In fact, quite the opposite.
But with Sansa’s rape and Cersei’s arrest, the gender discussions on the show this season have reached a level we’ve never seen before. (Even though there has been plenty of violence against women in the past against, namely, Daenerys, Brienne, Cersei and even Sansa.)
It’s also important to note that while Martin’s books do include similar violence against women, the show often takes creative liberty with the story line. But Martin is a pivotal point person within the show when it comes to the creativity the producers take with the story line — and he clearly supports the decisions HBO made with the series.
In a statement to Entertainment Weekly, Martin explained the decision to have such violence against women. “I’m writing about war, which is what almost all epic fantasy is about. But if you’re going to write about war, and you just want to include all the cool battles and heroes killing a lot of orcs and things like that and you don’t portray [sexual violence], then there’s something fundamentally dishonest about that. Rape, unfortunately, is still a part of war today. It’s not a strong testament to the human race, but I don’t think we should pretend it doesn’t exist.”
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And Martin is exactly right. We shouldn’t shy away from those truths just because they show the worst of society. We should take them and use that knowledge to better ourselves and better the world we live in.
Furthermore, for those who have suffered violence of this kind, it lets them know they aren’t alone. They aren’t going through this ignored. Martin’s characters are praised because they are so real and these are not things Sansa will suddenly, miraculously recover from. It will affect her and shape her and be something she lives with and, hopefully, eventually conquers.
“It’s a complicated argument,” Martin admits. “To be non-sexist, does that mean you need to portray an egalitarian society? That’s not in our history; it’s something for science fiction. And 21st century America isn’t egalitarian either. There are still barriers against women. It’s better than what it was. It’s not Mad Men anymore, which was in my lifetime.”
But there are still plenty of challenges to overcome and recognizing the need to discuss them in order to further change is the first step of feminism, which Martin is clearly all for. His statement shows that he is more than open to this pivotal discussion and he values the input fans of the show and book series are bringing to the conversation.
“I want to portray struggle,” Martin concludes. “Drama comes out of conflict. If you portray a utopia, then you probably wrote a pretty boring book.”