15 December 2010

Science Fiction and Feminism By Maxine

  Science fiction as a genre is known for not being entirely female-friendly. If you enter any video store, or search the genre on netflix many movie covers show pictures of skantly clad women clingy to brawny men for security. This has always been a problem for a young women such as myself to be a feminist, and a self-proclaimed sci-fi geek. When I find myself disapointed by the lack of female representation in a Sci-Fi film or television series, there are two shows that I can revert back to in order to fufil my feminist and nerd void.

Battlestar Galactica

In the original series Starbuck, the hooligan star piolt, was played by a male. The directors of the latest series decided that they wanted to change that. They indroduced us to a new Starbuck, Kara Thrace. Not only does Starbuck fly circles around male piolts, but she also holds her own in any boxing ring. When Starbuck is not shooting cylons out of the sky, she spends her time drinking and beating the crap out of her male peers. Starbuck does not represent the only positively bad ass female role in BSG. The president of the colonies Laura Roslin  is also a women. Laura takes on one of most important roles left in the post-appcolyptic world the characters of BSG are living in. Laura calmly and wisely makes many decisions for the betterment of what's left of humanity. Not only does she out-smart male leaders, but she does this all while dealing with a spiritual quest, and breast cancer. So that's a president, and a top notch piolt in one Sci-Fi series, but there is so much more. Sharon Valarie/Boomer/Number 8 is a cylon model who embodies 3 different female characters in one role. Number 6/ Caprica 6 is a very powerful figure in the cylon world, not only does she haunt Gius Batlers everyday life, but she also can kick ass and take names. Dee, works on deck right next to commander Adama punching numbers and saving the human race. As the series goes on there are many minor powerful female roles, whether they are evil robotic cylons, or humans all the female charcters have just as much power if not more than male characters. Many would say that the female characters are hypersexualized, Number 6 being the main victim of the scurtiny. However, as you watch the series you realize that it isn't an over abdunt sexuality with out pleasure from the females like in many other female roles. The women of Battlestar Galactica are sexy, and sexual, they do not let the men of the world dominate their sex lifes and feel free to explore their sexuality freely. Number 6 may be a hyperlysexual character but in this role it is not a negative. She finds the balance between being sexy being powerful. She remains very feminie in fashion and apperance whilst remaining in a powerful posistion. The show is 6 seasons, and besides begin female friendly, it is also filled with  action, humor, fear and so much more. I reccomend this show to any science fiction fan out there, or even a fan of top notch television with a positive message.


Although the show was banned after just one EPIC season, what it covers in terms of feminism in its short life span are worth disscussion. Firefly follows the life of people living on a space shuttle called Serenity. 4 out of the 9 main characters are all powerful women.  Zoe was a fighter in the rebellion against the allance, and now works as Captain Reynolds right hand women. She is also married to Walsh, the ships piolt. They do not have the relationship often portrayed in the media, Zoe is not in any way submissive. The two often joke about their sexual exploits and are completely open about it with the rest of the crew. Not once in the show is Zoe seen as a submissive woemn role, there relationship remains balanced and neither charcter take total control of their relationship. Kaylee is a sweet young women who happens to be in charge of the ships engine. Kaylee is often depicted with a dirty face wearing the average enginers clothing. Kaylee, like other characters, jokes about her lack of a sex life on the ship and often remarks about how close she has become with her "toys." Her personality remains both adorable, and incredably genius. Kaylee works the engine room better than any other engineer shown in the series. River, is the only female character that is portrayed as mentally unstable. But with good reason, the government has been experimenting on her brain, only because she was considered to be a genius. River may be completely insane, but she also is the smartest character on the show. She often will randomly know things that the other character wont understand, and will catch on to just about anything with no practice at all. Inara is the final female character and possilby the most controversial. Inara is a companion, she is the futures prostitute. In this world becoming a companion takes training and much schooling and Anara is the best at her job. There are many differences between the modern prostitutes and Inara's compainionship. The main one being that Inarachooses her clients, they send her a request and she can either deny or accept it. She says that she tries to find out who the person is and lets that guide her to her decision. She is also her own boss, in this world the word pimp is meaningless. Inara's work is not degrading but regarded as a respectable profession. She does not feel guit for her work but it is obvious that she enjoys her job and is good at what she does. Firefly is really easy to get through, considering its one season life span. The female characters drive the plot along, it is also filled with much action and invigirating conflict.

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