historically things like rape were either not discussed, considered NBD, or something which meant you must commit suicide because why would anyone want you after that? when i watch/read game of thrones, it makes me think about the brutality in our own lives, and how our media handles that. i dont know if it has that effect on anyone else though.
1. You’re wrong about social perspectives on violence, including sexual violence, from “history”. Firstly, because you seem to be generalizing the entirety of human history. Secondly,
Woman Kills a Would-Be Rapist and is Presented with his Belongings, manuscript illumination, 12th c., Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, MS Graecus Vitr. 26-2, fol. 208r. [more; more]
According to the text of the Madrid manuscript of the “Synopsis historion,” a Byzantine chronicle written by John Skylitzes, “There were some Varangians dispersed in the Thrakesion theme for the winter. One of them coming across a woman of the region in the wilderness put the quality of her virtue to the test. When persuasion failed he resorted to violence, but she seized his Persian-type sword, struck him in the heart and promptly killed him. When the deed became known in the surrounding area, the Varangians held an assembly and crowned the woman, presenting her with all the possessions of her violator, whom they threw aside, unburied, according to the law concerning assassins.” In the image depicting these occurrences, the woman uses a spear to kill her attacker, and the other Varangian men approach her with armfuls of clothing.
Women’s History in regard to the European Middle Ages, specifically, is so constantly being revised, revisited, and rewritten, what is considered “the norm” and what is considered “exceptional” changes with the day of the week, the phase of the moon, and the latest piece of documentation being debated in various circles.
You can read this excerpt reviewing Gendering the Master Narrative: Women and Power in the Middle Ages in its second incarnation, versus the one from 1988 which the authors claimed focused too much on
"the positive"…. as you can see, these ideas are constantly in flux, as well they should be! I’m ready for another volume refocusing on the positive, myself…. :|
In other words, THIS is precisely what I mean-people get these ideas from media and project them onto history a lot of the time. And yes, there are plenty of counter-examples, we can talk about Artemisia Gentilischi, and a million other things, but my point is that you cannot universalize this.
2. That’s precisely the problem I’m talking about, that GoT is more of a reflection of our CURRENT SOCIETY than it is Medieval European Society, but it’s often being presented as or defended as “Just How Things Were Back Then”. You know, back when DRAGONS.
3. I think I’m going to have to have a whole speech very soon on how conflict in fiction is 100% possible without replicating or exaggerating gender or race-related oppression (Laurie J. Marks’ Elemental Logic series), AND without erasing gender (Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness) OR people of color (like basically 90% of the genre of epic fantasy. And urban fantasy, for that matter.)
FYI, the Varangians were Vikings. This woman killed a fucking Viking and the others honoured her for it.