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Kat

[BOOK & TV SPOILERS] Dany and Drogo's relationship

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I am aghast that there are folks in this thread defending spousal/date rape. Criminy.

It is not defending spousal/date rape. The issue is that in the context of the world GRRM has created and the period of time from which it is modeled, spousal rape did not exist. Women were objects and sold into marrage for allies, armies, and power(among other things). This scene, and the follow-up scenes between them, are depictions of reality during medieval times. Are they harsh? Yes. By modern standards, are they rape? Yes. In the context that they are presented, are they rape? No. You can only hold someone accountable to the laws that are in place during the time of their actions, and thus you can only define their actions through the laws that are in place at the time. You have to read the story and watch the show based off of what is acceptable in the world that the author has created, to start judging that world based on current laws and acceptable behaviors does not do the story justice.

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I don't think they're defending it, TN. I think they're understanding that the emotional feelings about it are complex and made complex by societal norms and views. And that the emotional reaction and violation of a woman who has been treated like chattel for most of her life, abused by her brother, and is on some level in massive shock is not necessarily relatable to a housewife who got raped by her husband.

babyraven, I think you're right, most of the time for modern people. I think most women would turn to a knife - either for him or for them (and to be clear, this is EXACTLY what Dany thinks about doing in the book, so it's not like she's clearly consenting there). But I also think that Dany isn't being presented as most women. For her her whole world has been, up until now, characterized by Viserys - someone who abused her on a whim, who told her that she was only valuable to him as a means to his ends, and had no real connection to anyone else. Drogo by comparison is actually much better; he does the same thing, every night, and it sucks - it sucks a LOT - but by comparison it's much easier. She's treated by handmaidens, she's surrounded by people who actually care about her - and it's very likely that they all understand that it is rough but it will get better.

For her, she isn't thinking that he's this horrible person. She's now got something she's not had before - hope.

And then, in the show, she has a discovery - that if she does certain things in a certain way she can make it so that she can have some power over the Khal. Have..power over a man? This is as alien a concept to her as voting. She's been resigned to her fate, living the dreams of dragons as her solace. And then she gets this escape. It's not about making the sex better for Drogo. It's about being able to wield some power over him, to control that part of her life. And if she can control that...maybe she can control more.

Because in this version Drogo is as you say - that inconsiderate, ignorant barbarian who isn't interested in anything 'better'. She can't reason with him yet. She can't convince him to not do what he's doing with words, or show her capabilities with success at battle. This is all she's got. That, or the knife.

Dany in this show is a survivor. A survivor of massive abuse and violence and disrespect. She isn't going to kill herself to kill someone else. She's going to fight and live.

And yeah, that might change the dynamic between her and the Khal - though I suspect once she starts having power over him and she actually enjoys the relationship some, it's not a matter of Stockholm; it's a matter of actually enjoying being the queen.

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Well from what I remember, been a while since I read the books, Dany loved Drogo and vice versa. Not at first but by the end it was there. At least I presume Drogo loved her back, we do not really get his view of things but by the end of the book it is clear that Dany has fallen in love with him.

Drogo is much nicer then her brother. Her brother physically abuses her, the scene when he is seeing if she is ready for her wedding, and he grabs her forcefully and tells her "you do not want to wake the dragon" shows some light into what he has done to her. Where as Drogo, pretty much doesn't abuse her. He has sex with her, and she hates it, and she hides her tears from him. However drogo is not the crazy man that her Brother is.

As for the whole Value dissonance is present throughout the books. For example, political marriages where people do not have a choice in who they are marrying is wrong to us, but it is something that is accepted by the characters. Does not mean they do not like it. To use Dany as an example again. If I am remembering correctly, she was terrorfied of Drogo when she met him for the first time. I mean she was frightened by this man, however she did not really have a choice in accepting the marriage or not. Her brother made the arrangements not her.

Also do not forget that Dany is one of the strongest female characters in the whole story. She goes on a journey and suffers a whole lot durring it, but she survives and she comes into her own. Also If I remmeber correctly again, there are a some more actual attempts at rape then the dany/drogo stuff, such as a rioting mob with sansa in king's landing; though sandor saves her. Though I could be remembering things wrong, been a while since I read the books.

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Whether she has a ring on her finger or not, there is a man repeatedly forcing himself on her without her consent.

