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Shonda Rhimes on how television shames sex and promotes violence

Shonda Rhimes.
Shonda Rhimes.
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

Shonda Rhimes is changing television one episode at a time. One of her core messages has been about sexuality and tearing down the stigmas attached to sex when it comes to gender and orientation.

It's hard to forget the episode of Grey's Anatomy where Meredith lays out a monologue that destroys Derek for calling her a whore:

Or last year when Rhimes blasted an ignorant, anti-gay fan on Twitter for voicing disgust with How to Get Away With Murder's sex scenes:

Rhimes continued her legacy of sex positivity in an interview with Women's Health this week. Rhimes explained — then eviscerated — the double standard that American television and society has when it comes to sex and violence.

"I have three daughters, and I find it fascinating that you can shoot someone in the face on network television, show the whole thing, watch their brains fly out of the back of their head, and no one blinks," Rhimes said. "But people are shocked when you show anybody having sex."

Rhimes has firsthand experience with this. Her shows often feature a lot of violence — Scandal's Huck literally shoves drills into people, and Grey's Anatomy has seen its fair share of shooting stories — but a lot of the conversation surrounding the shows she creates and produces are about the sex scenes.

Rhimes continued:

I hope my daughters grow up to have amazing sex … I do not hope they grow up to shoot someone in the face. You know what I mean? I feel like there are ways to represent women owning their sexuality and having a strong point of view about it and it not being this taboo thing that's hidden in some closet somewhere.

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