Have you noticed how the supporting females roles in science fiction television and movies have been portrayed, especially over the last 60 years? I found myself wondering what was going on. Female characters like T’Pol in Star Trek: Enterprise, and Seven of Nine in Star Trek: Voyager were rendered as highly sexualized but with limited emotional range. T’Pol was a member of the famously emotionally controlled Vulcans, and Seven of Nine had her human emotions stripped away by the Borg. It seems that science fiction liked to portray females as nearly unattainable beauties with limited gender socialization.
This treatment, of female characters, has existed since the early days. In the movie Forbidden Planet (1956), the alluring Altaira is naive and inexperienced with gender relationships. She does not know what a kiss is, and must be taught by the male crew of the spaceship. Mission Stardust (1967), introduced the story of Perry Rhodan, a long-running science fiction series of books from Germany. Having sold approximately two billion copies of the books, in novella format, worldwide, it is the most successful science fiction book series ever written. In the book and movie, Thora is an advanced alien female who becomes the love interest for Perry Rhodan. She is, at first, cold and distant, with no thought of romantic connection to a primitive Earth being. Perry must show her what primitive relations are like. These type of portrayals continued over the following decades on TV and in movies.
I delayed writing my thoughts down about what I had noticed. I thought it was a social trait of the past, and less likely to be found in the future. But, 2016 saw the Suicide Squad movie, and Harley Quinn. She is shown at the beginning to be dressed in conservative clothing, with librarian glasses, and a hair bun. Afterwards, she will do anything, dressed as male fetish eye-candy, all for love of Joker. And don’t get me started on Enchantress! She shares a gorgeous model body with an innocent scientist, controlled by love. The Enchantress is controlled because her heart, is literally locked in a box. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) has a character Jadis, the White Witch who is beautiful, but is only evil and enslaves others. She turns people into statues in her palace of ice.
I think we have not seen the end of these alien ice princesses. We will see what happens with The Major’s role in Ghost in the Shell this year. I suspect a gorgeous cyborg woman will have similar traits to those I’ve discussed above. While I enjoyed all the shows I’ve mentioned, it is finally time to explore more rounded roles for females in science fiction, and we have to encourage the writers, directors, and producers to insist on them.