Anna Sheffer
May 07, 2019 12:24 pm

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 4. 

During the May 5th episode of Game of Thrones, Sansa Stark reunited with The Hound for the first time in several seasons. The characters discussed the many challenges Sansa has faced over the years—specifically the ways they changed her as a person. But many viewers are decidedly unhappy with the show’s portrayal of trauma and sexual assault during their conversation.

During the conversation, Sansa implies that she wouldn’t have grown as a person or become strong without living through horrible events—including rape. Now, actress Jessica Chastain is calling the scene out. In a May 6th tweet, Chastain argued that sexual assault should not be used to justify character growth. She posted a gif of Sophie Turner (with whom she worked in the upcoming Dark Phoenix movie) on the Iron Throne, writing,

And many on Twitter agree.

This isn’t the first time Game of Thrones has faced backlash for its portrayal of women. After Sansa’s rape scene in Season 5, critics and fans alike argued that it was both unnecessary and exploitative (some fans even stopped watching the show altogether because of it). Former Senator Claire McCaskill tweeted that she was “done” with the show and called the scene “disgusting and unacceptable.”

The series has also been criticized for rape scenes that were written as consensual in the books, as well as for giving male characters more screen time than female characters.

While it seems the Game of Thrones writers are still struggling with their portrayal of gender and sexual violence, we’re at least glad that people like Chastain with public platforms are shining a light on these topics and pushing the conversation forward.

If you have been sexually assaulted or know someone who has, you can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

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