Discourse of Thrones: Jaime, Cersei, and Confronting Rape

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Discourse of Thrones: Jaime, Cersei, and Confronting Rape

April 21st, 2014

When I wrote my review of “Breaker of Chains” on Sunday afternoon, I certainly knew that the scene between Jaime and Cersei at the Sept of Baelor would cause a conversation.

This is both because of the fact that it signals a departure from how the scene plays out in the books and the fact that it features a character that has become a more inherently likeable character in the series committing an absolutely vile, unforgivable act. On the whole, though, I thought the scene played in the same thematic territory as its literary progenitor, such that any conversation would be more about the impact on—rather than destruction of—the characters in question. I did not imagine the scenario we’ve arrived to, in which the scene is causing a considerable and often ugly debate (provided one makes the mistakes of reading the comments, perhaps even on this piece I’m in the process of writing).

Or, rather, it’s causing two debates.

The first debate is about the nature of Jaime’s character, and about the way we reconcile his actions relative to that character. The fact is that Game of Thrones, compared to A Song of Ice and Fire, began Jaime’s arc of redemption earlier, helped by the presence of the character’s point-of-view at an earlier point in the series. When Jaime is swordfighting with Bronn at the water’s edge earlier this season, that scene reads for the show as the start of a rehabilitative arc, and we at least generally root for Jaime to regain the parts of himself that define him. In the meantime, however, Cersei is the other thing that stabilizes him, a connection to his past life that could provide him comfort, and yet Cersei denies him. Through this lens, the rape becomes Jaime’s crisis of identity boiling over: here, in this moment of grief where their son is dead, she nonetheless denies his passion, leading him to lose control and sexually assault Cersei in an effort to take back his former identity by force.

This is how I read the scene, a reading that does not excuse Jaime’s behavior but frames it within a complicated characterization. Jaime rapes Cersei, and the fact that he has reasons for doing it that stem from an identity crisis does not change that fact. It firmly frames Jaime as one of a long list of television anti-heroes, albeit through an act that is much tougher to accept than those committed by characters like Don Draper or Walter White. It is as though the writers, searching for a similar character action in the specific set of politics operating in Westeros, landed on rape as an offense that is horrifying for audiences today but comparatively acceptable by the standards of the culture established in the series.

I can understand fans being upset about this choice, at the same time as I accepted it as a conscious effort to complicate the character. It definitively resists narratives that frame Jaime as a hero in this story, but I for one saw it as a reinforcement of how deep his insecurities—bred into him by his daddy issues—have corrupted his system in the wake of recent events. It is an act committed in grief but born out of a set of values that he has been asked to uphold, and which he has identified on some intrinsic level as being hand-in-hand with the identity he’s holding onto as hard as he can in a moment of instability.

This, I would argue, is a productive debate about the character’s development and our understanding of heroism in Westeros in the context of the series specifically. What I did not realize going into the post-air conversation was that there would be an actual discussion about whether or not this was rape. Actually, let me rephrase that: I knew this debate would exist in the comments on something like Sonia Sairaya’s cogent piece at The A.V. Club entitled “Rape of Thrones,” in which she compares the scene’s changes from the book relative to similar changes in the Daenerys/Drogo sequence in season one. Inevitably, the cultural conversation around issues like rape—or any kind of issue of sociocultural politics surrounding a popular television series online—will be dismissed as overthinking, and in this case as “feminist propaganda” or some other misrepresentation. It’s a sad state of affairs, but I’ve come to accept that even addressing issues like rape when engaging with a show like Game of Thrones will result in defensive statements that—knowingly or unknowingly—step into a minefield of misogyny from a certain breed of online commenter.

[As for the idea that the scene isn't rape at all, I imagine some would argue that Cersei's refrain of "It's not right" stands as a moral objection to the circumstances—the presence of Joffrey's corpse, for instance—rather than the act of sex itself, but he is nonetheless forcing himself on her. That is still rape.]

However, I had no expectation that this debate about the definition of rape would extend into comments from the episode’s director. Alex Graves did a round of interviews for the Purple Wedding, in which clearly multiple reporters spoke to him regarding this week’s episode as well. And what I’ve come to discover is that Alex Graves doesn’t think this was a rape in the same way. Asked by Alan Sepinwall about the sequence, he suggests that

“…it becomes consensual by the end, because anything for them ultimately results in a turn-on, especially a power struggle.”

This conception of the scene is some insidious nonsense. It suggests that Cersei’s stern objections are foreplay that gets the two characters revved up for what becomes consensual sex over time. Now, Graves is also cited as referring to the scene as rape in The Hollywood Reporter, so he isn’t arguing that it wasn’t a rape. However, he’s leaving room for rape to turn into consensual sex, and works to reframe the act as rape as one more messed up part of this already messed up relationship (which isn’t helped by The Hollywood Reporter‘s insistence on using the word “taboo” to describe the sequence, foregrounding the incest/corpse and making it seem as though rape is only a stigma based on a lack of cultural acceptance).

