The lesser lauded women of Sci-Fi

There are some branches of Sci-Fi that have given us amazingly strong women.  That have shown us that women, as a species, can survive against all odds and that women can be strong leaders as well as followers.  If I asked you to name a few, you’d probably come up with names from what appears to be the regular list.  For example, Dana Scully, Samantha Carter, Kathryn Janeway, Laura Roslin.  I love these women I’ve just named and I love the actresses that play them, but there are often others who get overlooked, whether we mean to or not.  A conversation with a friend about which season of SGA to watch, earlier today has reminded me of that fact.  I suggested season 1.  She replied with ‘but it doesn’t have Carter in it’.  My answer, it has Weir, and she’s awesome.  It made me think about the female characters I admire in shows that often appear to be overlooked because of an actor or character who is thrown into the spotlight.

Dr Elizabeth Weir – Stargate SGA

Elizabeth Weir is a civilian leader of the expedition to Atlantis.  She is in charge of a group of people on an alien planet, working to make decisions not only for her own people but for the Athosians.  A race of human people encountered on a planet not far from Atlantis, one of whom, Teyla, becomes part of their team.  The Wraith attack on the Athosian planet is down to a member of Weir’s team activating a detection device that is in Teyla’s necklace.  Going against the feelings of everyone, and before the reason for the Wraith tracking her people is known, Weir makes the decision to question and quarantine the Athosians.  It doesn’t make her popular, but it takes strength to stick to your guns and apologise for making a wrong judgement.

It also takes strength to leave behind the man that you love.  And that is in effect what Weir does when leaving behind Earth in favour of leading the expedition.  She has effectively chosen career over love, although we see, as the expedition continues, a potential for romance with Shepherd.  Ultimately though, Weir sacrifices herself for the sake of her people.  Ultimately though, people are more interested when Carter, a well established character, takes over Atlantis in season 4.  Perhaps, if the decision had been made not to kill Weir off, things would have ended differently in regards to the perspective viewers have.  Sadly though, we’ll never know.

Teyla Emmagan – Stargate Atlantis

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve read a blog post about an episode of SGA and the concentration on Teyla is minimal.  Teyla was leader of her people when the SGA team encountered her.  She sacrificed being with her own people on the land of the planet that holds Atlantis so that she could continue to explore with the SGA team.  She is strong spirited, willing to sacrifice her own desires for the greater good and an amazing role model for her people.

Callandra (Cally) Tyrol – Battlestar Galactica (taken from my tumblr post on the character)

A young woman who was, like so many of those that serve in the armed forces, average, dedicated and hardworking.  She was the average person in the show.  An average person who showed that when placed under pressure she had a hero inside of her.

Like many average human beings she made her mistakes.  Her husband was not the father of her child, although he was led to believe so.  I believe that she wanted to believe with all her heart that he was.  She loved him with a love that most people will never have.  And when faced with the ultimate truth about her husband, it had to be difficult.  He was, after all, what she had been taught was the enemy.  She would have struggled with that, struggled to understand how she could love him, how he could fight alongside her, if he would betray them and was working to undo them, even though she had seen how much he had done for them.

She was human.  Human in the truest sense of the word.  Human because of her mistakes, her emotions, her choices.  She represented the average person in society.  She may not have held the political power of Roslin or the persuasive deceptiveness of the Cylon models, but her power was that of the average person.  She gave herself to her cause, to her child and to her husband and when faced with the truth it was all too much.  She tried to take her life and that of her baby out of sheer desperation and depression and was ultimately killed by one of the Final Five.  Perhaps she would have seen the error of her ways and stopped just in time, we will never know.

Cally represents so many of us in this world.  Those of us trying to get through, trying to cope with unimaginable stresses and strains.  We don’t always know what the right thing is but we try, and if we fail, we try again.  I think in the Battlestar Galactica hierarchy of women, Cally is often overlooked, as is the performance of Nicki Clyne who played her.

There are many more characters I could discuss, but I’ll leave it here for now.  I’ll revisit these characters and others in future posts.  Of that I am sure.  It is important to remember that it’s not just the better known characters who have the capabilities we see written into them.

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2 thoughts on “The lesser lauded women of Sci-Fi

    • scribblenubbin says:

      I agree with you there, and I think there are probably many more besides. As much as I was never particularly fond of her, I would add Ezri Dax as well. She was so conflicted because of the Dax symbiant and the memories it held but knowing she didn’t know the others. It was an interesting storyline at times.

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