Scandal, the hit political show by Shonda Rhimes on ABC appears to promote the notion that females are strong and can be powerful in the political realm. However, when one actively watches to the messages presented in Scandal, one will soon realize that the messages presented in Scandal is hypocritical and degrades women while promoting rape culture.

Throughout Scandal, when Olivia Pope, the main character, is presented in a situation where President Fitz comes onto her sexually, she will say no. She will continue to deny him until she finally gives in. This happens continually throughout the show and begs the question of; if Shonda Rhimes is trying to empower women Scandal via Olivia mainly, why is Scandal adding to rape culture?

If a person says no to a sexual advance, that should be the end of it. If a person is not comfortable or does simply not want to participate, that is their right to do so and it should always be respected. Scandal through the continual display of Olivia bowing down to President Fitz’s sexual advances even after she denies him, is promoting rape culture at the core. Rape culture, in no way or fashion, empowers men or women. It perpetuates a culture where it is “acceptable” to go after a person in a sexual manner even though the other person may not be comfortable with the sexual advances.

In a time of the #MeToo movement with more and more sexual assault survivors coming forward with their stories, Scandal and the notion it promotes is the exact opposite of what is needed. How do we rid the world of rape culture? It starts with what we are exposed to. If we are exposed to media that depicts a female finally giving into a man’s sexual advances, we become accustomed to such depictions. 

RELATED READ: An Open Letter To Shonda Rhimes

If Shonda Rhimes truly wants Scandal to promote female empowerment, she ought to remove the aspect females eventually caving to a man’s sexual desires. Rhimes has spoken on female empowerment and the importance of it, contradicting the notion presented in Scandal. Instead, she should add scenes of women standing up for themselves.

Kallie B
When Kallie is not working full time trying to raise money, she is often studying how people process political messages. Powered with 2 undergraduate degrees, 1 graduate degree and now working towards a Ph.D., she has dived into the world of political communication and psychophysiological research. She is a 5th generation Texan, and has been in politics since she was 8 years old.