I may have issues with what J.J. Abrams has done with the Star Trek franchise (sexism, ahoy!) but I love his brainchild, the five-season sci-fi series Fringe. It’s the kind of thinking-viewer’s show that makes me go into spasms of delight. It asks hard questions, it makes me think, and it gives rational explanations for its crazy science.
My reasons for loving it are multi faceted, but one of the primary things is its female characters – the tough but compassionate FBI agent Olivia, the sweet, brainy Astrid, and Nina, a formidable, often unethical CEO. Together, they taught me it’s okay to be emotional. It’s okay to be sensitive, and compassionate and… well, female. It doesn’t make you weak.
Why does that even matter to me?
I’m not your average girl. I’m too feminine to be a guy, and too prone to less emotion and logic to mesh well with most women. I lack most “female instincts” and “desires,” like wanting to have children or find a soul mate. (My reasons for considering marriage are purely practical!) That leaves me in limbo, since I don’t know where I fit in, or which traits to try and repress or bring out in myself. Men find me daunting; women find me un-relateable.
The female psyche naturally has more emotion (whether you argue it’s evolution or God, women are wired to be mothers), which means that even though I am a “rational decision-maker,” I have more emotion than I’m comfortable with. The inconsistencies in myself are not only apparent to me, but also frustrate me. Much of the time, I don’t “want” my emotions, since in my mind, they make me appear “weak” within my type. I don’t always want to be defined by my emotions, so I pretend to be less emotional than I am. And, it’s difficult to predict what will bother me and what won’t. It bothers me that I cry so much – out of compassion, previous experience, and frustration.
Thankfully, I have Fringe to remind me that emotions can be an asset! Olivia and Astrid are “Feelers” who use logic as their secondary function (they are both sensitive and kind, but each one is also capable of doing whatever is needed). Their decisions are fully rational, but each is still a compassionate, warm, and loving person.
I assumed my capacity for compassion was a “defect” but it’s not; it’s an asset. I can use it to better my world. I’m aware of the feelings of others and careful not to hurt them.
So thank you, J.J., for reminding me that being a strong, successful, rational woman doesn’t mean excluding all emotions.