Game of Thrones offers a penis in exchange for gratuitous sexual objectification

Game of Thrones

Sunday night’s Game of Thrones episode, “The Door,” featured an extreme close up of a penis. “It’s a wart,” the young man examining himself says. “Two warts. I’ve got two fucking warts on my cock!”

This gross-out moment comes after a bawdy comedy show: “Oh, father!” an actress playing Sansa Stark wails. The actor playing Tyrion then enters, proclaims that Sansa is to become his wife, and pulls down her bodice to reveal her breasts to the audience for shock/titillation value as she continues to wail.

The moment is in reference to the longstanding accusation that Game of Thrones relies on gratuitous female nudity and uses rape to shock and sexually titillate the viewer. In 2012, Saturday Night Live satirized this aspect of Thrones in a brilliant sketch, joking, “The success of the show is linked to its two creative consultants: author George RR Martin, and Adam Friedberg, a 13 year-old boy…” who adds, “I make sure there are lots of boobs in the show.”

The gratuitous breasts featured in the play serve as commentary from the show-runners to say, “See?! Entertainment has always used this gimmick!” The following shot featuring an up-close-and-personal with one of the members of the acting troupe in the dressing room seems to say, “You wanted ‘gender equality’ on this show, so here you go: A big warty penis!”

Directly after this middle finger from the GoT producers, we are treated to more shots of perfect breasts, the man playing Tyrion actor puts his face in Sansa’s character’s boobs.

On Monday night, Stephen Colbert asked actress Emelia Clarke (who plays Daenerys Targaryen) about her nude scenes (male talk show hosts seem to love making her talk about this…), following up with a question about the “new character” introduced on the show — “a penis.” Clarke applauded this “junk equality,” as she called it.

Mainstream media largely echoed this approval — Marie Claire, for example, called it “Equal-Opportunity Ogling.” Other outlets pointed out that GoT “has never been afraid of penises.” A tone-deaf Vulture piece argued that the conversation about gender-imbalance and nudity on the show forgets that shirtless men don’t count for as much as shirtless women. The Telegraph, however, declared the penis a “cop out,” because it wasn’t sexualized like almost all of the naked female bodies depicted on the show. Refinery 29 agreed, saying, “We’re not advocating for anyone’s objectification, but it does seem a little unfair.”

Sorry, but throwing in some male nudity will never make the sexual objectification of women “fair.”

Susan Cox
Susan Cox

Susan Cox is a feminist writer and academic living in the United States. She teaches in Philosophy.

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