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Olivia Pope Strong Powerful and Dependent : When can Women Truly be Independent?

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March 29, 2013

I’m not much of a television buff simply because I usually never have the time to devote to it, but a show that has caught my attention and interest (thanks to my lovely roommate Drae) is Scandal. The premise of the show is based on a powerful woman, Olivia Pope, who is known through DC as “the fixer” because she fixes the problems that powerful people put themselves in. Olivia is intelligent, successful, and just a bad ass in general. That is, until she gets around her love interest in the series, the President Fitz, who is married. Olivia and Fitz had an affair throughout the entire campaign to the white house and seemingly fell in love, but through a lot of ups and downs they are always torn apart. Nothing is too wrong or horrible to take on, and it’s with her team of “gladiators in suits” that she takes on some very controversial and downright dangerous cases.

Olivia Pope by all accounts is seen as a strong educated black woman, and never lets anyone get the best of her; that is, until her affair with Fitz. My main reason for even bringing this show to your attention is this question, why are even the strong independent female characters reliant on the love of the “main male?” Olivia in all other parts of her life is self assured, determined, and over achieves. But, when it comes to her relationship with President Fitz, she can’t even think clearly enough to question whether or not what she’s doing is wrong, and if she does she can’t ever stay away long enough to end it with Fitz once and for all.

This theme seems prevalent in mainstream television, but why is that? Why must the strong women that appears to have everything together, crumble so hard when around the main male character? I believe this show and shows like it undermine the idea of the strong working woman and instead make her strong and independent only when she’s not under the influence of the main man. It paints women as weak, and with fighting the stereotypes on the road to equality between men and women; a show that paints women as weak and dependent does nothing but reinforce the ideas and stereotypes that the media spews out. Dysfunctional relationships are shown everywhere you look, and even in the case of Scandal, Olivia Pope can’t truly live her life because she’s stuck on the most unattainable man in the country.

I will end this post by challenging you awesome readers to come up with ideas for shows that feature strong female figures having agency over their lives, then look on the television and compare your show to some of the many shows on there, do you see anything like your show on television? In order to start making change we need to first be able to acknowledge what needs to change; and these systems that present women as weak and disenfranchise them- need to change. Only then can we start making strong, independent television depictions of women the norm.

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