Caprica : Atomic Age :: Battlestar Galactica : The Present
If that analogy is true, then it makes sense that certain problems exist for the female characters on Caprica. And there are problems. Because while the show boasts homosexuality as a non-issue, women still seem to be secondary in that society, and not just among the Taurons, who seem to be the most traditional. However, when put into a historical context, it makes sense that we have to go through some inequality on Caprica before we get to the assertiveness and strength of the women on Battlestar half a century later. After all, we in the real world had to go through a Second World War where women were a majority of the work force only to be taken out of it when the war was over, and then await the arrival of the Women’s Lib movement in the decades that followed in order for women to have come as far as they have.
The problems facing the women on Caprica go back farther than the Atomic Age. They go back farther than Greek myth. I suppose we can start with Eve (of “Adam and…” fame). Her knowing stuff and telling Adam stuff and that causing them both to get in trouble with the Big Man Upstairs, because women aren’t supposed to know stuff. And if they DO know stuff, they’re certainly not supposed to tell anyone about it. (I’m looking at YOU, Zoe, holding the apple in the Caprica ad artwork!) The lesson? Women aren’t supposed to be listened to, otherwise bad things happen.
The Battlestar universe has made no bones about referencing Greek mythology. Like, a LOT. Let’s talk about a little lady named Cassandra. In Greek myth, Cassandra was the daughter of the king and queen of Troy. She was gorgeous, and would’ve totally given Helen a run for her money in the popularity department, were it not for Apollo hitting on her, giving her the power of prophecy to woo her, but when she wasn’t interested (or lost interest, depending on the version), he cursed her so that she’d be able to predict the future, but no one would believe her, and it made her kind of crazypants.
See, even in Greek myth, much like on Battlestar, Apollo was kind of a tool when it came to The Ladies.
But back to Caprica.
It seems that every woman on the show is a Cassandra; able to see what’s really going on, but seen as crazy or inept.
Granted, she is suffering from clinical depression, which causes her reactions to what she knows to be off-kilter. Still, her disproportionate reactions don’t change the fact that she discovers that her daughter was connected to the Soldiers of the One, as well as her husband’s involvement in stealing Tomas Vergis’ MCP chip and the killing of two Tauron men. Yet when she goes to any of the men, they either pat her on the head and tell her to rest, or they out and out tell her she’s crazy. And then there was that dude who tried to kill her because of her knowledge. Now that we know she’s alive after her suicide attempt, they seem to be pointing to her helping the police go after the STO. Are they playing her grief against her to use her to help maintain a male-dominant status quo? Only time will tell.
Here we have a woman who is a school headmistress by day, terrorist by night. Actually, she’s a terrorist during the day, too, using her school as a base of operations and her students as recruits for the STO. Not only that, but she’s a woman who’s married to several husbands. All the elements of power are there. And yet, she has to struggle with Barnabas challenging her authority. Up until “Unvanquished,” she’s had to struggle with a male voice of authority challenging her every idea. However, she’s now killed that voice, and is dealing with the Reverend Mother of the monotheist church on Gemenon. Caprica seems to be setting up a woman on woman fight for supremacy. Which is great! Except they’d be fighting for supremacy over a cult. They’d be fighting for the position of Head Crazy in this polytheistic society, which doesn’t speak well to the power allowed women in the Battlestar universe at this point in its history.
Up until now, everything Evelyn has done has been for Joseph Adama, both personally and in her role as his assistant. Clearly she loves him, and so she dotes on him blindly. She showed some spine when she went into V-world as Emanuelle to help Joseph find closure over Tamara’s death, but everything she’s done has been for the sole purpose of freeing him up emotionally so that she can have him. I mean, she got all flirty with him while examining the tattoo he got at his wife’s memorial service a mere month after her death, for Gods’ sake! The men in her life don’t know she’s a Cassandra, and yet that’s how she’s being presented to the viewer; as a bit obsessive about Joseph. We know that she will eventually marry Joseph, as she was mentioned on BSG as his wife, yet have yet to learn if she has a life away from him, or if her only motivation on the show is her desire to be with him.