Graves’ comments reveal a reading not dissimilar to my own of the sequence, but with the crucial difference that he perceives this as an act of love. In The Hollywood Reporter, Graves suggests

“Jaime is still trying to believe as hard as he possibly can that he’s in love with Cersei. He can’t admit that he is traumatized by his family and he’s been forced his whole life to be something he doesn’t want to be. What he is — but has to deny — is he is actually the good knight, like Brienne.”

How can Jaime be a good knight when he rapes Cersei? How is this in any way an act of love? As much as I would agree that his actions stem from his identity crisis, that words like “love” or “good” are associated with this sequence makes me incredibly uncomfortable, and once again works to minimize the fact—which Graves himself acknowledges—that Jaime raped her.

I will admit I didn’t have the same response to the scene as Sonia did. It’s undoubtedly problematic, but I thought the episode did some work through the Sam and Gilly storyline to reiterate the presence of rape both as a reality of Westeros and as a crime that is worthy of banishment to the Knight’s Watch but which nonetheless lingers as a consistent threat. For this reason, I’m not convinced that Graves’ reading of the scene is the series’ reading more broadly, and reserve any more definitive judgment on the story’s effectiveness until we see the next chapter in the story—as much as I agree that rape can be a problematic story development, and that the series ignored the implications of the changes to Drogo and Daenerys’ wedding night, I’m not so convinced that their plans for this one are as limited (particularly given that they’re showing more willingness to stray from the source material compared to the first season). I’m also not entirely convinced by her parallel between this scene and the series’ use of nudity as it relates to appealing to male audiences though sexualized shock value, given that both character remain fully clothed within the scene in question.

And yet we should be debating those kinds of questions. We should be debating how often rape is used in series like Game of Thrones, and how the series’ sexual politics work across the series’ run. We should be debating why no one—including Graves—is talking about the impact this event has on Cersei, as though it existed solely to represent Jaime’s existential crisis with no consideration of how it affects the woman being raped. What we shouldn’t be debating is the definition of rape, which is why Graves’ comments are so concerning (and why I’m much closer to Sonia’s response now than I was when I watched the episode in a vacuum). It’s a case where gaining perspective from the people behind the scenes actually makes the sequence more problematic, as at least in the absence of an “official” point-of-view there’s more room to give them the benefit of the doubt.

While judgment on the story as a whole will wait until the season (and perhaps even series) plays out, judgment on the discourse emerging after the event is well deserved in this instance.

GameOfThrones

Well, it becomes consensual by the end, because anything for them ultimately results in a turn-on, especially a power struggle.
Read more at http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/review-game-of-thrones-breaker-of-chains-uncle-deadly#fXkyrczXFaq1Xwkq.99
Well, it becomes consensual by the end, because anything for them ultimately results in a turn-on, especially a power struggle.
Read more at http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/review-game-of-thrones-breaker-of-chains-uncle-deadly#fXkyrczXFaq1Xwkq.99
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76 Comments

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76 responses to “Discourse of Thrones: Jaime, Cersei, and Confronting Rape

  1. This article is aces. I agree entirely. Minor quibble might be that I’m just not sure if being clothed negates the scene as being (on some level) deployed for sexualized shock value. I don’t think the scene could have unfolded with them naked at all, contextually or otherwise, so I think Sonia’s comparison still holds up pretty rigorously. This is a show with a longstanding reputation for similarly questionable things; this seems like a logical extension of that into deeply personal, deeply uncomfortable, and deeply upsetting territory.

    I really just cannot believe Graves is unable to see what he is telegraphing on the screen, it is very very clear. Even moreso, that he would STILL see this scene as one of his favourites. I just cannot process that. Right now, I’m simply too hurt and angry.

    • I see where you’re coming from, and I would certainly not argue that there’s no shock value involved. I just think there’s a risk with the show to lump every act of sex into the category of a sexposition/pointless nudity, and I would say that this is a very different deployment of sex that deserves its own conversation. That conversation may involve similar criticisms, but I would push for its separation to keep from rushing to proclaim this as a byproduct of base impulses without more evidence to work with.

      >

  2. Phoe

    I’m surprised that anyone would think it’s not rape, maybe Alex Graves did intend it to turn into consensual sex (similar to the way it is in the books) but that did not translate on screen at all from the performances.

    I would like to believe that this will not be brushed away but it is a very dark place to put Jamie in. I can’t think of any examples where a character commits rape and then is rehabilitated to the point Jamie is in the later books.

    What this does is make us sympathize with Cersei (the one that everyone hates) a lot more, where in the books there’s a lot more focus on her just being a loony.

