Warning: Spoilers for Game of Thrones up to season eight, episode two, follow.

COMMENT:

Game of Thrones is known for major scandals (incest, anyone?) shock deaths (RIP Ned Stark) and major twists and turns, yet this week, the thing that made headlines was a consensual sex scene between old friends.

Arya Stark had sex with her old friend Gendry, having bonded way back in season one when they were both on their way to join the Night's Watch at The Wall.

Advertisement

They were split up in season three and finally reunited in season eight where, ahead of next week's highly-anticipated battle, Arya propositioned Gendry saying: "We're probably going to die tomorrow. I want to know what it's like before that happens".

She stripped nude and climbed into bed with Gendry and the internet's response was, as usual, a tad over the top.

One Twitter user posted: "Call me crazy, but it felt so weird watching Arya's sex scene. I don't know but I always see her as my little sister and I was so uncomfortable during that scene."

Another echoed the sentiment saying: "I can't look at her like that, she's basically my kid sister."

Here's the thing: In the show, Arya would be about 18. A year older than Daenerys was when the series started and she was sold off to be a sex slave for Khal Drogo. She's also around the same age Sansa would've been when we had to watch her be brutally raped by Ramsay Bolton.

In real life, Maisie Williams - the actress who plays Arya - is 22, just a year younger than Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), who no-one seemed to have any problem sexualising.

She's also about seven years older than Stranger Things' Millie Bobby Brown, who has made headlines for her "provocative" photos on Instagram and had to field questions about her sexuality because guess what? No one has much of a problem sexualising her either, despite her only being 15 years old.

So what's the difference? I mean, maybe it's Williams' stature? She's about half Turner's height and very petite. We've also watched her grow up on the show; Williams was only 14 when Thrones first started. But then, Turner was only 15.

Advertisement

I don't know, call me crazy but I think a show in which incest is rampant, women are regularly raped, and there's a goddamned ice-zombie dragon floating around, an 18 year old having consensual sex with a friend is the least "weird" and "uncomfortable" thing that's happened on the show yet.

If anything, it's one of the few sex scenes Game of Thrones has done right.

Before the final season released I - like many others - went back to embark on a seven-season marathon rewatch.

Throughout the series, I've seen more women raped and abused than on any other show. They've been physically and sexually assaulted, shamed, used, and manipulated.

I'll probably never forget the scene in which Cersei Lannister - easily the most powerful, independent and fierce woman on the series - was stripped naked, had her hair hacked off and forced to walk the streets while people hurled human faeces at her and called her a slut and a whore.

I've also watched Cersei have sex - and children - with her own brother, and when he was unavailable, she turned to her cousin instead. I've seen Sansa systematically abused and tortured, brutally raped and and forced to endure sexual advances to survive.

I've seen seen sex workers abused and murdered, daughters imprisoned and raped by their fathers, nameless women stripped, beaten and killed - their faces and bare breasts zoomed in on for maximum effect.

Sure, the women of Thrones may seem to be on top now, but look what it's taken for them to get there. This idea that a woman's success can come only after she has suffered is flat out abhorrent. The abuse of women should never be seen as a necessary and inevitable stepping stone in life, but that's very much the message Thrones has perpetuated - until now.

Finally, we got Arya Stark, a young woman who has always known her own body and mind, been fiercely independent and ambitious, and who knew what she wanted and went for it with a man she loved and trusted.

If that's "weird" and "uncomfortable" in the grand scheme of everything else you've seen, the problem isn't the content, it's you.


Game of Thrones airs Mondays at 1pm and again at 8.30pm on SoHo, and streams the same day on NEON