The rape of Sansa Stark has quickly become one of the most controversial moments on Game of Thrones. So of course it and the show’s depictions of rape in general were hot topics when the cast took to Comic-Con International in San Diego for a celebratory panel.
You might remember that right after the episode aired, EW released a response from actress Sophie Turner about the scene, where she claimed to “love” it. But it was actually a quote from months ago, before they’d even shot it. Now, Vulture reports Turner has responded after not only performing the harrowing moment, but also seeing how it was cut for air. And she came to the defense of her character again and again.
First off, to those who think Sansa is weaker now, Turner says:
“If there’s one thing that Sansa still is, despite what happened to her, is strong.”
To those pissed that the show cut away from Sansa’s reaction shot to focus on a teary, Theon, Turner’s with you:
“I really don’t know why they focused on Theon, because I was giving a great performance.”
And to those who are somehow claiming it showed a lack of strength or character that Sansa didn’t physically fight back as Ramsay raped her—in a place where she has no allies and must live with the family who mercilessly slaughtered her own—she says:
“I think Sansa, yeah, she has gone through a lot. But she has developed skills from Margaery and Cersei and other folks and is still just as strong as ever. Over this whole series, she’s kind of been getting by without doing anything radical, because she knows it’s dangerous for her. She could die. And that is certainly true with the Boltons. That’s a big risk to take. And I think she knows that. She’s not stupid. She didn’t just think, ‘This is gonna happen.’ She thought it through, in her head. She could’ve fought back if she wanted to, but she didn’t fight. And that’s a good point of character. She’s one of those characters that does her scheming in her mind rather than outwardly.”
Basically, Sansa did the math and realized that fighting back could mean greater violence and even her death. And really, Sansa’s never been much of a warrior. She’s a strategist. That’s part of what made that scene so horrible, was that 1) she hadn’t expected rape from Ramsay, and 2) there was nothing she could do in that moment to stop it. But let’s be clear, I’m still among the very pissed off regarding Game of Thrones casual use of rape as villain establishing tool. And I’m not alone.
A woman cosplaying as Daenerys Targaryen asked producer Carolyn Strauss and director David Nutter, “Will season six more overtly address and complicate these criticisms by showing them as the pitfalls of patriarchy, rape culture, and other forms of oppression?”
The short answer is no. The long answer from Straus was, “I think we’re trying to put together the best and most — realistic would be the wrong word, but a mix of those personalities in that world at that mythical time that the show takes place [in]. And things were not great, for a lot of people, male and female!”
Oh good. The “Theon lost his dick” argument again.