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The hidden scandal behind ABC’s ‘Scandal’


Olivia Pope is the lead character from the mind of Shonda Rhimes as she brought her TV show “Scandal” to life. By now, the show’s ratings and success is well-known. The content of the show is also popular, so there is no need to build up to my viewpoint. The reason I waited so long to pen this blog is in the above statements.

Olivia, played by actress Kerry Washington, is reminiscent a frightened little Black girl who received a 5-star education and sub-par parental love. Spat out of a dysfunctional family and caged in the best European boarding schools, she would craft a hardened atmosphere, but remain fragile and frightened at her core, where that little Black girl still lives.

Like a moth to the flame, she was drawn into an adulterous relationship with white, married President Fitzgerald Grant, who is but a broken drunk with anger issues. A combination of this sort can often be mistaken for strength and virility by broken women. Fitz is the apple that did not fall far from the tree. His father was also a broken drunk with anger issues who would rape his own son’s (Fitz) wife, Mellie. This is what many Black women refuse to see, for they are so drunk with the character of a powerful Black woman they refuse to see the deluge that she is walking into with open eyes, not with intelligent, self-confident, self-assured eyes, but eyes wide shut, eyes of someone who has an empty soul to fill.

Fitz’s manner of speech towards Olivia is reminiscent of the drunken and vile plantation owner demanding that his Black slave girl remove her clothes. Olivia Pope is not a character to be idolized, for in doing so you cosign on the brutal acts of rape perpetrated against every Black woman at the hands of the those men who saw themselves as her masters. Olivia’s character begs for empathy, for relief from the pain of a false positive. Her facial expressions are constantly crying out for help. There were other women like her who would willingly give themselves to the plantation owner and or the overseers as a means to an end, they too found coping mechanisms for the betrayal of their souls in the bottom of fishbowl glasses, drugs or more wanton sex. They like Olivia suffered from TSD aka Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

The hidden scandal on “Scandal” is that Olivia Pope is a rape victim. On more than one occasion, she would say “No!” and “Stop!” but President Fitz would ignore her pleas, he would tell her point blank “I will not stop,” and beyond that point is rape. It matters not that she seemed to be a co-conspirator in her own rape, she said “No!” and “Stop!” and any man worth his salt as a man does not proceed to wear down her defenses, to ply away at fragile emotional states to achieve his end. To do so is rape. And Olivia Pope was raped repeatedly by President Fitz. In one episode, where President Fitz was angry with Olivia Pope, he would stalk her in the hallway, grab her violently, throw her into a closet and proceed to force himself on her, even though she resisted and even slapped him. This is rape.

The first presidential scandal: Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings

The first presidential scandal: Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings

Rhime’s scripting of “Scandal” is an unwitting endorsement of the barbaric plantation era, when Black women were forcibly taken sexually by any and every white man; the same can be seen in Olivia’s character as she jumps from one White man’s bed to another. These men are usually in varying degrees of drunkenness. Rhimes tips her hand as Black women viewers celebrated Olivia dumping her only Black male sexual partner, a Senate Majority Leader, calling his manhood into question because he did not force himself on her, when she said no he did not kick the door in, he respected her, he loved her, he wanted to share his life with her, she would accuse him of wanting a “white picket fence” life, while she wanted “painful” love. Incidentally President Fitz would also propose building her that house with the white picket fence and settling into a mundane life of apple pies. She did not refuse him for that as she did the brother.

This is the mindset of a rape victim that has not received the appropriate therapy. It is great that Rhimes scripts a Black woman into a position of power, but at what cost? How many White women positioned into powerful roles have been raped by Black men and then continue to engage relationships with those Black men for all the world to see? The answer is zero. Olivia Pope, a Black woman was raped by President Fitz, a White man, and that’s the hidden scandal on “Scandal.” When a woman says NO! STOP! and a man continues to make sexual advances, whether it’s smooth talking or physical handling, it is rape, not hot steamy sex, just rape.

So while all you Black women are buying fishbowl wine glasses, putting life on pause and tweeting your twits on Thursday nights, as you cheer for Olivia Pope the Gladiator ask yourself why a gladiator? Reminiscent of the Roman days of slavery and bondage where the gladiator is but a schooled fighter sworn and contracted to a master, whose life is but entertainment as a form of distraction from reality for the Roman citizens. Why could Rhimes not find it in her to make her a Warrior, reminiscent of her Afrikan Heritage, walking in the footsteps of other Black women. Warriors such as Harriet Tubman, Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa, Assata Shakur, Queen Nzinga Mbande and so many others who did not compromise their self- dignity and thus the dignity of all who looked like them. Know that you, like the Roman citizens of yesteryear are cheering for the rape, the gouging, and the sexual death of Olivia Pope the Gladiator, a Black woman, at the hands of White men. This is the hidden scandal on “Scandal.” –rudwaan, poet and author of Endangered Speeches


  1. ForPostsSake on November 20, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    “So while all you black women…” Excuse me? How dare you. Because as you generalize and act as though the CHARACTER of Olivia Pope, a fictional representation of ONE of the various types of women, situations, and experiences possible, you take away the POWER that is in the choice. While you write to “educate” on very real past issues that do very much still take place, you also remove the power that we as black women have to actually dictate what we want. Newsflash- some people like to fight, like it rough, like to role play, like to be dominated. And that is not wrong. Could it have undertones in slavery based ideas, yes. Does that always have to be the case? Not at all.

