Caution: This post will contain A Game of Thrones spoilers (TV and book). Do not read if you do not want to be spoiled!
I was pretty excited to hear that A Game of Thrones was being adopted into a TV series. I read the books when I was younger–definitely way too young, I wouldn’t recommend them to a 12-year-old today–and aside from the incest and violence, somehow still enjoyed them. So I tuned into the HBO show, expecting to be pleased. And I was, for the most part. That is, until the scene of Khal Drogo’s and Daenerys Targaryen’s wedding night, where what unfolds (which I swore I had saw a clip for, I think off of Jezebel, but can’t find anymore) is a rape.
I had forgotten about how the scene occurred in the book (again, 12, I skimmed these parts!) so the book purist in me was only going to be mildly disgruntled until I verified whether or not this was how the scene played out in the book. Obviously, the visual scene more than mildly disgruntled me, because, really? Another “barbarian” raping a “civilized” woman? Gah. It was more vivid to watch and the racial disparity clearer than any words would have portrayed.
Today, I went back and started re-reading the book, and when I got to this scene, I was shocked. Not only does Khal Drogo spend an extensive amount of time trying to comfort Daenerys, but he actually asks her for consent. Yes, indeed. He explicitly asks her, “No?” when about to begin penetrative intercourse and she explicitly provides her consent, saying, “Yes.”
Now the book purist in me is DOUBLY angry. Screenwriters, you took a touching–even tender scene, and bungled it into a rape. Why would you do this!? What is up with the terrible obsession with the racialized rape fantasy? I’m disturbed and aggravated by this change. It would have been so much better to see their relation played out consensually. But no. Khal Drogo has to be even more “barbarian-ized.” Good job furthering the Other-ing of people based on the color of their skin.