Fans react to sibling rape scene in ‘Game of Thrones’

Fan reactions to the controversial scene in the television series ‘Game of Thrones’ in which a brother rapes his sister provide an important insight into the relationship between media and ‘rape culture’, argues a Lancaster University academic.

Writing in Australian Feminist Studies, Debra Ferreday discusses the programme’s explicit portrayal of sexual violence from both the feminist and fantasy-genre perspectives; she also provides a disturbing summary of some recent treatments of rape in the media.

Ferreday then turns to the reactions of the show’s large fan base, many of whom self-identify as feminists, to gather their views on the controversial scene in question. She found that while some fans felt let down by the scene itself – especially for how it turned their ‘hero’ into a villain – others were disappointed by how the show’s production team dealt with their criticism after the airing. Some fans expressed concern – as well as occasionally worrying views – about the issue of sexual consent raised by the programme. Rather than simply dismissing shows like ‘Game of Thrones’ as sexist, Ferreday argues, we need to see this complicated debate as representative of a culture that is deeply confused about issues of consent and where there is ‘widespread confusion as to what actually counts as rape’.  

The fact that ‘Game of Thrones’ takes place in a ‘fantasy’ setting, where what is real, unreal or possible is often blurred or subverted, complicated many of the views expressed. Despite some insistence that any link between the events on-screen and real-life violence was purely fanciful, an overreaction, to see fantasy as “just not real”,’ however, others hinted that the events on screen resonated with their own experiences of sexual violence and rape culture.

Ferreday concludes: ‘The series’ depiction of incest and rape … cannot be separated from a wider contemporary culture in which debates around media representations of sexual violence and issues of consent and rape culture are the subject of massive popular debate.’ While in some cases, the online discussion surrounding the controversial scene has provided space for ‘rape myths’ to continue to circulate and continue to inform rape culture, it has also revealed how online media potentially enable feminist perspectives – as well as the voices of survivors – to be heard.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS
Please reference the article as “Game of Thrones, Rape Culture and Feminist Fandom”, by Debra Ferreday, Australian Feminist Studies, published by Routledge, Taylor & Francis.
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Read the full article online: www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08164649.2014.998453

For more information please contact:

Becca Bray

Routledge Gender Studies

Rebecca.bray@tandf.co.uk

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Taylor & Francis Group partners with researchers, scholarly societies, universities and libraries worldwide to bring knowledge to life. As one of the world’s leading publishers of scholarly journals, books, ebooks and reference works our content spans all areas of Humanities, Social Sciences, Behavioral Sciences, Science, and Technology and Medicine. From our network of offices in Oxford, New York, Philadelphia, Boca Raton, Boston, Melbourne, Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo, Stockholm, New Delhi and Johannesburg, Taylor & Francis staff provide local expertise and support to our editors, societies and authors and tailored, efficient customer service to our library colleagues.

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