Tuesday, February 26, 2008

In the Future, All Women Will Be Hotter

by Dayle A. Dermatis and Teresa Noelle Roberts (aka Sophie Mouette)

Dayle: Last week we talked about how in the future, it seems, all men will be hotter—at least, according to science fiction movies and TV. But it’s not just the men…check out all those hot women in formfitting futuristic outfits, carrying ray guns they know damn well how to use! They often get to be the captains, the leaders, the rebels, the ones in charge of not only themselves and their own destinies, but of spaceships, armies, and even planets.

Science fiction has always been a place for women to shine—it’s long been a venue for writers to explore strong women, women’s equality, etc. Future women were often in jobs far beyond what a current woman could reasonably expect. Uhura in the original Star Trek series may have not had a lot to do other than say “They’re hailing us,” but she was on the bridge, and that was a big step back then (not to mention she was black—but that’s another topic of discussion entirely).

I remember being impressed by—and kind of wanting to be—Princess Leia when I saw the first Star Wars as a wee lass. She was beautiful, powerful, strong, got to wield a gun (quite capably, I might add), and she had the most wonderful ability for wit and sarcasm even in the direst of moments.

To me, that was a lot sexier than the stupid bronze bikini and being chained to a giant slug. Chains, yes. Giant slugs…ew!

Teresa: It’s not that other genres don’t have strong women who can handle themselves in a dangerous situation. But often, these characters face conflicts that grow of out being a woman in a male-dominated field. The tough women of science fiction have their own set of clichés (among other things, that they’re unusually beautiful!) but our heroines aren’t the only female officers/commanders/space pirates/rebels/whatever in their worlds—just the ones the story focuses on. It’s refreshing, and it can, in the hands of good script writers, allow them to become more complex characters.

Take one of my major SF female crushes, Commander Susan Ivanova from Babylon 5. She’s one of many female Earthforce officers, and no one on the series makes a big deal of her gender. She’s a sexual being (a bisexual being, even, although alas there aren’t any girl-kisses), and she looks good in her uniform, but that’s only part of what she is. She’s a loyal military officer who ends up rebelling against a corrupt government, a daughter with a complicated relationship with her parents, a Russian Jew with a strong ethnic identity in a future when ethnic identity is often downplayed, and a warrior capable of not just kicking butt, but delivering almost Biblical rants while she does.

Gotta give props to Babylon 5 as well for a character who breaks a lot of the science-fiction-woman cliches. Delenn, the Mimbari diplomat whose romance with a human shakes both cultures, isn’t stereotypically hot. Her bony head ridges, loose-fitting clothes, and serious, scholarly demeanor are about as far from Captain Kirk’s alien’s babes or even butt-kicking-but-conventionally-beautiful Ivanova as you can get. The viewer falls for her as gradually as her human partner does, drawn in by her character instead of her beauty…and much as I like beautiful women, that’s pretty cool.

But this was supposed to be about crushes, and I have so many of them! Firefly offers a rich field to choose from. Perky, curvy Kaylee and sultry philosopher/courtesan Inara are each appealing in their own way, and River, despite being underage, underweight, and spooky, moves like a goddess (especially in the fight scenes in Serenity).

But I harbor a weakness for Zoë. The combination of gun-blazing heroics, snarky common sense, and well-drawn relationships with her husband and her PTSD-ridden captain win me over. Okay, the bitchin’ body and tight leather clothes don’t hurt. And seductive criminal Saffron (or whatever her name really is) can dazzle me with her breasts and drug me with her lipstick anytime, thanks!

Claudia Black as Farscape’s renegade Peacekeeper Aeryn Sun is smoking. But I also liked Farscape’s roguish, gray-skinned Chiana.

Apparently I have a thing for heroic women with big guns and leather pants (or well-tailored uniforms) and an almost equal yen for bad girls, good heart optional. Which makes me wonder why I’ve been neither robbed blind nor dragged into the wrong kind of undercover operation by any of my past girlfriends.

And then there are a few crushes that my partner-in-future-lust shares with me and will cover below: Janeway and Starbuck!

Dayle: Definite agreement on Zoë; Gina Torres was gorgeous and scary on Angel, fabulous in her smaller role on Alias, and I’ve got Cleopatra 2525 in my Netflix queue even though I’m sure it will be appallingly bad. (I’ll watch appallingly bad for the right actors!)

More of my official SF women crushes:

Star Trek gave me some goods ones: Dax on Deep Space 9 (gimme that lesbian kiss, baybee!) and Janeway on Voyager (finally, a female captain! plus I’ve had a crush on Kate Mulgrew since I was a kid.) I even have a certain fondness for Counselor Troi, even if she had the worst lines on the show.

In hindsight, Maya on Space: 1999 was a crush of mine long before I understood about crushes on women.
Who doesn’t love the new Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica (not to mention President Roslin, Boomer, Number Six, Dualla, Admiral Cain, D’anna…I think I have to lie down now)? Tortured and possibly brought back from the dead, she may be the first crush I’ve ever had on a blonde woman. It must be her triceps.

