I got back on Twitter today to find out that yet another hashtag has come up, but this one has me really confused, especially since I’m not a Grey’s Anatomy viewer. Apparently, there’s a hashtag called #ShameonShonda. Why are we on Shonda Rhimes’ case yet again?
Catherine Stone, founder of Postpartum Progress and advocate for proper treatment of postpartum depression and other women’s health issues, launched a campaign on her Facebook page declaring a social media war against Rhimes and the latest storyline from Grey’s Anatomy, involving a mother who severely injured her kids as a result of a tumor. You can read the full story at SheKnows. Here’s her full statement about her initiative, as she wrote on Facebook:
Dear influential mamas (and dads for that matter)(and all women, for that matter, mama or not), I NEED YOUR VOICE TODAY. I need you to help me stand against stigma of maternal mental illness. PLEASE.
The main medical case in last night’s new episode of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ involved a woman and her children who are being treated in the hospital. They were injured when the woman drove herself and her children off of a bridge.
Various characters then discuss this incident, including the following “banter”:
Callie Torres: G-d, is she one of those crazy moms that tries to drown her kids?
Meredith Grey: Maybe she needed a nanny.
Subsequently there are lots of “What kind of mother would…” comments by other female doctors.
As it turns out, the woman has a tumor that caused an insulin imbalance that effects cognitive function among other things, and it had nothing to do with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, but the whole first half of the episode was unintelligent and uninformed bullshit.
PLEASE JOIN ME TODAY in letting Shonda Rhimes, producer of Grey’s Anatomy, know that we don’t accept this kind of stigmatizing of mothers with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Please tweet the following:
.@shondarhimes We stand against stigmatizing mothers with maternal mental illness. It’s NOT OK. #standwithusShonda
OR, if you’re not on Twitter, please speak up on Facebook. We’re never going to be able to make a real impact on stigma if only the moms with PPD speak up. We need our fellow mothers to speak up with us. PLEASE SAY SOMETHING.
As I have said already, I don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy, so I have no frame of reference for where the controversy comes from. But apparently, some of the episode had some of the characters shaming the woman for what she did. Apparently, though, the other half of the episode combated the shaming. But anyway, the Twitter hashtag war began.
There are many people like me who just came on Twitter to find #ShameonShonda without any context. We are confused.
#shameonshonda is very confusing to me. If you’re actually familiar with the show I don’t think you would have interpreted it that way
— Spinster Jones (@angsty_cunt) January 30, 2015
this #shameonshonda is ridiculous!
— Chanell (@chanellshorter) January 30, 2015
So wait…there’s a #ShameOnShonda TT for real? Like…..for WHÉT?!
— Holden McGroin (@kreyolxugly) January 30, 2015
What sparked #shameonshonda?
— ❤Mina_Mosley❤ (@DSTBlaze) January 30, 2015
— #YearofResistance (@LeslieMac) January 30, 2015
Who in the hell started this #ShameOnShonda shit? Y’all play too much. Get your damn lives!
— Anika (@nikkirojo4life) January 30, 2015
What’s with all the #shameonshonda b.s???
— Alexandria Daniels (@alexdaniels64) January 30, 2015
There are also people who are supporting #ShameonShonda, saying that the storyline was problematic to those who have experienced extreme post-partum depression or other perinatal mental disorders.
The only people following #ShameonShonda have a dog in the fight bc they care. Instead of arguing over 1 word, let’s fight stigma 2gether.
— Atlanta Mom (@Atlantamom) January 30, 2015
— Charity C (@signingcharity) January 30, 2015
— Morgan Crampton (@MorganCrampton) January 30, 2015
— Narie Ju-Hong (@narieknows) January 30, 2015
So I stand by the #shameonshonda hashtag. She took the easy way out, where if u have ever battled ppd, u would know there is no easy way out
— Leelah Orion (@leerion) January 30, 2015
However, the hashtag has been thoroughly silenced by the hordes of people, black and white, taking over #ShameonShonda and exposing it for what it looks like (at least on the surface): a gang of white women on social media attacking Rhimes—a black showrunner—for having a touchy subject as a storyline. They also brought up the point that it’s ridiculous and against-message to have a hashtag shaming a woman even though hashtag is led by a woman who is against shaming women. One blogger, BattyMamzelle, took to her site to explain why this Twitter campaign has been viewed as a problematic one.
