Stargate SG-1 and the White Feminist

Stargate Emancipation Sam AngryThe other day, to avoid finishing the third season of True Blood, I started rewatching Stargate SG-1. Like many shows, the first season is really predictable, episodic, and cheesy. Despite that, I have fond memories of the Stargate franchise—it really grew as a show over the seasons, and the later episodes didn’t have the same problems that the ones in the first season had. This is a really good thing, since Season 1, despite being really fun and goofy, ended up having a lot of offensive material. Though Stargate SG-1 does really well talking about certain issues, such as slavery, the first season completely fails in others, like male rape.

However, it also set out to talk about women’s issues, specifically with the character Samantha Carter. And Sam is an amazing female character. Indeed, Stargate has a lot of well-written, well-developed female characters, but Sam was the first. And Season 1, Episode 3, “Emancipation”, sets out specifically to talk about oppression against women. Unfortunately, it does so in the worst way possible. Here is the Wikipedia summary for that episode:

SG-1 visits a planet inhabited by the Shavadai, a nomadic tribe descended from the Mongols. They regard women as property, and restrict their rights in the belief that to do otherwise would bring “demons” (the Goa’uld) down upon them. Carter ends up being ‘sold’, but when Carter beats a chieftain in hand-to-hand combat, the team changes the tribe’s opinions about the rights of women. Guest starring Soon-Tek Oh and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa.

Yeah, you can imagine the problems I had with it.

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