what’s the part in aDwD where Tyrion fantasises about raping Cersei? everyone refers to it so it’s clearly in the text but I’ve never managed to find it on any of my read-throughs…
Ok, I’m glad someone asked the question.
You can’t find that part because IT DOESN’T EXIST.
Tyrion never ever fantasizes about raping Cersei! And we’re pretty sure of that because we literally see his thoughts and we do know what he fantasizes about.
How would it be OOC? He does rape someone, after all - the sex slave in ADWD.
Oh dear, do we really want to get this started? Ok, let’s go.
Whether Tyrion raped the slave in Selhorys or not I think will be the object of discussion for generations of ASOIAF readers.
It’s usually very straightforward to realize if an act is rape or not: if there’s isn’t consent is rape, full stop.
However, when slavery is involved things get a bit more complicated, because you have to figure out how meaningful can consent be.
From Tyrion’s point of view, he thinks he got consent, because the “Sunset girl” actively (albeit unenthusiastically) partecipates.
We don’t however know how she feels about it. Could she refuse to be a sex slave? Probably not.
Was she in the position to refuse Tyrion specifically? Would have she done that? Did it make a difference for her to sleep with Tyrion or anyone else? Is it very different being a sex slave in Essos or a campfollower in Westeros, that was forced to that life out of necessity or violence? Is a being slave different from being a westerosi paesant with basically no rights?
Since the discrimination to determine if that was rape or not is if her consent is meaningful or not, we probably can’t settle the matter unless we read her POV, so most likely it will be debated until the end of time.
But that’s the whole point. It’s supposed to be debated and thought about.
The scene is problematic for the readers on many levels, and I imagine that GRRM made it like that on purpose. His presentation of events is never black and white, it’s done to provoke thoughts in the reader.
First he’s shown us the “golden” side of prostitution, the one in which a worker is well-paid and empowered (Chataya and Alayaya, and Shae to an extent). As soon as the reader starts to think that perhaps prostitution is not such a bad thing after all, he hits you in the face with the other side, the exploitation and the abuse (i.e. the whipping scars on her back).
But let’s go back to Tyrion for a moment.
The reason why I think it would be OOC for him to fantasize about sexual violence, is that he doesn’t perceive prostitution as violence.
He’s actually horrified of sexual violence (he’s one of the few commanders in the book to order his men, the sellswords, not to rape anyone, in a world where most people, including women like Cersei, consider it inevitable during a war), which is all the more understandable because of Tysha.
When Tyrion goes to the brothel in ADWD he’s expecting to find out what he’s been getting all his life with paid sex: not only the mere act, but the illusion of being desired, even loved, and that the person he’s having sex with is actually happy to be there with him.
When he kills Shae, the last words he asks her are “did you ever liked my touch?”. Because evidently for him this is important.
Rationally, he knows that a prostitute is faking it for money, but his point of view is: I get the sex, you get the money, it’s a win-win situation.
After all, we see what happens when he goes to a brothel as a Lannister: he literally gets jumped on (Dancy at Chataya’s) and girls even compete for him.
He doesn’t go to prostitutes to wield power on another person, but if anything for the opposite, to get the “suspension of disbelief”, to be courted and seduced.
He’s actually so cautious and scared of rejection that he hires other people to hire girls for him, making sure they’re warned of his condition, because he doesn’t want to see that “look in their eyes”.
When he goes to a brothel in Selhorys, that’s what he expects. He expects that he will go there and that for his money he will be courted and coaxed and that for a while he will forget everything about the lack of love in his life.
He asks for a girl who speaks the Common Tongue, because he wants to be able to build up the usual illusion. Only, he’s poor then, he can’t afford the illusion anymore, he only gets the mere sex with someone that is not even especially happy to have him as a client.
It’s only a little too late that he realizes the difference (“What a wretched creature I’ve become”).
If GRRM was another kind of author, someone that likes to make things clearly interpretable and traditionally “good” and “bad” characters, he would have made Tyrion stop at the last moment, or perhaps he would have made the scene full on violent, idk.
He’s not that kind of writer, anyway: he condemns on one side and absolves on the other, confuses you, makes you uncomfortable.
He makes “good” characters make despicable actions and “bad” ones take extremely just decisions.
I guess my point is: the episode with the Sunset girl is very problematic, but whatever you feel about it, I think it would be a disservice to GRRM’s writing to simply label Tyrion as a rapist and to expect of him any kind of brutal and despicable action or fantasy (as raping Cersei would be) because he’s bad.
The whole series is a lot more complicated than that.
Reblogging this now so I remember to reply to it when I’m a bit more awake.