Your quote of the day about penises and vaginas comes courtesy of George R. R. Martin

The man behind HBO's Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin, is often asked about all that sex they have on the show (and in the books he wrote that inspired the show), like "Why do they have to have so much of it and show it on television?" He has provided Reuters a very astute and sensible answer that I think we can all appreciate:

“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,” he said.
“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.”

There you have it: sex makes the world go 'round, violence makes us sad. I believe we are done here. Thank you, George R. R. Martin.

George R. R. Martin explains that there's a lot of sex in 'Game of Thrones' because sex is awesome [Warming Glow]


  1. Not only that, but many more sex acts occur in the real world than acts of people killing each other.  Regular television has it all wrong – the amount of violence on a standard TV show is equivalent to the number of million-dollar lotteries I’ve won according to my spam folder.

      1. Yeah, but the vast majority of humanity is more frustrated than George’s Characters, so people resent it when Imps get more tail than they do.

        Its just unchristian to be that happy.  Even if you could have your head on a Pike at any moment.

          1. Tyrion Lannister is the most charismatic and consistently likable character in the show, regardless of wealth or power. I’m sure he’d be a lot of fun in the sack, and I suspect he wouldn’t take what he gets for granted. That counts for a lot. 

  2. Cap’n Gorton is right.  Such an eminently sensible fellow.  And a talented fisherman to boot.

  3. I was amazed at all the nonsense about Janet Jackson, when she had that “Malfunction”.

    It’s just a tit, we all have them, even kids.

    Some of us have more than two, and at least one woman has one on her foot.

  4. And if all the penises had enthusiastic consent to enter all those vaginas, I’d be right there with him. Alas.

    1. Right.  Thanks for already being up in here commenting when I rushed in to mention that I’ve compulsively watched Season 1 & 2 yet have seen sadly little sex and tons and tons of rape.   Wish they could write me in some sex scenes, dirty ones, graphic ones, complicated ones where power is calibrated off-from-center even, but not so much gristly rape, damnit.  Makes me mad that so many dudes are getting chubbies watching rape and then makes me jealous that I’m not able to get my chubby for equal hours of viewing time invested.  

      1. To be fair – rape in that period is talked about in a realistic manner…not exaggerated or something. Also – there’s so much more rape in the show than it seems to be in the books (the rape of a certain princess who-will-not-be-named in the first couple episodes, which never happens in the books is a good example)…and GRRM is not an apologist. Most all the characters fight against it, and discuss the atrocity that is rape.

        1. Hahaha! Realistic? O Rly?  Like the lady-in-waiting of Daenerys who was sold into forced prostitution as a child and is still happy, healthy, sexy and sporting a smile with all her teeth after more than 10 years of forced prostitution in a time before penicillin?   Good one.   Same human trafficking victim later said that while it’s true that life in a pleasure house isn’t always happy, she took contentment in having met so many interesting men.   Jebus . . .  

          She was especially useful in mansplainin’ to Daenerys (HBO not books) that when one is unhappy with their nightly rapes, a good course of action is to work on your technique- learn to give new, enhanced pleasure to your rapist, a veritable road to happiness, which oh-so-not-exaggeratedly works miracles for Daenerys.   These ladies were not resisting and were not discussing the atrocity that is rape, they were hot girl-on-girl-ing it up, practicing up to please Mr. Rapist.  Facepalm.   

          1. Again, as mentioned, I am speaking of the books. In the books, Daenerys is not raped by Drogo. It is completely consensual. He asks permission, and she gives it…so, that scene takes on quite a bit of a different context. Fuck HBO for changing it.

      2. It’s a society where there is a power deficit between men and women. So rape happens. But so does sex for love (Robb Stark and Talisa Maegyr, Tyrion Lannister and Shae) and for pleasure and commerce (Ros and Theon Greyjoy). Sounds a lot like life. 

      1.  No, but you don’t know which “sex acts” these anonymous complainers have been complaining about and why. And seeing as there is a lot of rape, sex with minors and forced prostitution in these books, it’s not unlikely that the complaints were addressing that rather than just “OMG he wrote porn.”

  5. What we consider a fit subject for entertainment (violence and killing) and what we consider taboo (enjoyable sexual intercourse) is oddly flipped. Over on Bizarro World, where primetime TV is light-hearted explicit porn and people who watch violent cop shows are seen as nasty degenerates, they think we’re the weirdos.

  6. Hundreds of axe-murders done in full view of the camera: PG-13 or R.
    One act of loving sex between long term partners: NC-17 or X.

