Our Roslin, Ourselves

Lately, Laura Roslin’s been getting a lot of flak for her actions as president, even if the GWC polls indicate mostly favorable ratings. But I’ve noticed something new creeping into the fray: sexist rhetoric (or, one might call it, rhetoric that is hostile or condescending to women) aimed at Roslin’s character, whether intentional or not.

What constitutes sexist rhetoric?

1. The oft-repeated line about how Roslin, as the Admiral’s girlfriend/lover/protege, benefits from her relationship and uses it for immoral/illegal ends. Is it inappropriate for the president of the colonies and the leader of the military to have this kind of personal relationship? Perhaps. Is it sexist to assume that her power is derived mainly from her sexual ties with Adama rather than her own intelligence, experience, shrewdness, or destiny, whether good or bad? Yes.

We do know that Roslin had some kind of affair with President Adar. This could mean anything from- Roslin is attracted to powerful men- to Roslin fell in love with a guy who became president. Either way, nobody ever questioned Adar’s or Adama’s (hmm. interesting name similarity) capability on the job because they decided to have a relationship on the side.

This also goes for the female Cylons. Certain behavior might relegate women to being useless, undeservingarm candy, but having relationships with powerful men isn’t one of them.

2. There’s built-in prejudice against Roslin in the series because of her background as a teacher and Secretary of Education. But when viewers begin to ride this wave and refer to her as a “school-teacher” in a derogatory tone, my ire is raised both as a woman and an educator. Yes, our society has entrusted mainly women for the job of educating children. No, that doesn’t mean that a woman teacher can’t also be president, or kick ass, or both. As someone low on the totem pole in line for the presidency back on Caprica, maybe there is good reasoning to say that she should never have been assigned the job. But it’s not good enough to just scoff at her teacher-ness and dismiss her.

Roslin faces resistancebased on her femaleness as well asher actions as president. Just criticism stems from the latter, the former being of no consequence to her ability to do the job.

55 Responses to "Our Roslin, Ourselves"
  1. I think it’s fair to question the effect of the Roslyn/Adama relationship on the fleet, but I agree with you, Audra, it’s not fair to question the nature of the relationship in and of itself simply because Roslyn’s a woman. Mind you, that’s semantics, sure, but it’s an important distinction.

    I think the writers have been playing to our prejudices intentionally when it comes to Roslyn, starting with the idea of a ‘schoolteacher’ as president and the criticism she received from it at the beginning of the series, moving into the relationship with Adar, and now with Adama. The fact that they’ve kept the exact nature of the relationship a bit hazy (just as they’ve done with Adar) drives us up the wall, for sure (especially the ‘shippers!), but it makes for compelling drama, and I’m sure it’s intended to bring up questions just like the ones you’re asking here.

    On the other hand, it’s also worth noting that throughout BSG, female characters, particulalry Cylons (I’m looking at you, Caprica Six!) have not been above using sex, or female-ness, in order to get what they want. For better or for worse, sex is a weapon, and women like the Sixes, Ellen Tigh, and to a lesser extent Roslyn and even Starbuck, have been known to use it as such. Whether this is justified, right, wrong, or what have you, it certainly makes for lively debate.

  2. Writch says:

    Finally, a thread I can really sink my teeth in! Misogynistic rhetoric has also a peeve for me – not just a pet-peeve, but a bristled-fur, bared-teeth feral peeve.

    I stand firmly behind Audra and agree that debate HERE on the Watercooler often degrades logical errors such as ad hominem and misogyny – and unnecessarily. Most of it is in “good fun”, but when you analyze it, the only voices (or ‘flak’ as Audra calls it) that are criticizing Roslin based on femaleness are outside the storyline – here in the “Real World”, not the Galacticaverse. None of the female figures in the series (that I can recall) have had there gender identified as a character flaw or weakness. So, yeah, sure…. We can indeed “tone it down” here. I’m not sure that’s what Audra’s point was for, but it can’t hurt to make a call for sensitivity.

    This line of discussion will tread on the slippery slopes of meta-discussion. That is, granted the Galacticaverse seems real enough for many of us, but in the end, it is a created space that relies on fictitious characters and manifested archetypes. That being said, characters on the show (while not dragging gender into it) *have* predicated their insults on roles and position to belittle their opponent. Characters in fiction have always played on stereotypes when there hasn’t been space enough for proper character development in the storyline.

    So I believe while it is uncalled-for to use sexist rhetoric to ‘spice up’ a lively debate, I sincerely think ‘created history’ of the characters and their roles are perfectly fair game. Audra is understandably defensive in any point leveraging a phrase like “just a school-teacher” but I, being a software engineer, would bristle at Baltar’s presidential qualifications being pulled into question because merely because “he’s just a propeller-headed geek” or his head-6 addiction attributed to “everyone knows nerds are so desperate, that they would easily fall to the wiles of women.”

    So gender-based discussion – out. Profession stereo-types – in (albeit a weak position to establish your fighting stance). Also in? Any past behavior – but that’s likely to be highly subjective.

    They say “All’s fair in Love and War” but while those are the staples of plot in our beloved on-screen space opera, we can definitively establish a few guidelines here based on common decency.

  3. Gray says:

    I think valid points have been made so far. I think whatever the implicit relationship between Adama and Roslin, there has been some mutal protection and symbiosis that is undeniable. I suppose arguments could be made that both have benefitted in ways that empiracal evidence could support but the fact is, the viewers have been given a scenario where Roslin seems to gain more stature from Adama than the reverse.

    On a purely superficial level that would seem mercenary and indeed open up the forum for grievances relevant to her motivation. But we have no evidence that Roslin sought this relationship for the power/perks it could provide. Perhaps because most of the action occurs aboard Galactica Bill Adama simpy holds much more sway over the poeple. Militarily, he is likely to receive most of the loyalty of his crew and officers. We have also seen a decidedly pro-Roslin sect among the ship. Dee, Starbuck, and until recently Lee have all shown a certain loyalty or at least a noticeable toleration to Roslin. Dee tried to help steal the woman an election.

    Also, I think more likely than the theory that Laura is attracted to powerful men is the theory that Laura has become a woman in power and is therefore more likely to be surrounded by said powerful men. First with Adar, we were given no timeframe. But whether there affair began after his election or before, she was already in his circle. Obviously, with Adama, the relationship (however loosely defined) began after she was President.

