Why is the “historical realism” thing always rape?

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A couple weeks ago The Mary Sue announced they weren’t going to cover “Game of Thrones” any more after yet another female character being brutally raped. The thread is still being invaded by trolls periodically, and there are more than 12,000 comments on the article, which is a site record and probably an internet record. (12K comments because a single website said “We’re not going to recap or promote this show any more.” Baffling.)

Tons of trolls have thrown out the “but THINGS WERE JUST LIKE THAT BACK THEN!” argument ad nauseum. Which is total bullshit, of course. Now with the season finale of “Outlander” (which, spoiler, also included rape) the trolls are coming back.

I just want to ask, why is it whenever producers/directors/writers want to demonstrate “gritty historic realism” it’s ALWAYS RAPE? It’s always sexual violence toward women/girls.

You know what would be gritty historic realism? Dysentery. GoT has battles and armies marching all over the place. You want to show “what things were like back then”? Why aren’t we seeing 500 guys by the side of a road puking and shitting their guts out from drinking contaminated water while the rest of the army straggles along trying to keep going? Or a village getting wiped out by cholera? Or typhus, polio or plague epidemics? 

You want to show what it was like back then for women? Show a woman dying of sepsis from an infection she caught while giving birth. Show a woman coping with ruptured ovarian cysts with nobody know what it is. Breast cancer that the audience will recognize immediately but the characters think is some mark of the devil or some shit.

But no, it’s always rape. And we all know why that is. Because these douchecanoes that do this, though they’ll deny it, think rape is sexy. Because they can’t make a modern set story where women get raped in every god damned episode without being called monsters. So they use “but but historical realism!” to cover their sexism (see “Mad Men”) and misogyny. Then they tell us “That’s just how it was back then!” with the clear implication “Shut the fuck up bitch, because that could be you  and you should be thanking me that it’s not.”

Can we propose a rule for “realistic” historical fiction/fantasy? Twelve graphic cases of dysentery for every one graphic rape?

^^ I like this idea.

And the worst part about it is that, by their own logic, their argument isn’t even a valid one.  They’re saying that rape is “historically accurate” in Game of Thrones, a show which 

  1. Is not a historical drama
  2. Is not set on our Earth
  3. Is fantasy

So no, there was no “back then” because we can’t go “back” to a “then” that never existed.  And as far as I can find, Westeros is ~12,000 years old.  You wanna make a historically accurate drama set on earth in 10,000 BC, be my guest, but it ain’t gonna look like Game of Thrones.

So when all of the writers for the TV show keep putting rape scenes in the script, they aren’t thinking “yeah, this would’ve been realistic,” they’re thinking “haha let’s see how much I can torture women on this show.”  If the logic you’re using doesn’t even hold up to the thing you’re discussing, you’ve really gotta examine why you’re so enthusiastic about defending rape as a plot device.

Maybe if high fantasy writers and creators weren’t all fucking hacks who’ve been riding JRRT’s dick for the last fifty years and insist on making every single god damn fantasy world they create a boring retread of Middle Earth based on the same three hundred year span of time in four countries of Western Europe they wouldn’t all have to rely on the same garbage logic to justify their garbage misogyny. 

You know, they could deny that they find rape sexy, and they might even believe their own denials.  But the point is that they clearly don’t think of rape as something distasteful enough and disgusting enough to omit.

And you know what, I’m not even gonna insist on the dysentery.  Just this: if you’re going to include rape on the basis of historical accuracy, none of your female characters are allowed to have shaved legs or armpits.  And all of your characters have to have terrible teeth – yellowed and worn and crooked, because nobody’s getting braces or regular visits to the dentist – with at least a few teeth blackened or missing for every character over the age of thirty.

Of course, if your reaction to blackened teeth and hairy armpits is “ugh, no, sure it might be historically accurate but it’s gross, nobody’s going to want to watch that" and you don’t have the exact same reaction to rape, you might want to think about why that is.