Rescue Special Ops is a new(ish) Australian drama that’s generally so boring that I can’t even be bothered complaining about it here. And it started out well, too, following the adventures of a rescue team that specialises in difficult extractions, like helicopters that have crashed into mountains and thrill-seekers trapped in storm-water drains that are about to flood. A friend of mine who volunteers for the NSW SAS said the first episode in particular was quite realistic, but after that, it settled into a series of fairly uninteresting rescues and soapy storylines about the various characters’ love-lives. And believe me, I wanted to like it. Of a main cast of seven, three are women, one of whom is in a management position who seems pretty competent, and the other two do a lot of running around saving people. It was just so…bloody…boring.
But something that made me think was a recent (season 2) episode. Female lead Lara (Gigi Edgley) has just gotten married to fiancee Hamish (Wil Traval – seriously the only reason I stuck it out for a whole season). We’re not supposed to like Hamish, see, ‘cos he got done for DUI – seriously not a smart move when your fiancee scrapes a lot of people off roadsides for doing just that – and because Traval appeared briefly in four of eleven season one episodes, but mostly because she has some serious chemistry with male lead Dean Gallagher (Les Hill). Or at least she’s supposed to, according to fanboards and fanfiction. I didn’t see it myself, but then, I hate it when writers use someone being married as an obstacle for a One True Paring (Alias, I’m looking at you).
Anyway, Lara and Hamish marry at the end of season one, and for the first four episodes was only referred to off-screen. In the fifth, he confronts Lara about the fact she’s still using birth control, calling her on the fact the reason they got married was because they agreed they wanted children straight away. She admits she only went along with it to make him happy, and that she had wanted more time for it to be just them. The episodes ends with him going to Queensland. (Least it wasn’t Perth.)
Thing is, I could sympathise with Hamish. I thought Lara was an idiot for lying about something as big as that. But it made me think: how much pressure are women under to have children, or at least want to have. Think of the situation in reversed; man wants to get married, but doesn’t want children straight away, but knows the only way his girlfriend will agree to get married is if he says he does… while meanwhile he goes on using contraception and keeping her in the dark. Setting aside the fact it’s a whole lot easier to hide the birth control pills than the condoms, the idea that a man isn’t free to be upfront about wanting children or not, and in what time frame, is ridiculous; and yet I can think of at least four storylines where women have lied about being on contraception when they haven’t been, or vice versa, because they felt they couldn’t tell their husbands they didn’t want children when they had said they did, or vice versa.
On an obvious level, I felt for Hamish. It sucks being lied to over something so big. But I also felt for Lara, that she felt she had no other options other than to lie to Hamish. I’m sure there are millions of women out there in that position; it’s simply not done to admit you don’t want kids right that very second, let alone not at all. It’s part of what I liked about Sex and the City 2; Carrrie and Big had no interest in children, and that was totally cool. But in that sense Carrie was lucky that she had a husband who agreed with her, let alone respected that it was her choice. A lot of women don’t have that luxury. And that’s something I would like to see fleshed out when TV and film portrays storylines like this, that a lot of women don’t feel they can tell their partners ‘I don’t want kids right now/ever’ rather than being portrayed as secretive and manipulative. If we can’t get past this mentality of ‘all women are born mothers/nurturers, and if you’re not, there’s something wrong with you’, then exactly how far can we go as feminists?