While the Vermeer post is full of many interesting points, (and I commend you claudehbukowski for your analysis) there is one point I’d like to discuss. Often it seems that the asoiaf/got fandom romanticizes the abuse that Sansa goes through. Relationships are analyzed as dubcon, without the acknowledgement that the various relationships presented with older men in canon are all noncon. Sansa is 11-14, she is neither capable of giving consent, nor should the men be allowed leniency for their behavior.
In both the instances where The Hound and Petyr try (and succeed) in forcing Sansa to kiss them it is sexual abuse. The paradigm that penetration is required for sexual abuse is a a false one. She is also harassed, as that falls under the verbal standard. But the the lustful kissing Sansa against will is sexual abuse. There is no way around this.
Along these lines I’ve never seen discussion of Marillion (the singer who tries to rape Sansa). He functions very similarly to both The Hound and to Petyr. He tries to ‘woo’ Sansa, but when she expresses disinterest he continues to force himself on her. I have never seen him be excused for his actions. In fact I see little discussion of him to begin with. Whether this is because people don’t tag it or because people don’t care because Marillion is not one of their man favs I can not tell. Either way that narrative does not receive the same sort of widespread romanticization that the Petyr and Sandor receive.
Let me make it clear that I have no problem with creepyshipping. I creepyship as well. It is just important to keep the context of why it’s a creepyshihp in focus.
I had not read the Vermeer post, but I had seen the comparison of the painting with the screen shot of Sansa. Interesting analysis indeed.
I can agree with certain points of your post. The situations Sansa is put through in canon are disconcerting, to say the least. Couple that with how grievously misunderstood and scrutinized her character is by certain pockets of the ASOIAF fandom at large, and it’s no wonder Sansa fans get very protective of her.
I do, however, delineate Sansa’s interactions with Petyr and her interactions with Sandor. Perhaps this may seem like semantics, but there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding whether or not Sandor actually kissed Sansa the night of the Blackwater. Furthermore, that “kiss” very well may be a product of her own imagination. There’s inconsistencies with her POV during that scene and what she remembers looking back. Yes, the night of the Blackwater was problematic, for sure, but whatever Sandor’s intentions were that night, ultimately never played out because he couldn’t go through with it. At least, that’s my opinion. I’m also of the mind that Sandor is a tormented soul, yes, but he’s not a master manipulator in the way that Petyr is.
What we can say for sure is that Petyr did force a kiss upon Sansa and one she did not seem to want or appreciate. Sansa’s time at the Eyrie is troubling in many ways. She’s being manipulated and maneuvered by Petyr and at the same time a lot of her memories and musings on Sandor are concurrent with sexual encounters. For example, she hears the sound of Petyr and Lysa consummating their marriage and then dreams about her own wedding night in which Tyrion is envisaged to take on Sandor’s physical features. Then there’s Marmillion who does try to force himself upon her and Lothor Brune, who Sansa momentarily mistakes for Sandor, puts a stop to it. She compares her cousin’s kiss to the kiss which may or may not have occurred with Sandor.
My point is, Sandor is intricately tied with her sexual awakening (for lack of a better word) in a way that Petyr is not. Petyr is actively trying to be a part of that, which can qualify as sexual abuse, whereas Sansa herself is associating, at least on a subconscious level, Sandor with these various instances I mentioned above.
You do bring up a good point about Marmillion. I don’t see a lot being said on that topic. I’m almost certain I’ve seen meta on it somewhere though, but I could be wrong.
I cannot speak for the Petyr/Sansa ship and I won’t shame that ship. I just simply don’t sail it! As for the sansan fandom, yes, I think some have a tendency to mitigate the more problematic aspects of their relationship to varying degrees, but how someone wants to envision their dynamic is completely up to them and although I may disagree, I’m very much of the “to each their own” mindset. By and large, I think a lot of the fandom does recognize the problems with the SanSan ship. Sandor’s redemption within his own soul and his pursuit of atonement are common themes in a lot of the writing put forth for the fandom.
There are some, myself included, who jump headlong into the problematic and darker aspects of their dynamic and explore those, instead of skipping merrily to the part where he is gentled and in a much better place to carry out a relationship with Sansa. Because of this, I’ve been accused of romanticizing her abuse. That accusation, in and of itself, is self-contradictory, but I will not elaborate on it here.
