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Sexual Violence on “Outlander” vs. “Game of Thrones”

Sexual Violence on "Outlander" vs. "Game of Thrones"

This column contains spoilers for recently aired episodes.

The past week has seen two notably violent episodes of two major shows (which is saying something, given that both series are already so reliably graphic). There’s been a fascinating contrast in viewer, and critical, response to their varying depictions of sexual assault — which speaks to the broader chasm between the two shows in terms of how they treat their characters — and, by extension, their audiences.

Last Saturday, “Outlander” saw Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) in Wentworth Prison (also the title of the episode), facing down the nefarious Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies), who tortured and prepared to rape him. The next day, “Game of Thrones” concluded the episode “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” with the marriage of Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) to Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon), who then raped her on their wedding night.

Viewer response to the Sansa event was overwhelmingly negative. Not only did it change events from George R. R. Martin’s book so that her character becomes Ramsay’s victim (instead of a more minor character occupying that role), but her suffering struck many as needless and gratuitous. My own feelings were a little different: Though I felt similarly nauseated by Sansa’s treatment, I understand why the show would conflate characters, given the sprawl of Martin’s writing. I also don’t think we ought to only be concerned when major female characters on this show are victimized; it’s used female extras as rape and murder fodder since its first season.

The reason the “Game of Thrones” scene was so infuriating was that the assault of Sansa seems thrown in our faces, as so much of the violence against women on “Game of Thrones” often does. There is a fundamental difference in the perspective on the acts perpetrated on these Sansa and Jamie, and it’s worth mentioning here that the “Game of Thrones” episode was directed by a man (Jeremy Podeswa) while the “Outlander” episode was directed by a woman (Anna Foerster). I certainly don’t think it’s impossible for a male director to bring depth and sensitivity to subject matter like this, but wow, is there a big contrast in the way we view what happens to these two people.

Interestingly, the violence we see done to Jamie in “Wentworth” is also changed — and amplified — from the source material, Diana Gabaldon’s book. There, we only hear about it after the fact, and in no great detail. So the fact that the show opted to actually depict Jamie’s victimization could, in the wrong hands, be disastrous — and provoke the kind of backlash Sansa’s plot change did.

Here’s why it did not: Foerster largely stayed with Jamie’s perspective during this episode, first watching fellow prisoners at the gallows and then chained in the dungeon. When we see Black Jack, we feel as Jamie does: Terrified but resolute; resigning himself to the approaching, unknown suffering. Black Jack, as a villain, is just as twisted as Ramsay in “GoT,” but he’s not cartoonish, not a mustache-twirler — he’s horrifying.

Subject-wise, the episode is unusual in that it depicts sexual violence between two men (that isn’t a prison-rape joke). But “Outlander” has been subverting gender norms all along, and here it’s no different. Jamie — a strapping, classical hero — is the victim, Randall the rapist. But the situation is never presented as upsetting because its aggressor is gay; the show has taken care to spell that out for us before, when Jamie explained to Claire why he had resisted Randall’s advances. (Update: Gabaldon has stated she didn’t write Black Jack as gay: “He’s a pervert. He’s a sadist. He derives sexual pleasure from hurting people, but he’s not particular about the gender of a victim. Personality, yes–gender, no.)”

Unlike “Game of Thrones,” what happens to Jamie in the prison isn’t shot torture-porn style. What we see done to Jamie isn’t pretty, nor do we see him prettily suffering. The sexualized violence with which Black Jack threatens him ––for example, caressing and licking the scars he inflicted on his back, or tearing the shirt off his back with a knife — is not meant to seem sexual to us; it’s downright repellent. And when Randall hammers a nail into Jamie’s mangled hand, we sit with a crying Jamie and Claire (Catriona Balfe), who’s holding his other hand, as it happens.

The addition of Claire’s appearance in the prison cell during Jamie’s torture is another reason “Outlander” continues to be such a rewarding, feminist show. Alone, Claire braves the inside of the notorious prison — giving us glimpses of other grotesquely suffering groups of men in cells — before coming to attempt to rescue Jamie herself, including physically throwing herself against his captors. The fact that she ultimately can’t do it destroys them both, and us while we’re seeing it. It’s a tough watch, this episode. But not in the way that the final scene in “Unbowed” was.

