George R. R. Martin Defends Rape in Game of Thrones
A lot of attention has been paid to the seemingly increased use of rape as a plot device on Game of Thrones in recent weeks, with many finding the scenes gratuitous. Since the recent scenes (Cersei Lannister’s rape, multiple rapes at Craster’s Keep) do not occur in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, which itself does contain scenes of sexual assault along with practically every other example of despicable human behavior, many are wondering what the author’s views are on the subject.
Martin recently fielded questions from the New York Timeson the subject, and it is his assertion that a rape-free Westeros would fail to depict the rough, gritty world he has imagined. “My novels are epic fantasy, but they are inspired by and grounded in history. Rape and sexual violence have been a part of every war ever fought,” Martin says in an email. “To omit them from a narrative centered on war and power would have been fundamentally false and dishonest, and would have undermined one of the themes of the books: that the true horrors of human history derive not from orcs and Dark Lords, but from ourselves. We are the monsters. (And the heroes too). Each of us has within himself the capacity for great good, and great evil.”
As far as the graphic depictions of rape on Game of Thrones the television show (as well as graphic novels based on the series), Martin says their respective creators have license to depict whatever they like. “The graphic novels and television programs are in the hands of others who make their own artistic choices as to what sort of approach will work best in their respective mediums.”