The Subtle Aspects of Sexism Women Face: ABC’s Scandal Is Packing a Powerful Punch

In a recent Scandal episode, Lisa Kudrow’s character, Congresswoman Josephine Marcus, delivered a commanding speech about the subtle aspects of sexism women face.

Here’s what Congresswoman Marcus had to say in a nationally televised interview with Reporter James Novak:

“I know what prejudice looks like. It’s not about experience James, it’s about gender. Reston saying I don’t have the balls to be President, and he means that literally, it’s offensive. It’s offensive to me and to all the women whose votes he’s asking for.”
“I’m sorry, are you saying Governor Reston is sexist?”
“Yes, yes I am. It’s not just Reston speaking in code about gender, it’s everyone, yourself included.”
“Excuse me?”
“The only reason we’re doing this interview in my house is because you requested it. This was your idea and yet here you are thanking me for inviting you into my lovely home. That’s what you say to the neighbor lady who baked you chocolate chip cookies. This pitcher of iced tea isn’t even mine, it’s what your producer set here. Why? Same reason you called me a Real Life Cinderella Story. It reminds people that I’m a woman without having to use the word. For you it’s an angle, I get that and I’m sure you think it’s innocuous, but it’s not.”
“Congresswoman Marcus…”
“Don’t interrupt me when I’m speaking. You’re promoting stereotypes James. You’re advancing this idea that women are weaker than men. You’re playing right into the hands of Reston and into the hands of every other imbecile who thinks a woman isn’t fit to be Commander and Chief. Yes Governor I’m talking about you. Seven years I served in the United States Army, which is seven more years than Governor Reston ever served. A fact you conveniently omitted from my intro. How about soldier, Lieutenant…”
“Yeah that was an oversight, I’m sorry.”

She put Novak in his place, he was speechless and I cheered fists pumping with audible cries of “yes”, “yeah”! Congresswoman Marcus could have easily answered Novak’s questions with her stock answers, smiled and moved on to the next task. However it’s important to call out the elephant in the room, to be controversial and call out discrimination when warranted. I cheered because I watched the injustice and sexism in Senator Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign and in the campaigns of many of our top female candidates. These Top 50 Most Sexist Quotes make me cringe. I loved seeing Congresswoman Marcus call out the injustices – and that is one of the most important pieces – I got to hear her out… This segment was two minutes long; it was not a 15 second sound bite. I have no doubt that Senator Clinton and many others have and will continue to do the same. What I do hope for is that our media will give them the airtime they deserve.

The other piece of that episode I want to call out is how Kerry Washington’s character, Olivia Pope figured out a way to bring out the best in Congresswoman Marcus. Marcus was playing it too safe, sticking to what she knew, being nice and likable. Pope knew that not only was that approach not going to cut it, but the Congresswoman had so much more to offer. Perhaps Pope’s method wasn’t ideal (creating a fake attack ad), but the point made is powerful. How often do we as women sabotage ourselves? It’s easy to be a feminist when it’s convenient. It matters when it’s uncomfortable, when it’s on a stage and when people don’t expect it. May we all have an Olivia Pope in our lives to fire us up and combat inequality.

[I also love to see Lisa Kudrow playing a smart, powerful, Presidential role. She delivered a compelling and convincing speech to be emulated and admired].

Personal takeaways: Reading this article about the same segment, A Sexist Reporter Tried to Box Her In But She Took Everything And Threw It Right Back In His Face, on Upworthy, I realized I need to just write. Easier said than done, right? Negative self-talk can make me think I don’t have anything interesting or new to say, but I do. Reading Rafael Casal’s short blurb about this segment, and seeing all the shares over social media, it hit me that it is important to share impactful content. If I was positively affected by something I read, heard or watched, chances are others will be too. So note to self: just write. Begin. Put text on the page. By starting to write, thoughts and ideas tumble out. And what I have to say, matters.

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