Why U mad, tho? Another treatise on Sexual Violence in HBO’s Game of Thrones

It’s been a little over a year since Lucy (formerly Peachy) wrote her article discussing the now infamous incestuous rape scene in the third episode of Game of Thrones’ season four. History has a funny way of repeating itself, doesn’t it? If you’re a fan of GOT, be warned that there’ll be spoilers from here on in. Those of you not riding that particular roller coaster are still encouraged to read on, because what I have to say doesn’t only apply to the seven kingdoms. At the end of episode 6, Sansa Stark (played by Sophie Turner), was married to Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon), in what she was made to believe to be a power move by a political puppet master Petyr Baelish, whose relationship with her revolves around her serving as both a political pawn and a romantic proxy for her dead mother, upon whom he long had designs. That disturbing little tidbit is not even what I want to talk about right now. What I do want to talk about is the general and critical reaction to the very final scene, in which she is raped off-screen by her new husband (long established as a sadist), with her former foster-brother watching on. I’m not here to have the “but was it rape?” argument, I’m here to have the “why does fictional rape garner the outrage non-fictional rape evades?” discussion. Some fucked up stuff happens on Game of Thrones. Some fucked up stuff happens in real life. In real life, though, we can cloak these things in an ambiguity and reason that’s difficult to foster when it’s presented to us by an omniscient narrative eye. So long as there’s room for doubt, you can rationalise it away or pretend it didn’t happen, at least “not like that”.  But when it’s right in front of you, like it was in this episode and in last year’s, there’s no “he said, she said”, no evidence to gather, no allegations to discount and no witnesses to find or discredit. You saw a fucked up thing happen. You are a witness. You can’t hide from it anymore, like you could when if happened to a friend of a friend’s cousin. You have to confront a very real and fucked up thing that happens to women and men all over the world under a range of fucked up circumstances, and it makes you uncomfortable. Which is fine, by the way, you should be uncomfortable. Only rapists are okay with rape (in addition to an alarming number of politicians, religious and academic institutions, etc.) But are you as upset by a 30 second headline on the six o’clock news about a real, violent, sexual crime perpetrated by and upon real, living people as you are by something simulated by actors in a safe and controlled environment? Are you going to jump online and write about how it should never have been allowed to happen? Are you going to demand that it never be allowed to happen again? What is arguing with a stranger going to achieve? Sex is still a pretty significantly taboo topic in contemporary society, especially when it comes to issues of consent. The way it’s dealt with on our tv and movie screens reminds me of repeats I’ve seen of shows from the ’60s where married adults slept in twin single beds. For centuries, polite society – historically, the part of society that makes and enforces the rules – refused to allow the open acknowledgement that consensual sex, within the boundaries of a loving relationship, was something that occurred in a fictional universe, let alone in a real one. Sure, we’ve moved on, sex is everywhere in contemporary media, for better and worse. There are dozens of crime shows that thrive on twistedly empowering narratives of rape – the perpetrator is convicted, or served poetic justice, the victim is avenged. Our fiction feeds us rhetoric about survival and the power of the system, when nothing is more systemic, on a global scale, than sexual abuse. In attempting to depict narratives of sexual violence that conform to resolution-driven, episodic formats, contemporary fiction is unknowingly and implicitly reinforcing the tendency to hide from the inconvenient truth of reality. There is nothing more damaging or pervasive than willful or enforced ignorance. You can’t hope to change or fix something you don’t know how to talk about. I am by no means advocating for more rape scenes on my television. What I would like though, is for the people watching and talking about them to think seriously about why it makes them feel the way they do without becoming the proverbial ostrich, blocking out the inconvenient or uncomfortable. Come on, other humans, do me this one solid.

Shon

IT’S… ALIVE!

So, I’ve finally climbed off my bum and written a blog post. “Guide to Nothing,” I hear you say, “I thought they were dead!” Not dead, dear readers (plural, because there are at least 5 of you – hi, Mum,) just very distracted. In all honesty, a more accurate description would be: sleeping, working, studying, and tumblr-ing. But, after a recent period of prolonged boredom, resulting from a hand injury,* and repeated lamentations by both Peachy and myself on the subjected of our neglected brainchild, I’ve finally roused myself from my creative torpor and had an Idea. An actual, actionable Idea. And I feel pretty good about it, if I do say so myself.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I love to read. I love books. I love stories, I love knowledge, I love ideas, and poems, and essays, and articles… you get the gist. I also talk a lot. So, I thought, why not combine those two things and start talking (or writing) about some of the books I’ve read. I read pretty widely, and have favourites in almost every genre, so it’s not as though I’m going to run out of things to write about any time soon. The contents of my head are 80-90% stuff I’ve read, 1-2% people’s names, and 5% meals to make with beef mince and spaghetti sauce. The remainder is made up mostly of puppies, sugary food, sarcasm, and Star Trek: The Next Generation references.

One of my main aims here is to share a passion of mine in a reasonably accessible and interesting way, which isn’t always the first thing that people think of doing when they write about literature. If it helps, I think of ‘literature’ as virtually anything printed, bound, and legible. I may not personally like what you’re reading, but if you are reading, enjoying, and engaging with whatever it is, I’m not going to lecture you about how it’s not worth your eyeball time – I’m going to do an internal happy dance, because there is no reason anyone’s opinion should stop you from doing something that brings you joy. Unless it’s serial homicide or substance abuse, obviously. Don’t do that.

