Why Aging Tommen doesn’t Bother Me: A Game of Thrones Pondering

There’s a nice fat Tumblr post here serving up all the dudgeon about the fact that the show version of Tommen Baratheon has been aged-up sufficiently to consummate his marriage with Margarey Tyrell (in the books, Tommen is only eight at the time of his succession, and so Margarey manipulates him in other ways). The gist:

So we’ve got a thirteen-year-old and an adult in her mid-twenties, having sex. Having sex as a means for the adult to coerce and manipulate the child.

This is abusive.

I’m not going to waste my time arguing about statutory rape, or plain old rape, or sexual abuse, or the difference between those terms or their applicability to this situation, because it really doesn’t matter. No matter what you call it, this situation is CLEARLY not an healthy expression of sexuality and it’s CLEARLY a case of a character, a child character, being exploited.

I don’t want to make light of child abuse, but I feel a strong need to explain why few of us are bothered by this, at least, not in the way this writer is. Yes, on every level, Margarey and Tommen’s relationship is unequal. And negative consequences will proceed therefrom. But here’s why I’m not worked up over it:

  1. This is exactly what happend to Danaerys. Dany was a child-ish bride, too; married off at her brother’s order to a man of an alien culture who cared very little about her at the time of their wedding. It was a relationship of unequals, and it was physically much rougher than Margarey and Tommen. In other words, the show established early on that in this world, this sort of thing simply happens (as it did in the medieval world it’s based on, when royal children were considered old enough much earlier). It’s hard to start making Strong Principled Objections at this point.
  2. Tommen gets manipulated either way. I know it seems infintely worse to manipulate an adolescent with coitus than to manipulate a boy with kittens, but in either case, Tommen is a child-king stuck between two queens, both of him want to keep him under their thumb so they can rule in his name. In either case, a minor is having his feelings used to to exploit him. Sure, one is sexual and one is not. The difference is not small, making the question “But why switch from giving a child kittens to sleeping with a young teen?” a legitimate one. But here’s some insight into that…
  3. Tommen Baratheon is DOOMED.  “Gold shall be their crowns, and gold their shrouds…” There’s more than enough evidence in the books to suggest that Tommen will not live to see manhood, that he will die horribly (my money’s on being devoured by Viserion. Why Viserion? Seems right somehow), probably in his mother’s presence. There have been very few bright spots in Tommen’s life. He lost his “father” at a young age, was abused by his brother, watched that same brother die at his own wedding, and is now a King in name only, being pushed about by his elders, and he’s regarded as either an abomination or a usurper by his remaining rivals through no fault of his own. He had thus far displayed no capacity for even understanding his political situation, let alone dealing with it.

Consequently, when I saw the marriage-consummation scene, my thought was, “well, at least he gets to have this.” One moment of happiness, one moment of enjoying being king, before all the forces arrayed against him slowly, and then quickly, tear him to pieces.


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