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MLKatz said:
No spoilers, but Whats up with Jon anyway? ???
Please, don't get me started on Jon...

But - as far explicit sexual content. It's a very old question. Sex in literature. How graphic is too graphic? I've never seen a definitive answer. The sex in these books didn't bother me in the least. It just seemed to fit that the crude world these characters inhabit would include crude sex and its descriptions be equally crude. But, for example, some of those Anne Rice sex scenes in her Vampire Chronicles or Mayfair Witches series just seemed ridiculously unnecessary, bordering pornographic. Which isn't a criticism of pornography - but it always made me cringe reading those scenes in Rice's books. They seemed unnecessary and yes, more crude than Martin's sex scenes though her language is a lot more flowery. I think I remember there was some controversy about the sex scenes in David Leavitt's "While England Sleeps" and I tended to agree, they weren't all necessary. But each reader's reaction will be different, just as every writer's approach to the sex scenes will be.

One thing I do find intriguing about the original question: the book has equal amount of explicit sex as it does violence. And yet it's the sex that was more bothersome to the OP. Not meant to be a judgment of the OP in any way, but it is something that I think reflects our culture very clearly. A movie like "Hostel" and "Saw" is released with an R rating. But a little nudity will get you slapped with an NC-17. One case in point is "A History of Violence," the David Cronenbergh film. There is some graphic violence and that warranted an R. But a very brief glimpse of Maria Bello nude - got it slapped with an NC-17 and the nudity had to be removed. I don't mean to move this away from books, but books don't get ratings (yet?)
 

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J Dean said:
And I would add that more often than not (at least on the show) the sexual elements are in a negative light (rape, infidelity, crass innuendo, etc).
Very true; I never thought about it that way. It's the same in the books. There is very little, if any, "love-making." The novels are extremely violent: bodily harm, sexual violence, emotional violence. The violence people - and non-humans - wage against one another is at the core of the narrative.
 
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