Emilia Clarke Doesn’t Owe Us Her Body

game-of-thrones-emilia-clarkeThere are two overly long sequences of Dothraki threatening to sexually assault Daenerys in the season six premiere of Game of Thrones. We could’ve gotten to the narrative point of her being told she must join the Dosh Khaleen without brown men threatening to rape a white woman over and over.

But there’s something far more upsetting happening, something that impacts an actual real-life human, actress Emilia Clarke.

Serious fans of the show know that a few seasons ago Clarke made it known that she would not do any more nude scenes. There’s nothing inherently wrong with doing nude scenes, but obviously the actress doesn’t feel comfortable doing them and her wishes should be respected.

So the lengthy sequence where Khaal Moro threatens to rip her clothes off is metatextual. It’s toying with the viewers’ knowledge that Clarke doesn’t want to be seen naked. It taunts us, and her saying, “we know she doesn’t consent but let’s see if we can force her anyway, because the collective and assumed straight male gaze has the power.

We are asked to root against the actresses’ wishes. Even though she is not stripped in this scene her autonomy is insulted.

That’s sexist as hell. Emilia Clarke deserves better.

Contrast this with the artistically and plot significant nudity of Melisandre in this episode. Actress Carice Van Houten has said in interviews she has no problem being nude on screen. The reveal of Melisandre’s body in this episode is significant and clearly not a source of discomfort for the actress.

That makes all the difference.

There is nothing inherently wrong in wanting to see somebody naked. It’s one of the most common human desires. But there is something wrong in wanting to see somebody naked who does not want to be seen naked.

When Clarke played Holly Golightly in a Broadway production of Breakfast In Tiffany’s she had to deal with theater goers trying to take her picture during a bath scene. It was a significant enough problem that the theater had to increase security. The bathtub scene on Broadway was even set up to avoid showing her fully nude. After being perved on by theater goers no wonder Clarke doesn’t want to deal with this shit.

Let’s hope the rest of Season 6 respects it’s actors.