    The apparent derision toward Laura based on her past occupation as a schoolteacher is not evidently an enormous problem on Galactica. Occasionally we see it rear it’s head in the Fleet but women and men initially shared the same concerns. Admiral Cain seemed suitably affronted that the Secretary of Education had assumed power. Various others were shown reacting dubiously to Laura’s background. It’s interesting to note though that those who immediately saw Laura’s command on Colonial One gladly allowed her to accept the reins. Lee seemed almost comforted by the decision to have her making choices.

    The choice to malign the role of schoolteacher is certainly quite prominent in our own country, where we don’t seem to share the enlightened, gender role equality. As the daughter and sister of teachers, I certainly understand the frustrations and problems they accept by teaching.

  4. Matt says:

    As an ardent Roslin support on this blog, I couldn’t agree more with Audra.

  5. Athenor says:

    For my own take on this, I’m gonna let it gestate a bit. I’m not the most comfortable man when it comes to talking about Women’s studies, as I’m not sure of my own views on the various theories and movements. I don’t think calling her a “school-teacher” as a derogatory is appropriate, however, seeing as how I’m at college right now to become one… And hopefully I’m respected around here. =P

    I have passed this blog entry onto my English 100 professor. She also happens to be a Professor of Women’s Studies (as far as I know), and has recently discovered BSG and seems to be greatly enjoying it. Hopefully she’ll join in the discussion at some point. But I can’t speak for her, I can only say she comes highly recommended. =)

  6. MrO says:

    I would agree that the “insult” of “just a school teacher” can be particularly painful to those who are, like myself, educators, not only by profession but by vocation. I don’t teach to feed my family; I am called to teach by my inner being.

    However, I think we can too easily overstate the “punch” of that comment when you consider what role is being filled and the previous qualifications. Would it be appropriate for me, if refused a job in software development, to become offended if I was written off with the line “he’s just a teacher.”? While I agree in theory that anyone, teacher or no, can become president, I will be one of the first to grant that my time as a teacher has little prepared me for a foray into public office. My own teaching union won’t let me near a bargaining table on the union’s behalf until I’ve served several years with the union and recieved further specialized training in that area.

    Are politics that different? Are we really “teacher bashing” (an art form perfected by the Right Winged Radio jockies) if we cite that perhaps Roslin does not make the best “presidential” desicsions because, litteraly, she’s “just a school teacher”, when in fact that is the bulk of her background? Look at what happened on New Caprica. She took no part, it seemed, in the politics of the day, but instead turned her attention to running a school.

    On the subject of gender bias and the implication that she is using her (possibly sexual) relationship with the Admiral for some form of personal gain, is it entirely fair not to comment out of fear that we would be labeled as sexist? There should be room to debate how much her developing relationship, which may infact be romantic, with Adama has changed their standing with each other. In season 1, it seemed that Adama tolerated Rosalin at best. Now he’s willing to take a pass on judicial process to protect her. How much of that change is a result of their personal relationship? And is it inappropriate to consider that question?

  7. Cavatar says:

    I know that once (that is all I can remember) off the top of my head referred to Roslin as a “school teacher.” I also in the same sentence referred to the Chief as a ”NCO”. In both cases I was not trying to show disrespect, I was trying to show where once came from and where one could grow from.

    I wrote “…But was it you who said that the Admiral would possibly not let him off his duties to run? Would he let his NCO beat his beloved school teacher?…/”

    Saying how Roslin rose above what she was, and saying what the Chief is, I am trying to show it would not be right for Adama to hold the Chief back from reaching beyond what he is just to protect Roslin for no other reason then he has some sort of feelings for her.

    I am sorry Audra if I offended anyone in a sexist manner, my issues with the Roslin administration having nothing to do of her gender or where she came from; they come from what I have seen her do and not do as President.

    Cavatar

  8. Cavatar says:

    Audra, I would also like to point out (as Gray made mention of) that Admiral Cain also made a comment about her being the former secretary of education. I don’t think she was making a sexist remark given she was also a woman.

  9. Browncoat Bryan says:

    I will say, as a minority, I can understand where you are, Audra. I don’t know if I have done that, because I have serious respect for Roslin, even though she has gone off the deep end on some things. However, if I have, understand that it wasn’t because I have issues with women in power.

    But, as for those who use “school-teacher” pejoratively, I will say this. Who would better be a president? A senator who blathers on endlessly to preen for a camera or a person who has to deal with 15-30 rowdy students a day? Change the 15 students to colonies and you have the perfect president.

    Roslin’s issues are enhanced because this is a fight for survival and every decision REALLY counts. So, every mistake is amplified. If this was standard business as usual and she decided to not listen to the tylium miners’ guild, then it would be a page six article in the Caprica Times (or Picon Post). However, when there is only one tylium ship in the fleet and said fleet is running for their lives, things are a bit different.

    Although I don’t agree with everything Roslin has been doing recently (censorship and the initial unwillingness to listen to the stewards of her most precious resource), I have to say that she has done extremely well under such extreme circumstances. Hell, if she ran for President of the United States in 2008, I’d vote for her in a hot minute.

    As for the Adama/Roslin relationship. I think things changed between them because of the Kobol incident. If they did hook up, it was the logical thing to do. I don’t think there’s any manipulation involved. We’ve seen how protective Adama is toward those who are close to him. In the miniseries, during the battle at Ragnar, he couldn’t give the order to close the landing pods, thus stranding Lee and Starbuck (if you remember, Tigh had to do it). He stopped a tribunal because the Sergeant at Arms/Investigator was getting to close to Chief Tyrol. He was willing to put the fleet at risk in order to look for Starbuck (and told Lee that they would never leave if Lee went missing). I personally think he went back to Kobol because of his son. He was willing to take on a superior battlestar to rescue Tyrol and Helo. Instead of taking the remainder of the fleet and going on to find Earth while the other colonists were on New Caprica (which would be a wise move for the remainder of civilization) he took on a numerically superior force, risking half of the colonial forces.

    I don’t think there’s any sexual manipulation going on. Roslin isn’t the type (Six is, though). I think you have two people who really care about people and care about themselves. Sometimes that caring gets in the way of making good decisions.

