In a relatively recent episode of the new Sci-fi comedy show ‘The Orville,’ titled ‘About a Girl’ an interesting discussion is raised about the issue of gender identity, sexual categorisation, social acceptance and cultural interference. In the episode the same-sex couple (aliens known as the Moclan, of which all are male) give birth to a female, an unusual but not unheard of situation. The Moclan believe that growing up as a female in an almost exclusively male society is the equivalent to experiencing a form of social disability or social isolation. Yes, already an incredibly confronting concept. However, the two fathers differ on what is to be done, with one wishing to have their girls sex organs altered to allow her to live a "normal" life as a male Moclan.
The mostly human-based crew of the space ship become involved in this debate, strongly arguing for the right to her original gender to be honoured. Arguments concerning genital mutilation, female rights, and nature versus nurture all arise. This episode comes to ahead when a trial is held to decide and a very rare female Moclan is found. She has been living up in a cave in the mountains, but is also the races’ most celebrated writer and philosopher. She argues for the right of the child to be allowed to remain a girl. However, the council ultimately rules in the favour of having her sex changed. A decision The Orville crew must accept as being a culturally acceptable choice.
Now, this discussion is not a new one, as often Sci-fi, and especially Space Operas, will use the alien race division to debate topics relevant to cultural and racial difference. However, an unusual choice by the writers is that unlike usual network shows, the alien race does not "come to its senses" and perceive the world from the human (privileged and thus better) viewpoint. Well, while I can respect this as a creative choice, and perhaps and interesting sociological choice, I can not help but be left with a bad taste in my mouth. Is this because I am so Westernised in my view I cannot accept that other culture’s have the right to their view? Is it as a feminist that this is too close to genital mutilation for me to stomach? Or have I become so used to the stereotypical television norm of "making it all better" that I find it difficult to reconcile my expectations of entertainment with real life?