Another week, another Scandal — and another round of thought-provoking feminist moments. We all know that Olivia Pope on Scandal is a feminist with a long line of feminist actions to serve as her credentials, but tonight she gave us a lot to think about when it comes to the issue of women's responsibility to support other women. And she might have a point.
When confronted by Elizabeth North about her deception regarding Elizabeth's phone, Elizabeth tells Olivia "There's a special place in hell for women who don't support other women." Olivia responds without hesitation, "There's a special place in hell for women who spout that tired quote to justify their bad behavior." Under the circumstances, it's an understandable thing for Olivia to say; after all, Elizabeth North is plotting against the White House that Olivia has long fought for and trying to take down one of Olivia's oldest friends. But in the bigger picture, is Olivia Pope right about the limits of that quote?
Personally, I do feel that women have a duty to support one another's rights and freedoms — I am a feminist after all. That sort of goes with the territory. And from my point of view, supporting the real women in your life goes hand in hand with that; after all, supporting women's rights in the abstract is all well and good, but if you're just ignoring the very real problems of the women around you, not doing anything about it then that's not exactly the best feminist praxis. Plus, the fact that our entire society seems to have some bizarre and unhealthy vested interest in pitting women against each other tends to make me pretty suspicious of people who suggest women don't have a responsibility to one another.
Still, I think Olivia's points about the limits of supporting other women are pretty well taken. After all, no one deserves unconditional support in this world. Plus, some women advocate against women's rights. Some women are racist against other women. Some women are transphobic against other women. Some women are homophobic against other women. The list goes on. And then there are just those times when other women just happen to be the people who are out to get you. And in that situation, I think Olivia Pope is right; you're under no obligation to get along.
Because solidarity is important. Getting along though? That's not a reasonable requirement.