Ultimately, yes. I see your point in hoping that others understand that Petyr and Sandor, as they are in canon, are not prime candidates to carry on a relationship with Sansa. I might add here that I personally don’t think Tyrion is a good candidate either although he is sometimes venerated for not forcing himself on Sansa, although this is the minimum standard of a decent human being.
Sansa Stark is a wonderfully complex character who repeatedly gets the shit end of the stick. She deserves the absolute best and regardless of what ship you sail, I think we can all agree that we want to see her come out on top, but, more importantly, end up happy and at peace. I would never wish upon her a relationship that cannot provide her of that and regardless of who we all want her to end up with, I’m apt to say most of us will always sail the Sansa x happiness ship first and foremost.
Thank you for this post and offering some food for thought!
Saying that Sansa could’ve made up Sandor kissing her sounds a lot like victim blaming and I’m not here for it. Also using the same logic, we can assume a lot of things in the series “didn’t happen” because there were no external witnesses. Sandor died claiming that he would’ve raped Sansa. No redemption for him in my book. None. Sandor’s backstory does not excuse his behavior.
Also, Thor (of sansadefensesquad) never claimed that Sandor and Petyr were the same at all? I just don’t get why going at length about why they are different is even relevant to this post.
…but Sandor didn’t kiss Sansa the night of Blackwater. We know. We saw it. The evening was told in real-time with no omitted moments, while the ‘kiss’ exists only in her recollections. The author even says it’s an unreliable narrator kind of deal. Sansa’s ‘unreliable narration’ happens in response to past trauma, misremembering or over-romanticizing events, but her initial narration as it’s happening is accurate.
It’s not victim-blaming to say Sandor didn’t kiss her the night of Blackwater, because Sandor didn’t kiss her the night of Blackwater.
Here is the Blackwater scene, from Sandor’s appearance to his leaving (a particularly relevant quote is bolded, when Sansa thinks he’s going to kiss her, but it’s specifically said that he doesn’t):
“I could keep you safe,” he rasped. “They’re all afraid of me. No one would hurt you again, or I’d kill them.” He yanked her closer, and for a moment she thought he meant to kiss her. He was too strong to fight. She closed her eyes, wanting it to be over, but nothing happened. “Still can’t bear to look, can you?” she heard him say. He gave her arm a hard wrench, pull- ing her around and shoving her down onto the bed. “I’ll have that song. Florian and Jonquil, you said.” His dagger was out, poised at her throat. “Sing, little bird. Sing for your little life.”
Her throat was dry and tight with fear, and every song she had ever known had fled from her mind. Please don’t kill me, she wanted to scream, please don’t. She could feel him twisting the point, pushing it into her throat, and she almost closed her eyes again, but then she remembered. It was not the song of Florian and Jonquil, but it was a song. Her voice sounded small and thin and tremulous in her ears.
Gentle Mother, font of mercy, save our sons from war, we pray, stay the swords and stay the arrows, let them know a better day. Gentle Mother, strength of women, help our daughters through this fray, soothe the wrath and tame the fury, teach us all a kinder way. She had forgotten the other verses. When her voice trailed off, she feared he might kill her, but after a moment the Hound took the blade from her throat, never speaking. Some instinct made her lift her hand and cup his cheek with her fingers. The room was too dark for her to see him, but she could feel the stickiness of the blood, and a wetness that was not blood. “Little bird,” he said once more, his voice raw and harsh as steel on stone. Then he rose from the bed. Sansa heard cloth ripping, followed by the softer sound of retreating footsteps. When she crawled out of bed, long moments later, she was alone. She found his cloak on the floor, twisted up tight, the white wool stained by blood and fire. The sky outside was darker by then, with only a few pale green ghosts dancing against the stars. A chill wind was blowing, banging the shutters. Sansa was cold. She shook out the torn cloak and huddled beneath it on the floor, shivering.
If you want to define what he did as a sexual assault, that’s fine, because although Sandor didn’t do anything that was explicitly physically sexual (kissing, fondling, etc), there were sexual overtones to his menacing. But he didn’t kiss her.
