Using Sexual Assault as a Plot-Driving Device

HBO’s Game of Thrones has never shied away from tackling controversial subjects but a season five episode went too far for some viewers.

Sansa Stark’s rape scene caused uproar among fans and critics alike. Popular feminist website, The Mary Sue, has sworn off promoting the show following the controversial episode. See below statement:


Are there instances in popular television in which sexual assault and abuse has been handled with care and sensitivity? How can writers handle this controversial topic without falling into a TV trope?

  • Very interesting topic with a lot of potential for exploration. I really hope this ends up being an in-depth article on The Artifice. – Abhimanyu Shekhar 7 years ago
  • There was a recent episode in Season 3 of Orange is the New Black that deals with the rape of a major character, Pensatucky, with great sensitivity. I think if rape is used as a plot device, this episode can be a sort of guide for how it can be dealt with. The way it was depicted in the show was more so a criticism of how society deals with rape and sexual assault, rather than showing it for shock value. – Emilie Medland-Marchen 7 years ago
  • Very interesting topic! I already wrote something for The Artifice a few weeks ago dealing with sexual assault in Game of Thrones. It was hard to write about, and I am always interested in how other shows succeeded or failed in dealing with such hard scenes. – HeatherDeBel 7 years ago

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