Disclaimer: this is a serious, analytical post. And what's worse, it has feminism in it. So if you're looking for my usual mad non-sense... “spin on! Spin on!”. Any joke found in this post is purely an accident. (including that one). When I started watching RD, bitter thoughts assailed me: you just can't make a show like this with women! You can't have a woman trim her toe-nails with her teeth like Lister! Such an act can generate income as a circus side-show, but not much else. And a woman like Rimmer? Forget about it! The first put-down she spoke would generate an insult about three letters shorter than “smeghead” -- from the audience! And that would be that. Which is why my jaw dropped open when I saw “Parallel Universe”. They did it! They bloody well did it! Not as a whole show, mind you, but the female Lister really was a female Lister (rather than a somewhat feminized version) and the female Rimmer was equally great with the attempted hypnosis and the outraged “on my sheets!” Holly, too, was great when he became a she. Although I did notice Holly stopped inventing things at this point... I would have liked to see the female Holly come up with daft inventions just like the male did. I'm not talking about strong leading-role women. Fiction today is full of strong women. Captain Janeway, all those ladies in Torchwood, etc. What we don't have, even today, is women with strong personalties. Here are all the women with strong personalties that I can think of: Female Lister and Rimmer Kochanski that mechanic lady from Firefly, Morticia Addams, Elvira (for those my age and younger.... Elvira had quite a sense of humor and joked about a lot). That's IT! There may be a few other women with strong personalties out there, but I haven't found any. And I'm not talking about “chic-lit” or movies that only girls watch but men just feel contempt for. The boss and main character in “Devil wears Prada” were both women with strong personalties... but only girls watch that movie so they don't count for me. What's the use of an interesting woman in fiction if she has to cease to be interesting to get any man to watch/listen to her? When Kochanski was stuck with Lister in the ventilation shafts (always with the ventilation shafts large enough to crawl through! But anyway...) I was expecting relationship smeg, if not outright snogging. Instead there was witty banter. Lister and Kochanski were actually joking about together!!! And Kochanski made me laugh! Sure it wasn't Lister and Rimmer, but still! It's not often a female character makes you laugh on TV. The reason for so few strong female personalties in fiction, is, I believe, the different standards women are held to. On one hand, a woman has to have better hygiene than Lister and much better social skills than Rimmer... on the other hand courage in a woman is a totally beside the point. While a courageous woman is now mostly acceptable, no woman is held to task for being cowardly. In fact, I think a little cowardice (by “little” I mean camera-time focused on it) on the part of a female character makes her more likable, rather than less, when there's a courageous man around. For that reason, too, you just can't have a female Rimmer as the main character! Now, I don't think women and men are exactly the same. I don't want to get into a discussion of their differences, but I will present an anecdote. I tried learning Karate a couple of times, but quit for varous reasons (none of which were my fault!!!). But I noticed an interesting phenomenon regarding the conversation I heard filtering out of the women's and men's locker rooms. The male locker room sounded like this: “I'm gonna beat you up.” and “No way, I'm gonna beat YOU up!” The female locker room also discussed the all-important topic of who was going to beat whom up. But the women's conversation sounded like this: “You're gonna beat ME up!”, “No way! You're way better than I am! You're gonna beat ME up!” Kochanski wasn't just like a man. Sure she was eye candy AND she was strong AND she was smart. Kochanski was all those annoying things that a female character HAS to be if she's gonna be more than just eye candy. (eye candy being absolutely mandatory for a female of course). But besides all that, she had a personality! The best bit was when Kochanski comes up with that brilliant way to catch the Simulants by flying away from them. It was then than I remembered, “wow, she really is a real officer!” And then Cat says: “wow, what a fluke!” Now, ain't that just like life?