And it should be noted that the first time Sansa thinks of this night, it’s a more accurate recollection with no mention of the Unkiss. From ASOS:
I wish the Hound were here. The night of the battle, Sandor Clegane had come to her chambers to take her from the city, but Sansa had refused. Sometimes she lay awake at night, wondering if she’d been wise. She had his stained white cloak hidden in a cedar chest beneath her summer silks. She could not say why she’d kept it. The Hound had turned craven, she heard it said; at the height of the battle, he got so drunk the Imp had to take his men. But Sansa understood. She knew the secret of his burned face. It was only the fire he feared. That night, the wildfire had set the river itself ablaze, and filled the very air with green flame. Even in the castle, Sansa had been afraid. Outside… she could scarcely imagine it.
It isn’t until later, when she’s thinking about the Tyrell girls and their kissing games, that the Unkiss appears. Quoting corseque: “It is utterly important that this kiss, her first kiss, was her idea, and that she is the one who keeps embellishing it in her mind. She controls it, just like she wishes to control the world around her and shape it into a story. No matter who forcibly kisses her after that point (her forced wedding kiss is, in reality, her real first kiss) her romantic psyche will be protected by this false memory. No one can take her first kiss from her, since it isn’t real and only she knows about it. In my opinion, the unkiss has less to do with Sandor than it does with Sansa being self-preserving.”
The Unkiss is not about Sandor, it’s about Sansa.
(In regards to the Trident scene, where he talks about wishing he raped Sansa, it should be mentioned that he was trying to get Sansa’s sister to kill him. And saying how you wish you raped her sister would be a pretty effective method of instigating a stabfest. Because of his lack of POV chapters, the reader can’t be sure either way. They can infer what he was thinking, but certainty eludes them. I mean, Jaime and Cersei both came off very differently until they got their own POV chapters.)
And to the bolded bit about Tyrion, yes, he is often venerated for not forcing himself on Sansa, which is problematic because:
A.) We don’t give people cookies for not being rapists, and no character should get praise for not raping someone even though they could totally get away with it.
B.) Not exactly true, because he DOES molest Sansa on their wedding night, ordering her to strip, climbing on top of her naked, and fondling her breasts. Just because it was culturally-sanctioned sexual assault doesn’t make it any less a sexual assault.
From the wedding night chapter:
“Courtesy is a lady’s armor,” Sansa said. Her septa had always told her that.
“I am your husband. You can take off your armor now.”
“And my clothing?”
“That too.” He waved his wine cup at her. “My lord father has commanded me to consummate this marriage.”
Her hands trembled as she began fumbling at her clothes. She had ten thumbs instead of fingers, and all of them were broken. Yet somehow she managed the laces and buttons, and her cloak and gown and girdle and undersilk slid to the floor, until finally she was stepping out of her smallclothes. Gooseprickles covered her arms and legs. She kept her eyes on the floor, too shy to look at him, but when she was done she glanced up and found him staring. There was hunger in his green eye, it seemed to her, and fury in the black. Sansa did not know which scared her more.
When he finally realized that she had no answer for him, Tyrion Lannister drained the last of his wine. “I understand,” he said bitterly. “Get in the bed, Sansa. We need to do our duty.”
She climbed onto the featherbed, conscious of his stare. A scented beeswax candle burned on the bedside table and rose petals had been strewn between the sheets. She had started to pull up a blanket to cover herself when she heard him say, “No.”
The cold made her shiver, but she obeyed. Her eyes closed, and she waited. After a moment she heard the sound of her husband pulling off his boots, and the rustle of clothing as he undressed himself. When he hopped up on the bed and put his hand on her breast, Sansa could not help but shudder. She lay with her eyes closed, every muscle tense, dreading what might come next. Would he touch her again? Kiss her? Should she open her legs for him now? She did not know what was expected of her.
For the record, I ship Sansa/Agency. I ship Sansa with whoever Sansa wants, whoever she makes the free choice to want to be with. If that’s Sandor, cool. If it’s Trystane Martell, also cool. If it’s Dany Targaryen, cool, awesome, ride that dragon, girl.