    • EmanV

      Yea Jamie is my favorite character in the books not sure what the t.v writers were thinking can’t help but be really bothered by this change

    • Josh

      Agreed. The only reason I can think of to make this change on the writers’ part was to make Cersei more sympathetic, and I just don’t think this was the way to do it. Watching this scene, everything just felt off about it. It bothered me to learn that the director was specifically proud of it after the fact, because I did not get the sense that it turned consensual in any way as the scene progressed. Perhaps that was poor directing, odd acting choices from the actors, or something else, but I think it will be particularly problematic… as many book readers will happily cite Jaime as a favorite and will have difficulty reconciling this take on him with what they’ve read in the books (where he is by no means an honorable Ned-type, but at the very least is a man trying to do the best he can for his family and his kingdom).

      No doubt about it. This scene was rape, and it was hard to watch, and it’s hard to stomach.

      • Kadayi

        You’re talking about a guy who pushed a small child out of a window to cover up his twincest and beat a distant relation to death in order to escape from Rob Stark. Sure, the guy has changed his tune somewhat since encountering Brienne, but the man is damaged goods, physically, mentally & emotionally.

        • Phoe

          I think we’re desynthesized to murder, we’ve seen it in so many ways on TV and Film, sometimes even in a humorous manner. Rape is that thing that takes it too far.

          • fraesp29

            And that’s perhaps the most troubling issue here. There’s no way to argue that rape is not a “bad thing” or that it’s a minor sin easy to atone for, but we should be aware that neither is murder. Yet many of our favorites (Tyrion, anyone?) literally get away with murder, yet rape seems to be way too inconvenient and politically incorrect in these times.
            What most people are lacking, I believe, is a perspective much like Stanis’s: “A good deed does not wash a way a bad one, and viceversa” (or something like that). I do not particularly like this directing choice, but that doesn’t mean that my perspective of Jamie will change dramatically over this one issue. I will not contend that what he did was not rape or that it is not to be frowned upon, but reducing a character to a one-dimensional piece of scum for one vile deed seems to me excesively harsh in a story where most main characters constantly commit attrocities to further their objectives.
            If you really dislike the scene, that’s fine; I didn’t, either. Just pretend it happened as Graves seems to have intended it and blame it on poor directing, but don’t start a witch-hunt where there’s clearly nothing but a campfire.

        • Loony, shoving, thrusting Ser Jaime is right at the center, of GoT theme-development.

          After stabbing the Mad King, he pupped crazy Joffrey, abused Tyrion, severally, and started the Stark rebellion up, with lots of hate, when he shoved Brandon Stark, from the top of a tower, where he was discovered, to be bonking his even crazier sister, Cercsei.

          His usual abuse of short people is consistent, but post-lopping, of his right hand, he is on a new tack.

          Last episode, Cersei appeals to Jaime, to kill their brother, Tyrion, who is simultaneously asking his squire, to fetch Jaime, to visit him, in the dungeon.

          Jaime’s rape, of Cersei is a possible rebuff, of her insane request, to have Jaime kill Tyrion, for her, when she has already rejected his refreshed advances, upon his return, from captivity.

          We will see how this plays out! I only know some of what will happen, since I didn’t read the books, and I picked up HBO, two years ago, so spoil away, if you are allowed to, but I won’t.

          I already know he won’t kill Tyrion.

          • Oh, and don’t forget. Jaime whacks kids.

            During his unsuccessful escape attempt, which unsettled the Stark revolt, in a Goldbergian way, Jaime killed his former squire, which the magnificently disoriented Robb Stark had confined, with the quietly murderous Ser Jaime.

          • Alex Alonso

            Yea, well. He doesn’t kill his cousin/former squire in the books. He doesn’t rape Cersei in the books. His one and only bad deed in the Books is pushing Bran which is hard to reconcile but yea.

            I was pretty annoyed when he killed his cousin and when he raped Cersei, but the show is clearly trying to make Cersei seem like more of a victim than she was in the books.

            They did something similar with Petyr, when he’s talking to Ros in the brothel. There’s a scene where he seems sadistic and cruel, as though he enjoys scaring her. Littlefinger’s not a nice guy but I never got the impression that he was sadistic in the books, so that bugged me too. Oh well.

    • rob

      before i ssaw the episode i thought it could have been like Pete Campell’s “rape” in season 3 of mad men which resulted from cut scenes, but this seems too explicitly rape for that.

      http://movieline.com/2010/11/08/pete-campbell-not-a-rapist-says-pete-campbell/

    • Kira Krumpet

      I know right. Sure Jaime absolutely detests rape, sure Cercei has committed unspeakable atrocities and rape would be a pittance in repayment for her crimes, sure the books blatantly state it’s not rape and Cercei consented, sure the author has blatantly stated it’s not rape and Cercei consented, sure the writers of the show have blatantly stated it’s not rape, sure the director has blatantly stated it’s not rape, sure the author of the books has come out to defend the show by blatantly stating it’s not rape, sure the scene in context (especially next episode) blatantly shows it wasn’t rape…

      But HOW could anybody not understand it was CLEARLY rape??!!!

