George R.R. Martin Addresses the Violence Against Women on Game of Thrones

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Sansa Stark. Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO

Over the past two seasons, the conversation around Game of Thrones' use of sexual violence as a storytelling tool has intensified (for a refresher, see here and here), and now, for the first time, author George R.R. Martin is addressing the concerns. In a statement to EW, Martin says that part of the point of his books is to depict a realistically horrible medieval world, and that means including the worst aspects of a patriarchal feudal society. Martin accepts "there are people who will say to that, 'Well, he’s not writing history, he’s writing fantasy — he put in dragons, he should have made an egalitarian society,'" but says, "I wanted my books to be strongly grounded in history and to show what medieval society was like." And, yes, he says, that includes rape: "I’m writing about war, which what almost all epic fantasy is about. But if you’re going to write about war, and you just want to include all the cool battles and heroes killing a lot of orcs and things like that and you don’t portray [sexual violence], then there’s something fundamentally dishonest about that." Though Martin admits the outcry against GOT's rape scenes is "a complicated argument," he takes issue with that idea that "to be non-sexist ... you need to portray an egalitarian society," concluding, "If you portray a utopia, then you probably wrote a pretty boring book." (Huge slam on Thomas More.)