The rapes in “Game of Thrones” feel designed to provoke, to exploit. This one is no different. Sexual violence is photographed beautifully — as seen with Turner’s face pressed into the furs on the bed at the episode’s end. The show also seems to be having a lot of fun with the Ramsay character; he’s got a certain winking similarity to Malcolm McDowell in “A Clockwork Orange.” Rheon is quite good in the role, but even he has implied the show has gone too far with what he does.

“Game of Thrones” also simply doesn’t give enough gravity to any of the sexual violence done to its female characters. (I can’t remember any men being subjected to it, but let me know in the comments if I’ve forgotten any incidents.) The show packs so many storylines into every hour that rape simply flits by and is gone; there’s no time to process actual feelings about it. By way of comparison, the next episode of “Outlander” — which looks like it will stay in Wentworth with Jamie and Black Jack for at least part of its running time — will include the psychological fallout from the rape after (presumably) Jamie is rescued.

I hope the “Game of Thrones” showrunners are watching “Outlander”; they could learn a thing or two from Ronald D. Moore’s show about how to dramatize sexual violence without sensationalizing it.

If the outcry over Sansa is any indication, we may actually be looking at a sea change. If viewers really won’t put up with trivialized, gratuitous rape on TV, shows will stop doing it.

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Was Jamie restrained by shackles when Black Jac serviced him?. No straight man with the physique of Jamie would allow another man to mount him unless he was shackled, nor would any straight young man take sexual pleasure from being serviced by another man. The fact that Jamie confesses to Claire that he enjoyed the sensation of havin Black Jack’s rod deep in his belly makes a lie of the notion that he is totally straight when he is in fact Bi-sexual.


Was Jamie actually penetrated by Black Jac in the rape scene?

Nellie Tan



Let’s be real: there’s no outcry over Outlander because it was a man who was raped, and that’s OK.


MELISSA – Did you actually watch the next episode of GoT? They clearly showed that Sansa was traumatized by the event, and the subsequent days, but she is not broken. She is fighting back in her own way and trying to figure things out. Her rape and abuse at the hands of Ramsay has not been glossed over, but it is not the focus of her character or the time we spend with her either. A lot of assumptions have been made so far about her character arch, but none of us knows how Sansa’s story will play out. Also, the scene itself was anything but erotic or gratuitous. The camera cut away and used sound instead of graphic nudity or violence to get across the point. Lastly, the focus of the camera on Theon, as someone mentioned above, was to give the audience a proxy and mirror our emotions of the scene. It was not about Theon’s abuse or just to show Ramsay as evil.


I got to say the finale rape scene stuff was a lot more dark and deep than game of thrones. Game of Thrones is easy to understand, its just used for power, lust and control, the outlander stuff…i’m really sure…i guess to explore the lengths of which a husband and wife will go through for each other?


What angered me most about the Sansa wedding incident was the audacity to insinuate that Theon was the victim in all of it. It was infuriating when the camera pan over to a sniveling Theon watching while Sansa, the actual victim, was being attacked. And then in the following episode, there was no mention of the incident! Everyone just carried on, much like the previous rapes of Daenerys and Cersei. Oh we’ll just gloss over that. What? How did that advance the plot of the story? I agree with you Solipsister. I abhor moments like these where rape is used as filler with no meaningful purpose or character development. And having not read the books, to hear that this was not in the original text just pisses me off even more.

Eleanor Ty

Great observations. I totally agree. Here is a blog I wrote about the use of violence in Outlander. On wordpress, it is called "Outlanderidler"


I understand that rape is something that (unbelievably and unfortunately) still exists in our culture. I agree that it s a most traumatic experience and among the worst things a person can do to another. However, I think in a show (GoT) that includes (and in some cases, graphically shows) beheadings, torture, someones d*ck getting cut off, someones eyes being gouged out and his head being smashed in, a rape is just another part of this realm. It’s not glorified. The viewer is meant to be disgusted, and it’s meant to invoke anger at the characters committing the rape. The entire show is shot beautifully. The color pallet that is utilized in every different location is nothing short of breathtaking. I don’t know why they would go guerrilla-filmmaking for this scene just because it was a rape. I understand the anger at seeing a rape, but there should be equal anger at the dismemberment, the torture, and the very graphic brutal murders (the Red Lion’s most of all, in my opinion). Otherwise, you are selectively getting offended and forcing the filmmaker to walk on eggshells. This show has never shied away from showing its horrific scenes and I like that they didn’t do it this time either.


