Olivia Pope on 'Scandal' Calls Out Sexist Double Standards for Women in the Workplace
We all have more than enough reason to love Olivia Pope on Scandal at this point, and plenty of reason too to consider her our favorite TV feminist. But tonight on Scandal she gave us one more by calling out workplace double standards with Fitz. Because if there's ever a person you can rely upon to speak truth to power, it is Olivia Pope.
Whenever Fitz shows up at Olivia's door, you can expect sparks to fly, whether they're angry sparks or sexy sparks or both. Tonight it was the first kind, with the two butting heads over Jake, but when Fitz decides to call Abby a "bitch" over her Oval Office confrontation, Olivia doesn't let that stand either. "If she was a man, you'd say she was formidable, or bold," she tells him. And while personally I feel like attempting to lecture the president in the Oval Office, especially about his love life, might be a bit out of Abby's jurisdiction still and probably wasn't her best move, it's undeniable that Olivia's right: If Abby were a man, Fitz wouldn't be putting her down for her gumption. He'd probably still be complaining about it, but he wouldn't be dismissing that man as an "ass" or a "jerk."
The unfortunate truth is that women in the workplace face all sorts of double standards. Where men might be called "assertive" or "confident" women get written off as "bossy." Where men are rewarded for asking about raises or promotions, women who so much as ask to close the gender wage gap can be fired. And there doesn't seem to be any way for us to act in the workplace that will be immune to scrutiny. In other words, leaning in isn't so easy as it seems.
As much as all that sucks, it's great to see it called out on television. Because pretending that these double standards don't exist would be unbelievable and just reinforce the idea that sexism is over. And not pointing out those double standards when you do portray them just reinforces the actual double standards as normal.
Plus, there's seeing Olivia Pope take on the ills of the world is cathartic — not to mention just goo television. So keep it coming!