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.

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:

The Numbers


NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.


The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.


NCOSE’s activism campaigns and victories have made headlines around the globe. Averaging 93 mentions per week by media outlets and shows such as Today, CNN, The New York Times, BBC News, USA Today, Fox News and more.



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