    And we wonder why our children have a skewed view of reality.

    1.  Not just the rating environment is skewed. . . IRL the average person is far more likely to participate in sex than in a murder. Maybe sex is just too ORDINARY for hollywood.

  7. I think with that reasoning we should depict more people in the bathroom as this has also given people more pleasure than violent acts and have been a measurable source of wisdom and knowledge. And with this I mean, although sex has been a great driver of our society that doesn’t mean that it should always be shown; it’s not the nature of sex that should be ashamed of, but the overuse of it.

    What we should be discussing is if this acts of sex serve a purpose in the story, if they help get its point across. I have not seen Game of Thrones so I’m not sure if sex is necessary to the story or even a helpful driver of the story. But I know a lot of movies and series that introduce sex just as a an easy to do scene which serves no purpose than to show some explicit content to arouse the audience. Which may not be bad per se, but if it’s a main plot of it, it converts the work of art to a more pornography induced idea, which may endanger the point that the work of art should contain.

    It’s not the matter of depicting sex or sexually explicit acts, but that many times this powerful image is used without any other purpose than to create arousal which can easily damage the idea of a work of art. It’s like showing pictures of dogs because they are cute instead of using them to improve the purpose of an image or movie.

    1.  So dogs that are not integral to the story should also be edited? Or just ugly dogs?

      I get the argument, but it always leaves me scratching my head since art is so subjective. What is necessary to the story is a pretty wide variable based on who’s observing, not to mention what the artist intends. I’m pretty sure GRRM would consider all of the sex scenes he includes in the book to be pretty necessary to the story.

      1. I think you are absolutely right! Sorry if I didn’t made myself clear. I’m not against showing sex, but I’m against showing it for no reason other than to show sex (when that’s not integral to the story). But then again, I say that about almost everything, and I would say that showing a dog when it’s not important to the idea of the film is a bad thing. Bare in mind that I’m not saying the main idea of the work of art, as there may be various things the artist wants to show.

        What I meant is that I’ve seen many scenes of sex that are totally unnecessary and that seems that the only reason to show them is because the director is aroused by those scenes. I have not seen that happen to dogs (minus the arousal part, of course). In some cases, it’s better of the story, but in the majority of them, in my view, is just totally unnecessary and, may I say, boring.  If I wanted to see sex I wouldn’t be watching Game of Thrones.

        If GRRM thinks it’s integral to the story and the majority of its viewers think so too, then I don’t see a problem. I haven’t watched it myself so I will not judge that particular series.

        1. I don’t think you quite understood Arys’s point, though, which is that GRRM would probably think the sex scenes necessary to the story, but not necessarily integral to the plot or anything else like that.

          But that’s the point — art is up to the artist (the writer, the director), and if they think that sex adds to the story, then they should put it in, just like they may put in a random mangey dog walking across the scene, or a random interaction with a fishmonger on a street corner.

          In this sense, it’s pretty hard to call sex scenes “gratuitous” any more than it would be to talk about “gratuitous dogs” or “gratuitous fishmongers.” It’s all part and parcel of what the creator thinks is important.

          We only think of the sex scenes as “gratuitous” because of our society’s ashamed attitude towards sex. No one ever complains about the “gratuitous” use of color in an oil painting.

          1. I did get that. Maybe I didn’t made myself clear, but if the sex scenes are necessary for the story, then I think are integral to the idea of the work of art. I don’t mind the plot, as those can be really twisted.

            Of course the artist can do whatever they like. I’m saying that these things may make the work art worse in my view and in many others’ opinions.

            To sum up, I don’t think it’s GRRM who gets to decide if it’s necessary to the story, but to the viewers. They are the ones that interpret the work, and if they they are necessary (maybe because they set the tone of the series), then I have no problem with it.

            Again, I have not seen Game of Thrones, so I don’t know this particular case. But I have seen many movies, series and whatevers, that are made horribly worse just because they have “gratuitous sex”; I don’t remember seeing any movie with “gratuitous dogs” or “gratuitous fishmongers”.

          2. Also, while GRRM wrote the book, he’s not the one who decides which scenes go into the TV series, or how much emphasis they get, or whether they get rewritten because the TV folks want something different.  (For instance, while I haven’t seen the TV version, I’m told that the sex between Dragon Lady and Horse Barbarian Chief was done as rape, while in the book it was consensual.)