::Teresa nods in agreement about President Roslin. Let’s hear it for smart, attractive, mature women!::

But speaking of both Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica, let’s talk actress Michelle Forbes. First she was the sexiest Bajoran ev-ar, then she was the sexiest dark and conflicted commander of the Pegasus. Yay!

Gwen on Torchwood. I think I love her especially much because if this were a US show, they never would have cast someone with a gap between her front teeth and thighs bigger than toothpicks—and those are two of the things that make Gwen gorgeous, along with that incredible thick, dark hair and her fantastic smile. Over on the Doctor Who side of things, I’m sorry, but Rose was just too goofy and annoying for me. But Miss Martha Jones! Smart, dedicated, loyal, quick-thinking, and a classy dresser to boot—and she helps save the world.

Any role played by Claudia Black. ::Teresa, her eyes glassy, is nodding in agreement and rummaging for her ray-gun-shaped vibrator.:: I mean, it just wasn’t worth watching Pitch Black after…oops, wait, that’s a spoiler. Ya’ll will spank me if I give away spoilers. ::pauses to consider that again::

You know, when it comes to women, I do have a type, but it’s not like my bad-boy crushes on men. No, I seem to like my womenfolk with dark hair and pale eyes and fierce intelligence and wit. I admit it: It’s more physical than anything else. I like girls, and I like hot sexy girls in leather.

What about you, faithful readers? What makes the women of the future hotter?


Janine Ashbless said...

Aeryn Sun! Starbuck! Ripley!
*feels faint*

And for those of us old enough and British enough to remember Blake's 7 (that's me and Madelynne) - wasn't Servalan the slinkiest villain ever?

Blake's 7 and Robin of Sherwood were the formative TV experiences of my childhood. And both had tragic endings. God, the trauma...

Janine Ashbless said...

Here's Servalan. Run everyone!

Portia Da Costa said...

Yeah, Janine, totally agree regarding Ripley! She's the ultimate future woman, the first one that came to mind when I read the title of the post.

Oh, and while we're on Aliens, Vasquez is pretty cool too.

And not exactly from the future, but sort of... Sarah Connor?

Janine Ashbless said...

Vasquez. And Hicks. Mmmmm. Now there's a seriously chunky sandwich to be in the middle of...

Madelynne Ellis said...

Servalan was pretty slinky!

Leatherdykeuk said...

Yes to all the above and I'll raise you Annalee Call (Winona Rider's android in Alien: Resurrection)

Savanna Kougar said...

Cleopatra 2525, I absolutely luved that show!!! Some of the best 30 minutes I ever spent on Saturdays.
Okay, who remembers Barbarella? Jane Fonda as the sex kitten space savior? Yep, she was my first. Who could ever forget her floating weightless in that bubble?
Captain Janeway is the best, absolutely amazing as a Star Trek captain.
And, Princess Leia, one of the best heroines ever in my book. She had it all, smarts, kick-the-empire-in-the-balls attitude, and she cared about her people. Not to mention the 'boys' hopped when she said jump.

Olivia Knight said...

As soon as you mentioned this topic, Aeryn Sun and Starbuck sprang into my mind. I don't know if I crush on them as I do men, it's more wanting to be them. What brilliant role models - after all, as I spend my days chasing aliens, it's good to see strong women in that position.
Aeryn Sun is particularly powerful, for me. There's no question that she's beautiful, but she doesn't always look perfect, rarely varnished, often dishevelled, and she kicks butt in a ba-a-a-ad way. Two key moments for me were...
Firstly, John Crichton, the newly arrived astronaut (for those who don't know the series: "I got sucked down a wormhole! I'm trapped on a space ship with alien beings and being chased by an insane military commander...") is trying to explain the concept of compassion to Aeryn.
Eventually, she nods, and says brusquely, "Yes, I know this feeling. I hate it."
Naturally she develops as a - well, not as a human being, obviously, but as a Sebacian across the series and regains a little more - no, not humanity, Sebacianity? - without ever losing her toughness. Most inspiring was watching her give birth in the middle of a massive battle, firing her gun between contractions, and then - after the actual birth, striding out with infant slung in one arm and gun blasting from the other.
And she never, ever, ever signifies being a woman with weakness. Ever. God, I want to be her...

TeresaNoelleRoberts said...

How did we forget Ripley? I spent most of the Aliens movies desperately torn between screwing my eyes closed (horror is NOT my genre) and desperately wanting to gawk at the amazing strength and blood-splattered beauty of Ripley.

I wanted to find an Aeryn baby-and-big-gun picture, but couldn't. I know one of my friends has a teeny version of it as an icon on LiveJournal but it's so small you can't see the baby.

And I think I need to add Blake's 7 to my Netflix list, if only because it seems to be laden with attractive, snarky people.

Can't say Barbarella was ever a crush, but I admit to a certain weakness for the evil queen. (Then again, by now you know I get weak in the knees for evil alphas.)

