Jessica Chastain took to social media a day after the latest “Game of Thrones” episode aired to call out the show for associating Sansa Stark’s rape with her empowerment. The controversial moment in the final season’s fourth episode, titled “The Last of the Starks,” arrived during a conversation between Sansa (Sophie Turner) and the Hound (Rory McCann), who told Sansa she could’ve avoided all the physical and emotional pain she experienced had she left King’s Landing with him back in Season 2. Sansa responded, “Without Littlefinger and Ramsay and the rest, I would’ve stayed a little bird all my life.”
“Rape is not a tool to make a character stronger,” Chastain wrote on Twitter. “A woman doesn’t need to be victimized in order to become a butterfly. The little bird was always a Phoenix. Her prevailing strength is solely because of her. And her alone.”
Chastain’s tweet went viral on social media, earning over 21,000 likes on Twitter. The actress was joined in her criticism by a handful of journalists (read The Daily Beast’s “What ‘Game of Thrones’ Gets Wrong About Sansa Stark and Abuse,” or Refinery29’s “‘Game of Thrones’ Has a Sansa Stark Problem”), including IndieWire’s television awards editor Libby Hill. In an article examining the episode’s harmful treatment of women, Hill wrote that Sansa’s one line nearly derailed her entire arc of recognizing her own strength.
“Now Sansa’s saying that she wouldn’t have grown as a person were it not for eight seasons of gratuitous torture porn,” Hill wrote. “For as much as adversity does strengthen some people, it beggars belief that after years of abuse a woman comes out the other side brushing the dirt off her hands and saying, ‘You know, that was tough, but I really learned something about myself.’ Way to rob Sansa’s journey of any meaning, you dumb jerks.”
Chastain is starring opposite Sansa Stark herself, Sophie Turner, in this summer’s X-Men tentpole “Dark Phoenix.” The two actresses share the screen together as Chastain plays an alien figure who seduces Turner’s Jean Grey to the dark side. The film opens nationwide June 7 from Disney.
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