From the title, you may be thinking, what has contemporary views of abortion got to do with Game of Thrones? Well, a lot actually when we consider the main thrust of the sagas plot derives from the illegitimacy of the supposed heirs to the throne after King Robert’s death.
Cersei Lannister is the cog in the wheel that squeaks and squeaks and who seems harmless so you leave it be, until, of course, it rusts and stops the wheel from turning and your carriage completely topples over. Stupid cog, right? Well, what if, that cog didn’t want to be a part of your stupid wheel and it wanted to get revenge on you for forcing it to be? Well, that’s Cersei Lannister. Cersei uses her sexuality to control her life, and you know what? I empathise with her.
Cersei was forced in to an unhappy marriage at the age of nineteen, was forced to have sex with a man she could not stand the look of, and who had to live in the shadow of his drinking, his long-lost love Lyanna and his hunting. So, what does she do? She makes damn well sure she doesn’t have his baby: “Tears are not a woman’s only weapon. You’ve got another one between your legs” (ACOK 615).
Okay. I’ll pause here for what I know is going to be the pressing issue: her incestuous relationship with her brother Jaime. Now, this is going to be difficult to say because we live in a society where the cultural taboo on incest is so integral to our subjectivity that the thought of it is simply abject in the minds of most people, myself included. But, incest is a cultural constructed prohibition. We’re convinced it’s unnatural, and while so much science points to incestuous relationships between more distant relatives as being dangerous with regards to the offspring’s health, there is not much else that scientifically suggests we should avoid such relationships. This is even hard for me to type, so I completely understand if you are cringing right now.
Anyways, Cersei only keeps the children that are from her and Jaime’s relationship (I know, how do you guarantee this, but sure, it’s fantasy) and admits to Ned Stark that she ensured she would not have Robert’s children by taking abortive measures.
Now, lets return to my earlier analogy: Cersei as cog. If Cersei is this cog, and she wants to damage the system that has oppressed her, how does she do it? From within, of course. She damages the wheel by becoming rusty, stubborn and eventually the wheel will break. Well, she doesn’t actually become rusty, although she is quite stubborn. What Cersei does is she challenges the system who had oppressed her through controlling her body, and what she chooses to do with it. This means, not being forced to have children by a man that she cannot stand. This also means that breaking the taboo against incest is even more powerful: Your kings are representative of you, and they are representative of incest.
Now, what has this got to do with contemporary views of abortion? Well, there has been a recent advertisement campaign by the Youth Defence group who have plastered the streets of Dublin with disgraceful pictures and slogans that attempt to produce (or continue to produce) a culture of shame that attempts to control women’s bodies.
This, I deduce, derives from the fear of the female body and its power to reproduce. If Cersei’s refusal to have Robert’s children leads to war in Westeros, imagine what women could do if they chose how to operate their bodies? If the social body no longer held sway over the minds of women through a culture of shame and guilt that propagates lies and distorts the truth about what abortion actually entails, women could potentially threaten the patriarchal system that so establishes what a woman can or cannot do with her own body. I’m not saying that the fear is rational, I’m just saying that this is the fear that operates at discreet levels within our society that generates prohibitions as a form of social control. (For more information on the Youth Defence’s advertisement campaign and what is being done about it, go to the Facebook page Stop Youth Defence’s Disgraceful Billboard Campaign)