Sexuality in aSoIaF......... a spinoff thread

Discussion in 'A Song of Ice and Fire' started by Maester Joergensen, Feb 9, 2009.

  1. Maester Joergensen

    Maester Joergensen New Member

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    I guess I kind of kickstarted a firestorm in Zarebs thread.
    First I want to apologize to Zagreb and also to meteorain if he is reading this.

    Zareb can´t have the best impression of us:( specifically me.
    Hope that will not be the reason he/she decides not to try the books.

    What took place in the other thread made me think. First of all I would like to say that the forum is of course for the discussion of the series. No matter your opinion. There is plenty of threads where we can pat ourself on the back, and congratulate ourself on our fine taste in books.

    Especially in a thread like the one were zareb asks for advise, different opinions, or perhaps objective opinions is a good thing..
    Meteorain was making a good and well founded criticism.
    I really don´t know what came over me:(
    It is just that I only know him from in here when he comes to critisize my favourite books. I need to get out of the aSoIaF-section more often:)
    Perhaps it had to do with the fact that someone claimed that we used rape as entertainment. First of all ifind that quite unfair. but secomndly. Now you have made me conflicted about enjoying these book. damn you:)
    Not very much, but a little. I still hold on to the opinion that rape isn´t that big a part of the books. So many other things going on. And it doesn´t get over-emphasized considering the environment in which the story took place.

    I would divide the sex in aSoIaF into two categories.
    The sexual scenes involving POV characters where we get some detail, and the things mentioned in passing, like the village x was burned and some people were killed and raped. To the people who don´tlike this. What kind of thing is worst? The first kind reading a scene where it happens, or the second kind where people mention it in casual conversation a lot.

    I like sex in my literature to be kept in the same tone as the rest of the book. If a sexual event takes place, and it has importance for the plot, it is described. Not groveling in it, but not shying away from it either.

    So does people think there is to much sex in aSoIaF, just a adequate amount or perhaps to little. Or is it the kind of sex that matters. Or how the people in the book react to for ex. rape?
    Was the sex generally needed for the story, or was some of it gratuitous?
    Is the plot bad because it involves sex and violence, or is the plot ok but could have worked without explicitly describing some of the sex?

    And what did people think about the various specific sex scenes.
    I think Jon and Ygritte and also Sam and Gilly was sweet.
    Tyrion and Shae was most of the time done in a quate matter of fact language. We know it happened, but not that many details.
    I am a little conflicted toward cersei and Teana Merrywesther. I kind of hate the scene. It is the first time we had a sexual scene in the series, where I stopped while reading it and thought,"do we really need to read this." But of course it was part of cerseis POV that told us how she came to be so twisted, and it has some merit in that regard.

    I guess Dany and Drogo are the big hurdle for a lot of people. It is uncomftable and repulsive. But people were married of at an early age earlier in human history, It wasn´t something that prevented me from enjoying the rest of the book. I think a lot of people get through this by imagining her older than she is. And Drogo did ask her permission. But i guess she was so scared she would have said anything....
     
  2. Appaliq

    Appaliq No One

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    While there is a lot of sex in the book, it's so hard to pin down exactly was is or isn't necessary to the plot. Could ASoIaF have been written without it and maintain it's greatness? Maybe. But it wouldn't have been the same series.

    That being said I can easily see where people might get offended. Sex between twin siblings, sex with a minor, sex between a dwarf and his whore, homosexual sex, sex sex, sex! Maybe we've been a little hardened by the media today, where the portrayal of sex is so common that most of us don't think twice about reading this sort of material. That being said, I wasn't ever offended reading the series. Sometimes uncomfortable, but never offended.

    Then again, maybe I'm the twisted one. I found the Sam/Gilly scene more repulsive than anything that that happened between Jamie/Cersei. I was never uncomfortable with Dany/Drogo. In fact, one of my favorite sex scenes in the book is the night Dany spends with Drogo beneath the stars. I also thought the later scene between Dany/Irri was very well written.

    As you can see I have a hard time critisizing the sex Martin writes, even when it's horrible, inhumane, or forced. I think it really adds emotion of the story that a lot of other series are missing.
     
  3. CB Swords

    CB Swords Forum Administrator

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    I have no problems with any of the sex.

    Judd Apatow (movie director/writer) remarked recently that he felt it was impossible to make a movie that was truthful to life and have it be PG13 because we all (well, most of us) live R rated lives. Especially a movie about teenagers (it was an interview for Superbad).

    The fact is, ASOIAF is no worse than the Bible when it comes to things like this. People don't seem to have a problem with it.

    There is a quote from the movie The Usual Suspects (and from varying literature sources in varying forms).

    There is also this quote, by George Santayana, of which I'm sure we're all familiar.

    Finally, I will point to HBO, Showtime, the academy awards, the golden globes, any film festival. Predonominantly the films that win best picture (or of all the varying emmys HBO has accumulated) are rated R (or skirt PG-13 pretty close). Why? Because sex and violence and human tragedy are real, and people like real. Real characters are more relatable and poignant to viewers (or readers).

    Sex happens in real life, incest happens in real life, rape happens in real life. People die, people are killed, people kill.

    Does it serve society to ignore it? Should we alter our books, and movies, and television, to paper over the gritty pain of real life? Should no bad things happen in print?

    Ignoring something doesn't make it stop. Pretending evil doesn't exist doesn't make it go away. Not learning from human frailties predisposes us to those same frailties.