  10. Right on, Bryan. Roslyn for President in ’08, and then she can Airlock Darth Cheney (sorry to bring real-world politics into this forum, but I couldn’t resist. Won’t happen again!)

  11. Pike says:

    Wait, I’m confused. Where is Audra reading this stuff? Here?

  12. Athenor says:

    I’d say it’s probably a general undercurrent of the community. Keep in mind that they probably see a lot more e-mails, and get a lot more phone calls, than we see posts on the blog here.

  13. Audra says:

    Hi all- I’m glad to see good discussion coming out of this!

    I hope you will all be relieved to know that I wasn’t thinking of the GWC blog here in particular when I mentioned sexist rhetoric in “the fray.” I should have said this in the post, but what I mean by the “fray” is the combined perception I get from talking to friends, colleagues, (even students), and acquaintances, and reading other things on the web as well as some of the email we get. That said, it seems the overwhelming majority of people do NOT participate in this type of rhetoric, but I noticed it here and there, and thought it worth discussing.

    Cavatar – no worries! You’re fine with me, friend.

    As Tigh’s Eyepatch and others have said, some women in the show *have* used their sexiness as a tool or weapon to seduce others. Just like in the real world, though, hopefully we won’t assume, then, that women in general are vixens out to drain power from men. :)

    I agree with Gray that we should recognize the compromised abilities of Adama and Roslin in their jobs because of their relationship. And, it is true that he has been more powerful than she for a lot longer.

    MrO wrote: >>On the subject of gender bias and the implication that she is using her (possibly sexual) relationship with the Admiral for some form of personal gain, is it entirely fair not to comment out of fear that we would be labeled as sexist?

    Of course we can comment- the fear of being labeled “sexist” is hardly reason, especially with all these smart folks to talk to on the GWC comment boards, to give up discussion. Simply suggesting a woman is doing something wrong is not sexist – it only becomes a problem when the criticism begins outweighing reason based solely on her gender.

    Also, re: Cavatar’s second comment- I remember the scene you mentioned with Admiral Cain. Though Admiral Cain’s prejudice was, I think, against Roslin’s career rather than her gender, it is possible for women to be sexist against other women (for example, the anti-feminist writer Phyllis Schlafly). We can’t accept that everything women say about other women will be fair and in the best interests of equality.

    Pike, I hope I’ve answered your question. Thanks again, all, for the great ongoing discussion!

  14. Browncoat Bryan says:

    LOL @ Tigh’s Eyepatch!!!

  15. Lt. Slingshot says:

    I too was wondering where to find these sexist posts. Thanks for clearing that up Audra. It did make me think of Spinal Tap though…

    Ian Faith: They’re not gonna release the album… because they have decided that the cover is sexist.
    Nigel Tufnel: Well, so what? What’s wrong with bein’ sexy? I mean there’s no…
    Ian Faith: Sex-IST!
    David St. Hubbins: IST!
    David St. Hubbins: It’s such a fine line between stupid, and clever

  16. Audra says:

    LOL Slingshot. We love Spinal Tap here at GWC. “Smell the Glove!”

  17. Lt. Slingshot says:

    Honored to give you laugh Audra but I do apologize for hi-jacking a serious discussion about gender with Spinal Tap but if I see sexy and sexist in the same paragraph I’m like Pavlov’s dog. I think anyone who’s ever picked up and instrument is genetically wired to love that flick. Derek Smalls will always be my bass god. Someday I too hope to get stuck in a translucent pod and still lay my line down while a roadie blasts it with a blow torch. I promise this is the last bit about the difference between sexy and sexist….

    Ian Faith: That’s alright, if the singer’s the victim, it’s different. It’s not sexist.
    Nigel Tufnel: He did a twist on it. A twist and it’s..
    Derek Smalls: He did, he did. He turned it around.
    Ian Faith: We shoulda thought of that….
    David St. Hubbins: We were so close….
    Ian Faith: I mean if we had all you guys tied up, that probably woulda been fine.

    Roslin is way more than a school teacher (that isn’t slight on teachers!) and she was running the fleet long before she an Bill started whatever it is they are doing now. Anyone saying different isn’t watching the show. I may not agree with every single decision but to suggest she isn’t capable with veiled gabs reveals more about the person making them than the charcter on screen.

  18. frank says:

    I also think it is fair to say that Adama has benefited from the “relationship” with Laura. Is it safe to call it that? We really don’t know. The importance of someone in a leadership position having someone to talk to, to confide in, is completely priceless. I think there have been a lot of comments on how a relationship between Bill and Laura would be bad, Military and Govt in bed normally would be, we have seen some iffy calls by both of them in the past few weeks, and a couple people assume that niether one would stand up to the other because of the “thing” between them. I disagree. In the situation they are in, I don’t think the two of them being close causes as much damage as when they are at each others throats, like in season 1 and start of 2. I hope I expressed myself as well as I did in my own head.

    As far as people using “Schoolteacher” as a derogative term, I have a confession to make. After my Injury I was sent back to the States to a School to instruct Aviation safety. I was fuming, and probably at one point may even have used the term itself. After a few weeks teaching, and dealing with the other Faculty my whole attitude changed. I will never look at teachers the same way again, and I don’t think teachers should lower themselves to go into politics, teaching is a much more noble cause than most politics we have seen in the last 16 years.

  19. ShinyFab says:

    Although a little confused about the gender fray at first, there are a lot of good points here. One of the things I’ve enjoyed about BSG is the ability for me to suspend the gender roles. The relationships are such that were I pressed I could say I found the reactions based on the character thus far and not based on their gender. If I remember correctly (and I have crap memory, so if anyone notices I’m wrong please correct me), the people with the most objections to Roslin as president were military. Adama, Tigh, Cain – most of the high ranking officers felt a mere ‘school teacher’ shouldn’t be president. I found I could understand this to some extent based on Roslin’s possible lack of military training/interaction and possible political career. However, she has more than shown her political shrewdness (even some dirty politics) and ability to navigate the hazzards of presidency (not always well mind you). Recently, her relationship with Adama has given way to making bad decisions without the check either character used to have on the other. Their relationship threatens problems to their sense of correct course of action because they are too close to each other. I see it as a struggle to balance those feelings v. their roles within the fleet (I don’t know if I’m making any sense now).
    On the topic of the school teacher, using ‘just a school teacher’ as an argument against her presidency is like saying Abe Lincoln was just a farmer or George Bush was just a C-average student (obviously the two presidents are GIGANTIC LEAPS apart in performance). ‘Just a’ is a nice way of discounting someone’s merits based on a purely superficial (and purely easy) stereotype. No matter what the ‘just a’ prefaces, it means the person isn’t interested in constructing a well thought out argument based on facts. Its an easy way out of thinking about a difficult issue. Racism, sexism, Roslin’s just a teacher – easier to say ‘just a’ then try to think about a highly complex person and like/dislike them based on who they are and how they act.