I’ve yet to see these episodes of Outlander, but I’ve read the book multiple times. I’ve neither read or watched Got, so I can’t speak on it. I can say the Wentworth scenes in the book are horrifying and hard to get through no matter how many times I read it. Diana was able to inject both horror and beauty into those pages. The horror was, of course the act itself, the torture and rape of Jamie. But there is a sense of beauty as well in the way Claire tried to come to his rescue, the love between then that is so strong and pure that each is willing to sacrifice them self for the other. As terrible as the whole thing was (I bawled like a baby as he told her the story) Gabaldon was still able to show the relationship between these two, the love that was more than mere sexual passion.


Thanks for writing. I think you stated it perfectly. Definitely a difference between dramatizing and sensualizing. There was no real good reason for that Sansa scene, a little creepy that there are rumors the writers were just waiting til the actress came of age to do a rape scene.

Auri Quail

"Game of Thrones" also simply doesn’t give enough gravity to any of the sexual violence done to its female characters. (I can’t remember any men being subjected to it, but let me know in the comments if I’ve forgotten any incidents.)
Um, you do remember that Ramsay chopped off Theon’s penis, right? I’d be hard pressed to top that with pretty much anything – completey depriving a human being of their sexual organs pretty much classifies as horrific. That is not to demean anything suffered by the female characters, but surely Theon’s victimization counts for something.


Having read both series and being up to date on both shows I can say that a) we don’t know that Sansa’s rape will not have future impact on the show, because the show has drastically deviated from the book at this point and the next books aren’t out yet. I do know that Theon is going to be greatly influenced by what just happened and that does make the rape fit into the story. It had to be powerful enough to move him, because he never changed to protect himself at this point. He had to witness something so deeply painful to help him repair his broken mentality. In Outlander there’s Jamie who was really raped in the books, and the show did a decent job dealing with it, though I would have rather they spent less time on the details of it all, Randall was just as disgusting as Ramsay. At least GOT kept it short and got the idea across in a few minutes whereas we knew what was going on with Jamie for the whole agonizing hour. Now you are saying the next episode of Outlander is focused on this as well?!? I am tired of it all around!


SOLIPSISTER: That is EXACTLY what I thought. Sansa’s rape was trivialized by the show and used as a vehicle to perpetuate Ramsay’s torture of Theon. The entire end of this last episode really annoyed and insulted my feminist views. "Cheap, easy and shallow use of rape." Precisely. agreed!

Laurie Mann

While Westeros is clearly a fantasy world, it’s grounded in medieval earth history. What happened to Sansa (and to an even younger Dani in the very first episode) happened to millions and millions of women on this planet – women married off and men having the right of the marriage bed no matter what. Remember, Sansa had been married previously, but Tyrion, being somewhat modern, did not force himself on her even though he had the "right" to. While I found the wedding night rape troubling, Sansa suspected it would probably happen whether she was willing or not. I don’t think it was sensationalized in the way rape and violence (particularly Theon’s torture and the very long rape scenes at Craster’s) has been on other episodes of GoT.


The reason I don’t watch GoT anymore: all the "overkill" of sadistic scenes and so many many naked women in every episode. I have nothing against nudity, but this was more like the wet dream od the makers/author (?) I love Outlander so much more!


"So, in summary, if sexual violence towards women is depicted, even non-graphically with only shots of faces, it’s abhorrent, unacceptable. If sexual violence towards men is depicted, graphically, it’s about time sisters!" yes that’s exactly what this article meant. When men are raped it’s perfectly fine, even if the rapist is the old awful trope of the rapist insane gay man. If they hint (not even show) female rape, then it’s bad. But hey, that’s equality.


I do not like all the violence in Outlander, and I did not watch this episode, and wont watch torture in the next one either. I have no idea why the female author is so into rape of Claire and torture (is she perverted?) and seeing Claire’s and Jenny’s breasts. Some nudity is fine as its part of the story, but its excessive in Outlander. I really like Hueghan and Balfe or I would not watch this serial. I stopped watching Game of Thrones because it got too violent and sadistic. Sadism is much better, in my view, suggested or treated carefully. I know at least 5 fans other than me who did not watch this past episode.


Actually, the description in the book of what Randall does to Jamie is very clear. To be honest I was expecting "worse" in "Wentworth" I’m pretty sure there will be more groundbreaking in the final episode and possibly next season on Outlander where we will learn more about what happened between Black Jack and Jamie. The acting by Menzies and Heughan was remarkable.