    This article should not have been written as “factual” because it is mostly opinion based, and while you are entitled to that, you are NOT entitled to lump me in a group of “all you black woman” and say that MY choices (even in watching the show, or dating outside of my race) and MY experiences are rooted in “secret scandal” because to the educated, that is NO secret. While you intended one thing, you managed to 1. divide and continue to perpetuate differences that need to be erased, as skin color should not be a defining factor in dating, in loving, in living or growing. 2. Do just what you are saying was done- Making us slaves to ideas that white and black don’t go, that one is the boss and aggressor and one has no choice but to follow suit, which is ALSO not the case for the show, as Oliva, tho “thottish”, chooses when and where and how.

    Take your own advice and take your own power back. You took a great idea, show, script that has been written by “one of our own” since there is such a separation, and throw shade while she is making it known that BLACK WOMEN are strong, CAN have the Prime time on a major network locked down FOR HOURS, and have the nation tune in. I get that “some things are private” or for “home”, so don’t give those glances into “private life” that the out-group may not have known, or may show things that are assumed. But she ALSO manages to get the point across that BLACK IS INTELLIGENT, POWERFUL, BEAUTIFUL, DESIRED, NORMAL. This is a world, it is full of people, who look different, but are ALL PEOPLE. Slavery happened and must never be forgotten. You must, however, also not dwell in the bad or look for, only the negative for the sake of growth and an understanding beyond the stereotypes.

    • Likewaterforchoc on November 20, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      Well, you would also have to look a the gender of the writer of this article. Black men absolutely hate the show Scandal. They were with it for maybe a season and a half, but when they realized there was no black suitor on the horizon, they bailed. I personally did not cheer when her black love interest was gone, but happy for HIM because at the time I think he really deserved better than Olivia because of the place she was in emotionally and her pretty foul treatment of him.

      The author is attempting to use a fictitious TV show to shame black women from watching as if we do not know the difference between reel life and real life. In real life, statistically Black women and Asian men are the least likely to date outside of their race and black men exceed black women in IR dating in leaps and bounds.This whole article brings home the very concept of male privilege by scolding black women and attempting to dictate what they should and should not like by using slavery and this country’s checkered racial history (i.e. how so many black men like to put it: the white man’s whore because we should only be the black man’s whore). Black women should let a man be a man, be assertive and be the head …as long as that man is black. Also in typical male form, the main concern is the sex. What black women do with their bodies. The closet scene would have been just as hot to me, if it were Idris Elba, but the author have no issue if it were. The main reason that black women seriously give Olitz the side-eye is because this is an extramarital affair that is really leading to nowhere.

      I also wholeheartedly agree with you with a black woman being portrayed as a human being who is smart and also desirable, because every other month there is some story in the media being trotted out about how we will never marry and no man (not even black men) want us and how unattractive and ghetto we are. You know, that constant “othering” of black women. Also, the gladiator vs. warrior argument was just an attempt at picking the show apart and reaching into a view that I hardly believe Shondaland put that much thought into.

      • ForPostsSake on November 20, 2014 at 3:35 pm

        Agreed. I really can’t get over that “So all you black women…” part, as if entertaining ourselves is shaming, as if we cannot determine right from wrong, up from down, etc. While that may be the case for some, to lump us in together as “they” do almost made my mouth drop. Very well stated, in my opinion, Likewaterforchoc.

        • Likewaterforchoc on November 20, 2014 at 3:49 pm

          This condescending tone grated my cheese as well. As if we are like children who have no power of discernment when it comes to our entertainment. With all of this historical pseudo-intellectual jargon and historical references (which are much ado about nothing where it concerns this show), I wonder if he cares about the real rapes of black women going within the black community instead focusing on some fictitious accounts of his idea of rape.

  2. Belovedbrownsugar on November 20, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Well said article, as I too was a bit dissatisfied with the “Olivia Pope” character. I couldn’t get on the bandwagon and caught up in all the hoopla this show brought when the REAL depiction of who she is on the inside is totally opposite of what is being portrayed on the outside, as this beautifully flawed major powerhouse. I mean of all the flaws and weaknesses to have why does it have to be getting with a married man?! I guess that’s how the show reels in ratings make it appear she’s someone to be celebrated over and a feather in our cap especially in the black community when it’s au contrair #smh

    • ForPostsSake on November 20, 2014 at 1:15 pm

      Agreed in the sense of the inside/outside depiction and also the married man issue.

  3. ScandalFan on January 6, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Rape was Big Jerry with Mellie…Rape is not Fitz pawing Olivia in an elevator because he’s drunk. She said no because she didn’t want people to see him drunk and acting stupid.