  3. This article is aces. I agree entirely. Minor quibble might be that I’m just not sure if being clothed negates the scene as being (on some level) deployed for sexualized shock value. I don’t think the scene could have unfolded with them naked at all, contextually or otherwise, so I think Sonia’s comparison still holds up pretty rigorously. Book Public Notice, Court Notice Ad in Indian Newspapers online instantly via myadvtcorner

  4. Is it just me, or did many of the lines in that scene seem to be ADR’d? Maybe Graves shot the scene with the intent of making it seem consensual, but dubbing it over with Cersei’s continued protestations and Jaime saying, “I don’t care, I don’t care,” might change the intent of the scene considerably.

  5. Dallas

    What we lack here is the internal voice of the characters since Jaime’s return. While it was forced sex (rape) the reality here is that the power struggle (game to them) between them is very real, and it’s something they’ve enjoyed with each other for a very long time.
    I think that while watching this is very disturbing to your everyday person, the reality is that I don’t think Cersie was upset about anything other than the fact that her dead son was lying beside them.
    The mind of Cersie Lannister as I know it is so corrupt, vile, and deformed, that to her this is what she wanted from Jaimie, not rape per-se, but for him to overpower her. When he arrives without his sword hand, his powerlessness is what turns her off…not because he took “too long” which were the words she used but because he’s powerless.

    Finally thoughts: for a kingslayer, oath-breaker, and attempted child murderer…rape isn’t that unbelievable…and in the books her so casually giving into Jaimie betrays her characters supposed love for her children, I remember being surprised she would be so enthused when I read the scene.

  6. Cave

    I think Cersei is capable of way more determined resistance than this — if we decide to look at this particular character by herself and in her relationship with Jamie. The whole point here is that there is something new in their relationship, they used to be not only siblings and lovers but great allies; there was no dissent, no ambiguity.
    She kisses him then recoils from his fake hand, she has already said he took too long to come back (she feels she was left alone dealing with the “stress”, to say the least, of court) – she wavers about him. I think he feels the same way about her, he sees her cruelty more clearly now, not only because she is rejecting him but also because he has become better through suffering. And now she wants him to kill the brother he loves.
    I think this was a good way of showing the alternating attraction/repulsion they feel towards each other now. The whole scene reflected this movement towards/away from each other.
    Cersei could definitely, in the context of the scene and how it was presented, have struggled and screamed more or shown only horror and disgust, whereas she was oscillating.
    This is different from the book probably because in the series they chose to anticipate Jamie’s return to the end of last season, thus putting it before Joffrey’s death; also a way to portray the growing complexity of their relationship.
    I think it’s interesting that Jamie’s path should not be wholly forward towards complete goodness — dramatically it’s more interesting if he goes back and forth, fights against himself. Only Martin knows how he will end up — I hope not dead for a while at least.
    Nevertheless, I find it interesting that people should make a huge outcry about whether or not he raped her when these two are brother and sister — hellooooo? I mean, start looking at Game of Thrones from a moral ground and you’d better stop watching. Should we not then stop every time a character is slaughtered to talk against murder, because though I am a woman I still think murder is worse than rape. What could we say about slavery, and prostitution, and children being married off against their will? Is any of this acceptable from a real-world, modern perspective and the idea of human rights?
    A lot of what happens in this series is a bit too strong for some tastes — I must say I understand that people who read the books want the series to stay faithful to it, I’ve felt like that about books I read before i saw the film, though I have not read these books so my reaction is entirely to the series and I did think this was a complex but interesting development within this work of fiction. The issue of how immoral and wrong this is and how it will make men go on thinking rape is OK and send hordes of Vikings out, etc, again is going a bit far — otherwise let’s look at selling meth, being a Mafia boss, torturing people — is ANY of this OK? Should we just have House on the Prairie? Or maybe we can have these complex shows knowing as intelligent adults that we are not really meant to think as we watch, “Hey, great, I’ll become a drug dealer/rapist/murderer/thief/prostitute” etc. AND those who do not want troubling things may choose not to watch it?

    • Adam

      This is a disgusting answer. If she said no (she did), if she struggled (she did), if she cried (she did), then it is rape, pure and simple.
      How dare you blame the victim?
      You are perpetuating rape culture. Don’t ever blame a victim. Don’t ever pretend that blurred lines exist. Don’t ever speak on the internet again.

      • Cave

        fic·tion [fik-shuhn]
        1.
        the class of literature comprising works of imaginative narration, especially in prose form.

        2..
        something feigned, invented, or imagined; a made-up story: We’ve all heard the fiction of her being in delicate health.

        3.
        the act of feigning, inventing, or imagining.
        4.
        an imaginary thing or event, postulated for the purposes of argument or explanation.

