October 6, 2016

HBO’s Westworld Promotes Rape Culture

HBO is building a legacy of rape culture entertainment.

The new HBO series, Westworld, premiered Sunday night and wasted no time before building upon this new “great tradition” in television of commodifying and consuming the female body.

The first episode of HBO’s latest series, Westworld, contains a reference to the raping of a corpse, uses brothels as a backdrop for full frontal nudity, and includes a disturbing rape scene.

Why does HBO insist on making sadistic themes of sexual violence against women the key ingredient in its entertainment formula? No corporation that so regularly promotes the degradation and abuse of the female body can respect women.

Actress Evan Rachel Wood spoke out about the violence against women in Westworld. She stated: “We don’t actually show any violence against women, although it is implied…(Co-creator) Lisa (Joy) was very passionate about not showing gratuitous violence against women and I think the reason why it’s in the show is to push us to take a look at ourselves and humanity and why this sort of thing is an epidemic that people get pleasure out of.”

Of course, there is nothing “implied” about a scene in which a woman is brutally struck across the face―not once, but twice―and grabbed her by the back of her dress and literally dragged dozens of feet across the ground while she screams in terror. If being hit, a drug off screaming isn’t violence against women I don’t know what is.

While it’s true that Westworld did not explicitly show the rape scene (making it marginally less offensive than Game of Thrones) the makers of Westworld are kidding themselves if they believe they’re providing “social commentary” on violence against women in the media. Rather than providing insightful, empathetic, narrative around these themes, Westworld uses them for the end of titillation and entertainment.

Instead of “commenting,” Westworld engages in, and fuels, the use of abused female bodies as props in exchange for higher ratings.

If the creators of Westworld truly care about deeply reflecting on these cultural norms, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation offers to meet with them, and to provide advisory guidance on non-exploitive methods of doing so.

It’s time for HBO to stop piping scenes of sexual objectification and violence into millions of American’s homes. HBO’s commitment to portraying sexual objectification and sexual violence against women is not only socially irresponsible, it is anti-woman, and more importantly anti-human.

You can take a action and sign the petition below:

HBO is listed on NCOSE’s 2016 Dirty Dozen List, a list that names and shames 12 mainstream contributors to sexual exploitation. You can learn more here: http://endsexualexploitation.org/hbo/

Haley Halverson

Vice President of Advocacy and Outreach

Haley Halverson is the Vice President of Advocacy and Outreach at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation where she develops and executes national campaigns to change policies and raise awareness. Haley regularly speaks and writes on topics including child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, prostitution, sexual objectification, the exploitation of males, and more. She has presented before officials at the United Nations, as well as at several national symposia before influencers from the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, and more. She is the host of the “Sexploitation?” podcast and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts at Johns Hopkins University.

Previously, Haley served for two years as Director of Communications for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation where she oversaw strategic messaging development, press outreach, email marketing, and social media marketing.

Prior to working at NCOSE, Haley wrote for Media Research Center. Haley graduated from Hillsdale College (summa cum laude) where she double majored in Politics and interdisciplinary religious studies, and conducted a senior thesis on the abolitionist argument regarding prostitution. During her studies, she studied abroad at Oxford University and established a background in policy research through several internship experiences in the DC area.

Haley has appeared on, or been quoted in, several outlets including the New York Post, USA Today, BBC News, Fox News, the Washington Post, Voice of America, Dr. Drew Midday Live, The DeMaio Report, the New York Daily News, USA Radio Network, the Washington Times, CBC News, The Rod Arquette Show, the Christian Post, Lifeline with Neil Boron, EWTN News Nightly, KCBS San Francisco Radio, LifeSiteNews, The Drew Mariano Show on Relevant Radio, News Talk KGVO, and American Family News.

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