A fan wrote a statistical analysis of rape on Game of Thrones

Never let it be said that Game of Thrones fans aren’t some of the biggest obsessives around. During the online firestorm that followed Sansa’s wedding night scene in “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” one of the arguments—both for and against being aghast at yet another main character being sexually assaulted on screen—was that it happens all the time in this world. Alyssa Rosenberg at The Washington Post even entitled her piece “Game of Thrones Has Always Been A Show About Rape.”

Well, has it? Tumblr user Tafkar decided to do the math, especially when it was suggested to her that the show relies more heavily on the trope than the book does. In her resulting post, “Rape in ASOIAF vs. Game of Thrones: a statistical analysis,” she sits down and crunches the numbers so you and I don’t have to. Here’s a breakdown of her results.

Rape acts in Game of Thrones the TV series (to date): 50
Rape victims in Game of Thrones (to date): 29

Rape acts in ASOIAF the book series (to date): 214
Rape victims in ASOIAF (to date): 117

The books contain over 4 times as much rape as the show (and probably even more; the method of analysis likely underestimates the rape in the books…)

But just stating the numbers like that, however straightforward, is not good enough for the stats crowd. Tafkar goes on to show her work and explain why her method probably underestimates the books: “since the books have far more group rape scenes than the show, and since the show uses fewer than 10 women to imply a group rape scene, my desire to make things easier for myself means that the number of incidents and victims in the books are probably higher than estimated.”

Here are some further comparisons:

  • The number of rapes/attempted rapes that are canon for both the books and the show: 34
  • The number of victims that are canon for both the books and the show: 24
  • The number of rapes that occur in the show only: 15 (16 if you count the Cersei/Jaime scene from season 4)
  • The number of victims that appear in the show only: 4 (or 5)
  • Those that occur in the book only: 180
  • The number of victims that appear in the books only: 93

This seems like another case where what people are arguing over in Game of Thrones is really an issue with the source material. I highly recommend Tafkar’s full case-by-case listing at her site. She put in an impressive amount of work to give us these numbers (especially the book-only ones). In a follow-up article, Tafkar lamented the fact that the great majority of rapes in the books are told from the perspectives of men, and that the only rape victims who get to talk about their experiences directly are “villains” like Cersei and Mirri Maz Duur. As for why Martin himself chooses to put so much violence and sexual assault in his novels, we’ll let the man speak for himself on the subject:

“Rape and sexual violence have been a part of every war ever fought, from the ancient Sumerians to our present day… To omit them from a narrative centered on war and power would have been fundamentally false and dishonest, and would have undermined one of the themes of the book: that the true horrors of human history derive not from orcs and Dark Lords, but from ourselves.”