  20. Piato says:

    “Though Admiral Cain’s prejudice was, I think, against Roslin’s career rather than her gender, it is possible for women to be sexist against other women (for example, the anti-feminist writer Phyllis Schlafly).”

    Thank you Audra. I’m so tired of people trying to justify prejudice by bringing up the support of one person or a small group of people who are a member of the targeted group. I see this all the time. Rosie O’Donnell did this when she asked Asian audience members if her “ching chong” comments were offensive. So two audience members didn’t think they were, ok, so I guess it’s not grossly offensive. You need more than a sample of a few to generalize to a population.

  21. Ryan says:

    I find the relationship between adama and roslin most alarming of all of these items of discussion. I think we all want to give them the benefit of a doubt, arguing that two people of such integrity would certainly be able to set aside their personal relationship to discuss politics, strategy and humanity. But it is not that simple. I am a minister of a small congregation, about 200 people, and in that role, I preside of them all in a religious sense. Recently, two of the volunteer staff members had a conflict with one another, and quickly it became a crises. The problem was that one of these people was my wife, and I spent many hours trying to check myself, and weight my own personal feelings about her againts what i really knew to be true about the circumstances. It was the hardest place I have ever been in my life. What bothers me most about the Adama and Roslin relationship is that while it is realitively innocent and undeveloped, they both seem either oblivous to its effects, or to pridefull to admit them. And from my own experience, if I had not taken time to be self critical, i am sure that implusively I would have always sided with my wife.

    Certrainly they both benefit from this relationship in terms of widening their own support networks, and influences, but I think they both open themselves up to the same types of critism, regardless of their sexes or occupations.

  22. The 13th Cylon says:

    It is interesting how often the “little school teacher” thing is brought up on the show. I’m sure it was on the miniseries, Cain when Pegasus found the fleet, and again when Tigh said something about it on New Caprica. Is there something I don’t know? I’m going to school to be a high school history teacher so maybe there’s something I need to know about this lol.

  23. Pike says:

    Thanks Audra, for clearing up that confusing (for me, anyway) bit.

    That out of the way, I’m going to jump right into this fray. Frankly, there’s a reason for the dismissive attitude toward school teachers. Two words, New Math.

    OK, that offf my chest, I’ll say that any snide remarks (that I’ve heard, anyway) about Laura being “just a school teacher” were directed more to her supposed lack of experience in the rough-and-tumble world of politics than toward her profession in general. Imagine if the next in line was the Secretary of HUD (or the colonial equivalent) I don’t imagine his or her resume would get any more respect.

    Now, Laura has proven that she’s about as shrewd (and ruthless) a politician as the next guy (if the next guy is Richard Nixon’s and Henry Kissenger’s bastard child.) So any deprication of her in dialog can be easily countered by her on-screen actions (scarily so, in many cases.)

    As for Cain. How many other women were there on the Peggy? Aside from Gina?

  24. Sean O'Hara says:

    First off, I apologize for the length of this one in advance.

    Actually to answer everyone’s question on where the “oft-repeated” girlfriend line that got Audra’s ire up came from, I said it once in one of the podcasts.

    I will say this: though my wording apparently could have been better the point I was trying to illustrate was and is true enough. Roslin and the Admiral have a relationship that the Admiral defends in an inappropriate manner on many occasions. Trying to stop the trial during her cross-examination and so on. This is not a good thing.

    If you remove those characters and put in different people then say “Should the president and the leader of the military have a personal relationship that winds up causing them to be publicly protective in the way we have seen those two act?” most would say no. It doesn’t matter who is what gender. If you can’t handle the gig you don’t need to be doing it – this applies to Adama and Roslin.

    I do question Adar and Adama’s capability on the job because they decided to have a relationship on the side and let it affect their gig. Heck we impeached (if only on paper) the last U.S. president for that sort of thing.

    I think that if we are going to start calling sexism we need to be careful to look for it wherever it occurs. We can’t have one set of rules for one and a different set of rules for another. If we can’t call Roslin a girlfriend then we can’t call Baltar effeminate because he isn’t barrel chested and haughty. It needs to work both ways.

    As for the schoolteacher remarks in the show I can totally see how they get Audra’s hair up. Some thoughts on that…

    1. I think some people are unconsciously reacting to the state of the human race being wiped out. For example that none of the government survived at all and the person 43rd in line is now running the human race. Had it been the minister of waste management people might say “but he’s just a garbage man!” upon learning who is now in power. The shock at the moment might lead to that being the first thing out of their mouths.

    2. As for people in the fleet saying it after it is common knowledge to them… well I think that one sounds like an insult because it was meant as one. People will often take something they know about someone they don’t like or disagree with and try to make that sound low in some way. “He’s just an actor.” Ronald Reagan and “He’s just a wrestler.” Jessie Ventura or how about the “Govenator?” That doesn’t make it right, but I don’t think it’s saying that an educator is worthless either.

    I’m sure as hell not saying teacher is a low occupation by any stretch; I speak from some experience here. Artist (which is what I am) is normally preceded by the word “starving” in many circles. You often go through life with people telling you to get “a real job.” So teacher in comparison is by no means low. However, if I ran for President I’d be candidate Artboy.

  25. Audra says:

    For what it’s worth, Sean, you’re not the only one who’s said similar things about Roslin – I think it really struck me during the podcast because I realized I’d heard other people say things like it. I totally understand where you’re coming from and that you didn’t mean it the same way.

    Technically, Clinton was impeached for perjury, not having an affair. I know there were plenty of people who would have liked to get rid of him for the affair, but he caught himself in the noose lying under oath. But Sean is right in that it was a personal relationship that led to it.