There is a lot more evidence for consent than not-consent. People just ignore it because it isn't verbal and obvious. They should exercise their brains instead of exercise their "offended on behalf of someone else" organs.

Reluctantly or not, she agreed to getting married (at least as far as Drogo is concerned) - and all that it entails. Given that the primary purpose of getting married in both cultures is to get heirs, that means that she agreed (from Drogo's POV), reluctantly or not to be having sex with Drogo. That is consent.

She didn't run away from it or display any overt sign of non-consent either - and she could have, even while actually complying. Yes, she was afraid, yes it hurt. But she had already implicitly agreed to it and did not at any time try to change that agreement.

That implies not only initial consent, but also continued consent.

The only negative things we see from her are fear, and later pain (mostly from riding all day).

Neither of those actually say "non-consent", no matter how much people claim they do. They might be symptoms of non-consent and they might also go along with consent. They don't prove anything either way.

But at no time does Danaerys display any actual non-consent to Drogo.

She is not "explicitly not want and not consent"-ing to the sex.

There is crying and pain. There is fear.

It is entirely possibly, in some circumstances, to accept, consent and want something that is painful and scary. Like getting a tattoo even though needles make you faint for example. Even sex. Even when you are not SM inclined.

She is doing something painful and scary because it gives her a great reward in the future (a child/heir and status, respect, wealth and power).

The fact that she thinks to herself that she is grateful Drogo cannot see her tears could imply either

a) fear that he will hurt her more because of the tears - I can see nothing that would suggest this to her, and plenty in the book first night scene that would suggest otherwise, OR

b)that she is actually consenting to the sex and happy that Drogo is not 'put off' or upset by seeing her pain - this is much more likely IMO given the situation.

Thus it cannot be categorically stated as rape, even by modern standards (except legal/underage stuff), and those who claim it are assuming things that are not explicit in the text and run counter to the known circumstances.

Many posters have simply taken the (IMO false) implication that crying/pain/fear equals non-consent and taken it up as fact. They need to think a bit more about the wider situation rather than just the imagined 'here and now'.

Like most people Danaerys is perfectly capable of making decisions, including consent, that involve doing unpleasant or uncomfortable things because that is what is necessary.

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Can't say I agree that Dany ever consented to the marriage. She was coerced by her brother, and attempts to say she didn't protest strongly enough don't wash with me. She could hardly protest at all and her lack of affirmative consent would still be just as devastating, and she certainly protests in both the book and the tv show.

Any self-interested calculus she performs about her spousal sexual duties come chronologically after this coercion, and her resignation to this arrangement. It was most definitely not something she entered into freely, tacitly or otherwise.

That said, I also disagree with BabyRaven in that I think the sexual relationship in the books was far murkier than the bodice-ripping gloss given to the wedding night alone would suggest. In many ways that scene was a cop out by Martin to keep the reader from being alienated too far by the combination of her age and the bleakly realistic depiction of female power IMO. The show avoids that moral sleight of hand fudge and is better for it IMO.

Regardless, if you accept the existence of genuine feelings between Drogo and Dany in the books, you're also accepting a murky area of spousal rape (by modern standards) during several other occasions anyway. I certainly don't think the first night can carry the weight of all future consent, and downplaying her misery at this time, and calling it consent, is IMO a tortured interpretation of what's really going on in Dany's mind.

Anyway, this issue is hardly unique to the Dothraki. Westerosi marriages suffer many of the same legitimacy deficits. Given their structure around alliance-making and realpolitik, and their similar norms around husbandly sexual rights they are much more alike than not. Some of those marriage still work out: assuming minimal personal charisma and shared values it's hardly surprising that the number of happily married couples is > zero.

The starting point for evaluating an arranged marriage should be determining whether the party is reasonably happy about the arrangement or not. If not, it surely takes time to assess whether a genuinely consensual sexual relationship has emerged.

Considering the interests of the parties is relevant, of course, in determining some form of constructive consent. But your starting point for such constructive consent certainly shouldn't just be that the female party has freely accepted a contractual arrangement on the basis of whatever consideration she will receive - ie. wealth and position. That is to completely severe the nexus between the contract and her will - simply reading any gratuitous benefit she may happen to receive as a 'term' she has 'chosen'. That's a very weak sauce moral analysis of what it means to contract as free private parties.

