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It's been the ruin of many a poor girl

Okay so I am a bit late to the party, but I feel the need to talk about sexual assault in fiction.

So Sansa Stark got raped in the show Game of Thrones by her forced husband. That can happen, it's a brutal bloody world that seems to take great pains to make sure all of the characters suffer emotionally and physically. There have been previous rapes, genital mutilations, incest, and murders that took place. The show is a brutal horror story in a fantasy setting and that is okay. Let me repeat that again: that is okay.

You see a lot of the arguments I see against it are the equivalent of "Well it is disgusting and therefore should not be talked about or ever shown". You are disgusted? Good. You are supposed to be. The only way we make progress is by talking about things that disgust us. Trapping yourself in a bubble where only the things that are safe get shown or talked about is not helping to take away the problem in the first place. In fact that's been the policy about rape for years, it is only very recently that it has been able to be talked about. Sure some stories don't involve rape. That is fine, not all stories need to touch upon it. If you choose to tell a story without rape then your story is still perfectly valid. But if you choose to touch upon it that doesn't make your story LESS valid.

The things people said in the wake of it are what appalled me far more than the act. Many tried to behave like Sansa was weak simply because she "let" herself be raped. This is wrong on several different points. No one just lets themselves be raped, it is something that is taken from you not something that is "given". Rape victims do not get taken because they are "too weak" to fight back. It doesn't matter how physically or mentally strong you are at times, it can still happen to you. Think about it we are dealing with medieval standards where a woman then belongs to her husband and the husband has been shown to be a sadistic person. Where would she go even if she did escape? Out to the halls where the guards could catch her (and knowing her husband, he would then make them join in like he did Theon in the books)? Would being flayed alive for resisting be a better fate for her, like Ramsay did to others that have resisted him? I know that we have been conditioned by society to believe that people like Sansa, the pretty and rich idealistic princesses, are supposed to be saved last minute and that the truly horrific things will happen to the uglier or evil characters but guess what? That just isn't true. Bad things happen to good people. Sometimes the bad guys win, especially when society backs them up. That doesn't make the person it happened to weak.

This act has not robbed Sansa of her power. Yes, power and her virginity were taken from her roughly and brutally. Yes she is trapped in her former home with a monster. But she still has political connections and a brain about her. All they have shown is that she cannot fight her way out of this hell physically. She will need to sacrifice part of her dignity if she is going to get out of this alive and take back the power that was taken from her. Sure it may not have been her raped in the books, but someone was still raped in the same way she was. It just wasn't Sansa, the pretty girl, but instead a character that we never fully get to know. She still has the political backing once she can get word out of the fortress. It is hard to get out of her situation, but not impossible and it doesn't reduce her role to simply "victim".

Why have this scene at all? Well for one it hammers home just how much of a monster Ramsey is. It builds the bond up between Theon and Sansa now that they both have been thoroughly tortured by the same man. It changes completely how Sansa has to approach the overthrowing of Ramsey now that he has crossed this line. It is important on a thematic level. The Song of Fire and Ice series largely contradicts many of the tropes that we have been conditioned to believe in by all the fairy tales and this is just another trope, because even the best of us still secretly "knew" that she would be rescued. This is important because it gets people talking. Because people, even supposedly well educated people, can still say that someone is weak for getting raped and that if she had fought back then it would have been better for her.




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