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Somewhere along the line, violence against women became an increasingly popular theme in movies and television. As the uncomfortable theme thrived, the level of violence has continued to increase to an unpalatable degree, with certain titles subjecting their female characters to so much on-screen abuse that it can not only be traumatizing for viewers, but a sign of a deeply flawed film and TV landscape. Yes, atrocities against women occur all the time and it’s important for art to explore and reflect on real life, even real life tragedies — but particularly when the world we’re exploring is a fantasy, it stops feeling like a necessary evil and starts feeling a lot more like a misogynistic world re-asserting how they see the role of women.
We are, of course, in part talking about Game of Thrones and its new prequel House of the Dragon, whose premiere episode included a (*spoilers!*) excruciatingly long, graphic scene of a woman having a child cut out of her pregnant stomach without her knowledge or consent to the procedure, killing her in the process. At a time when pregnant people have less access to safe healthcare in America than they did in the ’70s, it’s certainly a *choice* to show a woman being brutally sliced up to save her unborn child, and it’s hard to imagine this scene causing any sort of social change that might justify it. At a certain point in the Game of Thrones universe, you have to wonder: Do George R.R. Martin or those who adapt his work care, at all, about women? Or is this all an extended thought exercise in once again embodying a world in which women existed only for sex or marriage, and those who rebelled against their roles were swiftly cut back down to size?
Ultimately, it’s entirely possible to get the message of female abuse across without getting into brutally graphic depictions that are given far too much screen time. The following titles not only include extremely gruesome scenes but also push the boundaries on how far productions can take the violence against women trend, which has us wondering just where we draw the line, as a society, on what’s appropriate for entertainment and what’s considered truly dangerous subject matter that could lead to the normalization of violent aggression toward women in a world that already favors misogynistic ideals.
Read on for the shows and movies that you should definitely, definitely avoid if you’re looking to skip long scenes of women being abused (we don’t blame you!).