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[personal profile] lierdumoa
So I got caught up reading GoT comment threads on [ profile] ohnotheydidnt. I know, I know, why do I do this myself?

Anyway, I read some interesting fan viewpoints on the Daenerys/Drogo scenes in the first two episodes.

Firstly there's the fan sentiment that Drogo is "more tender in the books" and the show makes a departure from canon by depicting the sex as unnecessarily "rapey."

Uhm. I haven't read the books but let's look at some non-negotiables. She was sold like chattel. She was not given a choice. How is it any less rape if he's "gentle" and she gets wet? He doesn't give her the option to refuse. Or are we so backwards we still haven't figured out that arousal ≠ consent?

Another fan felt that the show was glorifying rape.

If anything it sounds like the books were glorifying rape by implying that because Drogo is gentle and works in some foreplay he's not actually raping her. The show goes out of its way to make it clear that the rape scenes are rape scenes. They're uncomfortable to watch, and they're pretty obviously supposed to be uncomfortable to watch.

Or are we assuming that depiction of rape automatically implies tacit approval by the author? That's an awfully dangerous assumption to make.

That same fan stated that citing historical accuracy was not a legitimate excuse for depicting rape because this show is a fantasy, not a history. However, that statement makes the assumption that all fantasy is escapist, which is patently untrue. Especially in a situation where an author specifically chooses to base his fantasy universe on medieval society because of how deeply flawed medieval society was.

Now I'm not saying that rape is okay as long as it's contextually relevant. I am saying that writing/filming rape because it is contextually relevant does not necessarily mean that the person doing the writing/filming thinks or means to imply that rape is okay.

Of course, authorial intent is a hard thing to discern. Some audience members will percieve authorial approval where others will percieve authorial condemnation, where yet others will percieve authorial neutrality.

The same fan again felt that Daenerys's choice to seek out advice on how to "make Drogo happy" in bed was the show's way of saying that Drogo was absolved of his crime since his victim ultimately consented. However, there are certain details within the show which I think contradict that particular interpretation.

Specifically: The advice itself. Daenerys asks her maidservant for advice on how to please Drogo. However, she doesn't actually receive advice on how to please Drogo. She doesn't learn how to give a kickass blowjob. She doesn't learn how to make the sex more pleasurable for herself or for Drogo. She doesn't even learn how to feign arousal.

Rather, the advice she receives is advice on how to shift the power balance between herself and Drogo to her advantage.

In the rape scenes, Daenerys is positioned on her hands and knees whilst Drogo mounts her from behind. Daenerys' maidservant advises Daenerys to, "Always look him in the eye" -- because it's hard to treat a human being like livestock when you're looking that human being in the eye. She tells her to "get on top" because it's hard to look down on someone when you're literally looking up at them.

Daenerys' maidservant is essentially telling her: "This is how Drogo took your power away. This is how you can get some power back." Any educated person, including the show's authors, should know that rape is entirely about power. One could potentially argue that this episode reaffirms the fact that Daenerys was raped by acknowledging the power dynamics of the situation.

Are there going to be assholes who look at the rape scenes in this show and think they're edgy and cool and fun wank material? Probably yes. Are these assholes the show's intended audience? I doubt it.

In conclusion, having watched two episodes, I don't think this show is particularly misogynist. It could perhaps be considered gratuitously graphic, but then, so was Germinal. I do think it's pretty racist, but that's a discussion for another day.

Date: 2011-04-26 07:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Very astute analysis of the rapey issues with the HBO version. You've made clearer what the issues I was having with the Daenerys/Drogo sex scenes.

My initial reaction to the HBO depiction of Drogo and the Dorthaki was annoyance, because while I think that they are much more honest about the fact that their relationship is inherently fucked up wrt any kind of a power balance between Danny and Drogo, the ways in which they did that do seem to play into racist depictions of the Dothraki.

(This, despite making the Dothraki much whiter than in the books. )

In the interviews floating around about GoT, references were made to the Dothraki as "barbarians" in comparison with the people of the Seven Kingdoms. As Ned Stark starts the series by chopping off someone's head in front of his 10 year old son, I beg to differ on what "civilized" might mean in this context- so far it seems to mean "speaks without an accent and is lily white" without further critique.

In the books, Drogo speaks the Common Tongue well enough to communicate a bit with Danny, and is shown making overt efforts to provide her with tools to be seen as strong in Dothraki society (which the books flesh out explicitly with its own values and culture, in as much detail as any court in Westeros.) I'll omit details for the sake of not spoiling, but I encourage you to read the books.

The HBO version of Dothraki culture is depicted as dirty and incomprehensible. Drogo cannot speak any language that the audience can understand, and is not given to speaking much at all. I think you're correct about how the show depicts the rapes more honestly and less romantically, but I begin to think that that honesty is a side-effect of wanting to make the Dothraki more strange, foreign, and Other- in short, barbarous.

My hope is that the show will get less racist as time goes on and we can gain greater insight into the Dothraki culture as Daenerys gets more comfy there, but it's pretty bad to start with.

TL;DR? I suspect the honesty of the rapes is made easier for the producers to stomach because it's a "barbarian" savaging a tiny blonde white woman.

Date: 2011-04-26 10:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I suspect the honesty of the rapes is made easier for the producers to stomach because it's a "barbarian" savaging a tiny blonde white woman.

Well put!

Honestly, my initial reaction to the rape was not, "Oh my god, misogyny," but rather, "WOW. OBVIOUS RACEFAIL IS OBVIOUS."

I didn't go into the racism in this post for a reason. Racism isn't something I can keep a level head about. I didn't want my post to degenerate into 3000+ words of caustic, snarky ranting. So thank you for having addressed these points with far more grace than I would have.

Date: 2011-04-26 11:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, I would read the ranting, for one. But it's your brain power, use it for something you want to.


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