When Grey’s Anatomy came out, my parents were the first ones to watch it in my household. Thus, I came to the conclusion that it was an “old people’s show” without ever really having seen it. But a few months ago, I became hooked. From then on, I watched all 269 episodes. In my trajectory, I saw that Grey’s Anatomy was empowering to both men and women alike. Here are eight lessons that Grey’s Anatomy taught me about feminism. Spoilers ahead, be warned.
1. Season 1: You do you, girl.
During the first season, Isabel “Izzy” Stevens gets endlessly picked on by her fellow interns and even patients because she posed in a bikini for a magazine to pay her way through med school. In the end, she says that she did the job with pride and that while everyone is drowning in debt, she is not. What a woman does to maintain herself is her problem and it is not for anyone to judge.
2. Season 2: Sleeping with guys after breaking up with your SO – or at any time – doesn’t make you a whore.
When Derek leaves Meredith for Addison, his wife, word gets out that Meredith has been sleeping with her fair share of men, all because she wants to forget Derek (something she can’t seem to do just yet). In this struggle, Derek taunts Meredith and says that she should sleep with Alex since they both like to sleep around. In this, Meredith delivers one of the best lines I have ever heard. She stands up for herself and refuses to be called a whore by the man who left her for his wife, a man that had made her the other woman without her consent.
3. Season 3: You don’t have to change who you are or your ideals to make someone else happy.
In season three, Burke and Cristina are constantly battling so that Cristina can appease Burke. He wants children and marriage; she isn’t so sure but she gives in because it is what he wants. In the end, Burke leaves Cristina at the altar when he realizes that he can’t change who she is for his own selfish needs. Even though Cristina suffers tremendously after he left without saying good-bye, she learns that she had lost herself trying to make him happy.
4. Season 4: Love is love.
During Season 4, Callie, George’s ex-wife, discovers that she might be into girls. She battles with this for some time before discovering that the woman she likes likes her too. They both struggle to come out to their peers and even to each other, but once it happens, we discover that love is love, no matter what, no matter with who. Not only does Callie grapple with her love for girls, but she also must contend with the fact that she is one of the few diverse characters in the show.
5. Season 7: Motherhood is defined in many ways.
In this season, motherhood is a big topic. Cristina discovers that she is pregnant with her new hubby’s baby. However, she is very much against the idea of letting children slow her down in her career. She and Owen often fight about it, until in the end, Cristina decides to get an abortion. At the same time, Meredith and Derek are trying to have a baby without any luck. After meeting a gorgeous baby, they file for adoption and take her home. The Twisted Sisters AKA Meredith and Cristina teach us that a woman doesn’t have to be a mother to feel fulfilled and she most certainly does not have to give birth to be a mother. Miranda Bailey also teaches us that single moms are are quite outstanding.
6. Season 10: You don’t owe him anything.
When April and Matthew get engaged, April goes to Jackson and tells him that she loves him. She says if Jackson didn’t want her to get married, she wouldn’t. However, he rejects her then. During April’s wedding, Jackson stands up and confesses his love for April, asking her to leave with him. She does.
Although Matthew was the sweetest, corniest and most perfect guy for April, she shouldn’t have agreed to marry a man who she didn’t truly love. April only owed it to herself to be happy, even if that meant leaving Matthew at the altar (though that was a shitty move, no doubt).
7. Season 10: “He’s very dreamy but he’s not the sun. You are.”
The Twisted Sisters are now separated for good as Cristina takes a job in Europe as the head of cardio surgery: her dream job. However, her finals words to Meredith are: “Don’t let what he wants eclipse what you need. He’s very dreamy, but he’s not the sun. You are.” This is a lesson to everyone and anyone, not just women. A person should not hold you back from something you need because what they want can get compromised. Yes, in a marriage and any relationship, compromises are made but in the end, you have to be happy.
8. Season 11: She can propose too.
By now, gender stereotypes have been thrown out the window. This precedent is furthered by Catherine Avery, the epitome of a powerful woman who claims respect, when she proposes to Richard Webber. She lets go of who she is and asks him the big question, finding herself ready again to be tied down. She even goes the distance with roses, balloons, a crowd and a band.
I’m sure that many more lessons are yet to be taught by this infamous series, as it has only been renewed for a 13th season this upcoming September.