Were Those Really Her Boobs?! We're the Issue With Nudity on 'Game of Thrones' 

The latest Daenerys nude scene in 'Game of Thrones' shows the fault in the way we discuss the show. 

Game of Thrones regularly comes under fire for the way it handles sex and nudity. Internet outrage has become as much of staple of the conversation about the show as fan theories and plot speculation.

There was that time in Season 4 when it turned a consensual scene between Jaime and Cersei into a rape scene; there was the Season 5 Sansa rape which launched a thousand thinkpieces and public declarations to cease all coverage of the show; there was Cersei’s Walk of Shame and the endless musings about Lena Heady’s decision to use a body double. And now, after Season 6’s “Book of The Stranger,” once again, there’s talk of Emilia Clarke’s decision to get naked for the first time in several seasons. After that Daenerys fire scene, the internet immediately asked, “but were those really her tits?!?!”

Yes, they were, and we know this because the internet probed at the subject mercilessly, almost as soon as the scene aired. And by “the internet” we don’t just mean obscure message boards, but major mainstream publications. It was the ultimate — pardon the pun — burning question.

Now, this isn’t to hand-wring over the nature of inquiry. It’s a valid one, considering Emilia Clarke’s much-publicized decision to stop shedding her clothes after Season 3. Similarly, the regular frustration with the show’s tone-deaf approach to sexual violence is also valid. The showrunners are far from blameless, here. But we need to own up to our end, too. We are the problem, too — just as much as the writers’ inability to understand that there is a viewing demographic beyond straight men or even understand when they are creating a rape scene.

We can’t demand that a show cater to our ideas only when it’s convenient. But when we condemn Game of Thrones for its sexual politics and then proceed to immediately fixate on its nudity — so those were really her tits?! — that’s exactly what we’re doing. This issue at hand is hardly exclusive to Game of Thrones: Thanks to the internet, the line between fans and object of their fan-ly love is thinner than ever. You can talk to the actors who play your favorite characters or the creators who helm your favorite shows on Twitter; you can feel like you’re taking a peek behind the scenes into their lives on Instagram.

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A photo posted by Sophie Turner (@sophiet) on

But this sense of access has also brought a sense of ownership over the show or movie — or actors — you follow. And the thing about ownership is, we can’t have it both ways: We can’t demand that Game of Thrones be less sexist in one breath, expressing outrage over Sansa’s rape; then in the next, demand to know if we were really seeing Daenerys’s tits. Quick, ask her about it, damn it!

Now, this doesn’t clear the writers and showrunners from blame; they could certainly stand to improve their approach. So far in Season 6, it seems like they might have finally learned their lesson — the latest episode was pretty damn feminist, with the brothers all ready to give up and the sisters telling them to stop whining and rise to the occasion.

“If we don’t take back the North, we’ll never be safe,” Sansa tells Jon. “I want you to help me, but I’ll do it myself if I have to.”

That was wonderful to see, and it was a long time coming for Sansa’s development — even though it doesn’t excuse the show from using her rape to develop Theon’s character in Season 5. But the conversations around Game of Thrones are as crucial to the show as the story itself. And the next time we talk about whether it has issues with sexism and an overzealous approach to sexual violence, we need to look in the mirror. If we’re immediately wondering, “but were those really her tits?!”, googling for screenshots and invasive interviews, do we really then have grounds to then condemn the show for the way it shows them?

Media via HBO