        2. I hate sex scenes in books.  Unless they’re there to dish up some subtext.  But just to tell us that some characters are fucking?  No, please.  The scenes are almost always awful.

          1. Antinous / Moderator: “Was that the raw liver?”

            Wikipedia, eh? No, I was referring more to passages like this one:

            “on a dirt road somewhere in the mountains of central Vermont, she said, ‘Oh, Alex, pull over, now— I want you to come in my mouth,'”

      2. This comparison doesn’t make sense. Random dogs would just be shown in the background as part of the scenery. If a dog that’s not integral to the story suddenly took center stage for 5 minutes, it would put the brakes on the actual story.

    2. If you want more people going to the toilet, G.R.R Martin is still your guy! I have been surprised at how often a character will do plot summary thinking whilst relieving their bladder.

      I don’t think what he’s saying and what you are saying are necessarily opposing views. I think most of us would prefer both the sex and the violence (and the piddling) in books/ TVs to have a reason other than just being there for it’s own sake, that’s the difference between good and bad writing. :) 

      1. Haha, great! Then maybe I should watch Game of Thrones! I was just expressing my views broadly as I haven’t watched it yet and thusly I’m unable to judge it. Thanks

        1. To be honest I don’t know if they added that to the show as I’m late to the party too, but certainly the books it’s based off of make use of it enough for me to remember it. It’d perhaps not be quite as useful a plot-summing device to watch someone peeing when you’re not, err, privy to their thoughts at the same time.

      2. I’ve always wondered how Galadriel and Celeborn take care of bodily functions when they live three hundred feet up a tree and apparently only come down once a month or so.  I feel that LOTR would have benefited if the hobbits had talked less about food and occasionally demanded a shit break.

    3. I totally agree with what you are saying.  People tend to read fantasy books and other media to experience something outside of their normal world.  Most of us reading/viewing this R rated stuff knows what it’s like for a penis to enter a vagina; we’ve seen it, read it, heard it, experienced it.  But an ax splitting someone’s head is completely foreign to us and heightens the story of this barbaric realm.  The ax is a representation of the struggle to survive and it’s description of impact is a shocking reminder of this fantasy world quite unlike the description of sex scenes.  While the act of sex itself can have plenty of meaning and consequences, the description of it, well, not so much.

  8. Part of it is HBO.  They can thumb their noses at both the FCC and the MPAA.  They can show, quite literally, anything they want, and this is a strategic advantage they have over both the broadcast networks and the theater-focused movie industry.  HBO has an interest in adding more T&A than is strictly necessary, purely as a brand differentiator.  In AGoT, it mostly seems to be the topless eye candy hanging around Littlefinger whose presence on screen does nothing to advance the plot.  I’m not complaining; I’m just explaining why I see it as a marketing decision.

    1.  Don’t  forget advertisers.

      I suppose South Park deserves some credit for the new thing where cable shows that want to check the ‘edgy’ box on their marketing profile throw in a few shits.

  9. Echoing Magista’s sentiment, I’m really surprised that an author taking such a clear-eyed look at sex in a medievalish society would have such a narrow perspective (even if the ratio of depicted “high class” prostitutes to other prostitutes skews high). In addition to problematic consent (lots of those axe bearers probably got a kick out of it), let’s remember that reliable birth control was nonexistent and rates of death in childbirth were high… and while there have probably always been women who still managed to enjoy sex, the female orgasm wasn’t “discovered” until the Victorian era. So throwing out the “but sex makes people happy” line really doesn’t work for a pseudo historical series’ creator, because it only makes any sense from a male perspective.

    1. You’re confusing “discovered as a topic by academic white guys” and “known about by zillions of women and not a few men for zillions of years”.  

      1. …err, that was roughly the reason why I used scare quotes. Like Columbus’s “discovery” of North America. I still think it lends validity to my point, though; even though there is some interesting data about just how many Victorian-era women enjoyed their “marital duties,” there wasn’t a real Western cultural awareness about women taking pleasure from sex, besides the basic equation of that with Bad, until the last half-century or so.

        1. That’s a *lot* of historical oversimplification.  Not only were the Victorians not as prudish as they’re often painted, but that society was redacting a lot of earlier common knowledge. 

          Medieval literature is often really bawdy by modern standards, to say nothing of the illustration.  Believe me, they knew how the parts worked.  The gender power imbalance was pretty bad back then, but not because nobody imagined women enjoying sex.

    2. That’s amazing that you think no culture on Earth ever considered the female orgasm before the Victorian Era.

      Have you ever heard of the Kama Sutra?