The other reason I want to do this is entirely selfish. I’m doing it for me. I like writing, and when I’m able to do it regularly, my brain feels less like an overfull tombola and a bit more like an overfull shelf. Hey, I’ll take what I can get. It’s also a good way for me to *pretentious artist voice* “work on my writing,” and “develop my own voice.” Translation into more palatble terms, I’ll be trying to compromise between being a perfectionist and being incredibly unmotivated. Should be fun.

I was originally going to work an introduction into my first book-y post, but my introduction ended up being 500 words of self sustained blab, and this is the internet. I know you’ve got at least four other tabs open right now, so I won’t drag this out. But fear not! The first post should be up in a couple of days, and in honour of Guide to Nothing’s glorious return to life, the first book I’ve chosen to write about (truth: started randomly thinking about while eating coco pops the other day,) is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I struggle to say I have a single favourite book, but if I could, this one would be a serious contender.

If you’ve enjoyed GTN’s previous fare, but don’t really consider yourself a book person, fear not – I’m sure I’ll get sidetracked and end up talking about chocolate unicorn donuts or something at some stage. And now I’m hungry for donuts. Awesome.

Until next time, dearest fruit-loops,

Magpie

x

*a hyperextended right thumb, from having either

a) wrestled a Drop Bear (thylarctos plummetus) into submission on a family holiday to the Snowy Mountains,

b) tried too enthusiastically to give a really good movie two thumbs up,

c) slipped while climbing over rocks in a creek on a family holiday to the Snowy Mountains, OR

d) opened the tightest jar lid ever.

I’ll let you decide which you find most likely.

An open letter to Angel Clare, on GTN’s first birthday.

Hey kids!

First point of order: HAPPY BIRTHDAY GTN! A notification happened, informing me that today is the 1st anniversary of Peachy and me typing life into our blaby (blog-baby,) and it is, if you’ll believe, a complete coincidence that we’d both planned posts for today! Peachy is in the middle of study at the moment, so it is my great pleasure to write today : )

Second thing: I’m reading Tess of the D’urbervilles at the moment- well, strictly speaking, I’m on a break from reading Tess of the D’urbervilles, because that is some emotionally exhausting shit. I’ve had to take a small break with each major plot development, waiting until I’ve calmed down some before I can get back into it. You’ll see why. A warning, for the unread- the following open letter makes details of the plot explicit.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*- though only up to just over halfway. Only after reading The Fault in Our Stars was I willing to accept that maybe I’m prone to over-investing emotionally in characters I like, and having to write nonsensical, rambling, open letters when they upset me, so I can sleep.

Continue reading

Peachy and Magpie: Life heroes.

Sunday, 1:30pm. Facebook conversation between Peachy and Magpie.

Peachy: Sometimes, I kind of wish I had fur. Is that weird?

Magpie: Nah, I’ve been there.

Peachy: It would be SO CUDDLY.

Magpie: So soft, and so nice. It would multiply the niceness of cuddling up in a blanket by a factor of like, a million.

Peachy: EXACTLY. You wouldn’t even need a blanket. You would be a blanket, and you could bury your face in YOURSELF, and exist as the purest form of cuddles. You wouldn’t even need a bed.

Magpie: The potential for comfort here is infinite. Every surface would be comfortable. You could curl up and nap, anywhere, anytime, because you would be a living cushion.

Peachy: Pavement? Not anymore: potential nap place. Desk? Pfft. Nap place.

Magpie: Naps, everywhere.

Peachy: I wish I was furry. Evolution can be so cruel.

Magpie: We’ll just have to content ourselves with the fact that clearly, our souls are furry.

Peachy: Yeah, cold and black and twisted and cuddly and furry.

Magpie: We’re complicated human beings.

Can you believe that neither of us is a philosophy major? I sure can.

Magpie Season.

It’s that time of year again, folks. The time when grown-ass men and women cower on street corners at the mercy of a monochromatic avian terror. It’s magpie season, bitches. In honor of this fact I have decided to share with you my origin story, because the two things are related, believe it or not. Australian magpies are a special kind of crazy. If you come within two kilometres of a nest, you are a threat, and threats get dive bombed, scratched and slashed. They don’t pause to politely ask your intent. Oh no. They swoop first and ask questions later, by which time they have your scalp as a hostage, and you can’t answer their questions because your mouth is full of your own blood. Magpie season directly correlates with a spike in the number of stitches administered in Emergency Departments, as well as a surge in toupee sales. But I digress. Continue reading

A thrilling peek into the lives of Peachy and Magpie, blog extraordinaires.

Text message conversation between Peachy and Magpie, at around the midday mark.

Peachy: I just went back into a lecture theatre to look for my glasses. They were on my face. Any plans for today?

Magpie: Nice. I was going to go to the gym with JimBob,* but I’m really not feeling it.

Peachy: You sure? I thought I saw a flying pig earlier.

Magpie: Pics, or it didn’t happen. My only plan for the day right now is to get me some breakfast. You?

Peachy: I’m going into town later, if you want some fresh air. Going to Centrelink though, so it might be boring.

Magpie: Ew, Centrelink. I dunno, I’ve got four hours of lectures to watch… I’m in.

Magpie

x

*Not her real name

You want how many balloons?

Me again, guys. It’s Magpie. Peachy is in the air (inside of a plane) between Wales and the lovely land of Aus. This means two things: I get to do Music Monday two weeks in a row- and you are, by extension, stuck with my eclectic and dubious musical tastes until next week.

So, in consideration of you all, I’ve decided to change how I’m interpreting the “To Die For” theme, to bring you something a little different. Continue reading