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Favorite Feminist Moments from ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

Grey’s Anatomy, one of Shonda Rhimes’ many masterpieces, is primarily known for having an extremely attractive cast, infinite plot twists and characters who have sex basically all the time. But what might be even more distinctive about this addictive medical drama is the themes of empowerment woven into every episode. In order to celebrate the positive impact that Grey’s Anatomy has on the world, here are some of my favorite feminist moments from the show’s many seasons, just in time for the nearing end of Season 14.

1. When Cristina refused compliments about her appearance, opting instead for her insane intellectual capability to get all the recognition.

“Oh, screw beautiful. I’m brilliant. If you want to appease me, compliment my brain.” – Cristina Yang

2. The iconic scene where Meredith called out Derek’s slut-shaming for the blatant sexism that it was.  

“You don’t get to call me a whore. When I met you, I thought I had found the person that I was going to spend the rest of my life with. I was done. So all the boys, and all the bars, and all the obvious daddy issues, who cared? Because I was done. You left me. You chose Addison. I’m all glued back together now. I make no apologies for how I chose to repair what you broke. You don’t get to call me a whore.” – Meredith Grey

3. Cristina, time and time again, standing by her personal decision to not want to have a child, despite all the shaming and guilt she received from her husband, Owen.

“I don’t hate children. I think they should have parents who want them.” – Cristina Yang

4. Tired of the endless sexual harassment and judgment from her colleagues about her lingerie modeling, Izzie finally put them in their place.

“Gather around and check out the booty that put Izzie Stevens through Med school! You wanna call me Dr. Model? That’s fine. But just remember that while you’re still sitting on 200 grand in student loans, I’m out of debt.” – Izzie Stevens

5. When Meredith’s mom, Ellis, called her “ordinary” for finding happiness with Derek, Meredith eventually comes around to stand up for herself and prove that she can be an extraordinary surgeon and in love at the same time.

“They’re gonna find a cure for Alzheimer’s, and you and I will have another chance. To get to know each other. You’ll get a chance to know me, to see that I am not even remotely ordinary, so I wish you would have the surgery. But it’s up to you Mom, it’s your life.” – Meredith Grey

6. Miranda Bailey making sure everyone knows that her decision to have a child does not impact her ability to be an incredible surgeon.

“Pregnancy has not made me soft. I haven’t gone soft. I don’t do soft.” – Miranda Bailey

7. Lexie having the strength to end her relationship with Mark because, even though he is ready to be a father (to his newly discovered daughter, and her new child, oddly enough), she is not – and that’s her choice.

“I’m happy for you. I really am. Something happened today. You became a dad. A real one. And Sloane, against all odds, became a mom. But I didn’t. I was barely ready to move in with you, nevermind your daughter and — and — and grandbaby. I just— I don’t want this.” – Lexie Grey

8. The simple fact that Callie and Arizona defied all societal norms of heteronormativity and tradition by getting married and raising Sofia, Callie and Mark’s biological daughter. Oh, and they’re also both amazing surgeons and heads of their departments.

“You’re not going to imply that I’m any less Sofia’s mother because we don’t share the same DNA. Because that would be offensive. It would be offensive to anyone in the room who has an adopted child or is an adopted child, and for you to say that. I chose to be Sofia’s mother! It did not fall into my lap. There was a choice and I could stay or I could run, and I chose motherhood. And it was the best choice that I ever made.” – Arizona Robbins

9. Catherine Avery being open and honest about her attraction to Richard Webber, proving that women can just as easily “make the moves” in a relationship.

“I have a move or two that you haven’t seen.” – Catherine Avery


10. When Bailey taught Meredith the valuable lesson of standing up for yourself in the face of sexism by giving her a lower wage than everyone else and forcing Meredith to ask for the equal pay that she deserved.

“I earned this job and I worked very hard for it. I need to feel as valued as you say you value me.” – Meredith Grey

11. Maggie instructing Jo on how to gain respect and be authoritative, aka how to “bring the thunder.”

“OK. I just had to bring the thunder. When you seem really nice or young or pretty, sometimes people don’t take you seriously. You have to help them understand who they’re dealing with. You have to bring the thunder. If you don’t do this, you should. You’re really pretty.” – Maggie Pierce

12. When Meredith simultaneously recognizes her independence from and her undeniable love for Derek, which together make their marriage even stronger.

“I can live without you, but I don’t want to. I don’t ever want to.” – Meredith Grey

13. Callie calling Mark out on slut-shaming Lexie. Why can he sleep around as much as he wants, but Lexie, for some reason, shouldn’t?

“Mark don’t you think you’re being a little . . . hypocritical, sexist, immature?” – Callie Torres

14. After Callie’s father’s endless efforts to try to “fix” her “problem” of bisexuality through religion, Callie speaks the truth, that she is who she is and that doesn’t conflict with her beliefs whatsoever.

“Jesus is my savior daddy, not you, and Jesus would be ashamed of you for turning your back on me. He would be ashamed.” – Callie Torres

15. The unforgettable moment where Cristina reminded Meredith that her life does not revolve around Derek; instead, her life is about her wants and needs.

“You are a gifted surgeon with an extraordinary mind. Don’t let what he wants eclipse what you need. He’s very dreamy, but he is not the sun. You are.” – Cristina Yang

16. When Amelia successfully removes a nearly impossible brain tumor without the help of her brother and is finally no longer “the Other Dr. Shepherd.”

“The key, though, win or lose, is not to fail. And the only way to fail is not to fight. So you fight until you can’t fight anymore. Hold up you head and enter the arena, and face the enemy. Fight until you can’t fight anymore, never let go, never give up, never run, never surrender. Fight the good fight, you fight even when it seems inevitable that you’re about to go down swinging.” – Amelia Shepherd

Have I convinced you that Grey’s Anatomy is the ultimate source of feminism? If not, feel free to watch the show to find even more empowering moments.

Cover Photo Courtesy of IMDb

Gifs Courtesy of Giphy


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Elissa Gray

Northwestern '20

Elissa is a Northwestern junior in Medill studying journalism and political science. She was born and raised in Las Vegas, where her love for sushi, avocados, and hot cheetos all began. When she isn't wasting away in the library, she can be found binge-watching romantic comedies on Netflix, and dreaming about her favorite place in the world, Disneyland. 
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