12:00 pm EDT, April 25, 2014

Jaime Lannister is a feminist: Why the ‘Game of Thrones’ rape scene matters (opinion)

What does this mean for ‘Game of Thrones’?

If this rape is going to be turned into a story point, it means that going forward in the show, our beloved Jaime has become either a) a terrible human being who thinks it’s okay to rape his sister when she refuses to put out, or b) a psychotic person who has finally lost his moral compass. And either of these options would be fine, logistically at least, if this became a dramatic turn in Jaime’s narrative arc — one that the characters would have to deal with within the confines of the story.

But the problem is that unless the showrunners drastically change Jaime’s character direction from the books, this dramatic event won’t make sense continuity-wise at all, which brings me to the worst thing the television show could do: just ignore that this rape ever happened, and treat it as a non-issue.

It feels wrong to tarnish Jaime’s character by making him a rapist, but what feels even more wrong is to treat this assault as if it speaks nothing to his character. These two people are fundamentally changed by what has happened. A trust has been broken. Just as Cersei was raped by her husband, she’s now been raped by her brother, the only person she always believed to be on her side.

Cersei loved Jaime because he had always afforded her the respect that Robert denied. If this rape isn’t brought up again within the story, then the show will be implying that rape should not have an impact on someone as they go forward in life. Using rape as a mechanism for shock value exploits and trivializes the experience of the rape victim. Yes, characters can and will do despicable things, but it is the responsibility of the show as a whole to treat these despicable actions as unacceptable.

Cersei sept season 4

Arguments have been made that we as an audience were simply shocked because we aren’t used to seeing Jaime and Cersei act as a couple. But this only feeds into the misconception that people within a relationship cannot be raped by their significant other. Yes, Jaime was her brother-boyfriend, but that does not mean that if Cersei is “not in the mood” he can force her to “go through the motions.”

A surprising amount of attention has been paid to Cersei’s rejection of Jaime’s creepy gold hand in their moment of passion when, frankly, this hand should have nothing to do with what happened. Are people suggesting that Cersei deserved to be raped because she was being a prude? Because she saw the gold hand as a turn off? Because putting aside that Jaime’s gold hand is hella creepy, and putting aside that Cersei picked out that hand so she should probably like it just fine, the hand has nothing to do with this. She does not owe Jaime anything sexually because she made him the gold hand.

And yes, to say that the Lannister twincest-y relationship is complicated is an understatement. When we watch these two argue, it feels like a cross between bickering adolescent siblings and an old, tired, married couple. Their relationship seems to be based on this sad mixture of passion and sheer desperation underlined by a mutual respect for one another. But just because their relationship is fundamentally comprised of countless taboos, it doesn’t make it okay for abuse to occur. They may be different than other relationships because of their incest, but that doesn’t make them different in their basic human rights. In other words, just because we find their behavior disgusting, doesn’t mean we can dismiss the respect that should be afforded to them in their relationship.

Jaime and Cersei

The director, Alex Graves, has come under a lot of attention after the release of this episode, but one of the things that I found most interesting from his interviews was the fact that when filming this scene, nobody bothered discussing the motivation or state of mind of the two characters. But don’t worry, the director did make sure to get the blocking right so that the dead boy could be in all the sex shots. In another interview, the director goes on to argue that it is quite clear that the sex was consensual because “before he rips her undergarment, she’s way into kissing him back.” That comment says volumes about the terrible misconceptions our society has regarding rape. Because in what civilized world does kissing someone mean that you are consenting to have sex with them?

This idea that women are fickle teases, or that they don’t really mean what they say is disturbing as a whole. We can’t watch that Game of Thrones scene and imply that Jaime knows that Cersei wants him, even after she says she doesn’t. It perpetuates the mentality of rape culture in our society in a terrifying way; not because we don’t see rape as wrong — everyone pretty much agrees that rape is wrong — but because we don’t acknowledge that what happened between Jaime and Cersei was a “legitimate” rape.

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