As we were watching the episode “Scar” in our marathon-to-prepare-for-Season-3 the other night, it struck me that it’s really cool that the two “heavy hitters” amongGalactica’s Viper pilots are women, and that the central drama of the episode dealt with the power struggle between Starbuck and Kat. Of course, they’re under Lee’s (the CAG) command, but the storyline deals with two strong women who don’t succumb to lame stereotypes or somehow fall back out of the picture after they’ve had their moment of glory. And what else struck me is that I didn’t notice until deep into the episode – I think when Kat gave Starbuck a right hook – that I realized that this storyline could just as easily involve two men, and they’ve written it for women in a way that feels normal.
It’s no secret that women in sci-fi have traditionally been neitherthe writers nor the primary audience. So that has left them mainly as sci-fi characters in stories written by and for guys. As one would expect, sci-fi women haven’t always been the most -er, realistic of characters. But they seem to have gained a lot of ground in the last ten years or so, leaving behind roles that rely on weak damsel-in-distress or triple-breasted alien seductress stereotypes, and taking on more tough, intelligent, as well as feminine, roles.
I’d say that Starbuck is the best example of this. A role originally written for a cigar-chomping, grinning, cocky, skirt-chasing guy gets reimagined as a cigar-chomping, grinning, cocky, trouser-chasing (?) chick. She’s tough, smart, and the best pilot in the fleet. She kicks ass. She has one-night stands sometimes and relationships at others. She’s attractive and feminine, complicated, flawed, and vulnerable. A real person – not a caricature.
This goes for the other ladies in the show, too: Roslin, Dee, Sharon, Six. It’s true the women in the show are all amazing-looking, which is, again,nothing new in sci-fi. But, in this series, so are most of the guys – Lee, Helo, Anders, Billy, even Baltar, in his strange way – and that’s a fresh look at the universe for a series that’s already provingits ability to pick up plenty of chicks.Â