      • dallas1138

        I never said it wasn’t disgusting or that it wasn’t rape. I’m saying neither of them really see it that way.

        To an outsider it is clearly rape, but to the victim the lines can be blurred when the perpetrator is both a loved family member or past lover (both in this case).

        Before you say something (else) you regret you should be aware that I’m drawing this conclusion from my own real world experience with rape, and it’s many blurred lines.

        Sorry I hit a nerve, but the psychology behind rape is not so black and white as you make it out to be.

      • fraesp29

        @Adam
        Rape culture? I’m sorry, I must be awfully ignorant, because I’ve never heard of it. Is it like drug culture? Do these people hang out in some sort of rape clubs, grab some cocktails, bring their raping shoes, and just get wild? I mean, I live in a thirld world country where our government officers don’t seem to believe in many of those so-called human rights, but even we know forcefully having intercourse with someone else is a big no-no…
        Or could it just be you’re such an impressionable creature that you feel every behaviour you see on TV is intinsically validated by that mere fact? Because if that’s the case, I believe it’s YOU who should not be allowed access to any mass medium, lest you begin chopping off limbs, heading international drug cartels, storing mutilated corpses on your fridge or God knows what else these depraved Holywood people tell you to.

    • mal

      As to your point whether Cersei could have really stopped it or “resisted” and “struggled” better; ridiculous: what if she did scream or cry for help? what would be the result? accusing her brother of rape? What would be the consequence? Confirming the incest rumors? What would be the punishment? Send Jaime to the Wall? I don’t think so. She was powerless in that moment, and he forced himself on her despite her objections and obvious distress. That’s the point, that’s rape.
      Let’s even say she gave in at the end. It doesn’t matter, his intent was to force himself on her, and he succeeded.

    • You wrote: “I think Cersei is capable of way more determined resistance than this.” Um, so it isn’t rape if a woman doesn’t resist to a certain point or in a certain way or scream loud enough or scratch his eyes out or bite his ear off? Really??? Rape is rape, and this scene portrayed a rape. No means no, men.

  7. belinda

    This actually made me question the books, and perhaps adds to it. In the books, it was a Jaime chapter, so it makes me wonder how legitimate was Jaime’s account of what happened. It wasn’t out of character entirely, because of the nature of Cersei and Jaime’s taboo relationship, even though we all have been liking Jaime thus far on his journey to redemption. This act brings back the initial thing that started it all – Jaime pushing Bran out the window because he was busy humping his sister. Sure, Cersei is not a very nice person and everyone already hates her, but it isn’t just her own doing here. They both had a hand in why Joffrey’s the way he was, for example. Jaime is every bit a part of that as well (even if it’s basically by being an absent father). Like last week’s episode, Cersei’s all petty with Brienne, but Jaime was all out threatening Loras before she talked to Brienne too.

    So I actually liked that the scene was pretty explicitly rape in the show. It reminds people that Cersei has her own set of baggage and issues as well that informs a lot of her really bad decisions.

    • belinda

      Jaime isn’t without his faults, but for most of the time, most people have been blaming Cersei for Jaime’s part in his obsession with her, heck, blames Cersei for all the stuff with Jaime that isn’t so good (even though it has so much more to do with their whole family and his own decision making as well), because well, Jaime is very likable. But it isn’t like Cersei seduced him when he was young and made him obsessed with her so she’s the evil slut here, and something like this episode vehemently reminds everyone of this fact.

    • belinda

      So really, the only annoying thing about it is Graves’ answer, that sort of excuse “Oh, it ~turned consensual!” that excuses nothing, which doesn’t seem to be the point of having the scene there in the first place, especially given the structure of the episode (and that the PoVs of the female characters are very prominent and seems to tell a story about the struggle with what it means to wield power as a female, or the lack thereof).

  8. The bizarre thing to me is that in the “Behind the Scenes” Benioff & Weiss seem to pretty clearly agree it’s rape, which raises some real questions as to the level of communication between the writers and director re: intent.

    Agree that it’s pretty astonishing that nobody trying to explain or justify the scene is examining the impact of the rape on the victim.

    I guess my real question about the scene is: What the hell was the point of all this?

  9. Gail F.

    The scene was ridiculous. Jaime is a dark enough character without having him rape his sister next to the body of their dead son. And the scene was unnecessary; we already had a good idea that rape is widespread in an increasingly unstable/chaotic Westeros.

  10. Cave

    Gail has a point in that it is a bit excessive even for GoT that it’s next to the dead son. With the emphasis on rape, as if FICTION had never dealt with this issue before, one forgets the dead-son-right-there aspect which is more than a bit hamfisted.
    But I don’t think the point of this scene is for shock value only or for us to think rape is widespread, Unlike the other many gratuitous sex and rape scenes in the series, this one has an impact on narrative. I wonder how it will change their relationship;

  11. mal

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Let’s say she consented in the end, it doesn’t matter. If she “gave in” that is still problematic. What are her choices at that moment? Call out for help? What would she say? Jaime is raping her? Confirming the incest rumors? She was powerless in that moment and I think that’s important. If the scenario is that Cersei doesn’t view it as rape, does it really matter? Jaime’s intent was forcing himself on her. From his side, he was raping her.