So, in summary, if sexual violence towards women is depicted, even non-graphically with only shots of faces, it’s abhorrent, unacceptable. If sexual violence towards men is depicted, graphically, it’s about time sisters!




Outlander takes place in a time when the world was not quite as civilized as ours and people could get away with a lot more. There are a lot of people who enjoy these books for many other reasons (other than what you dwell upon) for the last 24 years. Although you are welcome to your opinion, I do not agree with it. Perhaps you need to read the rest of the novels to understand what this is all about. Thank you.


Unfortunate as it is rape and pillaging have been the norm in times past. They still happen in our world today… just read the news…Rape is rape…it does not matter what gender you are or sexual preference… I see the thrones and Hollander as 2 different ways of life. The brutality in thrones has always been more graphic and as all movies things are omitted and changed to help the movie. Outlander is a romance story with real life tragities. The caring people in it help you get through the painful parts. Thrones never apologizes for the actions taken against others. There is no comparison in my opinion. Two writers, two directors, two separate movies. Great job in the writing of these books….Thank you for sharing your creativity.


Thank you for putting into words what I was unable to regarding these two episodes. I am a huge fan of both shows but for the first time felt GoT had gone too far and was produced an episode more for effect than quality.


Excellent article. This voices how I feel regarding this. It’s not so much the sexual violence but how it’s done and for what reason and outcome. I think the scene with Sansa was actually a pretty good one and even light compare to others of the same show… now I just hope it actually has an impact.


"(I can’t remember any men being subjected to it, but let me know in the comments if I’ve forgotten any incidents.) "Theon getting his dick chopped off?!


there is the reality of the times and sick people could hide and manipulate the system easily to their own ends.
why the outrage over either – In Outlander this storyline has existed for years – it’s one of the things that sets Diana’s books apart from others, she’s not afraid to stray from the fairy tale fantasy swashbuckler tale – but into much more reality based life – a life that was harsh and unforgiving – and this is what we choose to be outraged over? I applaud her brilliant writing – her vivid visceral characters….we wanted this series and we got it! THANK YOU DIANA!

GoT Fan

Quote: "Game of Thrones" also simply doesn’t give enough gravity to any of the sexual violence done to its female characters. (I can’t remember any men being subjected to it, but let me know in the comments if I’ve forgotten any incidents.) . Apparently, you seem to have forgotten the sexual mutilation of Theon Greyjoy (Reek) in Season 3. What I don’t understand about all of this hubub, is that no one seemed to mind when Ros was tortured and shot multiple times by Joffery Baratheon with a crossbow in the same Season 3. This begs the question: is it only the highborn anyone concerned with?


I was horrified by Sansa’s rape and I am interested in seeing how the aftermath is played out. I’ve read the books and know how the rape was handled in the book with a different character but that doesn’t make either situation any less tolerable and it shouldn’t be seen that way.

Theon’s face told exactly what was happening and it was gut clenching to watch. I felt I was seeing through Theon, not watching Theon watching. (Well done Alfie Allan!) I didn’t need to see Sansa or Bolton’s face. To me, that would be gratuitous.

I’m really counting on Brienne of Tarth’s near by presence and determination to avenge Catelyn and save her children to finally come into play.

As for Outlander, I love the books and I think the series is brilliantly done!

Susan Van Hoven

We all like stories, of many different stripes. And they are told in different ways. I have never watched GOT or read the books, but the reviewer’s assessment matches the durth of entertainment I have watched most of my life. Creative people have a right to create entertainment in any way they choose, but I can speak to Outlander having been a long time fan, and many times reader. I love these books because they are different, coming from a perspective I’d hadn’t seen before aside from the classics. In true classic fashion, Diana Gabaldon’s story, all eight books, are multi dimensional. That is why they take so long to be told. Actions have motivations, and consequences. Diana doesn’t gloss over that, the motives and consequences are intrinsic parts of her story. I suppose you could say that most male authors or directors would be more centered on action. I find books like Diana’s to be like feasting on steak rather than appetizers. I do think that women having influence in the creative process does make a difference in perspective. Especially when they are given freedom to do things as they see fit. I gave Outlander to a psychologist to read. She was very impressed with how Diana wrote Jamie’s experience in Wentworth down to the loss of his inner core shelter and gaining it back. I do know how important this story is from a woman’s perspective. Men are also able to articulate these things, but it is not the world they usually move in. I can understand the need to compare GOT with Outlander, but I suppose they will always exist side by side. It is important to recognize the difference, encourage it, and applaud it so that it becomes a counterpoint, a deeper understanding, finally validated. I credit Diana for bringing back what has made the classics what they are, a much deeper portrayal of the human experience. Thank you Diana for a masterpiece.