    So…maybe our next question should be, are there rules about people with that much power having such close personal relationships? If not, should there be? I know a short while back people were whispering about Condoleezza Rice possible being involved with the Canadian Prime Minister (but who knows if it’s true). However, I’m having a hard time imagining how life would be if the two most powerful humans in charge of all humanity were that tight.

  26. frank says:

    Please correct me if I am wrong, but are you suggesting that in a free society we try to tell people who they can be involved with?, or just the leaders of the society? Or just who they can’t be involved with? I know this may seem extreme, but I feel that once you start on this path it is a short journey to other infringements.

  27. Chuck says:

    Frank: Regardless of the main issue, I think I understand the objection to heavy “involvement” between the leader of the military and the president. There are many situations within free society that call for discretion in personal involvement. Some examples (some of the same type, some for different reasons, but all acceptable): dating co-workers (and to a great extent employees) as the relationship can cause difficulties in making and implementing management decisions, involvement between teachers and students as it can interfere with the educational process, and even relationships between politicians and political appointees as that type of favoritism can inhibit both parties’ ability to do their jobs.

    A more personal example: would you feel comfortable if your boss promoted his or her boy/girlfriend over you — even if the person is qualified, it’d be difficult not to question the decision.

    Anyway, just thought I’d throw in my $0.02.

  28. Gray says:

    I’m kind of torn on this latest issue.

    Courts of law impose strict regulations regarding the interaction of people involved in a legal dispute, for example. A prosecutor would be completely out of line for embarking on a relationship with the opposing attorney. The conflict of interest would simply be too great and it could damage the veracity and integrity of the proceeding.

    That said, Roslin and Adama, while certainly not in the same position, are still the leaders of two branches that should at best cooperate with some review. The entanglement is simply too great if the leaders enjoy a relationship that could even remotely influence policy.

    However, the relationship that has at this point only been hinted at (if heavily implied) and it’s fascinating TV. These people aren’t perfect and it’s the end of the world. They’re making up the new rules of decorum as they go.

  29. HailBaltar says:

    Has anyone else rewatched the episode “Bastille Day” lately? I did and found a few things:

    1. Near the end, Adama tells Lee that he is “talking like a lawyer”. In hindsight this is hilarious.

    2. Roslin tells Lee, in confidence, that she has cancer, but to not tell anyone else because it would “erode hope”. Lee agrees, and she says she has full confidence he will remain silent on the issue. This makes his betrayal during the trial all the more tragic.

  30. Pike says:

    Chuck said “I think I understand the objection to heavy “involvement” between the leader of the military and the president.”

    Under our system, they’re the same person.

    That said, yes, people in high office should be held to higher, or at least more rigorous, standards because the consequences are so great.

  31. Piato says:

    Sean, I think you are mischaracterizing your comments, so I’ve transcribed them. This is around 60 min into Podcast 33. Everyone is joking about the Helo (insert officer here) phenomena.

    Chuck: What else could Helo do? I mean…

    Sean: Well you don’t get to be president unless, you know, you’re either like a cylon collaborator or you’re Bill Adam’s girlfriend.

    Chuck: I always thought you had…

    Audra: Ooo, that was cold. She was president before she had anything going on with him.

    Chuck: I always thought you didn’t get to be CAG without flying a Raptor, I mean without flying a Viper, at one point.

    Sean: Yea I don’t think he’s ever flown a Viper, eh next week, you know…

    Chuck: Yea, he’ll be the new Starbuck, he’ll just come out, and it’ll be great…

    Sean: It’ll be good, you know, I’m telling you insert officer here, that’s Helo, but…

    Audra: I still, I still think it’s totally cold to suggest that Laura Roslin got her job because of…

    Sean: How did she get the presidency this last time? There was a backroom deal with Adama, I’m telling you.

    Chuck: I don’t think it’s because he was her, he was Adama’s girlfriend, she was Adama’s girlfriend, I think it was because Adama wanted her to be president, I’m with you on that part.

    Sean: Yea, well still, I can’t help but draw the connection.

    Chuck: Ok, so anyway you look at it, yea, you don’t get to be president…

    Audra: What do you mean you can’t help but draw the connection?

    Sean: Ah, it’s you know, hey, I call it like I see it, I’m telling you, it’s, she’s cool and everything, but naw uh.

    You defend these comments by explaing that “though my wording apparently could have been better the point I was trying to illustrate was and is true enough. Roslin and the Admiral have a relationship that the Admiral defends in an inappropriate manner on many occasions”. But I think, in the podcast, you were suggesting that the President only got her job because she is in a relationship with the Admiral, that Adama inappropriately propped Roslin up as President, and without him she would not hold such a high position. I would even give you the benefit of the doubt if Audra hadn’t called you on exactly that, “I still think it’s totally cold to suggest that Laura Roslin got her job because of…”. You did not say or imply that this was not your point, but explained that you could not “help but draw the connection”. I think your suggestion here is representative of the “sexist rhetoric” Audra was lamenting. I do think that if Admiral Adama was not around, and say Tigh or Apollo or any other high ranking character we have seen repeatedly were in charge of the fleet, Roslin would absolutely be president. I think the officers of the fleet, as well as the political establishment (the Quorum and Zarek) were well aware that, at that vulnerable time, the fleet was in dire need of Roslin’s leadership. I also think that, at that time, the vast majority of the civilians in the fleet also felt a great need for her leadership. This is evidenced by the fact that they didn’t contest the nature or the outcome of the “backroom deal”. Challenging Roslin’s integrity is certainty not sexist, but suggesting that she only holds her position because of her relationship with a powerful man is. I also think that if Roslin were a man, we wouldn’t be having this debate.

  32. Ryan says:

    Making up new rules is fine, as long as those rules affect only themselves, or society as a whole for the better. In this case, Baltar is likley to get screwed by this relationship, and even if you don’t like Baltar, or think he isn’t worth worrying about, what about Lee. Adama willingling sacraficed the relationship with his Son, over protecting his relationship with Roslin. The fact of the matter is, that Adama and Roslin haven’t explored their relationship because they know that on some level it isn’t appropriate.

