For parts one through three, click here Although we have covered some important aspects of Pope St. John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body,” one might wonder precisely how the sexual roles of men and women differ according to God’s original plan.
Essentially, the man is the “active” partner who makes a gift of himself from without, bringing with him the “seed of life”; the woman, meanwhile, is the “receptive” partner who welcomes the man into her “inner sanctuary,” from whence life can emerge. But lest you think this diminishes the role of the woman, be aware that there is an active and passive component in the roles of both partners. Each affirms and reinforces the other.
Unfortunately, as discussed in part two, human sexuality is affected by Original Sin. In the man, the gift can easily become an intrusion; in the woman, the welcoming embrace can become a seductive form of entrapment. Daenerys “Dany” Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), arguably the strongest and most iconic female character in Game of Thrones, becomes a victim of that first impulse early in the first season. She is given in an arranged marriage to Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa), the ruthless leader of the nomadic Dothraki people. At first, he treats Dany as another one of his conquests. Their marriage is consummated not in lovemaking, but in rape.
Eventually, this changes. Dany and Drogo actually fall in love. Drogo, for his part, learns tenderness, and becomes something of a gentler person. He learns to treat Dany as someone to be treasured rather than something to be possessed.
How does this happen? The change begins in season 1, episode 2. Drogo and Dany are in their private tent, and Drogo is about to proceed as per usual. Dany turns to face him, looking him directly in the eye, and says:
“Tonight I would look upon your face.”
This is very important. Of all the human body’s various members, the face is generally recognized as the one least affected by the Fall. When we look at a human face, we see the person revealed — the unique, unrepeatable, and inestimably precious subject made in the image and likeness of Almighty God. In being brought face-to-face with Dany, Drogo, along with all others who would perpetrate acts of violence and injustice upon their victims and “conquests,” is confronted with a kind of judgment.
Here it would be helpful to return to the thought of Pope John Paul II; referencing the great Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas and his “philosophy of the face,” he comments thus:
It is through his face that man speaks, and in particular, every man who has suffered a wrong speaks and says the words “Do not kill me!” The human face and the commandment “Do not kill” are ingeniously enjoined in Levinas, and thus become a testimony for our age… (from the book Crossing the Threshold of Hope, ed. Vittorio Messori; italics included)
We can say the same for the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, which cover sexual conduct.
Okay — so the face reveals the person. But the personal is never abstract. What the face reveals is the human self in its masculinity or femininity, depending on whether the subject is a man or a woman. Dany’s effect on Drogo shows the power of a peculiarly feminine way of responding mercifully to aggressors, and calls to mind such wonderful women in Church history as St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine.
That’s not to say that Dany is a saint. One could spend a considerable length of time on her character and its evolution over the course of the series (one of these days I hope to return to the “Kingship and Power” series that I began, and abandoned, a couple years ago; that would be a good place to take a closer look at Dany). But in this case, she does well. Whether author George R.R. Martin knows it or not, her response to Drogo is pregnant with potential for spiritual significance.
So there are my thoughts on different aspects of how sex is used in Game of Thrones. I am a firm believer that one cannot fairly criticize the vices of a TV show or movie without at the same time being prepared to acknowledge its virtues. Charity, after all, rejoices in goodness wherever it can be found.
That said, I want to restate my belief that the sex in Game of Thrones is gratuitous and unnecessary. It caters to a human preoccupation, for sure — not with sexuality, but with pornography. Perhaps if they were aware of the statistics and studies on the real effects of pornographic material on the psychological and social well-being of individuals and families, they would showcase human skin and coitus with at least a little less ease. And now I’m done. Thanks for reading :) *********************************************************************************************************************
1. “John Paul II 1980 cropped” by Fels_Papst.JPG: Nikolaus von Nathusiusderivative work: JJ Georges – This file was derived from: Fels Papst.JPG:. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_Paul_II_1980_cropped.JPG#/media/File:John_Paul_II_1980_cropped.JPG
2. “Daenerys Targaryen with Dragon-Emilia Clarke” by Uploaded by TAnthony. Via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Daenerys_Targaryen_with_Dragon-Emilia_Clarke.jpg#/media/File:Daenerys_Targaryen_with_Dragon-Emilia_Clarke.jpg
Remaining images obtained through a Google image search