Olivia Knight said...

In fact, I think I'll spend the rest of the day channelling Aeryn Sun's spirit.

John Crichton: Well how do I know that I can trust you?
Aeryn Sun: You don't. That's just another thing you don't know.

Aeryn Sun: Who are you to order me around?
John Crichton: Order? I was offering a suggestion.
Aeryn Sun: Well, who are you to offer suggestions?

Aeryn talking to her unborn baby:
Aeryn Sun: Oh! Can you hear that? That's just the sound of a DRD.
[Moya groans]
Aeryn Sun: And that's the sound of our ship Moya under pressure. And this is the sound of an AKR maximum load ammo pack being chambered into a full grade full range pulse pistol.

Portia Da Costa said...

Yeah, I liked Call too!

Deanna Ashford said...

Speaking of Claudia Black I also loved the character Vala she plays in Stargate.

I thought it great that two main stars of Farscape transferred across to another sci-fi series and made new roles their own almost immediately.

Vala is just as feisty in her own way, but she's so different from Aeryn Sun. She is clever, devious and manipulative, and so unlike Aeryn, who as a Serbacian soldier appears almost unaware of her own feminity, while Vala blatantly uses it to her advantage.

Dayle A. Dermatis said...

Janine, Robin of Sherwood didn't have a tragic ending! Michael Praed always insisted he could come back: "After all, you didn't see any arrows sticking out of me, did you?"

Ripley! I think I forgot her because although she was an amazing character ("Get away from her, you bitch!") and I have immense respect for Sigourney Weaver as an actress and a person, I don't think I've had a crush on her.

Sarah Connor, on the other hand! Confession: For several years I carried a picture of a buffed-up, white-tank-topped Linda Hamilton in my Day Runner. I honestly thought it was to inspire me to work out. Slowly, though, it finally, truly dawned on me that it wasn't just because I wanted to be her....I wanted to do her!

TeresaNoelleRoberts said...

Slowly, though, it finally, truly dawned on me that it wasn't just because I wanted to be her....I wanted to do her!

And that is one of the many reasons why we love you.

Kate Pearce said...

Ripley-just amazing and so gender bending at the time.
I loved Hicks-I was so pissed at what happened to him after all that!

Janine, Servalan from Blakes 7 was scary- I don't remember the end of Robin of Sherwood, but that might be PTSD.

Also LOVED Captain Janeaway-so in charge, so sexy, so bossy...

Great post ladies!

Olivia's evil twin again said...

Aeryn Sun: I want to be her. I want to do her.

I think that has T-shirt potential, besides expressing a very deep truth about my psyche.

Olivia Knight said...

Evil twin: this head ain't big enough for the both of us...

Anyway, I'm channelling Aeryn Sun today!

Madeline Moore said...

Lovely post! I'm not a huge sci-fi gal and my big vote goes to Ripley.
I love Ripley. I even miss Ripley.
I forgive Ripley for Aliens (Alien 2)

I have to admit I haven't even laid eyes on most of the alpha fems mentioned in the post and in the comments. More 'homework' for Madeline. I also vote for Sarah Connor though - the new one is a hottie in a grim, grumpy sort of way.
Hey it ain't easy saving the world. Or saving the boy who will save the world. And it ain't easy being a mom!

Anne Tourney said...

I'll definitely cast another vote for Ripley. And thinking about the monstrous female alien she battled, I wonder if the next installment of this series should be "In the Future, All Monsters Will Be Hotter".

My personal favorite, though, is Dr. Beverly Crusher of Deep Space Nine. She had a quiet confidence and serene professional competence that may not scream "futuristic," but to me she always represented a uniquely feminine combination of intellect, poise, integrity, grace, and compassion. She was a doctor, a mother, and a knockout redhead who looked damn hot in a space-age jumpsuit!

Wonderful post, ladies -- I think you're both officially admitted now to the Pantheon of Future Hotties.

Dayle A. Dermatis said...

Dr. Crusher... You know, Gates McFadden is gorgeous (and I was never so happy as to have her and one of my fantasy crushes, Duncan Regehr, get it on in an ep of ST: TNG) and fabulous, but the problem was, my husband at the time had a crush on her. And while he and I could successfully have crushes on the same women, somehow this one wasn't something we comfortably shared. I went back and forth about including her. (Hell, I went back and forth about including Deanna Troi, but finally decided I'd rambled enough and to add more women would throw the post out of balance.)

As Ken says, "I just let you pick them. You have good taste!"

Dayle A. Dermatis said...

You know, maybe for our next trick, we should do "In Fantasy, All Men/Women Are Hotter"! It killed us not to be able to include folks from Buffy and Angel, among others. (And weren't we sort of pushing it with Torchwood? ::evil grin::)

Ro said...

Ahhhh Maya ... Sunday lunchtimes were always a pleasure when Space 1999 was on.

It was a really disillusioning experience to see her many years later on Bergerac ...

Thanks for the memory :)