I was watching an episode of Stargate SG-1 over the weekend – one back when Sam was still self-sufficient instead of a walking bag of neediness. In my head, I was contrasting it with how she becomes later, constantly needing someone to prop her up and hold her while she sobs. And I was also thinking about the post I wrote the other day, on women relating to male leads. And an idea struck me:
What if Sam’s neediness doesn’t represent the writers’ warped idea of womanhood? What if she is a projection – conscious or unconscious – of a male writer? Think about it:
Sam is really super amazing perfect (the dialog keeps telling us this, lest we get confused by her loudly-speaking actions), and yet she wants nothing more at the end of a rough adventure than to fall into her commanding officer’s arms and sob. Does this sound like any woman you know? Me, neither.
But does it sound like any man you know?
The burden our society puts on men is crazy. While women were being “held down” by the notion that they shouldn’t go to school, get a job, do “men’s work”, or even like sports, men were being “held down” by the responsibility of paying upkeep on the entire family. If he couldn’t support his family or keep them from harm, he ceased to be a man, losing the respect of everyone around him. (As an aside, this is why feminism was never about women and what women wanted: it was about creating a balanced society in which every individual had the maximum amount of opportunities along with a healthy dose of responsibilities.)
After the end of a long, pressure-filled day of trying to be all things to all people – the perfect boss, the perfect subordinate, no food on your necktie, play golf, do something to put yourself ahead of the pack – I can imagine a man wanting nothing more than to come home to a loving wife and collapse into her arms in as dignified a manner as possible.
Maybe Sam doesn’t represent a fantasy of what women should be (yet another burden on men?) but a projection of what the writers feel they’re trying to be. Perhaps they’re even – consciously or unconsciously – trying to tell us what it’s going to be like if we ladies insist on doing “men’s work”. But I think it’s possible that at least some of the all-male writing staff relate to Sam above all other characters. I doubt they’re aware of it. I know I’m often surprised to realize how much of me is in some of my characters.
If anyone else thinks this theory holds water – I’m really not sure, that’s why I’m putting it out there – then maybe we should look at some other similarly deconstructed female characters and see if we can find similar patterns.