The book scene was definitely a dubious consent situation, but I liked that in the end it was Dany who got the final word (“yes”) because it gave her at least a tiny bit of agency in a situation where she had next to none. I can see why GOT had to make some changes - it would be hard to show Dany’s internal thought process onscreen - but I wish they hadn’t made it so blatantly horrible. It was the stereotypical wedding night we had expected to happen when reading the books, and GRRM intentionally subverted that by having Drogo wait for consent.
Though the Dany / Drogo relationship is pretty sketchy, regardless, since he unquestionably rapes her a few times after that. But I prefer the book’s take on it.
I wouldn’t call it a dubious consent situation — not only is Dany 13, but she’s been gifted (or sold) to Drogo. I’d say that her verbal consent (given after she calmed down from crying openly) is completely and totally nullified and that what Drogo does to her on their wedding night is undoubtedly rape.
I’m not even convinced Drogo was actually asking for consent. It’s really hard to know what’s going on his mind since we’re seeing him through Dany’s eyes. We’ve seen him do small kindnesses (giving her her silver, being gentle with her) but we’ve also seen him be a bit harsher (completely ignoring her at the wedding) and we’ll come to see him be even harsher (raping her when she’s in so much pain she’d rather die than go on). Drogo is a better man to Dany than Viserys was, but he’s clearly not aiming for a relationship of equal power. Drogo only knew one word, and he repeated it over and over. We don’t know that in Drogo’s mind he was asking consent. If Dany had said no over and over again, would he have accepted it and not insisted on consummation? I truly don’t think so. I don’t think she was actually being given a choice — even outside of the fact that she’s a child that’s just been given away like property.
But I do think the consent was an incredibly important part of Dany’s story. Along with her first ride on her silver, it indicates just how willing Dany is to take control when it’s offered to her, even in tiny doses.
I do think that would’ve been difficult to communicate on screen. I’m glad they didn’t have Dany give consent because I believe that would’ve made people even more willing to forgive Drogo for mistreatment. I don’t want this to come across as entirely anti-Drogo because I actually do like Drogo when considered in the context of the series. He gives Dany room to grow. He encourages her to lead. He loves her. But he does rape Dany. And he did rape Dany on their wedding night. Dany’s consent said something about who she is and who she was going to become, but it didn’t make it consensual sex. I think the show made the right decision, but I think the book version plays out exactly as it should too — to show Dany’s willingness to take control over her own life, even when it’s possible (and probable) she’s not yet being offered it.
You’re right, calling it “dubious consent” is kind of pushing it. At the end of the day, she’s a child sold to a man who has no qualms about rape. I’m honestly not sure what was going through his mind on their wedding night - maybe he didn’t really understand what “no” meant, maybe he just wanted her consent that one time so he could “officially” claim her as his property, maybe he didn’t care what her response was, etc.
I don’t at all think that what happened on their wedding night was a healthy encounter. Like you said, consent is a huge part of Dany’s storyline. I felt that the show really took away some of that agency by omitting not only her ride with silver, but also her ability to at least try and claim some control with Drogo by saying “yes.” It wasn’t a very consensual encounter, but at least she wasn’t reduced entirely to a helpless victim (on the surface, that is).
To be honest, the biggest problem I have with GOT in comparison to ASOIAF is that the show constantly goes for “shock factor” rather than genuinely good writing.
They make Talisa pregnant solely for the sake of gutting her at the Red Wedding.
They develop Ros as a character because they wanted her murder to be a surprise.
They reject Doreah’s previous characterization to throw in that betrayal plot twist.
They have Catelyn kill Walder’s wife instead of his grandson because I guess it’s easier to believe that Walder would react flippantly to the death of a wife rather than that of a grandson?
They add in the scene of Joffrey forcing Ros to beat Daisy because… we apparently don’t know that he’s evil yet?
They have Drogo unquestionably rape Daenerys on their wedding night, instead of waiting for her consent, because… of reasons?
The vast majority of the violence against men on GOT is taken directly from the books (Theon’s torture, Renly’s death, Ned’s death, etc). But the vast majority of violence against women is invented for the show. Which is… weird, to say the least.