  33. Stephanie says:

    Wow, this is tense. I want to lighten it up — as a Canadian, I want to clarify that Condie was rumoured to be with lowly Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay, not our uber-icky Prime Minister Harper, to her credit.
    But as far as BSG goes, can I ask, do we know for a fact that Roslin actually WAS a teacher in the first place, or are we assuming that since she held the political office of Minister of Education she had worked her way “up” from an on-the-ground position? In politics people are assigned portfolios regularly without any relevant experience about the department they are to lead, either because of re-shuffling, a change in elected parties or whatever. Why is it so easy to assume she must have taught at an earlier stage? Would we make the assumption if the Minister of Ed was male? What does THAT say about us?

  34. The 13th Cylon says:

    Well we know that Roslin was with Adar back when he was a nobody. I think she said it was when he was running for Mayor.

  35. Pike says:

    Piato, thanks for that! Now I get what’s going on here. I wish this site had some kind of karma option, you’d get tons.

    What Sean was saying was that Roslin totally owes her current position as (once again, unelected) President to Adama’s effective coup. I don’t think that’s debatable. In fact I called this a coup right after it happened, go check. Now this may be because he believed yadda yadda best interests of the fleet yadda, whatever. Nonetheless, her cosy relationship with the Admiral is suspect at best. HIS judgement is suspect at best. Also, I’m not so sure Tigh (had he been in charge) wouldn’t have been fine with Zarek (given him choosing b/t the two, I’m guessing he literally tosses a coin. Or declares martial law.)

    Audra seemed to be objecting to either (a) that she got to be President because f Adama’s consent the first time around, or (b) that her second (unelected) reign was because of Adama’s interference. I don’t see how either of those are open questions.

    In the first case, he did not do the “Cain Option.” Good on him. In the second, he effectively negated what he did the first time around and did NOT respect succession, but then this time he knew, and had a relationship (of whatever caliber) with the people involved. Bad on him.

  36. Piato says:

    Pike, what I’m not debating is that Roslin got her job by way of interference. What I am debating is that she would not be president now if Adama were not the Admiral. I simply think that any military power figure, Adama or not, would do everything he or she could to fill the necessary position after their escape, and what better candidate than someone who has held, and is thus familiar with the job, and has openly opposed Baltar. Even if the colonials had an election right after their escape I would have to argue that if Roslin ran, she would be favored over Zarek, who, no matter how much of a role he played in the resistance, was still a member of Baltar’s administration.

  37. Pike says:

    Piato, OK, so suppose Admiral Adama had taken it on the chin during the rescue, and Tigh, or Lee, was in charge. Do you think they would have been so eager to interfere with the normal succession in order to favor Roslin? (To me, it’s an argument I can make one way or the other, BUT when Bill’s in charge, there’s just no question. He’s going to back his schoolteacher.)

  38. frank says:

    Chuck, glad to have your .02 cents on this one, your clarity is always welcome.

    Audra, what a can of worms you have opened!!, I will admit that your perspective has caused me to see this issue in a different light. I even rewatched some of the eps.

    Pike, what are the odds that I can talk you into giving up on having a President at all? In the current situation everyone is on a ship, all these ships have Captains, we have a quorum, we have a military. I am curious to see that out of the give or take 40,000 people, how many of them are in the military, quorum, or some other leadership position. My guess, and please someone correct me if they disagree, is that it is probably disproportionatley high. Most of you know that I am a Roslin supporter, and I still am, but I must admit that I am not sure of exactly what her job is.

  39. Piato says:

    “Suppose Admiral Adama had taken it on the chin during the rescue, and Tigh, or Lee, was in charge. Do you think they would have been so eager to interfere?” Without a doubt. Not only them, but almost any military leader who would be in charge, or the majority of the civilian population. This seems to be where we differ. I think Roslin regained her position due to ability and necessity. I think you may be forgetting toe mood of the fleet at this very vulnerable time.

  40. Luc says:

    LOL Stephanie! I’m a canadian too and it’s the first time I have ever heard of Prime Minister Harper referred to as “uber-icky” Don’t mind if I use that… :)

    As far as the Adama and Roslyn relationship, apropriate or not, I do hope the writers keep exploring it the way they have because it has been good drama. Over the past 3 years it went from antagonistic to friendly bordering on loving pretty realistically.

    I dont think they will have those two act on it or go public while they are in a position of power because that would seem out of character.

  41. john patrick says:

    Wow, you all!

    A couple weeks ago I was guest blogging on a pretty famous academic/feminist website, and I took the opportunity to blog about BSG: Feminism in Space?

    Here’s the link: http://bitchphd.blogspot.com/2007/03/feminism-in-space.html

    I think if you look at TV/Movie Scifi across the decades, you’ll see the roles of women evolving as society evolves. Think of the damsels in distress in the old Buck Rogers… then Lt. Uhura, the space receptionist… then Princess Lei, the plucky revolutionary turned sex-slave… then Captain Janeway/Seven of Nine; one a victorian grande dame, the other a killer sexbot. Now we have Roslin, Three, Caprica, Starbuck, Admiral Cain….

    To me it’s interesting how women have been portrayed, but it’s even more important that we are having this conversation (thanks Audra) about the way women come into power/prominence, and the assumptions people have about traditional female roles like “school teacher.” Certainly, our society is now less sexist than in the past, but in 2007, women in power are still the exception, rather than the rule, and ‘school teachers’ is still not a terribly prestigious profession.

    Sigh. That said, I’m a school teacher, and a dude, and I know I would make a terrible Leader of All Humanity. Also, I doubt that my relationship with the Admiral would be as compelling on TV, since we wouldn’t be attracted to each other and nobody would want to see us together.

    Oh well, I probably should lead the RTF anyway, since I’m a Cylon.

    One last thing: I remember a lot of disgust when people found out that Starbuck was going to be a woman…. some of my friends refused to watch it. These were the same friends that got angry when Dr. Crusher was left in charge of the Enterprise, because the entire senior staff was tied up in an away mission with Lohr and the new Borg. These were the same people that refused to accept Tina Fey on SNL’s Weekend Update, because women are not funny.

    No, these people are not my friends anymore, but I just wanted to point out that some people really need their entertainment to reflect their own mysogeny. But honestly, I would be surprised if any of those people are watching Battlestar Galactica.

    Starbuck as a dude? He was a clown, compared to Kara Thrace…

  42. Brian CC says:

    I always like seeing women and men in power together. But I don’t like it when Hollywood tries to create a “strong” female character by making her just a feminine version of a macho jerk (which is very socially acceptable as it usually is packaged with high sex appeal!).

