Women on 'Scandal' Take on Sexual Assault — The Guys, Not So Much
Scandal has been tackling more hard-hitting, real-life issues lately rather than its usual fare of sensationalized political scandals and super secret spy hijinks. This week, Scandal focused on sexual assault in the military, and the way in which the system in place to protect victims often fails them entirely. And pretty early on in the episode it became apparent that all of the women are 100 percent on board with doing whatever is necessary to get justice for the young Naval officer who was assaulted — the men, though, not nearly so eager. And that's oddly enough a great dynamic to see on television.
It's not that the men on Scandal are indifferent to rape or to the case, but the it's the women on the show who, without exception, champion the young woman's cause. In fact, the story only comes to light because Susan Ross, the unpredictable vice-president, notices the officer's bruises on a tour of a naval base and arranges to meet with her, then to smuggle her off the base to take the case to the president. Olivia Pope then represents her interests and moves heaven and Earth to try to do right by her. Quinn runs down leads like a bloodhound. Abby breaks ranks with the White House to help out behind the scenes with the case. And Mellie makes it clear she wants Fitz to use his position as commander-in-chief to do something about it.
The men on the other hand, are not half so invested. Fitz points out it would overturn two hundred years of precedent for him to interfere and insists his hands are tied. David Rosen maintains that he has no legal jurisdiction and cannot help. The fresh-faced lawyer the Navy assigns is earnest, but not exactly out for blood on his client's behalf. And Cyrus mostly is just pissed that the vice-president has even made this an issue.
It's not that they aren't sympathetic, they just don't take it as seriously.
It is hugely frustrating to watch Olivia and the case run up against one obstacle after another as they try to navigate a system that was never set up to protect victims, and while watching, you really want to scream at all these powerful men to freaking do something. But there's something refreshing about seeing women standing in solidarity with a rape survivor. It's refreshing to see a broadcast television show acknowledge that often time, men just don't take rape as seriously or as personally as women do.
Too often on television, shows present sexual assault as though it is something universally loathed by every good character, something that both men and women feel the same about, even though in real life, things rarely play out that way. From my experience talking with male and female friends about the issue, rape isn't as visceral for men. It isn't as much of a clear and pressing priority.
So seeing that dynamic on tonight's Scandal was a refreshing change of pace, as was seeing all of the show's main female cast supporting a rape survivor, without hesitation. Basically, if the show wants to keep tackling real life issues, I am definitely down.