    • HellFell

      Mal, which is exactly what he did in the books. He forced himself on her, and after a brief resistance she gave in. So he also raped her in books. That’s why we shouldnt debate whether or not it was rape but what does it mean for Jaime as a person.

      • Cave

        I agree that since it’s a work of fiction we need to judge whether or not it was a good creative choice for the characters/plot. People are crucifying the director in internet with titles in bad faith such as “Director justifies the rape” — which he then in his quotes does not. I understand the law, especially in cases of rape, murder, robbery etc, should not allow leeway, but a work of fiction should be judged by other merits.

        But that means looking into whether or not there is an ambiguity to the scene, as that would mean one thing dramatically, whereas a straightforward rape during which she never participated would mean another.

        I have just watched it again, it’s in Youtube.

        He comforts her – she kisses him and when sees his fake hand clearly recoils in clear disgust – he looks clearly hurt and says “You’re a hateful woman. Why did the gods make me love a hateful woman?” – he then pushes her down roughly almost on top of Joffrey and kisses her (not the action of a man pursuing lust, but an act of anger) – she struggles and says “please!” – and “stop”. He tears her dress and kisses her again. SHE HOLDS ON TO HIS FACE returning the kiss – she holds on to his shoulder. He then turns her around and throws her on the ground. She says, “No, it’s not right” he says “I don’t care” – he pumps on top of her – her hand twists the fabric below Joffrey’s body.

        So definitely played with some ambiguity especially in light of what happens in the book as well (where she protests and then participates). Here it’s worse than in the book because he is not just returning and trying to reconnect with his lover and sister — but has been there for a while and has suffered under her disdain and coldness.

        When I say she could have reacted more given this is Jamie, not the Hound, for example, and she is no shrinking violet, I don’t mean that she could have screamed and asked for help as I agree she would never expose herself, but that she could have ended up with fistfuls of his hair and he with a lot of scratches and kicks to say the least. I think it would have been played like that if it had no ambiguity in it, if the writers and director wanted us to understand that this is solely an act of violence and not an act of despair on one side and grief on the other with a lot of undercurrents as this is a long and windy relationship.

        Her horror at his hand is what sets him off and makes him unable to stop, so he IS trying to punish her. In that sense and in the sense that we do not see her completely giving into it by the end of the scene (unless we are suppose to read the hand twisting the fabric as pleasure, which may not be the case at all) he ultimately forces her, it is rape.

        Then the question becomes how this served the story — people are wondering whether this has spoiled Jamie’s redemptive arc; but we have no idea what Martin has planned for him, as he likes to surprise us all . Maybe he is not ultimately going towards redemption — people reading the books may have more insight into this –or maybe redemption is not like an arrow that’s shot straight but a more difficult path, which would be closer to life and more interesting.

        But the way the scene played out TO ME personally says he feels his powerlessness keenly, has been feeling it since the amputation, so much so that he says “Why did the gods make me love a hateful woman?” — as if he finally sees that she is hateful but can’t yet let go, as if he were not responsible for his feelings. He is in great pain, trying to keep her and go on loving her at the same time that he is finally seeing how horrible she is (because she is being horrible to him) and punishing her for it . And she may be oscillating between love for him, grief and a new-found disgust to what she perceives as his weakness or uselessness or his abandonment of her.

        In the book they were probably not at this stage yet at Joffrey’s death, disgust and mistrust on both sides had not yet set in, but in the series with change in timeline and some events clearly they are at a very contradictory and conflictive moment and I think this scene is a creatively valid and potentially interesting choice for a drama.

        If next time we see them they are looking into each other’s eyes and breaking the champagne open, then it was not an interesting creative choice because the scene was strong enough, with the cadaver of their son right there, to warrant some consequences – at least a huge step towards their further estrangement.
        Also, Jamie despised Joffrey but knows his sister loved him, so losing his head in front of his corpse adds to the injury and I suspect might be what she will not forgive and what he meant to be unforgivable.
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      • mal

        I understand and I agree. But what is worrisome in regards to the director’s interpretation of it as “consensual in the end”. We’ll have to see how the show deals with it, but my fear is that it wasn’t a rape IN THE SHOW. It gives a mixed message if they were to move on from that scene and not have it effect the characters or storyline. If the scene wasn’t to be interpreted as rape, then the show will not deal with it accordingly and deal with it as a consensual sex scene. I saw what I saw, and if they are saying it’s not what I was meant to see, then that’s a problem

  12. Alisher

    The book shows the scene from Jaime’s POV. Of course he’s not going to think “hey, I’m really a piece of shit, what I do is rape”. Except it doesn’t mean that Cersei consents. The content of the two scenes is really quite the same, and the outrage just tells me that people should learn to read a little more carefully.

