Greys Anatomy: Feminism And Friendship

Dr. Herman narrated last night’s Grey’s Anatomy.

Her closing line further cemented my thoughts that she’s going to die. But let me keep the spoilers to a minimum. It’s hard to call the outcome of the Herman tumor story line because I’m rooting so hard for Amelia’s success and the show is basically telling us that Herman’s going to die.


Took me a good while but I eventually caught a theme in last night’s episode.

In one of the first scenes, while Herman is doing her scans, Owen brings Amelia coffee. They’re cute and awkward the way two people who made out last episode can be. Then Amelia upped the awkward ante about twenty-fold by telling him she didn’t need any distractions.

Without it turning into a conversation about where they were going, or what was going on between them, she got right to the point that Herman’s tumor was her priority – even though she liked the coffee. In this scene I feel like Amelia empowered herself by voicing her truth, which I’d imagine as a crucial component to an addict’s perpetual state of recovery.

While Amelia grapples with the dynamics of the tumor, and battles with Herman to do her radiation therapy, she’s giving lectures to residents and staff about her approach to the surgery. We can see Edwards’ admiration of her mentor throughout. And when Amelia reaches her breaking point one night, raving about her genius flying around the room in search of a clear path to her, we hear Edwards’ admiration in the tough love clap-back she serves her teacher.


Edwards tells Amelia that even if she lacks the confidence to handle the task at hand she better figure out a way to fake it because Edwards is there to learn and she doesn’t deserve to be mistreated for her ambition or the faith she’s placed in her mentor.

I felt like that scene was empowering for Stephanie because she took control of her education by commanding respect in the environment in which she’s chosen to learn. It was also empowering for Amelia because she was checked by another woman in a similar position. Despite the hierarchy of the hospital, Stephanie is equally as anxious as Amelia about the surgery because she takes her career just as seriously.Stephanie empowered Amelia by reminding her that she has what it takes.

Amelia further empowered herself by speaking her truth to Owen again, this time with provocation. When Owen told her she could talk to him and Amelia admits her fears of inadequacy – something which obviously plagues her, and plays a huge roll in her recovery – she empowers herself to move past the idea that she is the wrong Shepherd. I appreciated that the scene didn’t conclude with Owen giving her confidence. While she chooses to confide in a man, the show doesn’t pretend that the only way she can feel better is through his encouragement. Instead the episode carries and Amelia continues her lecture series despite her anxiety and self doubt.

One final moment where Amelia empowers herself, albeit shakily, is when Kallie pulls the dick move of asking her whether or not she should be performing the surgery alone without Derek – her older brother, the shadow that lingers inside her addiction, and looms over her every single day. But I appreciated what the writers did there.

Would anyone, let alone a woman, think to ask a man – an ambitious professional, pioneering a new technique – whether or not he thought he would be okay? Would anyone ask a man giving a lecture on a great, inspiring idea whether he thought he should really be going it alone? While I’m sure there are people who would – people like myself in certain instance – it’s not nearly as common as people doubting women’s actions, choices, and ideas.

I think this move was less about the character Kallie being weird and doubtful of her colleague and more about society’s aptitude (or lack there of) to see women as capable and intelligent, and how this external doubt manifests itself in the lives of every girl and woman, to the point where we project our insecurities onto one another.

Amelia’s response is brief and to the point, along the lines of “Well, that’s how I’m doin’ it.” Because sometimes it’s not about explaining and justifying yourself to yourself and the world ad naseum until one or both lends you validity. Sometimes it’s simply about the reality of who you are and what you do. And your existence is the only answer there is that you need.


The theme of Female Empowerment displays itself in Arizona and Nicole’s friendship. Throughout the episode Dr. Herman constantly reminds Robbins that at some point she will have to do these procedures and surgeries without her. Although Herman is hard and stern, she is also steadfast in her faith in Robbins.

Whereas Meredith lost her person (and her husband, apparently. at least temporarily while his IRL wife divorces him) this season Arizona and Nicole gained persons in each other. Remember, Arizona essentially lost her marriage for this fellowship – regardless of the fact that their union was washed for a while. So naturally, per her bleeding her, once she found out Herman was sick she bonded to her with that tender-hearted Arizona Robbins compassion and love.

The scene where Arizona improvises in the O.R. with the glove, right before Nicole’s tumor demands surgery, was especially charming. When Herman insists Robbins perform the procedure, confessing that Arizona gave her hope, we see the affection the older doctor has for her, and the impression the younger one has made. Here we have this intelligent, powerful and commanding woman – who’s illness has prompted her to use her time carefully and to impart her knowledge onto another woman – and she’s given the satisfaction of seeing her pupil succeed. I think Herman was empowered in that scene with a sense of pride and the accompanying serenity that Arizona would be okay.

I thought the scene where Robbins ties Herman’s gown, after her last scans, was the most beautiful of the episode. They both shared the acceptance of uncertainty, in their own ways: Herman calm and steady as always, Arizona naturally emotional but powered by compassion for her friend to withhold that emotion.


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