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WAIT WAIT WAIT. Congratulations, Gentlemen. You just set the women's movement back 40 years with this pair of posts.

I just wanted to say that I agree with everything you've posted in here. I'm not surprised that most of the people I see in fandom defending this scene are men.

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I just wanted to say that I agree with everything you've posted in here. I'm not surprised that most of the people I see in fandom defending this scene are men.

And...? At least have the courage to complete your thought.

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I don't think they're defending it, TN. I think they're understanding that the emotional feelings about it are complex and made complex by societal norms and views. And that the emotional reaction and violation of a woman who has been treated like chattel for most of her life, abused by her brother, and is on some level in massive shock is not necessarily relatable to a housewife who got raped by her husband.

It sounds like defense to me, and I think in this case if it walks and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. I get that cultures have different norms and that standards of acceptable behavior vary. However, just because a society does not regard an act as spousal rape does not mean that act is not spousal rape. So it's one thing to say, "Khal Drogo does not view himself as a rapist and neither do his people." It is quite another to say, "Khal Drogo is not a rapist." In this thread I see more of the second than the first.

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Seriously, to sum up:

What happened on Dany's wedding night/leading up to her eventual seduction of Drogo was probably not rape in their world. Fine.

However, what happened WAS rape in our world. No consent = rape. Consent under coercion = rape. Would it be a slam dunk in some kind of US trial, no. (Rape trials are notoriously difficult)

If a woman you don't know very well is cringing, trying to cover herself, trying to keep you from uncovering her, crying while having sex with you, there is no reasonable way for a man in our world to continue without seeking some kind of verbal consent without being a rapist. End summary.

Back to discussion of the show vs. the book:

After watching the second episode, it seems obvious that the TV show has now sacrificed Drogo's deeper character development for Dany's. We don't get the explanations in Dothraki culture we got in the book, we don't get any further explanation of Drogo's character other than big silent man who knows how to say "no" and fuck his little wife. It's probably very utilitarian and pragmatic given the constraints of the medium. But it's still creepy and makes Drogo into a silly stereotype. From what I've seen, most of the outside criticisms of the show seem to revolve over this and the general Dothraki stereotyping/lack of development.

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It sounds like defense to me, and I think in this case if it walks and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. I get that cultures have different norms and that standards of acceptable behavior vary. However, just because a society does not regard an act as spousal rape does not mean that act is not spousal rape. So it's one thing to say, "Khal Drogo does not view himself as a rapist and neither do his people." It is quite another to say, "Khal Drogo is not a rapist." In this thread I see more of the second than the first.

Right, I agree with that completely. And for those of you who said that Drogo didn't rape Dany (either in the book or in the show) that's categorically false.

However - I don't think that means that Dany has to react like a rape victim in our society does. I don't think that that means she has to have the same feeling of powerlessness and the same reaction to it. It's not the excusing of the behavior (or not) that I have issue with, because I think most intelligent adults understand that this is a depiction of a fairly horrible cultural trait in medieval times and is not trying to justify it as being good, only being realistic.

But I take issue with the notion that Dany's reaction must be to stab Drogo. Or that she cannot, in any way, fall for him. I understand where babs is coming from, and it is an ugly thought and male rape fantasy that 'oh yeah, they all secretly dig it in the end and totally fall for their rapist'. At the same time, that's pretty much what most relationships back then were about. Spousal rape was far more common to the point of it being accepted. There weren't tales of how to please a man and the notion of pleasing a woman was pretty well alien. Divorce was an alien concept, largely, or was so much in the side of the man that it was a non-option for a woman. In that situation I think it's not out of the realm of thought that some women did eventually come to love their spousal rapists.

And here's the thing - I don't think that this conceit is particularly different in the books or the show. In the book yes, you get Dany fingered a bit before her first time, but then she thinks about killing herself, is crying every time she has sex, is clearly in pain (and not in a good way)...these are not the thoughts of someone consenting. She actively dreaded him coming in at night. GRRM tries to sugarcoat it a bit, but I'm kinda glad that the show doesn't bother with this conceit.

Another way to put it is this: if women wanted to kill their husbands every time they were raped by them back then, marriages would have ended about 50% of the time in bloody death. That didn't happen.

