Sophie Turner joins The Global Sisterhood for International Women’s Day


To celebrate International Women’s Day, Sophie Turner shared her experiences in Rwanda with The Huffington Post UK as a guest editor in their “All Women Everywhere” edition. She recounts Sansa’s sexual assault in Season 5 and its profound impact on her sense of activism which led her to join The Global Sisterhood and Sponsor a Sister.

The infamous sixth episode of Game of Thrones fifth season ends with the horrific sexual assault of the underage Sansa Stark by her captor Ramsay Bolton. Audience members and critics alike were enraged by such a depiction and even threatened to boycott the series. Turner reflects on her own experiences after the episode airing:

My active interest in women’s rights and the fight against domestic violence only really became acute after one of my scenes from season five of Game of Thrones aired. There was a huge response and not a particularly positive one: People were boycotting the show, multiple articles were being produced online and it was a trending topic on Twitter.

To be completely honest, my initial reaction was satisfaction: That rape, domestic violence and systemic sexual inequality is something we are capable of talking about; that we are capable of creating and sustaining a visible public dialogue. I don’t think it’s easy to overstate the importance of that dialog; if, by seeing us tell that part of Sansa’s story, 10 survivors of sexual violence felt empowered to talk about their experience, I’ll happily put up with the Twitter storm in a teacup.

Her initial response led to a frustration over the taboo of such a topic and the devastating statistics of assault of women:

But this initial satisfaction gave way to frustration and, eventually, anger. Frustration that there continues to be such a taboo surrounding rape, given that the WHO estimates that more than one in three (35%) women, globally, experience physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Anger that it being depicted onscreen was seen as vulgar; whilst the brute fact that, by dint of having two x-chromosomes, because of a set of genitalia determined long before I was born, there was a 35% probability at the point of birth that I would be victim of domestic and/or sexual violence.

She also defended the show’s responsibility to portray such a horrifying scene:

I found it vulgar that talking heads online had decided that Game of Thrones – known for its unflinching depictions of incest, slavery (sexual and otherwise) and a brother’s reproductive coercion of his sister – ought not depict rape. It would be a vulgar failure on our part as storytellers, to be happily silent on a matter that affects our sisters, mothers, daughters, nieces, cousins every day, all over the world. I’m proud to be part of a show that won’t be content to give unproblematic accounts of being a woman in a patriarchal society; if it falls to a fantasy show to portray the reality of domestic and sexual violence, so be it.

After the scene, Turner sought to become more involved and began in Rwanda by hearing these stories personally and see firsthand the work that is being done to bring change for women.

To read more of Sophie’s incredible journey, be sure to head over to The Huffington Post UK for the full experience!

To get involved and make a difference like Sophie, Join the Sisterhood and Sponsor a Sister today.

Then continue celebrating Women’s Day checking out another GOT-centric guest post by the dragon queen herself: Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen)!

13 responses

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    1. I agree with Sophie. It’s important to have an open dialogue about this and to not shy away from it. It’s about as sensitive a topic as you’ll find and for good reason. The rape on the show was supposed to be hated. The show wasn’t endorsing rape by having a rape scene anymore than they endorse murder by having characters killed. If Sophie feels that adding the scene to the show actually opened up more dialogue then I support it all the more.

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    2. I have no problem with being outraged by a rape scene but I do have a problem with double-standarts. There are some people out there who bitch on the sansa rape scene and praise the outlander series even if there is one of the worst rape scene I ever saw. Contistency in evaluations is important even if there are juxtapositions of gender in similar situations.

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    3. I honestly felt bad for Sophie when that whole controversy blew up to epic proportions, especially since I knew very well that the show had tried to greatly tone the scene down from the equivalent scene in the books. Yes, I understand that it’s obviously much more significant to the average show viewer with Sansa in the picture and not Jeyne, but it also wasn’t even the first time the show had the depicted the rape of a major character. That would be Dany and Drogo, in the very first episode of the entire show. How easily people seemed to forget that…not to mention several instances of attempted rape (Sansa during the King’s Landing riots, Theon by Ramsay’s soldiers, Gilly by a pair of Night’s Watchmen, etc.) and quite a few verbal references to rape. The show had already long since established that it wasn’t afraid of the subject, so it was a bit surprising that people were as shocked by the S5 scene as they were–especially considering that it involved Ramsay, and Ramsay’s S3 scenes with Theon very clearly established him as someone who thrives on (completely nonconsensual) sexual sadism and torture. I also think that Roose’s conversation with Ramsay in S5 about his conception–also through rape–was also a sort of twisted foreshadowing of this event that a lot of people didn’t pick up on.

      MAJOR props to Sophie for her very mature response and using the backlash as a positive and empowering development in her life.

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    4. Mr Derp,

      Agreed. The show wasn’t endorsing rape by portraying in onscreen. In fact, I think a lot of people were upset simply because it was Sansa rather than Jeyne Poole.

      I really like Sean T. Collins’ comments on the scene in his review of the episode:
      “So yes, Sansa’s rape by Ramsay is of the show’s own devising, and it feels every bit the violation it is. But by involving a multidimensional main character instead of one introduced primarily to suffer, the series has a chance to grant this story the gravity and seriousness it deserves. The novels present this material through Theon’s eyes, relegating Bolton’s bride to a supporting role in a man’s story. Sansa has a story of her own, of which this is now an admittedly excruciating chapter — but she, not Theon, is the real victim here, and it remains her story nonetheless. The next chapters will be hers alone to write.”

      full review:

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    5. Thanks Sophie for bringing the spot life on this organization. Heart wrenching to hear these stories yet also very encouraging to see women helping women overcome adversity and thrive.
      I admit I get caught up in the tragedies of fictional characters while forgetting the real plight of millions of women around the world.

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    6. So much outrage for a fictional rape scene, all those people hating Jack Gleeson. Can’t they see that this is a show?

      Sometimes I think most of humanity is insane.

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    7. Love how she has grown as a woman, and an actress. Her words speak of her maturity and activism. If anything good could come of the controversy, its that peoples’ eyes were opened, and some decided it was important to do more then just talk

      I always wondered why more people werent more upset by the rape of Danarys by Drogo. Granted, it was different in the book and wish they kept it that way. I was upset about it at the time, then shocked by how it seemed not to matter till the Sansa Ramsey scene. Didn’t make sense

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    8. That’s awesome! I did take issue with that particular rape scene.
      But I agree 100% that domestic abuse, particularly sexual, even between domestic partners, needs to be discussed.
      Sansa has always been my favorite character and as someone who saw the show before reading the books, thanks a lot to Sophie Turner. And now to have seen her grow into a stand up young woman warms my a heart a little. It means a lot to me that she has taken up this important cause that affects so many people regardless of their race, background, financial standings and so on.
      Thank you Sophie!

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