Friday, August 28, 2009

"Out of the box is where I live."

Kara Thrace, notorious playboy. Drinking, smoking cigars, wiping the table at cards, fighting, sleeping around, and she does it all without any real-world conventional views of gender rolls. Is she just a token "strong woman" in a sea of girlie-girls? No, she is an equal - to all the men and women in her world. In a show that digs deep into the human feeling of race, religion, politics, war and terror, it sets aside any feminine or feminist ideas and presents us with true equality.

Kara is the most obvious example of how this "sexless" universe runs, but surely not the only one.

President Roslin's swearing in in the Mini-Series gives us a first glimpse of the notion of equality in this universe. No one even so much as mutters under their breath about the capabilities of a woman in this role, but comments about being led by a schoolteacher abound. There is just no gender lens for the characters to look at her through.

Cally Henderson, dislike her though we may, is unquestioningly part of the deck gang. Her small hands are actually praised at one point, as she is able to manoeuvre a part in small confines, but never is she demeaned for being a female mechanic.

Adama turns to Starbuck for out-of-the-box thinking in The Hand of God. He not only values her opinion, he continually draws strength from her originality and spunk. But what about Kara Thrace in a dress (in Colonial Day)? Where does this fit into the feminine/feminist dichotomy? The look on Lee's face shows it doesn't happen too often, so maybe she is just still "one of the guys?"

Head-Six, though seemingly a figment of Gaius' imagination (or is she?) is strong and manipulative; she gets her way. But is that because Six is a hard-hitting woman, or because whatever Head-Six is is stronger than Gaius? Thinking this way makes my brain hurt a bit.

Sharon is sort of a wild-card in the feminine/feminist gap - it is almost as if one Sharon is the girlie-girl, and one is the tomboy. Galactica-Sharon comes across as insecure and needy, but is that just her internal struggles with her latent Cylon programming? It seems that when her Cylon side takes over, she is strong and self-confident; it is just the "human" side of Sharon that is weaker. Boomer seems to constantly need assurance and assistance from Tyrol, their relationship doesn't come across as a partnership.

Caprica-Sharon is tortured as well; her loyalties lie to her kind, manipulating Helo with feminine whiles to whatever path her plan is to take them down. She plays her Cylon role with more self-assurance and strength, though, than her counterpart in the fleet: when it seems that Sharon has made up her mind to stick by Helo and defy her kind, it is a final choice, and we see no remorse or indecision. She is in it with Helo, and they will stick together. We see this theme with the two of them repeated over and over; Sharon and Helo are equals, partners, allies.

(Aside: I also love that all officers, male and female, are addressed as "Sir.")

Oh, and the best scene of the night: Kara punches Lee, and he socks her right back. No "can't hit a girl" rule here!

For a counterpoint, go here for an article on how the show is not so feminist after all, which I find takes some things out of context but is interesting nonetheless. Notice: it takes into account the full arc of the show, so there are lots of spoilers. You have been warned.

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