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And here's the thing - I don't think that this conceit is particularly different in the books or the show. In the book yes, you get Dany fingered a bit before her first time, but then she thinks about killing herself, is crying every time she has sex, is clearly in pain (and not in a good way)...these are not the thoughts of someone consenting. She actively dreaded him coming in at night. GRRM tries to sugarcoat it a bit, but I'm kinda glad that the show doesn't bother with this conceit.

Thanks - This is exactly the point I have been trying to get across, but you stated it much clearer than I could have.

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It sounds like defense to me, and I think in this case if it walks and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. I get that cultures have different norms and that standards of acceptable behavior vary. However, just because a society does not regard an act as spousal rape does not mean that act is not spousal rape. So it's one thing to say, "Khal Drogo does not view himself as a rapist and neither do his people." It is quite another to say, "Khal Drogo is not a rapist." In this thread I see more of the second than the first.

I have not read any posts that defending spousal rape or rape. I have seen posts where people are defending a scene in a fictional book written by GRRM that has some historical basis in medieval times where the concept of spousal rape did not exist. A book has to be read and a show watched through the context of the rules, laws, and social norms that area created for that particular book/show. History is the same way. You cannot look back 200-300 years in history an apply your current laws, rules, and social norms. You can look back at a particular act or event and say that it was wrong or you wish it had not happened, but you cannot define the event/act by your modern views, because the event/act did not occur in the context of our modern laws and morals. In the story, Dany has no right to refuse or consent. Her brother offers her in marriage without any input from her. Drogo has the right to accept or refuse the offer. She has no say in who she marries, when she marries, where she is married, or why she is given to Drago as a bride. Once she is married, she is Drogo's. He can do whatever he wants whenever he wants with her. She is his property. Under the framework the GRRM has established and in the real world historical period that Westeros is modeled after, spousal rape was not a concept that was possible. In my opinion, trying to interject modern concepts and judge the story based on our norms really defeats the purpose of the story.

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Seriously, to sum up:

What happened on Dany's wedding night/leading up to her eventual seduction of Drogo was probably not rape in their world. Fine.

However, what happened WAS rape in our world. No consent = rape. Consent under coercion = rape. Would it be a slam dunk in some kind of US trial, no. (Rape trials are notoriously difficult)

If a woman you don't know very well is cringing, trying to cover herself, trying to keep you from uncovering her, crying while having sex with you, there is no reasonable way for a man in our world to continue without seeking some kind of verbal consent without being a rapist. End summary.

There is no probably to it, in her world it was not rape. And, since she does not exsist in our world and is only a character in a fictional world and book, then the whole argument about whether it was rape in our world falls apart and is meaningless.

This is not directed at you personally, Maestress Sand. It is a general rant, you just happened to give a good summary of where both sides are looking at this issue from (a fantasy world or the real world).

Read the book and watch the show for what it is, and please quit throwing around accusations that everyone who is able to seperate reality from fiction are want-to-be rapists or spousal rapists. There are several posters who cannot accept that some of us can read the book in the context in which it is written, and don't get all upset because something happens in a fictional book/show that doesn't gel with our personal morals or our modern laws. I understand completely that if a women in today's world was treated as Dany was early in her marriage to Drogo that it would clearly be defined as rape. Did these early scenes concerning Dany make me uncomfortable? Yeah, they did. I didn't really care for them, but there are other scenes that made me uncomfortable also, because I don't agree with how some of the other women were treated. But, I understand that it is a book, and only a book, that I am reading and what happens in that book has some accuracy based in medieval history. My acceptance of history or the world that GRRM created in a fictional book does not mean that I support or condone murder, rape, genocide, or any other act that occurs in said book/show that goes against modern or real world morals or laws. I certainly don't like to be accused of defending rape because I can read a book and can seperate fiction from reality.

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.... She has no say in who she marries, when she marries, where she is married, or why she is given to Drago as a bride. Once she is married, she is Drogo's. He can do whatever he wants whenever he wants with her. She is his property. .... trying to interject modern concepts and judge the story based on our norms really defeats the purpose of the story.

Very much agree with you, ishmael.

When Drogo approached Dany slowly and patiently on the wedding night, he was using his excellent Dothraki horsetaming skills. This is how you deal with a scared and skittery animal.

