There's a reason I stopped watching Game of Thrones.
It wasn't because of the violence or the sex which some might perceive as gratuitous. It wasn't because there aren't any morals or lessons to be learned from the story being portrayed. But I did have an issue with the treatment of women in the series.
I'm by no means a prude, and I appreciate that gritty, uncomfortable subjects are going to be explicitly explored in a show that's based on a series of 'grim-dark' novels. That's totally fine.
I even accept that for practical reasons, there will have to be changes made to the original plotlines in order to make things work on TV. And of course, there's the artistic licence exercised by the ones adapting the novels. But I believe that artistic licence can be challenged when a change made to an original story doesn't appear to serve any purpose other than to titillate (which might be the aim after all) - but in a way I find very disturbing.
So, in Game of Thrones the TV show, what sort of twist was added to achieve this?
The main one I had an issue with was a scene from the first season of the series where one of the main characters, Daenerys Targaryen is raped by her new Dothraki warlord husband on their wedding night. This is after being sold as a bride in exchange for an army. Daenerys is only a teenager and a virgin, and she's being sold for a reason - you'd have to be familiar with the story to understand why, however, in the novel she wasn't actually raped. Her husband, Khal Drogo asks her permission through every step of the act, and she consents.
For me this was a powerful portrayal of a young woman who being placed in a very difficult position against her will, still displayed immense fortitude in taking charge of and owning her sexuality. She might not have been able to escape being sold off by her terrible brother, but took back some power in that moment.
Yet the producers of the TV adaptation saw fit to rob this character of that by turning the scene into one of rape ... and for what reason? For the benefit of the audience?
There'll be the inevitable arguments: the show is part of a genre that is what it is, and this story in particular is set in a patriarchal medieval world where women are traded as property and treated as second class citizens. Therefore, the slight change in the plot is 'keeping things real' and true to form. But was the change from a consensual wedding night scene to a rape a necessary change? Isn't the source material gritty enough? A Song of Ice and Fire is pretty hard-core already.
In light of the recent demonstrations in response to the inauguration of President Trump, isn't it about time that entertainment also took a stance for women?
Or maybe it isn't important to enough people. It's just entertainment after all.
Take action on International Women's Day.