It’s all about science fiction today with this guest post from the talented writer Natacha Guyot. You may remember her from a popular post called My Love of Spaceships. I’m happy to have her back to talk more about sci-fi, this time with an emphasis on two female characters whose names may sound familiar: Dana Scully and Elizabeth Shaw. The stage is all yours, Natacha!
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Today, I would like to give a closer look at two female characters who could not only survive their ordeal but turn their circumstances around in an empowered manner. These two are Dana Scully from the X-Files and Elizabeth Shaw from Prometheus.
Both are submitted to traumatic experiments against their will. Several events occur between seasons 2 to 5 of the X-Files. Dana Scully is abducted and has her reproductive material harvested, leading her to be pronounced infertile.
What was stolen from Scully was partially used to create a human and alien hybrid daughter, Emily, she briefly knows before the girl’s death. Scully was also implanted with a chip during her abduction whose removal causes cancer.
In Prometheus, Elizabeth Shaw was impregnated with alien genetic material, thus finding herself pregnant with a monstrous fetus, although she stated earlier in the movie that she couldn’t conceive children.
Following that, both Scully and Shaw must deal with what was done to them and reclaim their body and life. Now, Shaw’s arc is shorter because she was only featured in a single movie and the sequel to Prometheus, Alien: Covenant will only be released in 2017. Yet, she rejects being turned into a lab rat and fights her way to the high tech available medical pod aboard the ship her team traveled on. The pod was geared toward a male patient only and she must adjust to the possible commands to get the alien baby from her womb, as it grows extremely quickly.
She eventually succeeds and carries the trauma and medical lack of recovery as she goes on with the mission, eventually being the lone human survivor of the expedition. Her traumatic experience doesn’t deter her from her faith and her goal as a scientist to explore other worlds and uncover more about the alien civilization she is studying.
In the X-Files, Scully embraces the unknown when deciding to move forward with being implanted with another chip in hope to cure her mysterious cancer, which has positive results. It is in these dire times that she also reconnects with her Catholic faith. While her later pregnancy in the eighth season results in a child with special powers, her own DNA proves to be more than human at this point. In the 2016 revival, Scully’s unique DNA allows her to work on a vaccine to save mankind, thus showing her empowered by her difficult experience and owning the aftermaths that she went through.
I didn’t get the opportunity to work at length on a comparative work between these two female characters but I look forward to having such an opportunity, especially with how they not only are empowered survivors of women-target bio-terrorism but also Christian scientists.
How do you think that traumatic experiences can serve characters and not be simply cheap plot tools (especially when targeting women with social or reproductive violence)?
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About Natacha Guyot
Natacha Guyot is a French researcher, author, and public speaker.
After studying at Paris III Sorbonne Nouvelle and King’s College London, she relocated to Texas in summer 2016. There, she has embarked on a new academic journey: she started doctoral studies in Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas.
Her main fields of interest are Science fiction, Gender Studies, Children Media and Fan Studies. Besides her nonfiction work, she also writes Science Fiction and Fantasy stories. She is a feminist, nerd, Christian, cat lady, book dragon and Earl Grey drinker.
Her new Science Fiction novella, Dream Crusher, is recently launched in Kindle and paperback format in November 2016.