Later in the book, the process worked both ways. It will be interesting in future episodes to see Drogo gentled to the point of coming to view his wife as a person instead of meat.

This relationship is extremely critical to the plot because we are seeing the first time Dany ever dared to take action to change her situation and improve it.

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Ishmael, I appreciate your well-thought out response, and I understand it was not directed at me. I think, with a few exceptions, the two "sides" of this debate are more or less in agreement on the main points, each side just wants to make sure one aspect of Daenerys' experience is recognized primarily above the other (their world vs. our world).

My paragraph "If a woman you don't know..." was perhaps overkill. I had been disturbed by some of the comments earlier. I'm not the only reader to have felt like some of the responses have been less - how do I say it? - removed from the plot, than your own. I might remove it. It was not my intention to offend anyone. I in no way believe that everyone trying to underscore the pseudo-historical/social landscape of Daenerys' marriage is unclear about the meanings of spousal rape.

My summary was (a brief) basic attempt to highlight the fictional world vs. our world difference in a way that hopefully all could agree on so that we could hopefully stop debating "was she raped". I don't think any of us signed up to this forum expecting to debate spousal rape. I ended by trying to get back to debating the portrayal of the relationship, which is how this thread started. It was originally focused on whether or not the change in the wedding-night experience changed the development of Daenerys' character/plot arc/marriage.

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I have been reading the responses and here's what struck me.The actor who plays Khal Drogo and has immersed himself in the role for what at least a year for filming, called the scene "A rape scene" several times in this interview. If the guy who plays it calls it rape, then how can any of you guys say it's not? Obviously that was what HBO was going for or they would have told Jason Momoa not to play it as a rape. Below is the interview.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LvxHphVzJg

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If the guy who plays it calls it rape, then how can any of you guys say it's not? Obviously that was what HBO was going for or they would have told Jason Momoa not to play it as a rape.

Because Momoa is a man of the 21th century and not a Dothraki horselord? No one is saying that it's not rape as we define it today. Even in the book were his 13 old child bride gets all excited about being mounted it couldn't be anything but rape, since she by definition cannot give consent.

This discussion is about the notion that since Dany is a violated rape victim any affection she may develop for Drogo is unbelievable as opposed to the book.

Some people don't think so because it assume Dany view rape as people in our day and culture, while its quite clear that both westerosi, Dotharki, men and women have quite different perception of right and wrong, morale and legal pregoratives.

For example Catelyn accept her submission to her husband, her function is to breed his children and she even take pride in that.

Its not only that the men impose their will on the women, the women themselves see this as natural.

This reasoning also assume Dany is quite shallow, Drogo is loveable because he hasn't been nasty to her. That she has ample opportunity to observe his massmurdering ways, stealing other people's stuff, burning their homes, selling them to slavery and subjecting them to gangrape, have no impact.

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I just wanted to say that I agree with everything you've posted in here. I'm not surprised that most of the people I see in fandom defending this scene are men.

As a man, how should I feel about this scene?

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As a man, how should I feel about this scene?

As a Man? Had the writers of the HBO version been true to the book, you could probably feel okay by it. But and here is the BIG but, 2 male writers decided that they would just be a little more expediant in the portrayal of Dany and Khal by skipping the real wedding night. What they did not realize (like so many men here seem to not get ) is that when they did that not only did they piss off a bunch of female fans of the books but they completely changed the dynamics of the relationship of these two characters and how their relationship evolved, thereby offending women who had not read the books and only had HBO's storyline to base opinions on. To put it bluntly guys..... if they had a warrior beat another warrior in battle making him the winner of the "fruits of victory" how believable and how comfortable would you be if he sodomized the other warrior and then the storyline went.... and they became best friends !!! HBO screwed this up.

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But it's okay to fingerbang Dany once and then she's all "Okay, i want to kill myself, but this sex thing is extremely painful but not at all bad"?

Please. This makes it a lot clearer and a lot less male rape fantasy lite. GRRM fucked up originally in making it some idiotic romance novel fantasy where the Hot Savage, Despite Knowing No Words, Is Gentle And Kind And Hot.

Again, the book talks about how Dany was crying, wanting to kill herself and in serious pain. How consenting does that really sound?

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