WARNING: This post contains potential triggers (and spoilers). Please read at your own caution.
In spite of being a pretty big fan of G.R.R. Martin’s work, I am three episodes behind on Game of Thrones. Why, you ask? Because I still haven’t forgiven the show runners for the choices they made in episode 4×03, “Breaker of Chains”. Yes, I am referring to that scene between Jaime and Cersei.
I understand that most people have moved on. Most of the conversation has ended, the ranting and protesting has died off. However, that doesn’t mean that the conversation should be dropped; in fact, if what I’m told is true and the show has carried on as if the scene didn’t even happen, then I daresay we should be having even more conversation now.
The bottom line is that the scene was problematic and the way in which it was addressed was less than satisfactory. In order to highlight all the issues surrounding the scene in which Jaime sexually assaults Cersei, I’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 things people have said to me about “Breaker of Chains” that make my soul die a little.
10. Maybe she consented later.
Here’s the problem with this one. The show writers want us to believe that Cersei did eventually consent to Jaime and the scene played out the same way it did in the book (which had really dubious consent, by the way). HOWEVER, we won’t ever bloody know that for sure, will we, since the scene ended before Cersei gave ANY signs of consent. No consent = rape. Cersei never gave consent in the footage we saw. This is just wishful thinking, people. Don’t buy into what the writers tell you when they’re just trying to save their own asses.
9. It totally made the story better.
Um… how? How does it make it better that someone who started out as a total ass-wipe and, through trial and tribulation, started to become a decent human being with a moral compass and then… Oh, wait, nope. Then he sexually assaulted his sister. In what way does that serve the story or Jaime’s character development? Sure, the writers changed so much that they had to do something to give reason behind the growing distance between Jaime and Cersei. Except I’m pretty sure losing their firstborn child would have totally sufficed as reason enough. People do grieve in different ways, after all. We’ll go ahead and call this one debunked.
8. But he loves her.
Is this supposed to somehow make it okay? And, if he really loved her, would he have sexually assaulted her in the first place? Research suggests that as many as 70% of rape victims know their attackers in some way, whether they are family members, friends, or partners. It doesn’t matter if Jaime does (or thinks he does) love Cersei. That does not in any way lessen or eliminate the violent act.
7. It wasn’t THAT bad of a scene.
So not much of it was shown on the screen. So there wasn’t any nudity or blood and no one was forced to beat their friend on threat of death. Does that make it somehow not “that bad” i.e. more okay than if it had been shown on-screen? NOPE.
6. It’s not a big deal – worse happens in Westeros!
It’s true that a lot of crappy stuff happens in Westeros. In fact, a lot of crappy stuff happens to women in Westeros. They’re sold, beaten, assaulted and killed fairly regularly and quite graphically. While being shot to death with a crossbow is a pretty shitastic way to go (RIP Ros), just because really horrible stuff happens in the world of Westeros doesn’t mean the scene was at all justified.
Wait, didn’t Jaime Lannister himself say that he would rather die than ever let himself be raped? Whether or not you agree with his sentiment, it should make you pause for a moment. Hmmm….
And to combat the waves of comments that are sure to come: yes, I did find Daenerys’ initial encounters with Drogo to be very problematic as well.
5. Jaime is still my favorite character.
How do you even. No.
4. It’s just a TV show.
Yes, it’s just a television show based on a fantasy book series. Yes, it’s entirely fictional and they’re all actors and no one really got harmed during the filming of the scene.
Here’s the thing, though: sexual assault isn’t just in TV shows. It happens on a daily basis. Why does it happen? Well we could come up with a variety of reasons trying to explain away why the attackers do what they do. One very real reason that we need to take into consideration, though, is the continued prevalence of violence against women in media.
Rape culture is real. For better or worse, what we see in the media does affect how we think (remember all those people who got depressed they couldn’t live in Pandora after Avatar?). While on the one hand we could take the scene as confirmation that one truly cannot identify potential rapists and that rapists do not fit a specific “profile”, on the other there will still be those who see a character who was growing in likability commit a heinous act and get away with it. I’m not saying that this is going to cause a bunch of people to run out and commit sexual assaults because they want to be like Jaime Lannister; I am saying that it normalizes the behavior.
3. He’s still hot/I wish I was his twin/Etc.
Stop. Just stop it. Do you even hear yourself? I can’t deal with this.
2. It wasn’t rape.
There was no consent. At no point in the scene did Cersei communicate her desire for Jaime clearly and without any doubt. In fact, quite the opposite — she pleaded with him to stop for the duration of what was shown. Unless you’re wearing the rose colored glasses of #10 on the list, there is really no way in which one can possibly view this as not being sexual assault.
1. She deserved it.
NOPE. NO NO NO NO. I don’t care how self-centered and conniving Cersei is or all the terrible things she’s done to people in the show. She didn’t deserve it. Why?
BECAUSE NO ONE DESERVES TO BE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED. PERIOD.
If this doesn’t help shed light on why this scene continues to be a problem, then I don’t know what will.
Have you continued to watch Game of Thrones? Have a strong opinion about the choices made this season? Sound off in the comments or tweet us at @ThreeChicGeeks.