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Sex is a central facet of Game of Thrones, but this week plenty of people are up in arms about a particular scene between the newly wed Sansa and her new partner Ramsay Bolton, in which Theon Greyjoy was forced to watch as she was brutalized in bed. This morning, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill became the latest person to boycott the series after the big scene. Here’s what she had to say on social media this morning.
Senator McCaskill isn’t the only individual who has decided HBO’s super popular series is not worth her time. Yesterday, the rape of Sansa was a hot topic, prompting news outlet the Mary Sue to announce they would no longer be covering the series. Season 5, Episode 6 of Game of Thrones, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,”, clearly had an effect on those who caught it this weekend, so much so that people are still talking about it several days later. No doubt the showrunners expected that, but I'm not sure they expected the level of shock and anger they've gotten.
Sansa may not have known exactly what she was getting into when marrying Ramsay Bolton, but she certainly knew he had a cruel streak. She’s seen the way he has treated Theon and has heard of his exploits from his lover Myranda. I don’t think anyone expected Ramsay to force Theon to watch his cruelty. That was really hard to watch, but the ripping of the dress and the way the camera was angled was actually relatively tame for an episode of Game of Thrones. In fact, some actually thought the more astonishing part of the episode was related to Arya striving for understanding and working to find her place in the world—a very compelling female storyline. If Game of Thrones is too wicked or violent, it’s fine to move on and find a new series, but that doesn’t mean all of the women on Game of Thrones are lacking any sort of power or clarity.
It’s interesting that Sansa’s rape has been a defining moment for a certain faction of outraged fans. I’d argue the series has seen more horrifying moments, including a certain scene where Jaime and Cersei had sex, and another scene when Joffrey got out a crossbow and used it to kill the Winterfell prostitute, Ros. More than likely, the anger over this week's scene was the culmination of all these moments, and that's what pushed some to abandon the show.
Sansa’s latest role is far different from that of her book counterpart. There’s clearly a battle that is moving forward between Stannis Baratheon and the Boltons in the North and Sansa is caught right in the middle of it. We’ve seen her handle herself more satisfactorily since coming into contact with Littlefinger, and she capably handled Myranda in the last episode. It was off-putting when the last episode juxtaposed the Sansa we saw handling Myranda with the Sansa that was handled without care by the psychopath Ramsay, but I think most of us are hoping Sansa’s ultimate fate will see her move forward with a little more agency. Hopefully, what happened to her will build to something important.