The scene in GoT DID serve a purpose, which seems to have escaped your notice. Earlier in that episode, Sansa made it clear in her conversation with Miranda that she thought she would be safer from Ramsay’s perversions, due to her status. The scene showed the point at which Sansa suddenly realised that she is no more to Ramsay than an object for him to have fun with, despite being a high born lady and now his wife. I would also guess that Theon being forced to watch it will have repercussions in his already messed-up psyche, and the shot of him watching the rape showed his inner turmoil quite clearly.


Here’s the deal: Diana doesn’t get to decide how her work will be interpreted. That goes for the books, as well as the show she acts as consultant for. She doesn’t get to decide how her work is received. Her work has already been written and shared with the world, it’s out of her hands, she can’t hold our hands and tell us how it is to be interpreted, and she shouldn’t. If people read her book and think Black Jack is gay, she shouldn’t be flapping about saying they’re "wrong" because "that’s how she wrote it." How she wrote it is irrelevant! Now, I personally don’t think Black Jack is gay, but I’ve read the books, as well as listened to many, many podcasts analyzing the work, which is far more complex than could ever be achieved on the show. Also: it’s not her show! She’s a consultant! Who’s to say they DIDN’T make Black Jack gay? Maybe they did it unintentionally because it’s impossible to achieve the depth of a several-hundred page novel onscreen. Maybe they did it intentionally. IT DOESN’T MATTER. No one is allowed to tell anyone else how to interpret something, or that their interpretation is wrong. No, not even the originator. We can accept that it was her intent to make him bisexual, but that does not mean that we HAVE to interpret it that way. If that were true, we would have a lot of terrible writers explaining their work after the fact because they didn’t explain it enough within the work. Let your work fly, Diana! Let us interpret it as we will.


The true horror of Sansa’s rape is that it wasn’t even about her. What happened to her was all about its effect on Theon. Ramsey might as well have left her untouched and raped Theon directly instead of by proxy.


Outlander, whathever bullshit you can say, just played the oldest homophobic tropes in that (and other) episodes. It also cuts queer characters from the books because (while at least GOT tried). The show is bigoted and so is this article.


It’s in the books that Randall’s "ability to perform" is directly dependent on him being a sadist. He can’t get it up without violence. The author has stated as much. She also has positive representation later in the novels in the character of Lord John Grey, who got his own spin-off series of novels. I agree with another commenter’s assessment that, in the current GoT ‘verse, you are either a victim or a manipulator, and there seem to be no one in between. Also take into account that the GoT ‘verse is an entirely fictional world with effing dragons in it: there is no "oh it’s worse for women in Westeros". Westeros is completely fictional. Whereas, Outlander is based around the actual history of the Jacobite rebellion. The historical detail in the entire series is worthy of a PhD level historian. And rape is never used as a throwaway "oh well, that’s just how it was" plot device. There are consequences and fallout.

The One Wishing People Would Read

The ending of GoT was a lot less graphic than it was in the books and I for one am happy about that. Where I don’t dislike the action taking place in Outlander (a huge fan) I don’t understand why we are even comparing the two. Two different writers, two different minds, two different directors, and two different stories. Can we not just stop with this feminist bullshit (I am a woman and even for me this shit is getting old) and just enjoy the shows and feel for the PRETEND character that bad things are happening to?


Despite what The author has stated about Randall, without prior knowledge of the books and storyline, I can see very well that show is depicting Randall to be gay. Most particularly since it showed his inability to "perform" when attempting to rape Jaime’s sister.


People, get a live! You don’t have to watch these series, there is no one that forces you to watch! If you are a sensitive soul, don’t watch it. And if you are watching and can’t deal with sex and violence: there is a on/off button on your remote control!
I’m from The Netherlands and watch both series, but it looks like we Dutchies are level-headed and we know that it is just television and not reality!