    Battlestar Galactica doesn’t do this and it should be praised for presenting women as human and as flawed as men! Roslin came from a very different background than soldiers and executive politicians, but we have seen her adapt and progress as the leader of humanity. We have seen some of her glaring mistakes and her triumphs of strength…in other words we have seen her be human.

    And while we are it, I’d like to comment on the Sixes (especially Head Six). It is very unusual, I think, to see a ‘femme fatale’ type of character with so much depth. I am usually bored to tears with the vicious sexkitten type of role, but the Sixes are different. They seem to be the means to channel information to us about the backstory of the Cylons…and you just never know what they are going to say next! They are the most interesting, fascinating characters in the series.

    So, anyway, I love the way that women (and men too) are presented in BSG…varied, flawed and human.

  43. BoxytheBoxed says:

    holy shit anders and tori…music

  44. BoxytheBoxed says:

    cut corners yeah

  45. BoxytheBoxed says:

    there cylons thats being too odvious with the music

  46. BoxytheBoxed says:

    holy crap
    thats all i really can say

  47. Athenor says:

    … Methinks Boxy stumbled into the wrong discussion. =)

  48. Audra says:

    Wow, thank you ALL for your intelligent and thoughtful responses. I have been given so much to think about here.

    Frank – it does indeed to be a big can of worms! I’ve got to watch those late night muses. 😉

    John Patrick and Brian CC, I especially appreciate what you’ve said.

    JP – that’s funny- those are all some of my favorite actors/characters. I do admit, though, that I got nervous not when Crusher was left in charge of the Enterprise, but when *Deanna Troi* was left in charge. I always admired Crusher but didn’t see Troi as the type of leader I’d feel confident in- at least, not in the captain’s chair.

    Brian CC, well said! It’s exciting and refreshing to have so many varied female characters with strengths, weaknesses, flaws, and vulnerabilities that move beyond stereotypes.

  49. Starbuck78 says:

    Hello Everyone,

    Very good points all around. I just discovered this thread so forgive me if I repeat something someone else already said, but, this is my take on the situation:

    Adama is a military man. The world was going to heck in a handbag and so for him, to find out that the leader of his people was a schoolteacher probably got to him because the idea of someone WITHOUT military training ruling the roost in a time of war was unacceptable to him. I don’t think it had anything to do with the fact that ROSLIN is a woman because ADAMA has far too much love and respect for the women in his life. Starbuck and Boomer were daughters to him. I am sure if Roslin had been from a Military background it would have been different.
    The writers threw in an interesting dynamic, on purpose I think, because a Starship Captain and a Secretary of Education, who both grow respectively to ADMIRAL and PRESIDENT just shows that these two people grew WITH each other.
    Their relationship went from mutual respect to admiration to adoration and evidently into love. It is obvious that Adama loves Roslin, but Roslin’s feelings for Adama are more ambiguous I suppose because here is a dying woman who’s sole mission is to save mankind. Both of them are on that mission and they are purposely forgetting to save themselves.
    But to tell you the truth, I never saw anything sexist between the two of them and I see that the hesitation towards Roslin was always because she didnt have the kind of political/military background befitting the role of President of the colonies.
    Honestly, I believe that BSG is a very female-centric show. The women rule the universe on that show! Caprica Six, Starbuck, Sharon and of course Roslin…D’Anna saw the final five, Six initiated the attack, Sharon turned the entire fleet upside down (shooting Adama, and having a kid with a human), and Starbuck is the BEST pilot they have…ROSLIN is the PRESIDENT.
    I don’t see anything sexist about this show because it affirms the belief that women are essential to its core.

    I hope I didnt bore anyone. Thank you for letting me share.

    But I tell you what, she does her job and she does it well. She is not the schoolteacher and perhaps never was. There was a

  50. Starbuck64 says:

    I’ve read all the posts and first let me say that this is the most erudite BSG discussion thread I’ve run across and all the dialogue has been intelligent and respectful of differing views.

    I come from a military background and as a woman, I’ve experienced my fair share of sexism – blatant or inadvertant, because it is the nature of “our” universe. BSG is supposed to be a different world of twelve colonies, but the same biases creep in.

    Despite unisex heads, they revile the Sagittaron’s for their backwards religious beliefs. There are the Capricans and then the rest of the colonies – is this meant to be a parable for America and the rest of the world?

    In so far as the sexism displayed, I think it’s a function of “our” universe creeping in on BSG, not intentional. All the strong characters are women, cylon or human. EJO projects such character that he’d be strong if he was playing the part of a deckhand. But with the exception of Adama, the men on the show are sorta weak, if you ask me. The male archetype ended in the Adama line with the Admiral and it’s hard to imagine anyone finding such a narcissistic bastard like Baltar even remotely attractive. Anders, well, I though he had real potential, until I realized he was a Cylon. Tyrol too. Then there’s poor conflicted and totally FUBAR Tigh and Helo.

    On the contrary, I don’t think the evolving relationship between Roslin and Adama is meant to denegrate either’s position. I don’t think it’s (forgive the pun) watercooler talk either. I think it’s a bit of realism. You can not select whom you love or fall in love with. The challenge is how you let it affect you personally. Some handle it better than others. In the military we have regulations that prevent us from ever supervising a significant other, because like Bill Adama, some folks can not sacrifice those they love (Kara or Lee) nor stand to see those they care for suffer (Roslin’s distress on the witness stand in the end of Season 3). She bears the situation out better, making the right decision of a trial for Baltar even though both Zarek and Adama offer her a way out. I think this shows her strength rather than weakness and her obvious affection for Adama shows her humanity.

    For as in the words of EJO (Adama)… it’s not enough to live, one must have something to live for. If not love, then what…. And make no mistake, he loves her. One needs only to recall his conversation with Chief Tyrol about Boomer, when he tells the Chief….If you think you love her, then you love her. That’s what love is – thoughts.

    My burning question for all you intelligent folks is this: When Adama visits Sharon in the morgue and cries over her dead body, he asks “Why”? Then on Kobol when he encounters and tries to strangle Caprica Sharon, she responds….and you ask why? How did live Sharon know what Adama said to dead Sharon? What does that mean?

