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.