Last night’s Scandal was all about the ladies.
From society’s views on our bodies (thank you, guest star Lena Dunham) to what it means to be a woman in business, the show tackled it all in one explosive hour of television.
But the moment that stood out the most for me was Abby’s emotional speech to her boyfriend Leo as she writes her potential letter of resignation.
When Leo tries to tell her she doesn’t need to quit her job because his life and his past sexual escapades don’t affect her, Abby sets him straight.
“Leo, what happens to you happens to me. I’m good at my job, Leo. I am a lion up there. I own that room. I work for it,” Abby tells him. “I give a strong briefing. And they write about that. They cover the news. And there are articles about how well I do at my job. But they also write about me. If I wear lipstick, I’m dolled up. If I don’t, I’ve let myself go. They wonder if I’m trying to bring dresses back and they don’t like it that I repeat outfits even though I’m on a government salary. They discuss my hair color. There are anonymous blogs that say I’m too skinny. They have a running joke that I’m on a hunger strike until I can be liberated by the Democrats.
Abby continues, “They also write about you. Every article that comes out about me has your name somewhere in it. Because, apparently, there’s this rule: In order to mention my name, they also have to report to the world that there’s a man who wants me. My work, my accomplishments, my awards… I stand at the most powerful podium in the world, but a story about me ain’t a story unless they can report on the fact that I am the girlfriend of D.C. fixer Leo Bergen. Like it validates me.”
This speech left me, well, speechless in the way Scandal has mastered by now — but not because Abby necessarily spoke to my soul. It put me in check about the realities some women do, in fact, face.
“Do they talk about your clothes?” she asked Leo. “Write about your thighs? There is a difference.”
And she’s right.
As a 26-year-old single female who writes for a living, I definitely face my fair share of criticism. I have been told more times than I can count that I don’t know how to do my job and my stories are crap. But I am lucky, ultimately, because I do maintain a level of anonymity. I am not on a podium reading my articles in front of a hundred critics. I get to sit behind my computer. And no one can see my thighs.
I do believe this is a big distinction between men and women in the political arena and other male-dominated professions, and Abby nailed her speech. Because it is important that we are aware of these unfair stereotypes so we can correct them.
Scandal definitely tackles bold and controversial storylines without hesitation. Take the Ferguson-esque storyline in Season 4, Episode 14, just a few weeks ago. It’s not about preaching or spouting old adages of feminism. It’s about taking a moment to look at the world from a different perspective. Scandal manages to bring this to people in the comfort of their own homes while also providing excellent characters and storytelling. And the show definitely deserves every ounce of praise it gets.
Watch the whole empowered speech below.