Gender Relations of the Future? Stuck in the Past

As depicted by TV writers of today — specifically, on Battlestar Galactica.

I’m always a late adopter of popular culture, waiting to let others sort out what’s worth paying attention to: in this case, Battlestar Galactica. With the start of the new season, enough reviewers said this is one of the best dramas (of any sort) on television to get my attention; plus they did a special “The Story So Far” for people like me. So I’ve watched that plus the first regular episode of this season. And what struck me was the gender issues.

I’m sure this gets discussed a lot among BG fans, but I’m coming to it anew, untouched by the discussion. And the presentation of gender relations was both refreshing and annoying. Refreshing because women were fighter (Viper) pilots. (I haven’t followed it enough to know what to think of the female ex-president.) Annoying because:

  • the Resistance seems to be entirely male. At least the leadership we see is.
  • Kara was expected to — and seemed to be shown to — “instinctively” recognize her “daughter,” the child conceived using her ovaries, without her knowledge or participation. (Do they expect men to “instinctively” recognize the children conceived from their donor sperm?)
  • Most of all, the language! After we’ve seen a group of almost-all-female viper pilots training, Commander Adama tells Captain (or whatever he is now) Adama, his son, that his “men” aren’t ready for battle yet. And when someone wants a woman officer’s attention, he calls her “Sir.” Surely it would have been as easy to say something about his “people” or “crew” or “flyers” or ANYTHING but “men.” And if they’ve come up with a new swear word (“frak”), surely they can solve the “sir” issue for addressing officers?

I just find it disappointing that a show that goes so far as to show women in most of the roles traditionally associated with men STILL makes such silly decisions. I’m sure the language issues were debated by the writers (how could they NOT debate about calling all those female viper pilots “men”?) and these were the choices they made. Don’t tell me “men” really means “people,” or will in the future, not until a mixed group is just as easily called “women.”

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One response to “Gender Relations of the Future? Stuck in the Past

  1. Hi-
    I’m currently teaching a course on this topic, with the blog, as the main format for info dissemination.

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