As a lawyer, I am always one to shy away from courtroom dramas but “Anatomy of a Scandal” is a rare exception to my rule. The miniseries revolves around an allegation of rape at the workplace, by a Minister against his subordinate – Olivia. The show discusses themes of consent, privilege and power dynamics.
The most compelling part of the show for me was Olivia. Olivia is far from perfect. She was involved in an affair with the accused, having previously engaged in consensual sex on multiple occasions– as the defence lawyers make clear. She is made answerable for each one of her choices– why she was at the scene, extensive details about the incident and is at the receiving end of comments about her clothes.
The “perfect victim myth” is a harmful stereotype that essentially decides who is a victim worth believing. A “perfect victim” is innocent, docile, traumatised by the incident but also has all the evidence, reports perfectly in time and has a perfect memory. The “perfect victim” is morally upstanding, else she is vindictive. Every “mistake” was magnified and each statement or action is analysed and re-analysed, as we saw with Amber Heard during the Heard-Depp Trial.
Very rarely is sexual harassment straightforward and it is always easy to fall back on our biases. In a country that does not acknowledge marital rape, it is difficult to understand how a pre-existing relationship does not mean a blanket “yes”. It is important to always remember that consent is only clearly and freely given by a person, regardless of how imperfect the person is.