Alright, this is going to be my last message. Liv's love for Fitz isn't a weakness. I didn't say that. But Fitz is her weakness - if a villain wanted to control her, they would hurt Fitz. And Liv is Fitz's weakness. It's not a bad thing, it just is. My only problem is that the writers chose to maker her weakness a character like him, because it's a theme we see repeated over and over again. I really admire your eloquence. Thank you for replying to my messages! xxx
Ok, since we are writing our good-byes, lol, this will be mine. It’s a long one…
I like words. I like them so much, sometimes I think it’s important for the discussion that we define key terminology we are using. I do not do it to be patronizing or facetious. It seems we have a miscommunication over the word “weakness”.
Here’s your direct quote from your last message to me:
“…It just seems sort of disempowering to me to make her weakness a white republican politician, as if “even Olivia pope falls on her knees for this perfect white man.” I’m sorry. But I guess that’s just because again, I just don’t see enough positive or mature traits in Fitz (to me, he’s just a whiny child a lot of the time, but I accept that you feel differently).”— flymetothelostmoon
According to my interpretation, you are saying that having a black woman be “weak” for a “perfect” (don’t know how you arrived at that deduction) white man is disempowering. The very thing for which she appears to be “weak” in your eyes IS her love for Fitz. You then go on in your current argument to state that others try to exploit Olivia via Fitz. The only way that is possible is through love. Therefore, you are indeed accusing that Olivia’s love for Fitz is a “weakness”. Speaking of which…
the state or condition of lacking strength.
“the country’s weakness in international dealings”
a quality or feature regarded as a disadvantage or fault.
“you must recognize your product’s strengths and weaknesses”
a person or thing that one is unable to resist or likes excessively.
“you’re his one weakness—he should never have met you”
So in every which way, “weakness” is not a word people use favourably. It is not a word by which people want to identify themselves. I’m going to quote what I said last night in a follow-up q&a:
“I have a problem in general with how some people view “weakness”. The root of the issue is that we see and value “strength” in really narrow, masculinist terms. Therefore anything that falls outside those narrow confines is seen as “weakness”. It becomes a kind of feminized trait to be eradicated, especially if you wanna get your grown woman on. It’s ridiculous. We are all made vulnerable by someone, or something…”
You could just as easily say that Mellie is made “weak” by the supposed love she has for Fitz. That Fitz is made “weak” by his love for Olivia. That Olivia is made “weak” by her familial love for her father. I think the better word to use when we are talking about Olivia and her love for Fitzgerald is “vulnerability”, which means open to attack, harm, or manipulation. All of that is true. But is the vulnerable party at fault, or is it the motherfuckers who try to take advantage of the vulnerability?
From where I am sitting, it’s the latter. Vaginas are open to attack, harm or manipulation by their very existence on a human woman. You wouldn’t call having a vagina a weakness, would you? Yet the possession of one was the basis on which Olivia’s father, Jake, Cyrus and god-knows-who-else manipulated Olivia in S2 B with that misogynistic ass seduction story line. You see, her father thought Olivia was just Fitz’s favourite concubine, and that if evidence could be shown to Fitz that Olivia slept with another man, then surely he would reject her. Literally, that was the premise and it did not work because Fitz is not that kind of asshole. So, again, loving someone isn’t a “weakness” so much as it is can make you vulnerable, ceding a sense of control.
So here we have the perfect storm of Ms. Pope being at the intersection of blackness and femaleness, wrapped in the inherent imperfection of humanity. Actually, I guess this discussion is about the impression that Olivia is made “weak” by the writer because she doesn’t love the right person. Fitz’s good and bad qualities are not the point at all, so we can agree to disagree on him as a love interest. This discussion is about Olivia’s choice in love interest. But you do say that a black woman loving a character “like [Fitz]” is a theme we see over and over again. What is that exactly? Black women who genuinely desire a white male love interest (as opposed to being in love with whiteness as means of salvation from black self-hatred—itself promulgated by racism)? A pulled-together black woman being in love with someone others regard as a fuck boy? Black women whose projection of perfection belies a more complicated being underneath? What is it that we see “repeated over and over again”? By the way, are you totes OK with the problematic relationship of Olivia and Jake?
The core issue of our discussion from tonight and today is an insistence that there is a type of man to whom our black anti heroine would be most suited. A suitable boy, if you will. Or perhaps, you wish for our heroine not to be made vulnerable in any way by romantic love at all. Perhaps, then Olivia could exist as some feminist fantasy trope instead of a woman who wants and is going after everything. And I’m saying that as a feminist who rejects the paternalism of grown women telling other grown women how to behave in order to further the cause of equality. Similarly with my own folk—black folk—I reject the notion of embodying some Christian respectability (cultivated as a direct response to the de-humanization of racism) as the antidote to racism. Because then I don’t get to be fucked up and human in my own way. Reading Olivia as “disempowered” by the love she chooses tells me that you don’t see Olivia’s full being as a character, but rather her archetype. You seem to judge Fitz in the same way: a representation of white perfection, which is a way of seeing that is absolutely dismissive to the point of caricature.
I want you to be aware that the lens through which you are regarding Olivia convinces you that she is “disempowered” (your word) through her choice in lover because that lover is white (you have emphasized his whiteness in every single response, so clearly that’s a problem for you), yet perplexedly simultaneously “perfect” and “selfish, immature and self-entitled” (again, your words). You are reading the narrative as Olivia being in-love with the idea of perfection of whiteness (“even Olivia Pope falls to her knees for this perfect white man”). I think you have to dismiss a great deal of the narrative in order to arrive at that conclusion, so I reject it. It’s too simplistic and doesn’t work.
You know what would be actually disempowering? If, in order to be considered “strong” or “great”, Olivia had to choose between the imperfect love that fulfills a great desire within her, and being a kick-ass business owner who restores order. If Olivia had to be judged in narrow masculinist terms of “strength” and “power” to be seen as powerful. If everything Olivia’s brilliance and slayage loses their shine for the audience because she wears the battles scares of familial and romantic love. Now that is disempowering.
Before you cry “the writers!” when you disagree with the parts of the narrative, question yourself on why you don’t do that for aspects of the narrative you accept. Why is what you accept more valid for the writers to portray? Our readings are only as good as our eyesight—and those are limited.