Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and the newest member of Planned Parenthood's board of directors, was awarded the Champion of Change Award at Planned Parenthood’s Centennial celebration. Meryl Streep, Hillary Clinton, Tina Fey, Chelsea Handler and just about every other idol of women’s rights were in the house — so, yeah, it was a big deal.
Rhimes’ work has paved the way for a female-led TV industry by casting strong roles for women and candidly addressing taboo situations like HIV testing and abortions head on. As we shamelessly binge on her shows and bask in the wonders of Shondaland, there is no doubt in our minds that Rhimes is changing the conversation around women’s rights and revolutionizing the portrayal of women in film. But at her acceptance speech, Rhimes was left with some bittersweet feelings.
After hearing the news about her nomination, she says she thought to herself, “I am a champion! I change things! In a championship way! I am clearly almost exactly like Serena Williams, but with a laptop instead of a tennis racket. We’re both champions! This is everything!”
Of course she would — after months of marching, campaigning and having a vagina, who wouldn’t want to be honored with a thank you from the entire female population? But after looking at the bigger picture, Rhimes fell back down to America’s truth.
“And then I got … depressed. Distressed. Mad. Because this isn’t a game. This isn’t tennis. This is women’s health,” Rhimes said. “It’s 2017. Women’s health needs protecting. Like it's some endangered species.”
Rhimes believes that her shows, while empowering, are a utopian-like dream as of yet. She went on to discuss her complete frustration with America’s white male-dominated decision-making bodies.
“I just can’t get over the fact that a room full of straight white men who couldn’t find a vulva with two hands and a flashlight are insistent on telling me and all my friends what to do with the vagina we have been driving around America for our entire lives,” she said before angrily mentioning the unfair coverage of Viagra by insurance companies.
Humbly explaining that her goal of getting women to run the world has yet to be accomplished, she concluded her speech by inviting us to continue in the collective fight.
“So… we work. I will do my part. I will do champion-y things. As hard as I can. I will consciously make an effort to do champion-y things. Because what I did before, that was me at half speed,” Rhimes said. “Me at full speed? Get out of the way, please.”
If you’re inviting us on a direct train to Shondaland, then yes, Shonda, count us in.