I think, and I watch both, that anyone who can’t see the difference or feel the emotional nuances have not yet fully invested themselves into either of these series. If you didn’t cry with Claire during last weeks episode or even while knowing what was happening, and hope "maybe she’ll do him <BJR> in this time" just because you love them so…may not understand the importance of this episode and likely the love story that is being forged. In GoT there is brutality in brutal lands and times. There are bargains being made with lives heedless of consent or consequence and staying true to form for getting followers vested into the more violent relationships during the show/series that has tended to go that way in forced "couples" from the start it is successful once again. I think the positioning and atmosphere of the scenes are so different as not to being comparable other than they were both hard to watch and both involved a strong constitution by each "watcher". IMHO


What about the sexual violence that Ramsay did to Theon? He actually removed Theon’s penis after first having two women seduce Theon. And there was MUCH more torture than that even that Theon has endured. I thought they gave us Theon’s reaction shots vs. showing the actual rape both to spare us seeing a virginal Sansa go through that but to also set up Theon & Sansa being linked together in their suffering. I imagine Sansa and Theon will join forces in getting their revenge on Ramsay.

Kim M. Williams

I watch both shows. I started watching Outlander right from the start, however, with Outlander, I did go out & purchase the first two books & will continue to do so as I work my way through the entire series! GOT I have no desire to read the books. I did watch all of the seasons up to the current one. I have to say that GOT is boring me. To me it is like a movie where you are waiting for it to win. I have actually thought of not watching it anymore. I will say that last weeks episode of Outlander was hard to watch, but nothing to what happens on GOT. They are two different shows. It is like comparing apples to oranges. So much violence on GOT, that I think I am almost desensitized to it. Also, way more characters to keep track of. Also keeping track of all the kingdoms and who lives where was confusing in the beginning & the different kingdoms. With Outlander, a love story between two people who would protect and defend each other to the very end. I will continue to watch Outlander and continue to read the books. Which I am enjoying! I am still up in the air about GOT. I believe only one more episode till the season is over. Rape, incest, beheadings and murder have been common on GOT since the beginning. Ramsey is a horrible person & is sadistic. Black Jack Randall is a horrible person also, but we don’t see his behavior sadistic behavior each week. I was discussing with someone this week and he said that he didn’t watch Outlander, but did watch GOT. He did say that his wife watched Outlander. He was actually shocked when I told him I watched both. I almost got the impression that GOT was a guy show & that Outlander was a womans show. I am excited to watch this week to find out what happens.


How does sexual orientation not play into it? Would Sansa’s rape scene be any less horrific if Ramsay was gay– or if his orientation was somehow ambiguous?.. But it makes some kind of difference to Outlander that they’ve tried to muddy the clarity of Black Jack’s orientation from the novels so that he’s a rapist who just so happens to maybe-possibly be gay?. And that distinction makes it less bad?… I’m confused, sister.


That was fantastic. I wrote the same review comparing the two shows. My review was slightly different but with the same conclusion. Outlander is giving us something to hang onto, GoT gives us nothing. No hope, no surivivng, nothing. It just shows all the gratutious horror. Outlander there are moments of redemption, moments of bliss that balance out that which is horrible for that time period. People are trying to live good lives. GoT, even Sansa isn’t trying to live a good life. You’re either a victim or perpetrator and nothing in between. That isn’t how humans live. We are all grey. The sex on Outlander pushes the scenes forward, they’re how people use sex sometimes to deal with hard issues, to deal with celebration. GoT has done that and it’s been nice to see that. This season though, nothing but horrid events.


Wow, some mindbogglingly stupid comments on the author "enjoying" the scenes in Outlander. There was nothing enjoyable about the last episode – and that was WITHOUT showing Jamie being rape by Randall. Too bad your beloved Game of Thrones couldn’t pull that off.


Theon was subjected to genital mutilation and also during one season when he tries to escape, about to be raped by a man until Ramsay Bolton "rescues" him.


So, basically, rape is A-OK if done to a men.

Sansa’s scene was serving the plot and most of the "action" happened offscreen, via reaction shots. All we saw was her back.

You’d think her sadist new husband would just go sleep in another room? How would that not be out of character?

And clearly, we were shown the impact that had on Reek and that will likely be explored.

With a show that has so much glorified violence, that scene was actually subdued.

Get with it

I still find it very troubling that some critics of GoT complain with the scene, because it was Sansa instead of a "more minor character." Sexual assault is NEVER ok, which is why we should take it as a disgusting act by a disgusting character, as any character who commits this act would be. Your stance makes me feel like you should not be discussing art OR society.

Rebecca Gill

One comment, Black Jack Randall is not gay. He’s a pervert and a sadist. As Diana Gabaldon, BJR’s humble creator has maintained all along.


