Article on Women and Sci-Fi Misses the Mark – Again

A recent article -- on how Battlestar Galactica could save your marriage -- includes a commentary on why women love BSG by sometime-geek chick Martha Brockenbrough, a former contributor to Slate and the founder of the SPOGG, the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (which I totally respect). But I beg to differ with some of Martha's points on the issue of women and sci-fi. An excerpt:

There are other secondary characters in steady relationships, though, and this satisfies a woman's romantic sweet tooth. One of these might even be the most adorable love affair on TV, between Karl "Helo" Agathon and Sharon "Boomer" Valerii, even if only one of the partners is a human. Neither of them knew Sharon was a Cylon when they first fell for each other. Both were devastated when they found out, but Helo never wavered. And even though the humans abused her, Sharon also did what she could to help them survive. These two are heroes, dammit!

First, there's the stereotyping: a woman's "romantic sweet tooth"? Second, a strange sense of "adorable": I find Helo and Sharon attractive people, but their marriage is not "adorable." It's a strong relationship that's been forged through a lot of determination and trust. Third and most egregious, a lack of understanding of plot and character: "Neither of them knew Sharon was a Cylon when they first fell for each other." Wha-a? I suppose when Athena-to-be bedded Helo in the forest and then reported to Six and Doral afterward on the rooftop that "we had sex," it was a completely unconscious move on her part? And -- there's the small fact that Boomer isn't even the Sharon Helo married.

A female commentator who says women love BSG because it's romantic and who can't tell Cylon models apart or understand the basic elements of the story? I love ya, Martha, but you can't speak for geek girls until you've spent a few dozen hours with the DVDs and done your homework.

One of the fundamental (and best) qualities of a geek girl is that she knows her stuff. Being intellectual equals with geek guys is what makes geekdom so cool - it's not as comfortably nested in the old thinking that men should outsmart women and women should out-sexy men. (Well, at least not the first part.) Geek girls are allowed to make mistakes just like anyone -- but if you can't tell Sharons apart when there are only two to keep track of - you lose your geek card.

Update: Don't miss additional comments on this post in this GWC Forum thread.

14 Responses to "Article on Women and Sci-Fi Misses the Mark – Again"
  1. Mikey says:

    Sounds like she read a synopsis rather than actually watching it.

    I like BSG because it’s a good drama, that it is also SciFi just makes it better.

    — An over 40 geek-ette who refuses to read anything on Oprah’s list. I have never followed the accepted girly path yet and not even Oprah can make me.

  2. Anders Fan says:

    Bravo, Audra! You were right on the mark. It is hard enough to be a chick practicing geekdom without having our interest reduced to “satisfies a woman’s romantic sweet tooth” by someone who doesn’t bother to do enough research into her topic to figure out one of the main story plots of the series, i.e. Helo and Sharon’s relationship.

    I personally find the theory that women are attacted to the show mainly for the “soap” aspect to be completely insulting. God forbid that we have enough sense to get the complicated, abstract storylines. Maybe we should ask the writers to dumb things down a bit so we can keep up. Or maybe she should stick with correcting grammer and stay out of the serious business of me and my geekdom. *grammatical error intentional*

  3. missmuffet says:

    I totally agree Audra. I posted this very same article on the forum and griped about much the same thing.

  4. missmuffet says:

    OOps Audra just saw your response on the forum after I said this….. 🙂

  5. Babs says:

    Go Audra! Mastress Spanks-a-lot!

    I am so tired of the uninformed writing articles while claiming to be so, and revealing they don’t know craaap, and didn’t even do their homework, and flash ‘cred’ they don’t possess, and ARGH!

    Women undermining women adds insult to injury.

    It’s hard enough to be a geek chick. We don’t need her ‘help’!

    She should just go taser herself.

    Or maybe just watch the show.

  6. Hybrid Master says:

    Oh for godsake, this just makes us ALL look bad! The romantic sweet tooth bit is as bad as the “geek guys don’t get laid” stereotype. I LOVE watching vipers blow up! There are so many great and thoughtful writers out there who can’t get published, and this craaaap continues to get out there, the same thing, over and over again. What a void BSG is going to leave….

  7. Gryper says:

    What the Frak! This geek chick is not watching for the romance in the story lines. I’m in it for the viper action! And the all the other ships, Colonial or Clyon. They could airlock all the romance plot lines and I’ll still be there watching each week.

    Martha need to stick with correcting grammar or at least or at least watch the DVD to get the story right before writing an article about it.

  8. klcthebookworm says:

    Well said. Well said indeed.

    I like robots that can’t aim. I like explosions. I like characters that are real people, reacting like real people, and not just puppets for a plot.

    And sheesh, Martha could’ve just watched the “What the Frak is Going on” trailer at SciFi.com for homework. That made it pretty damn clear which Sharon is which. Also very funny, I had to explain to my coworkers why I was cracking up in my cubicle.

  9. Sean says:

    OOOOH! Sick burn Miss Audra, high five! Revoked Geekness, I think I’d rather lose my hair than my geek card. 😉

  10. Knit_Knit_Knit says:

    Awesome post! I am sick to death of people thinking I must be into RomCom’s and other assorted schlock just because I am female. Give me some action and a great storyline any day!

  11. legion says:

    Yeaah! Audra For The Win!

    The Battlestar Galactica Phenomenon, a recent clip show interlaced with celebrity’s declaring their geek-love (youtubed!), and there was a section where they were all like “Women! FYI: There are *Relationships* in BSG -pleezee watch!”. Isn’t there other ways to encourage female viewership? I *loves* the BSG relationships too (Helo & Athena *hearts* Tigh & Ellen *w00t* Baltar & His own ego *hehe* Quadrangle? meh.) and yet there are many other things about BSG that I find appealing.

    But, I’m a guy, so maybe I don’t know nothing ’bout marketing a show to women. And whatever gets viewers interested in the great and holy Galactica is okay by me. I guess it’s just the stereotype that bugs me. My wife loves the show, and we chat about the relationships too (mainly whether the writers need to “go there” with Kara & Lee), but we spend far more time talking about the politics, the cylon theories, the nature of baltar, and also the cylon theories.

  12. exoduscrusade says:

    well said, especially liked your use of the word “egregious” definetly an SAT word to remember. though i dont think i’m as put off by her comments as you are, it’s pretty obvious that she doesnt know too much about the show beyond a casual familiarity, but we were all confused once. heck i still am most of the time when it comes to BSG.

  13. Jaz says:

    Here, here Audra! I thought that article totally excluded women scifi geeks altogether. Well said! 🙂

  14. nawacattjer says:

    The good resource should be brought in bookmarks

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