Tue
Jul 31 2012 9:39am

George R.R. Martin on Axes vs. Penises

Khal Drogo and Daenerys

While there are many reasons to admire Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, this one strikes a particular chord with romance novel readers. In a Reuters piece on how he likes to make his characters suffer, Martin says,

“I can describe an axe entering a human skull in great explicit detail and no one will blink twice at it. I provide a similar description, just as detailed, of a penis entering a vagina, and I get letters about it and people swearing off. To my mind this is kind of frustrating, it’s madness. Ultimately, in the history of [the] world, penises entering vaginas have given a lot of people a lot of pleasure; axes entering skulls, well, not so much.”

Game of Thrones returns for Season 3 in March, 2013.

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7 comments
Christopher Morgan
1. cmorgan
You know, I'm not one to attack George on the basis of his portrayal of Women. I mean I read fantasy A LOT, it's sadly par for the course. Women just don't get a positive portrayl in epic fantasy, except maybe in Jordan's Wheel of Time, and that is a bit of a labor of love to work through. He's not at fault as much as the genre is at fault. Martin just has to suffer the slings and arrows because he's hit mainstream with SoIaF.

That being said, I find it awfully suspect that Martin is now using misdirection in the argument saying, "look at how we are ok with violence!" at about the appropriate time that violence in media is becoming a thing again following what happened in Aurora.

No, there is nothing wrong with sex. But the fact that you use the same language describing an axe cleaving a head in two to describe intercourse tells me that you are using sex as a weapon, not a positive affirmation of life. You get an E for effort George, but I'd go back to the ol' rhetoric drawing board.
Megan Frampton
2. MFrampton
@cmorgan: I would not disagree with you about Martin, given your far greater expertise, but I would say, that in this series the sex is not about romantic love--it IS used as a weapon, but Martin is saying that people are more offended by sex as a weapon than an axe as an actual weapon. I agree with Martin that that smacks of hypocrisy.

I would kinda be skeeved out, honestly, if Martin wrote a tender love scene--he's flirted with a few [names redacted for non-spoilage], but in general, it's all part of the same sturm und drang.
Christopher Morgan
3. cmorgan
@MFrampton I get the hypocrisy, but the whole bit at the end "
penises entering vaginas have given a lot of people a lot of pleasure; axes entering skulls, well, not so much.” to me says that he still sees nothing wrong with what he is doing and that people are stupid for seeing violence in the act, because there is more positive coming from it, in which the argument could be made that an ax to the head would prevent sexual assault and therefore be the more positive action.

Which means he is dismissing the criticisms and just resting on the same argument that has been made forever for anyone that has ever been accused of dipecting sex in movies. They arent willing to look at what they are doing and instead OMG NO VIOLENCE IS WAYYY WORST. That's not an intellegent argument, its a plea to emotions.
Lia74
4. Lia74
I think he has a point: you can show people being murdered on tv, but show a boob and all hell breaks loose. There is definitely some hypocrisy in that.
Lia74
6. J-me
Perhaps its because sex is something that alot of people are not comfortable with doing, discussing, relating to, or reading about.
Yes sex can be used as a weapon, but ultimately I think his point is about the fact that people get offended by something that is natural and something that produces pleasures and children etc, but for some reason its just taboo. And yet killing someone with an axe is acceptable, when it should really be the other way round!
What happened to society that reading about someone killing someone in explicit details isn't abhorrent to us, but reading about penises and vaginas and sex, upsets us.
Have we not all had sex (and yes I'm being general here) but I doubt all of us have axe murdered someone. Or perhaps we just all have an opinion on sex and how it should be portrayed..??
Lia74
7. SassyT
Yeah, I see what he's saying. We are okay seeing killing being described in great detail but squeamish about sex being described in great detail. That isn't to say he isn't being self-serving with this observation but it is in fact a true observation. That it (his explanation) defends his own work doesn't make it any less true.
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