I finished watching Battlestar Galactica 4.0 a couple days ago. (I’m not watching the current broadcast, I really only see it on dvd.) And I have to say — this is my feminism. This is my humanism.
The world of BSG seems to be more-or-less evenly populated by men and women. In crowd scenes we have a mix, unless there’s a narrative reason to the contrary. The jobs in the show are performed by men and women both — dangerous, military, political, menial, privileged. Men and women seem to share childcare, except when the show specifically states that there is a religious or cultural influence towards one sex or another.
Men and women of all ages are shown on the screen. There is even a diversity of ages in the lead cast and recurring guests. Women and men both are allowed to be old on the show, despite the show’s easy-out — being set largely on a warship, the show’s producers could make the excuse that the cast is young because military persons are young. But that’s not what happened.
Male and female characters on BSG get to be sexy. They get to be neurotic. They get to be confident, arrogant, hubristic and wrong. Characters on BSG make absolutely stupid decisions for reasons good, bad, impulsive, planned, rational and spiritual. The men are not all rational and the women all emotional. The women are not all scheming and the men all dupes. The men are not all stoic and the women hysterical.
In fact, for every trait which is often associated with a gender stereotype, I can think of a character on BSG that supports that type and one that counters it.
Since I was nineteen I have argued that actual sexual equality in media representation would mean that women were treated as normal — not special, not weird, not privileged, not vilified. That there be enough male and female characters for events happening to women not be Specially Significant because they happen to The Girl.
Women in BSG die. They also rule, they command, they triumph, they fuck everything up, they believe, they fall from grace, they give life, and they kill. Good. Good for them, and good for the show for doing that. This really is my kind of feminism.