What I’m gathering abt #shameonshonda is that my fellow WW are using BW as step stools. Again. STOP DOING THAAAAAAT!!!
— Diane Whitmire (@OhDianeMarie) January 30, 2015
Clearly these #ShameonShonda folks are sensitive to the word “crazy.” Most didn’t watch so missed the teachable moment. Hit dogs holler!
— mssusangb (@mssusangb) January 30, 2015
It’s been what… an hour? You already have your #ShameOnShonda think piece up? This lady is already doing interviews? Are you serious?
— Ginny D (@WritingVirginia) January 30, 2015
Looking at the voices of who’s pushing #ShameonShonda and the lack of non white voices is telling.
— nealcarter (@nealcarter) January 30, 2015
Real feminists (yes invoking essentialism) don’t shame other women. #shameonshonda is counterproductive & divisive. How MRA of you, ladies.
— D.P. (@DIAMOND_NFRAME) January 30, 2015
— Court (@MrsCmjd) January 30, 2015
To shame an individual, you have to be in a position of authority. The white women engaging w/ #shameonshonda are exercising privilege.
— D.P. (@DIAMOND_NFRAME) January 30, 2015
— britni danielle (@BritniDWrites) January 30, 2015
It is glaringly apparent that the people behind the #shameonshonda rhetoric did not watch the episode.
— TT (@temisol) January 30, 2015
Let’s keep it in perspective here folks. The second half of the show checked the stigma. I was glad to see that. #ShameOnShonda
— A’Driane Nieves (@addyeB) January 30, 2015
— April. (@AprilTara) January 30, 2015
I’m sure all of the #shameonshonda people start tags when all the white producers act like white producers. Oh wait…
— Amanda Levitt (@FatBodyPolitics) January 30, 2015
— P. Mimi Poinsett MD (@yayayarndiva) January 30, 2015
And also, there are those who are either confused or angry (or both) by this hashtag and unleash their emotions in humor.
#shameonshonda isn’t about the disintegrating believability of Scandal?
— brandon (@brandonbaskn) January 30, 2015
What are White women angry about now? I know one of y’all started this #shameonshonda hashtag.
— Wilhelmina Slater (@WilhSlater) January 30, 2015
The person — because it always starts with one — who launched the #shameonshonda hashtag needs to be found or show themselves publicly.
— hijinks+halos (@hijinksandhalos) January 30, 2015
Wait are u peole for real with this #shameonshonda shit!?
— Nirvana (@NirvanaSaidSo) January 30, 2015
#ShameOnShonda was really The Cure’s best album.
— Crutnacker (@Crutnacker) January 30, 2015
Wait, #shameonshonda is really a thing? These folks have too much free time. *rolls eyes*
— Rose Tattoo (@RoseTattoo2) January 30, 2015
— Sandy Alexandre (@salexandy) January 30, 2015
— Hugs Ain’t Free (@5800Miles) January 30, 2015
— Hugs Ain’t Free (@5800Miles) January 30, 2015
One Twitter users, @AtlantaMom, tweeted this about the whole debacle:
I guess? I don’t know. As I’ve said all through this post, I haven’t seen the episode. But I do know that people have had a history about getting onto Rhimes simply because she’s on top, i.e. that tone-deaf New York Times article.
Of course, that’s not to say that Rhimes can’t be taken to task on some things; there are some storylines, like Olivia always running by a white (usually married) man in power, that not only don’t make sense, but could be seen as detrimental. But according to those who actually viewed the Grey’s Anatomy episode in question, there was a look at both sides of the equation when it came to the mother’s actions. And, if I’m being honest, didn’t Girls have an abortion episode? No one tripped off on that. And there’s that Homeland storyline I heard about concerning the main character nearly drowning a baby. I didn’t see the same outrage over that, either.
So what I’m saying here is that I’m watching to see what happens with this. I have no stake in Grey’s Anatomy, but the mechanics of this Twitter hashtag kerfuffle are interesting in the larger schemes of feminism, particularly how “white feminism” is constantly at odds with “black feminism,” since this is really what this hashtag turned into.
What did you think about this hashtag battle? Give your opinions in the comments section below!
Photo credit: Ron Batzdorff/ABC