      1. Aiya! Please don’t think I mean to make statements generalizing about every human ever. I meant within the whole western European kyriarchy thing, the female orgasm wasn’t formally acknowledged until thenabouts. And that point was really only meant to highlight that sex, within the kinds of cultures that GRRM is largely drawing from, was not seen as something women were supposed to enjoy.

    3.  Umm, the female orgasm was not only experienced well before the 19th century (probably before we were even home sapiens) but it was part of the “scientific” literature.  The Greeks (c. 5th c. BC) wrote that women needed to acheive orgasm in order to conceive — a bit of “science” that made it extremely difficult for any woman impregnated through rape to charge her attacker throughout the classical, the medieval, and the early modern period.

      1. Ah, I think I’d also read that somewhere! I’m surprised to hear that context, though; it’s been my impression that the view of women as property most strongly formed law against rape in classical civilizations. That awful bit from the Bible springs to mind about how a woman had to be able to claim she’d resisted her attacker–but since the wrong done was “really” against her father/brother/controlling male rather than her own personal/moral degradation, the important societal response was to force the rapist to marry her. (Tl;dr: do you have a reading rec for that?)

      1. Ha! Sounds like fun reading. I guess my point is this: it’s obvious to say that people have always wanted sex. Hell, that’s more of a biological claim than a historical one. But to say that sex has always brought joy to people once they got it ignores the suffering of a hell of a lot of people over the centuries, and also makes us take the modern set-up for granted.

        1. Well being part of someone else’s power trip tends to be painful whether it’s in the boudoir or on the battlefield.  That isn’t an innate characteristic of sex, but it pretty much goes with the territory in battle.

          Key point is GRRM seems to think the sex vs. violence ratio in American media is overly skewed to the violence end of the spectrum. I find it hard to argue with that, regardless of the merits of one activity over the other.

  10. I don’t disagree with his sentiment, but he didn’t answer the question.

    He could just as easily write without either, so why put so much of one, the other, or both in?


    1. Maybe he writes what he wants, and figures that if you have a problem with it, YOU can go read something else. Why should he HAVE to write with less of either? It’s his writing, not yours.

      1.  I didn’t say he couldn’t write what ever he wants to but I bet you a large part of the reason his “epic fantasy” was adapted for television had a lot more to do with tits and ass than any “literary” qualities.

        1. Why does that matter? Nothing gets on TV because of any other reason than the desire to make money. You should perhaps stop watching if it offends you so much. Complaining about it certainly isn’t going to do anything useful.

    1.  As Neil Gaiman said when people were whining about when the now-current book would come out, “GRRM is not your bitch.”  

  11. But when we read about it, it works the other way: we are happy that it’s not our head that the axe cleaves, and we are sad that it’s not our penis/vagina that connect.

  12. GRRM has a fascination with big nipples. In most of his sex scenes the size of the woman’s nipples is clearly described. And he likes them large.

  13. I agree that violence is given a pass in US culture, particularly related to sexual subjects, but when talking about this work the particulars matter.

    I would suggest to Mr. Martin that he’d have fewer complaints if the subject of his bawdy sexual romps didn’t involve the rape of 13 year olds.  If you’re going for “artistic integrity”, fine, but don’t complain about people not liking it.

  14. I find it hard to believe he is surprised by the reactions of his American readers to all that sex, a writer of his experience and background shouldn’t find it at all surprising surely.

    But what about the doggy-style obsession George? That’s what we all really want to know!

  15. I have no moral objection to sex in any sort of film or fiction, nor to violence. But the question is always: does it move the story forward or add depth to characters? If not, it’s manipulative, and I do have a problem with that. By those criteria, I see more “unnecessary” sex than violence overall in cinema (haven’t seen G.O.T., making no assumptions).

  16. People offended by sex are really just envious.  They aren’t having sex, or at least not good sex and by God they don’t want anyone else having good sex, or at least if someone has to have good sex, they should have the decency to keep it a secret.

  17. I wonder of all the imbecils whining about the sex in GoT, why are THEY so obsessed with sex? It seems a typical case of psychological projection. There’s much more adult sex and nudity in the pilot of Boardwalk Empire than in GoT.

    George R. R. Martin’s argument is lovely and right on target. It’s a variation of what also Lenny Bruce said: I’d rather my daughter watching porn rather than a war movie. (Blue jokes belong to the ancient tradition of satire on sex, born long before than Judeo-Christianity.)

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