, when indeed women had fewer rights. Most fantasy stories are about romance, heroism, and adventure. Martin is deconstructing those stories; instead, he’s showing us the gritty reality of medieval life. Instead of noble heroes and evil overlords, he gives us many gray characters. Instead of sterile battles between light and darkness, he shows us the blood and guts. Instead of undying romance, he shows us awkward and ugly sex. All this is intentional.
None of the men in Westeros have been to the 21st century. They have medieval sensibilities. If the characters walked around acting like modern-day people, and just wore armor and carried swords, it would be unrealistic. A lot of what happens on Game of Thrones is ugly to a modern viewer. Martin isn’t condoning it, he’s telling us, “Forget what you read in other fantasy books, THIS is what life was actually like back then.”
In short, if we’re disgusted — the show did its job. 😉
“But that’s what it was like!!!!!!!”
I guess ha ha ha isn’t a very good response.
What I mean is, I don’t find “that’s how it was” very persuasive. First of all, I doubt “that” is how it was. I haven’t read many historical accounts of kings molesting their wives and daughters in front of visiting dignitaries or queens nursing their pre-adolescent sons in the same setting. But then, my historical education may be lacking.
Second of all, even if that is how it was, it doesn’t excuse the misogyny in this story and this production now. Not for me. But then, I identify with the objects and not the abusers. I mean the women – not the men – in Game of Thrones.
I don’t watch GoT. I refuse. Too much incestuous derogatory and all around disgusting shit going on there. I’ve tried and I just can’t. It’s not my cuppa.
I haven’t been watching the HBO series, but I read the books. I really enjoyed the books, and while I recognize some of what you are saying from the story it seems like there wasn’t as much female degradation in the books??? (It’s been awhile since I finished them). I remember women in power in the books- and though they often had to struggle to gain and maintain that power, it didn’t leave me feeling wronged as a female.
Maybe I’ll have to pick up the show, to see how different is is from the books….
Kim – I’d be interested in your thoughts after you’ve seen the show.
MK – there really is so much that’s fantastic about the series. The final scene in the first season was brilliant, and Peter Dinklage is just amazing.
I have enjoyed the story to this point, but the last two (current season) shows are over the top – excessive nudity/pornography.
My family and I will watch this porno no longer. If only they would clean it up……….. Not holding my breath.
I really don’t mind sex if it’s well done, ha. I love True Blood!
I thought this week’s episode was boring. The bloody killings don’t even have shock value anymore, they’ve been so overdone.
I still enjoy Tyrion. I want dragons!
This was based off of medieval history. Women were treated like crap then, and they still are in some places. Seriously, I find this to be more than a bit of an over-reaction. I suggest you get another hobby.
hahaha … I can totally understand your take on this. And from a certain point of view, I completely agree with you.
Series like this only reinforce misogynist stereotypes. They do it because they are so sure that their target audience doesn’t give a damn about the oppression of women. They do it because their target audience vicariously enjoy the gratuitous nudity, the groping, the harassment and humiliation, the eroticization of dominance. They do it because they are so sure that any woman who objects will be shouted down by the defenders of the status quo. They do it because what women think and feel just doesn’t matter.
And that’s why I don’t buy what they sell and I don’t watch what they show, no matter how otherwise good it supposedly is. If its underlying message is “Patriarchy is grand!” how good can it really be?
And a pox on all token female characters. There are no truly strong women in male-dominated media. They are as “strong” as male dominance allows them to pretend to be.
I wholeheartedly agree. I have never been so affected by a TV series – I guess the objectification is more in your face than most. I don’t think I will be continuing to watch this – really not doing it for me. Which is a shame, because visually and conceptually it is incredibly attractive – the ugliness – I do not find from the scenes of blood and gore – but the women are generally abhorrent – perhaps it is is ‘realistic’, but I feel it is just a male fantasy – I don’t derive any sexual pleasure from any of the men, it is whole heartedly concentrated on fulfilling male fantasies imo.
It’s absolutely disgusting and degrading to women. The problem is that it teaches men and women, boys and girls, subconsciously to perpetuate the same behaviors in the future. Funny how male nudity isn’t shown…weird….
Before I start i will apologies for my bad writing in English. It’s not my first languish and therefore I’m not use to it.
Well LK Rigel the first ting i want to say is, that Gorg R.R Martin did only write one episode in season 1 (The Pointy End). All the other things was written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss and the series have had different Directors. So Gorg R.R Martin have limited saying in the production.
I have read/ heard the books op to Dance with dragons and even though there is sex in the book. The sex is parts of the character, let me take cersei lannister as a example she uses here charm and body to get more power and influence in court. She is powerful, but is very short sighted in the books.
Unlike Tyrion Lannister who is still devastated form his first love who “betrayed” him. He then seeks comfort”sex”, I the arms of a prostitute, that only love’s him for his gold. And since Tyrion is smart he knows that nobody will ever love him. And if they do, it’s only for the gold and power his family have.
