Just today, Emma Watson was called a “hypocrite” about her feminism because she chose to appear on the cover of Vanity Fair in a revealing (but tasteful) image. There seems to be a conception in popular culture that women must give up their sexuality to be a strong person who is a match for a man, and this trope is perpetuated by right wing traditionalists and second wave feminists both.
One of the most potent ways in which women have been subjugated in history is by means of controlling their sexuality. If feminism were about equality and opportunity, shouldn’t a woman’s sexual choices be celebrated?
Instead, we must make women into “ice princesses” before we’ll take them seriously. We still slut-shame in our culture, but now, we claim that women who choose to celebrate their sexuality can be neither strong, nor actually a feminist.
As this author points out, this trope has carried into modern science fiction and continues to be a staple. Women do not have to be one or the other. Perhaps it’s time we gave it a sharply-pointed stiletto boot.
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…
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