I want to continue with my series about the female characters of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (see the previous article, “Jadzia’s Gender,” here) without too much of a gap between articles, but, of course, I’ve been insanely busy for the last few weeks, and haven’t had any time to do the prep work for another article, much less write one.
So I’m gonna cheat a little bit, and write about Leeta (played by Chase Masterson). This is easy, because while I think Leeta is great (there are not many DS9 characters that I wouldn’t describe as great, really), she does get a lot less screen time than most of the other female characters, and what I want to say about her is comparatively easy to express. It goes a little something like this:
Leeta is sexy. She is played by a lovely actress, she is usually dressed in low-cut and/or tight-fitting costumes, and her job is linked to her sexuality – she’s a dabo girl at Quark’s. Leeta is also sexual. In her first appearance on the show (in the third season episode “Explorers”), she flirts quite openly with Dr. Julian Bashir, whom she later dates. The two eventually break up, without acrimony, on Risa, where Leeta is shown enjoying a sensual encounter with another man (“Let He Who is Without Sin”¦” in season five).
Sexuality isn’t the only thing Leeta’s got going for her – she has a strong sense of justice (she becomes quite involved in the formation of the Guild of Restaurant and Casino Employees), she is friendly and seems to have many platonic relationships, and though she can be a bit flighty, she’s no dummy.
But her sexual energy is definitely one of her most marked traits. And even though that’s the case, Leeta winds up with one of the happiest endings on the show by the end of the series. She hasn’t had any traumatic injuries, and her emotional trauma is no worse than that which affects any other character (Leeta loses friends to violence, but so does everyone else on DS9). She’s fallen in love, had that love returned, and gotten married. She gets along well with her new husband’s family. And, in the second-to-last episode of the series, that husband is named Grand Nagus of the Ferengi Alliance. Leeta gets love, health, and a husband who is politically powerful (and, presumably, a comfortable living as well).
How many other sexy, sexual female characters can you think of on television that end up so well? The sexy woman is usually the victim, or at least the recipient of some shaming or punishment from other characters on the show. She needs to be taught a lesson, made to pay, reformed, exposed as the slut she is – or else her sexiness needs to be linked somehow to a violent death or assault, in the constant sexualization of violence that we consumers and producers of Western media are so invested in.
There certainly are other female characters who are as flirty and as sensual as Leeta, and who wind up with happy endings anyway – but not many. As a person who doesn’t believe that there’s anything wrong with healthy expressions of adult sexuality, I’ll take all the Leetas on TV that I can get.