  13. real

    The only debatable thing is the difference between the book and the show scene.

    The whole rape debate is completely unnecessary. It’s a show and it’s a form of art. Everything’s allowed. If you can’t handle it, maybe it’s not the right show for you.

  14. Pingback: Game of Thrones precisa sentar num canto e pensar no que fez | Spoilers

  15. V

    Very interesting read. Toni Morrison once wrote, “Love is never any better than the lover. Wicked people love wickedly, violent people love violently, weak people love weakly, stupid people love stupidly…” and I feel it applies in this debate. Jaime might love Cersei, but it’s important to remember he is a damaged person and his character arc is still in transition.

  16. Ankit Mishra

    Nice

    mechanicalsolution.wordpress.com

  17. Kazzlyn

    This shows a clear misunderstanding of BDSM and a clear pro rape attitude people have if they don’t understand that consent MUST be given at the start and can NOT be give consent to someone that is pushing themselves onto you, basically every person that thinks this wasn’t rape thinks they can pressure a person until they say yes, that is not how consent or sex works! Yes people can like scenes like this is their sex life but this is after rules have been made, when both parties know at anyone they can stop the scene, that feelings and boundaries are respected, and safe words used. NONE of which is apart of that show, that scene was rape as she could NOT say no, she had no choice, clearly rape!

  18. I don’t why they decide to play the scene like. In the book Cersei definitely consents, and that scene happens when Jamie has just got back to Kings Landing so they both have all this pent up emotion. Then it’s Jamie who completely rejects her, and leaves in the most horrendous situation.

  19. My biggest concern with this scene was not actually the rape itself, because it’s Game of Thrones, you know? And we have seen some pretty horrific things and I didn’t feel like it was out of context (leaving aside any deviation from the book, for a moment). But what bothered me most was that Cersei has been this utterly horrible woman leading up to this moment–I mean, really, such an awful character–and so I felt that the rape, rather than being used as a way to make Cersei more sympathetic, it becomes a ‘well, she kind of deserved it….’ And THAT is what clinched it and made it so awful to watch, for me. That her behaviour is then a way of legitimising the rape.

    Great article, in any case, and deserving of being Freshly Pressed!

  20. Its a game, I wonder who wins at the end

  21. I think noone cares about how it impacts Cersei because she is such a terrible person. 99.99% of the time when I see rape in a film I am repulsed and angry but this is the first time I have watched and thought “well this is bad but… Cersei deserves a lot worse”

  22. I didn’t see the name, TYRION, in any other comments, but mine.

    I didn’t see a list of short people Jaime abused, anywhere else.

    So, do you guys understand what happens, to ice, when it gets fired up?

    GoT has a lot of AGW, ACC, and mass extinction hints, yo. Deniers need not deflect, with rambles, about magic or fantasy. GoT is EVOCATIVE.

  23. So. Peter D. gets loads of acclaim, and NOBODY here but me types in the name, ‘Tyrion,’ and then hits enter.

    Who does Cersei try to get Jaime to kill, right before he tears her skirt and shoves a doink into her, underneath Joffrey’s corpse?

  24. OK. Here’s another clue.

    Who kicks himself in the head, when Johnny or Steve or Dave or somebody goes, “Kick yourself in the head, Wee Man!”

  25. OK. How about this? Tennis is also commonly suggested, by casting and first-run screening timing. Review Tommy Haas out-comes, and wonder!

    Lancel Lannister is evocative, as a midget version, of which NFL superstar linebacker, who played, for USC, but now he’s packin’?

  26. OK. Some of you must have noticed Grey Worm looks like which balls-deprived, neo-con President, of the USA, formerly predicted, in Star Trek and Star Wars?

  27. Pingback: My paternal ancestor, from whom my family name derives was Jewish, so I’m observant, when I watch GoT: | Bobgnote's Blog

  28. I was surprised she didn’t fight back because she normally is so always in control. But I guess that is the realistic part of rape. It can happen to anyone.
    dailyquizquestion.wordpress.com

    • mal

      you could say that she didn’t want them to be discovered. It would re-fuel those incest rumors if she were to call attention. What would she say? That Jaime attacked her? What would happen to him? Sent to the wall? She was really powerless in that moment.

  29. For once, in the entire show’s history, I felt bad for Cersei. I didn’t really care for Jaime throughout the show so it didn’t surprise me that he did that.