    Then, of course, you can have the whole other discussion about what is truly bad, but that is a moral argument. I don't see Drogo & Dany as bad at all, anymore than I see Romeo and Juliet as bad. Oh yes, Juliet is 13, and she is engaged to a much older man. It is only a relative sliver of human history where it would be considered improper for a adolescent girl to be married off. Obviously if you heard about that happening now you would be offended because society has changed, but would you be offended reading about the practice in a history book? Then why historical fantasy fiction?

    The time period in which GRRM writes was a lot different than today. Peasants lived in huts and bred like bunnies to have help on the farm, what do you think the kids did when the parents were having sex? It isn't like they all had their own bedrooms. Children had to grow up a whole lot faster, and they were exposed to a whole lot more, and all of that was normal to them.
     
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  4. LyannaWolfBlood

    LyannaWolfBlood Ella Dictadora

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    I think sex is a fairly important part of the story and that, like App says, ASOIAF wouldn't be the same without it. Let's be honest, parts of ASOIAF are brutal. There's plenty of casual slaughter, callous disregard for human life and quite a bit of torture. If there wasn't one mention of rape - used as torture in many parts of the world today - it wouldn't ring true. It's probably said a little too often but we're quite accustomed to scenes of violence in films/books /other media today and that does desensitise us to the violent scenes in ASOIAF... I don't want to get into a game of measuring one atrocity against another, but rape, Qyburn's "experiments", the Boltons flaying their enemies, Melisandre burning people to death (and any number of other examples) are all horrific. And if people are willing to accept my 2nd, 3rd and 4th examples (and I don't think I've ever heard anyone object to those) then I don't see why the rape should be considered a special case.

    As for the sex in general, I don't have a problem with it. I did find the Dany/Drogo marriage scene tough the first time I read - probably more because I wasn't yet used to ASOIAF than any other reason because on re-reads I find it a lot easier than some other scenes (Chiswyck's account of his rape of the Innkeeper's daughter being the major one). As Maester said, that kind of thing happened in history. A 13-year-old being sold off to some guy twice her age wouldn't have been remarked upon in the middle ages, and the actual scene is probably the gentlest ASOIAF sex scene there is. I also think that the vast majority of the sex scenes are important plot-wise - I've been known to flee from voyeuristic sex scenes from time to time but I never felt that ASOIAF was gratuitous. Admittedly, we didn't need quite as many Tyrion-Shae scenes as we got and we really could've done without the bit we got of Lysa-Littlefinger but I think they mostly work as part of the storyline.

    Which sex scenes did I like? Mostly the ones involving decent people who actually cared about each other (boring, I know). Jon-Ygritte was very sweet, as was as Ned-Catelyn at the start. I agree with App that Dany-Irri was very well-written and I wasn't particularly bothered either way by Jaime-Cersei. TBH, I never had a problem with the incest - icky as it may be at least it doesn't (directly) harm anyone, unlike many of the pastimes of other ASOIAF characters.

    My sentiments exactly :).
     
  5. Liadan

    Liadan Insert Title Here

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    @ Maester: I think we all get a little bit carried away at times ;) No harm done, and hey, we have another discussion thread now! :)

    As for the actual topic - I've always felt that the sex in the series added to the general tone of the series, which is to say grim, dark, and Medieval-esque. However, someone in another thread (the How Much Realism? one) brought up quite an interesting point:

    His post sums it up perfectly well, I think; the sex is necessary to create the atmosphere that he intends. Although it was often uncomfortable (Dany-Drogo, Jamie-Cersei, and hell, even the Targaryens) he rarely had "graphic" sex scenes. I do think that AFFC's Cersei-Taena scene went into a bit too much detail; I feel that he could have conveyed his point without giving us the details of it.

    On the other hand, from what I can gather, Met's objection to the ASoIaF series wasn't based on the graphic sex scenes, since little to nothing of that existed in GoT that I can remember. I believe that what he stated was that "I never said it was a bad series, but I felt that the violence/sex detracted, rather than added, to the series." The examples he listed were: pedophilia, twincest, Jaime throwing Bran out a window, etc. He felt that the concepts were just "too much" and overwhelmed rather than complementing the series (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong here, Met).

    In the end, I think that it all comes down to personal preference. Some people are okay with reading that kind of stuff in fantasy fiction, and other people aren't.
     
  6. Appaliq

    Appaliq No One

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    I love this thread. Everyone has made such...mature, educated observations. :D
     
  7. Harlequin

    Harlequin Everyone loves a Jester !

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    The observation about this issue that i would like to highlight is that:-

    Each sexual reference/incident within the series is in keeping with the particular character and situation at the time of the reference/incident.
    I can't think of a single incident ,of this issue ,being out of sync with the time/moment it appears within the series.
    Therefore ,(to my way of thinking), like it or not, the various sexual references and situations must be an integral part of the story and would have lessend the series with their omissons.
    However unpleasant some of these incidents are, you will find as in life, generally the more unpleasant characters have the more unpleasant sexual experiences.
    The weaker characters i.e. children and the vulnerable endure the worse experiences at the hands of the ,"scum".
     
  8. Raff the Sweetling

    Raff the Sweetling Threadkiller

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    I think to create a believable world, you have to include sex. Martin didnt go with the generic everyone loves their partner relationships. There's sex for power, lust, love, duty, money, he even threw in inscest and a gay relationship. This is just one of the things that I like about the series, It is layers deep on every level.
     
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