George R.R. Martin is going on the defensive over criticism that his ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ saga depicts too much sexual violence against women.
“Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin has a message for detractors who are upset about the sexual violence against women in both his books and on the HBO series it inspired: stop living in a fantasy world.
The novelist told Entertainment Weekly that he wanted his saga to be “strongly grounded in history” and inspired by a medieval society that wasn’t exactly an egalitarian.
“The books reflect a patriarchal society based on the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages were not a time of sexual egalitarianism,” Martin said in a statement Wednesday. “It was very classist, dividing people into three classes.
“And they had strong ideas about the roles of women. One of the charges against Joan of Arc that got her burned at the stake was that she wore men’s clothing-that was not a small thing.”
Many were outraged by a recent episode of the hit HBO series that featured Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) being raped by her new husband.
The latest uproar actually stems from a subplot that isn’t in the books — a rape scene in which Sansa Stark, played by Sophie Turner, is brutalized by her new husband.
The day after the controversial episode aired on May 17, the feminist pop culture site The Mary Sue announced that it would no longer cover the series, slamming show-runners David Benioff and Dan Weiss for the show’s depictions of sexual violence against women.
“Rape is not a necessary plot device,” Editor in Chief Jill Pantozzi wrote. “Really think about that before shouting ‘creative freedom’ in our direction, please.
Martin also said many female fans gravitate towards strong characters like Arya stark (played by Maisie Williams on the HBO show.)
“Rape, unfortunately, is still a part of war today,” Martin told EW. “It’s not a strong testament to the human race, but I don’t think we should pretend it doesn’t exist.”
Martin also pointed to the millions of women readers who have swore fealty to his books, gravitating to strong characters like Arya Stark and the rightful queen of the realm, Daenerys.
But most importantly, he says he’s out to tell a good story that captivates fans across all demographics.
“I want to portray struggle. Drama comes out of conflict. If you portray a utopia,” said Martin, “then you probably wrote a pretty boring book.”
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