And in the books, sex is just a minor motivation for the character several have honor, gold, power and even love as a higher motivation be it male or female.
I must admit that I have only skimmed the series and stopped since it’s lack Depth.
And yes women wasn’t treated very nicely in the middle-aged for more info go to
woman beating in the medieval age
I’m still very sorry if it’s a little messy and if I forgot something the write
“First of all, I doubt “that” is how it was. I haven’t read many historical accounts of kings molesting their wives and daughters in front of visiting dignitaries or queens nursing their pre-adolescent sons in the same setting. But then, my historical education may be lacking.”.
Your historical education IS lacking.
Honestly, there is a lot of degrading going on in both the books and show. Women degraded by men, men degraded by women, men degraded by men, women degraded by women… it is a gritty fantasy world that is not too far off the mark from how we humans treat each other in the ‘real world’.
Yes, there are scenes of happy whores, both in the books and show — but there are also gut-wrenching scenes that force the reader / watcher to be disgusted at how people treat people (involving some of those same characters). I don’t think the author intended for us to take joy from the scene in which the prostitutes baby is murdered in front of her… or when the brat King forces a prostitute to physically abuse another prostitute for his enjoyment. If you took joy for that — or feel that it was written sexually gratifying… well, you can take that up with a psychologist.
Honestly, it seems to me that the main issue here is that the author is male. I wonder if you would have the same level of criticism if the author was female.I mean, True Blood could be criticized for some of the same things… some the attitudes the characters have concerning the opposite sex, and so on — and how some of the female characters are treated by male characters. Yet you have not criticized it. Is it because the author is female? What is the real issue here?
And to some of the other comments that people have left…. um… these books are not written for children — the show is adult television… not for the kiddies. If you have allowed your ‘family’ — which implies the little ones as well — to watch this show… you have issues. Seek help — and ask yourself how you can watch some of these scenes with your children next to you. That is YOUR problem to solve… don’t blame the author, producers, actors…
(Take note: I started this series fully expecting to enjoy it, not realizing how bad it was.) I agree completely. I started s.1 yesterday and the first episode made me so mad I couldn’t think straight. A secret: rapey situations were a turn-on for me, but watching what happened in the first episode made me feel so miserable for the girls in the show, to the point where I can’t even stand stuff like that. There’s so much that bugs me, I can go on and on, but mainly I feel like this show is completely sexist. And I know they have to put the old ages in perspective, but they could take out the nudity or take out the bad scenes in general. And if they are gonna put a bunch of nude girls and try to make the show realistic, there’s no way every woman back then looked like a pornstar.
Honestly, I’m at episode 7 now, and I kinda think the show is boring. It drags on. I’ve realized that they seem to add a naked girl everytime it feels like it’s dragging on. And the hot naked girls seem to be the only thing keeping people watching; whether they’re watching to compare themselves like me, or because the girls are hot, like my boyfriend.
Unless they decide to take out all that I think is wrong, I hope they don’t make it to season three.
@Angie: Not only to hope for this stuff in the future, which I’ve already seen, but to think women are so perfect and should be for them(thanks to the media). My boyfriend even had to nerve to say, “Why don’t you look like that?”. Society is screwed up enough in my opinion, without all this freaking porn on t.v.
Several times I considered stopping watching this series. I admit, the dragons kept me going. Luckily, the show was ridiculed so much for its crappy treatment of women that they do tone it down after a while. Some.
I finally lost it with GoT last night after realising I had been sitting suffering through the various thinly-veiled gratuitous scenarios because I hadn’t wanted to seem like I was being uptight or prudish. This was after a baffling conversation with my fiancée and his mum (who gave us the box-set to watch) where I mentioned that I had found series one difficult in places due to its treatment of women.
“Oh but the women are really strong!” (Fiancée’s Mum) “What about the dragon girl?!”
“What the one who was traded by her brother for power who had that cringeworthy lesbian scene where the slutty slavegirl showed her how to have the sort of sex that would get what she wanted?” (Me)
“But what about Ayria?” (FM)
“Who the one who has to want to be male to set herself apart from the army of medieval page-three girls whose only means of currency is sex?”
At this point my fiancée chimes in, smiling fondly:
“Ahh. Mum you have to remember Sara was made to go to
Sunday school for years. There’s probably still a church-goer deep down in there who can’t cope with her blushes when the sex comes on”
So I watched season 2. Up to the point where Joffrey got the jolly prostitute to violently sexually abuse her chum. Then I found my inner Sunday school member and popped upstairs to do some embroidery.
The one episode I did watch was highly upsetting for me, and I didn’t watch any more. I felt powerless for the woman on screen and somehow personally invaded. What bother’s me is that most men and some women rate the show – which means that I am over-sensitive and extreme in my reaction. I don’t think I will ever forget those scenes.