She’s the most badass grandmother you’ve ever met. And yet when push comes to shove, she’s still treated like the annoying mother-in-law. Joseph ignores her many suggestions about how to handle his life, and Willie, the “Tauron way.” Meanwhile, even in her assertiveness, she seems to defer to Sam, whom she sees as a Tauron Man™. She seems like Lady Macbeth; ruthless, but unable, in this society, to really do anything about it, so she does her best to influence the men around her into taking action, with varying degrees of success. In scenes from coming episodes, it looks like she will continue to try and manipulate Joseph into taking action her way, but how much influence does she actually have?
The Zoe of the real world was a spoiled brat who rebelled against her parents the way most teenagers do. She adhered fiercely to a new and opposing ideology. She was a genius; one whose idea of creating an avatar was stolen by her father, who was supposed to be the scientist. However, the ideology she followed so fiercely was introduced to her by her boyfriend. Her decision to follow it was influenced by her relationship to her parents, particularly to her father and his work. Everything Real World Zoe did was a reaction to something outside of herself, and so she had no real agency. When she dies, the world sees her as having had mental or emotional problems, because she allied herself with a cult. However, in Avatar Zoe (and Deadwalker Zoe, and any other Zoes that may come along), she has the opportunity to start fresh; to begin life again in a new (albeit virtual) world, and to make her own decisions and form her own opinions. Yes, she still has Zoe’s memories, but she is her own entity with her own values, the love and approval of Daniel Graystone not being one of them anymore.
Lacy started the show not only as a demure girl in a Man’s World, but she also deferred to every other woman in her life. Her home life with her mother doesn’t seem to be the happiest, she doted on Zoe as well as on Zoe’s avatar, and as she uses her feminine wiles to manipulate Keon into helping her, Keon remains skeptical of her ability. And is she doing any of this for herself? In “Unvanquished,” she seemed to have grown up a bit, and become more assertive. Yet, we see that Barnabas still doesn’t trust her loyalty, Keon still feels the need to speak for her, and we don’t know what her ultimate motivations are. I’m the most curious about how this character will progress, and whether anyone will actually ever listen to her.
We know nothing about her except that she was Joseph’s daughter and that she was intelligent. Whereas Zoe and Lacy go against the grain in this society, Tamara is an example of exactly what all parents want their daughters to be. Do your homework, don’t cause too much fuss, be demure, draw flowers. Her reaction to becoming an avatar is much more reserved than Zoe’s. It will be interesting to see her interact with Avatar Zoe in V-World; like watching Sandy interact with Rizzo in Grease, but with guns and swords and without showtunes.
While Amanda is a doctor, she resigns from her job almost immediately, leaving her to be a grieving housewife popping Mother’s Little Helpers as she wallows in her grief. Daniel at least gets the luxury of burying himself in work. Caprica seems to be set in a world in which Graystone Industries would be Daniel’s company and not Amanda’s. She’s a doctor, but she’s a plastic surgeon—not a brain surgeon, or a general practitioner. She’s a doctor of the cosmetic, and we never actually get to see her have a job. Evelyn is Joseph’s secretary. Ruth is a housewife. Clarice has to kill one man and bodily threaten another for the privilege of getting to run the cult, while her day job is a stereotypically feminine one. The one female police detective we’ve met is the one who made the big mistake of letting Ben Stark go. The teenage girls have been, up until now, completely powerless. And we haven’t yet seen any female members of the Ha’la’tha.
The women on Caprica seem to be far behind their counterparts on Battlestar Galactica. However, Caprica seems to be mirroring the era of social change women in this country went through during the Atomic Age. And just as in our world, for the women on Caprica it’s taken huge world events and technological advancements to wake them up. I’m looking forward to watching them make the progress that will lead to a female President of the Colonies and a fighter pilot named Starbuck.
Teresa Jusino was born the same day Skylab fell. Coincidence? She doesn’t think so. She is a freelance writer in New York City who is a regular contributor to websites like ChinaShop Magazine, Pink Raygun, and Newsarama. In addition to her geeky online scribblings, she also writes prose fiction and screenplays. Teresa is the author of a chapbook of short stories called On the Ground Floor, and she is working on a webseries called The Pack, coming in 2011. She is also the last member of WilPower: The Official Wil Wheaton Fan Club. Get Twitterpated with Teresa, or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.