  51. BoxytheBoxed says:

    this is one of the coolest threads and notice how i posted like 5 times in this when i ment to post in crossroads part 2

  52. emilyyy says:

    i know i’m a little late into this conversation, but i find it quite interesting and hence would like to participate.

    first off, i’m sorry if this has already been mentioned (i haven’t thoroughly examined each posted, but have skimmed through most of it) so i’m not trying to plagarize if you’ve already pointed this out :)

    second, much of this discussion has been centered around whether or not Roslin has benefitted from her relationship (whether romantic or not) with the Admiral, and whether she should be using her femininity on him to swing things in her favour. i must say that as a fairly new BSG fan, my initial impression was that yes, Roslin might be benefitting from her relationship with Adama. however, upon first watching the series, it also seemed obvious to me that the Admiral has been defending Roslin and standing by her not because she has been using her “feminine wiles” but because he plainly and simply respects and is attracted to Roslin herself. i really do believe that Roslin is innocent so to speak in the whole situation, because i can’t think of a single instance where she has intentionally turned on the charm so as to get her way. i also think she feels the same way about the Admiral.

  53. emilyyy says:

    ahhh i pressed submit before i was done haha.

    anyway, to continue from where i left off, i feel that the whole nature of their relationship has nothing to do with gain or manipulation, and that they probably don’t even realize that they’ve formed a relationship at all because it is so natural to both of them. so if their relationship is something that has been developing progressively and neither one of them has an agenda in terms of using the other for their own reasons, then how can it even be criticized? i suppose one could argue that two people in such positions of power should keep themselves in check, but i really think that the two are oblivious of their connection that is so obvious to all of us. yes i’m sure that their aware of mutual attraction, and they’ve certainly come to depend on one another, but i honestly don’t think that they know that their dependency is out of the ordinary or inappropriate. to them, it’s all natural.

    i hope that makes sense :) and i just have to point out how impressed i am at how intellegent and articulate you BSG fans are. it’s nice to be a part of a well-rounded fandom.

  54. emilyyy says:

    and finally, i didn’t check what i wrote before posting, so please forgive the typos and grammatical errors 😛

  55. ARLC says:

    Darn. Wish I hadn’t come to this so late. But perhaps it helps me to fully intergrate my thoughts on the matter. In the beginning of BSG—from the miniseries through, Roslin was of the mentality that she and Adama were cut from separate cloths. She was the President irregardless of what Adama felt about the situation, and even though she was not prepared for the job, she honed her skills as a teacher to the best of her ability. She was essentially, willing to collaborate with the Military, but in no way was she going to allow the military to run her office. On the same token, Adama was feeling the same way. YEs, she was the President, and yes, she deserved his respect, but he be damned if she was going to run up on his military command. So, there was a chasm between the two of them from the mini, through to HOME. It was off and on, but in the midst of it, there were those moments when Roslin was a woman, and Adama was a man—and only then did they see beyond the veneers…the facades…the titles. When Lee told Roslin the pomp and sass was for her, despite the fact that the Admiral abhored that kinda crap, it was evident right then and there, the Admiral was showing her his mutual respect. In turn her eyes were opened, and in retrospect, RDM and DE set up the perfect collaboration, because firstly you have two actors who have enough chemistry to set the periodical table of elements on fire, and then secondly, you have these two role they play, BOTH leaders—both on a mission to save the human race at all costs. I mean, c’mon people…how can a strong COMRADERIE NOT GROW FROM THAT? So, in HOME part 2 we saw a culmination of the two of them at tug of war, coming to fruition, and in the end it was evident that Adama was willing to accept the path laid out before him which included Laura Roslin. So, went through the trials and tribulations of getting the fleet back together, establishing JOINT powers, and working toward getting to earth, and within all of that we saw Adama break down at Roslin’s side when he thought he would lose her. He realized he needed her. He realized he wanted her. And she realized he cared. It was some of the best stuff on tv to see those tears during RESURRECTION SHIP. And then, what did she do? She watched his back! She was willing to OFF Cain to protect Adama and the fleet. How many women do you know who are so selfless they would only think about everyone else, even while taking their last breaths? And then, most of all, she’s dying…she’s on her way out and she considers the implications of a hybrid being born and the cylons having the upperhand, and people start calling foul over her command to abort the hybrid. Sorry peeps, but she was right. She knew what would happen and she knew it was gonna be bad. And then Baltar came up with that cure and lo and behold, ADAMA didn’t even hesitate. HE wanted her to live. Even if it was against her will. SHe was ready to die, but he was not ready to lose her. So, she lived to preside another day, and she got more of a straighter, slicker sense of the power she had. She became an iron maiden so to speak. She wasn’t so vulnerable anymore. She saw the implications of her actions and to her credit she worked to be better, even if she had to keep her heart out of it. In the midst of that there was conflict…the election…NC…and then, the eventual return to the fleet and the onward push to Earth. For some lame reason, Roslin was shoved aside in season 3 so other, lesser defined characters could get a go at it. Well, that left much to be desired, because Roslin is still a mystery. No family. No children. Never married. And yet, here she is, the MOST powerful woman on the fleet…and she gets a few lines interspersed with crap about HELO/SHARON/TYROL/CALLY. Frackn unbelievable. But their was also her humanity shining through in season 3. SHe is a woman after all, and so beautiful, smiling Roslin was a sight to behold. And Adama had already fallen for her. Unfortunately, dude was throwing around this schtick about Responsibilities, which is all well and good, but when you are at the end of the world, looking for a new home and it seems that every day there are less and less of you, your sole responsibility should be to keep the ones you love near and to let them know what they mean to you, so maybe in Season 4 both Adama and Roslin will come around to that, because in the end, they are the heroes. Kara Thrace and Lee Adama, Helo and SHaron, The Chief and Cally…none of them go to bed at night thinking about how to save what’s left of humanity, and because of that they are free to love, frack, drink…whatever…and yet some of them are refered to as heroes. Really? What about the two people who can’t sleep at night because ALL THEY EVER do is think about saving HUMANITY? What about the two people who WANT to LOVE, FRACK, DRINK and whatever…what about them? I think it is blatantly clear that when the fires quelled, the smoke clears and the mission is complete, the two people who deserve a happy ending; the two people who deserve a cabin on earth are Roslin and Adama, the real heroes of the fleet. So, whatever…the way I see it is this: It’s a love story people. It has robots and spaceships and what not, but even the cylons want the love. Adama and Roslin got the love.

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