Why Arya’s Sex Scene Mattered So Much To Me As A Survivor

I had no idea I had been waiting 8 seasons for Arya to bed Gendry until it happened, but Arya losing her virginity on the eve of the big White Walker battle was everything to me.

I can’t stop thinking about the scene - not just because of how badass Maisie Williams is as the inimitable Arya Stark or how good Gendry’s biceps looked in his form-fitted blacksmithing uniform - but because it was the only sex scene I’ve seen in recent memory where the woman was fully in control.

To depict a strong female character actively choosing when and how to lose her virginity, with a man she trusts and allowing her full agency in the experience, is so rare. Even in light of the #MeToo resurgence, sexual experiences depicted on our screens so often neglect the female experience completely - either with the scene tailored completely to the male gaze or, even worse, depicting women as victims of sexual assault or abuse.

The fact that I am praising Game of Thrones, a show known for its rampant depictions of gratuitous nudity and overuse of rape as a plot device, for a sex scene not lost on me. For the show’s creators, this scene may be an attempt to make up for their missteps in the past, but to me it was so much more.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women will be raped at some point and 81% of women will see significant sort of long-term impacts due to sexual violence, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Like so many other women I know, I am just another statistic.

I didn’t lose my virginity; it was taken from me. The act itself I remember very little of - beyond being so incapacitated that I had no conceptualization of the word ‘no’, was blacking in and out of consciousness and truly believed during the few points of consciousness that I had to lie there until it was over. It was less the act itself that has haunted me ever since, and more the lack of agency over my own experience and my own body. I had no control over when I lost my virginity, and it was terrifying. This one experience of no control has affected me every day of my life since. I’m not capable of having a healthy relationship, because I don’t trust anyone. I can’t have a normal sexual experience, because intimacy terrifies me.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the Arya/Gendry sex scene since I saw it, because the idea that a woman can be fully in control of her sexuality and sexual experiences has never seemed possible. The scene meant so much to me because I’ve been allowed so little agency in my own sexual experiences.