By Kenzie Bryant. Photos: Courtesy of HBO.
Sophie Turner, Game of Thrones’s Sansa Stark, has penned a personal essay on her trip to Rwanda. She was there to aid the efforts of Women for Women International, a U.K. non-profit geared toward “women survivors of conflict.” What sets her essay about service apart from other celebrity charity work stories is that hers is linked to a single scene from her day job. According to Turner, the trip’s genesis was the sexual assault storyline that Sansa Stark endured.
“My active interest in women’s rights and the fight against domestic violence only really became acute after one of my scenes from season 5 of Game of Thrones aired,” she wrote. “It was a scene in which my character—a 15-year-old hostage—was raped by her captor. There was a huge response and not a particularly positive one: People were boycotting the show, multiple articles were being produced online, and it was a trending topic on Twitter.”
VF.com was among the sites writing about the scene, and, in the year and a half since the episode aired, Turner said she was at first pleased that the show started a conversation, especially among survivors, but was still angry that a subject that affects so many women was that “taboo” or considered too “vulgar” (Though much of the criticism, like V.F.’s Joanna Robinson, was not that the scene was inappropriate for television, but that it was not essential for the story and too focused on male pain). Turner continued, “I found it vulgar that talking heads online had decided that Game of Thrones—known for its unflinching depictions of incest, slavery (sexual and otherwise), and a brother’s reproductive coercion of his sister—ought not depict rape.”
“I’m proud to be part of a show that won’t be content to give unproblematic accounts of being a woman in a patriarchal society,” Turner added. “If it falls to a fantasy show to portray the reality of domestic and sexual violence, so be it.”
This story originally appeared on Vanity Fair.
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