I found the article very interesting and do agree. The difference is when the fallout and feelings about the rape are not explored it becomes gratuitous and not meaningful. Outlander will indeed explore the effects of the toture perpetuated on Jaime not just in this season but many more to come. I would similarly compare it to when Anna Bates (Joanne Frogatt) was raped in Downton Abbey it was followed by a storyline that dealt with the issue head on exploring her feelings at great length. Thank you for a thought provoking article!


You are right on. I stopped watching GOT just for this reason. Outlander still has the beauty of the written tale to back up the violence. And the hope for it to end.


If anyone did not see the Sansa’s rape coming, then you haven’t been paying attention. Theon being the focus of shot does not make him the focus of the scene. I personally found Theon’ s reaction as a mirror to what our own should be. I also find it interesting that many of the comments I’ve seen on several articles discussing this scene have been what seems to be in defense of the show. I like Indiewire but I wouldn’t mind seeing someone of a different opinion write a article about this. Also, why is this scene being condemned so by some people when the narrative itself isn’t finished yet. I think concerning the subject of rape, the scene needs to feel gut wrenching as rape itself is gut wrenching and depicting it any other way would be wrong.

Sarah Brockman

Cathy and Solipsister already said what I cam here to say – great article on the difference between the two!


Here is the real reason the rape in Outlander didn’t bother you. It was guy on guy, and that turned you on. If you admitted that, I’d have no problem with that.


I personally agree with everything this reviewer said about Game of Thrones so I disagree with Maggie. It was all of a sudden and gratuitous. It appeared in earlier episodes that he liked her and then that rape was out of nowhere. Just because you don’t like it, doesn’t make it not true. I was completely thrown by that episode and it made no sense.
And btw, I would say to the writer of this article, the last two episodes of Outlander is like the book. In the next episode, they will tell what all happened between Jamie and Captain Randall, from Jamie’s mouth later after it all happens. So it will be done "after the fact" also. What we saw in EP 15 is nothing compared to the violence we see "after the fact" in EP 16.


Sorry. Despite what Diana wrote, I still think what was shown on Outlander was porn. There was no reason to show the mallet hitting Jaime’s flesh or him being impaled on the nail. To me, the violence I see on television is a sign of bad direction and editing. Saw v. Psycho. One was directed by a master, one by a hack. Tell me which you remember decades later.


GOT showrunners are also on the hook for two rapes that weren’t in the books and which did nothing to advance the narrative (on the contrary, actually). Dani’s and Cersei’s rapes were ridiculous choices and those bleed into any assessment of Sansa’s. I have NO problem with and approve of eliminating the Poole character. But Sansas’s arc isn’t advanced by the rape (she already has ample reason to despise the Boltons and Theon). Ramsey’s already irredemmably evil–one more rape doesn’t make an audience hate him more. At best her rape is about Theon–notice all the camera attention to his tears–so her body is violated as a cheap narrative ploy to leverage Theon’s potential redemption. I don’t object to portrayals of brutality and rape. I do disdain cheap, easy and shallow uses of rape when it serves no meaningful purpose.

Cathy Brown

Diana Gabaldon (the author of Outlander) has publicly stated numerous times that Black Jack Randall is not gay, he is a sadist and the gender of his victim is not relevant. Excellent comparison, thank you for sharing your thoughts.


Oh wow. Do you even know what you are writing about? Have you actually saw Sansa scene? Jeremy Podeswa is a very subtle director, but how would you know that, I assume you didn’t even know any of his other work such as sublime Fugitive Pieces which contains some of the most tender love scenes I’ve ever seen and presents the scenes of violence with great restraint. The focus on Theon’s face will have consequence in the upcoming events on the show. As for the focus on Sansa’s face being "beautiful" – well Turner is beautiful. Doesn’t change the fact that the scene was horrific. It was done in the most subtle way possible, do you actually know what torture porn is? And as for the show not showing sexual abuse targeted at men – Theon was almost raped, he was practically raped before he was castrated, Gendry was pretty much exploited by Melisandre.
"gratuitous rape" – we didn’t even see the rape take place thanks to Podeswa’s directing.

And since it appears it makes a difference to you let me inform you that Podeswa himself is gay.


GoT is a very different world that outlander (GoT is imaginary for one, where Outlander takes place in our world) while men in those worlds have similar views of women GoT is far more perilous. And Ramsay Snow is just a sadistic shit. You are not supposed to like it. You are supposed to hate him

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