HBO’s The Deuce Recycles Female Sexual Exploitation for Profit
The final episode of the first season of HBO’s new show, The Deuce, will air Sunday night, bringing to a close, for now, yet another HBO series that profits off of the sexual exploitation of women.
HBO’s claims that it made a show to critique the misogyny and exploitive harms of pornography and prostitution are about as convincing as a lecture from Harvey Weinstein on the harms of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Regardless of how brilliantly entertainment pundits claim David Simon and George Pelecanos captured the grit of 1970s New York, or how eagerly they sought to critique the supposed corruption of New York City’s police, none of that negates their use of the pornography and prostitution of that era as a convenient opportunity to show gratuitous nudity, sex scenes, and violence against women as a form of entertainment.
Pornography and prostitution are inherently exploitive. Research shows that women in pornography suffer from physical trauma, mental health problems, financial insecurity, and substance abuse in addition to increased vulnerability to sexually transmitted diseases. Pornography relies on, and compounds, sexual abuse as shown by the fact that pornography performers are almost 3 times more likely to have been victims of childhood sexual abuse.
It is socially irresponsible for HBO to normalize and promote this anti-woman industry, under a thin veneer of critiquing misogyny. The network has a clear history of profiting from female sexual objectification.
As the series comes to an end, the best we can say for it is that The Deuce is just one more exploitive production contributing to a culture of sexual entitlement that will produce future Harvey Weinsteins. The Weinstein scandal and resultant #MeToo campaign show it is time for an end to the rank sexual objectification of women in the entertainment industry, a specialty of HBO.