Women are abused by House of the Dragonalmost as they entered Game of Thrones. The series continues to perpetuate toxic depictions with widespread violence against women, while hiding behind a pseudo-emphasis on female characters.
Historically, Game of Thrones marked the small screen for many perfectly legitimate reasons in terms of direction and narrative construction, but never shined in its representation of women. The series was even singled out for its sexiness. In question, scenes of repeated sexual violence, female nudity far superior to male nudity, the continuation of old patterns of power: in short, the universe of George RR Martin and the transposition This one on HBO is full of toxic clichés about women.
We legitimately hope so House of the Dragon better in this area. In particular because the showrunners they themselves say that they will not carry out overt sexual violence. Unfortunately, after 5 episodes, the search is not positive at all.
Attention, for the purposes of this decryption, the rest of the article contains spoilers for the first 5 episodes of House of the Dragon.
Does the Dragon House series hate women?
From the first stage, House of the Dragon opens after about twenty minutes in a scene that is believed to be construction: a cesarean delivery, forced, without consent, by the decision of the king – Viserys – at the expense of his wife Aemma, who then dies in childbirth in pain. The violence in the scene is stark, slow and unbearable. The cruelty is not just pictorial, it goes deeper. In this power relationship – the physical violence inflicted on a woman – that House of the Dragon sat down.
This episode is just the beginning of a series of sequences where male dominance permeates form and content:
- Episode 4 depicts a scene close to marital rape: we see Alycent forcing herself to have sex with Viserys. The camera insists on explaining to us, Alycent is not happy, does not like the work. It seems that he is still taken by anger.
- The same episode relies on the glamorization of a controlled incest between an old man and a teenage girl; when Daemon seduced his niece Rhaenyra with the intention of taking her to a house. The work is completely guided and chosen by this old man, although it does not happen to everyone. The toxic representation continues: it is after this scene that the girl seems to know her sexual desire and that almost a few minutes later, she seduces the knight Criston Cole. In the open, it was thanks to her charismatic uncle that Rhaenyra would have discovered her sexuality. And it brings to mind the problem with Sansa’s treatment Game of Thrones : the screenwriters confirmed him as ” without Littlefinger, without Ramsay and the others, I would have remained a little bird all my life “, while this one was manipulated by the other, raped by the other.
- Also in this episode 4, the tradition of Game of Thrones does not change: the naked represented in the brothel is 90% women, while most of the men remain clothed.
- Episode 5 opens with a completely gratuitous feminicide: Daemon kills his wife with rocks. The reason? This interferes with his projects and, as he showed in the previous episode, he doesn’t like it. He is a burden in his eyes; therefore he deserves death.
Daemon, meanwhile, is celebrated throughout the series: his character can be as cruel as evil, the series manages to portray him as a charming person.
And that’s a lot for mid-season: the imbalance in power relations is clear and women are clearly mistreated in the series.
Violence against women is trivialized as a narrative device
House of the Dragon uses the same mechanics as Game of Thrones : shocking a violence justified by a medieval realism (this universe, like many works of fantasy, based on the context of the Middle Ages). Except this realism is false. Many medievalists “reject” this idea. Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon does not represent the Middle Ages strictly speaking.
It was explained, for example, by Justine Breton, a specialist in medieval history and fantasy, at the microphone of French Culture in 2020: ” The author of the literary saga George RR Martin and then the creators of the series appealed to this claim of realism and authenticity, often to clear themselves of the accusations that may have been made to them; especially when they have to face criticism in the face of sexism, the representation of female characters, often naked, or even in the face of violence that is displayed, etc. Often, they rely on this idea of realism: ‘No, it’s the Middle Ages like that and we’re just passing on this image’. But in fact, this is not a true image of the Middle Ages, which is no more cruel than our time. »
In short: the violence in the universe of Game of Thrones a narrative choice and not imposed in a medieval context. This means that violence against women is equally used as script writing tools. The search is very worrying, still in 2022, for one of the most watched TV series in the world.
Sex and violence in a universe of intense fantasy, this is one thing. Sexist and sexual violence is another. Therefore, it is useless to invoke the fear of any “smoothing”. That misogyny is also in the structure of the smallest screenplay spring is only the continuation of a fantasy that we want to remove. And yes: fiction plays a role, by definition, in imaginations, which in turn have an impact on society.