  30. Pingback: When It’s Not Okay?: The Rape of Cersei Lannister | Rebel Researchers Collective

  31. Your title tells it all–good story.

  32. Any links so I can watch the Ep3? Thanku

  33. RLK

    Interesting analysis, to be honest I was left wondering at the end of that scene if it had turned consensual. But all the discussion about Jaime is missing the fact that there is some darkness in all of us. Some give in to it more than others. A lot of this discussion is very black and white, not taking the gray area in all our souls sufficiently into account. Given the medieval time frame of the series, and the fact that ‘nobles’ have pretty strange ideas about what is/isn’t proper behavior you have to ask – would Jaime see it as rape? We do obviously, but read the history books. Anyone from that time period would probably be shocked (hopefully, pleasantly shocked) at how much more value we place on human life, and quality of life. To say nothing of women’s rights.

    • Gamaliel

      Thank you! I think the first mistake here is that people are seeing every character as either black o white, when Martin has declared in many interviews that he’s aiming for grey characters, capable of doing anything. Yes, it was rape. Yes it was bad for Cersei, it was wrong of Jaime for doing it, but he’s not a hero or a good character. We are taught to think of characters as either good or bad, and GoT is making that very difficult because not one single character is completely good nor bad.

      • Cave

        My beef with all this talk about this scene still remains that there is a LOT worse happening in GoT and not a mention, but this one deserved rivers and rivers. Women had been raped, gratuitously, before and even shot by arrows. A little while before one was chased and eaten by dogs. Sorry if I find that more disturbing than a highly ambiguous scene between longtime lovers,
        What about all the other issues — anyone bothered by Danaerys violating the Geneva Convention and torturing prisoners without a trial? NO, because it’s a fictional universe, though it clearly shows her to be capable of exaggerated self-righteousness and certain tyrannical tendencies which her right hand men noticed with some alarm.
        Anyone crying out against Littlefinger and his weirdo behavior towards a 14-year old child (Sansa)? NO, because it’s a fictional world based on the Middle Ages where marriage of children was the norm and so was their rape and slavery.
        The thing is that Jamie-Cersei served as the poster scene for a worthy campaign to stop rape in the real world, but if we were to discuss it in these terms then we ought to discuss all the other horrible stuff the same way…
        The worst thing that Jamie did was push Bran out of the tower, with a smile on his face, that’s hard to reconcile with a man who might have any soul. Though if Bran doesn’t do something apart from going aimlessly round soon I’ll wish him run over by a cart…
        A lot of interesting stuff happening, though. Plot thickens and I think the producers are doing a good job because if you follow the books to the letter we might have a lot of people wondering around for a lot more time…

  34. Reblogged this on My Tongue Blabs and commented:
    an extensive post-mortem of the show and the books.

  35. Pingback: Game of Thrones – “Oathkeeper” | Cultural Learnings

  36. It’s becoming a rather tedious trope on television that strong women must at some point have to deal with rape. Isn’t there some other story we can tell about strong women for a change?

  37. Not sure that was a rape.
    I’m pretty sure gods will revenge blaspheme…

    Πορτες ασφαλειας Balomenos Doors

  38. I have little issue with fictional works, so the rape didn’t bother me. If it was done to Margaery, I’d have to kill him.
    I considered the episode to be more of a “hey remember…these guys are kind of asshole-y” as The Hound also committed a reprehensible act just after we came to think he was awesome one episode prior. Somebody else made a jerk move too but I don’t remember who it was.
    Anyway, it was off-putting, yes. They tried something they shouldn’t have and for the life of me, from a creative standpoint, I don’t know why. Guess I’ll move on.

  39. Today, I wet to the beachfront with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4
    year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put
    the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside
    and it pinched her ear. She never wants tto go back!
    LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

  40. Keri

    I’ve read the scene in ‘Fire and Ice’ and just went back again to watch the GoT version, and I still can’t see this as a rape (and for the record, I’m an older female who used to work on a rape crisis line). This was clearly an act of passion involving some resistance on Cercei’s part, but all I can see when she says ‘It’s not right’ is her concern that having sex with Jaime in the same room with their dead son is probably not particularly appropriate. Rape, let’s not forget, is an act of power over another person. The sexual aspect of it is almost incidental. Jaime was acting out of desperation after a long separation from his one and only true love, not trying to overpower and terrorize his sister. I find it sad that so many people object to this scene in GoT, yet have no problem with all the gratuitous violence throughout the rest of the series. And this is FICTION. Nobody is promoting rape or anything else – it’s just a damned good story.

  41. Given the firestorm that has arisen over the suggestion by some (including the director–in some places) that this isn’t rape, it’s worth noting that HBO did not run a “rape” advisory in the beginning of the episode (and yes, there one for “rape,” as distinct from “adult content” or “sexual situations”).

    Which is not to say HBO standards and practices people got it right, but the network’s official position seems to be that this wasn’t a rape scene.

  42. Pingback: Sex, Bugs and Violence on Game of Thrones’ Fourth Season » Duck of Minerva

  43. Pingback: Game of Thrones precisa sentar num canto e pensar no que fez – Spoilers

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