Thursday, 8 November 2018

Heroine Fix: Kira Nerys

I'm addicted to strong and intriguing female characters.  Heroine Fix is a monthly feature examining strong female characters that I admire and who influence my own writing.  Warning: this post will contain spoilers.

One of the great pleasures of parenting is getting to introduce your kids to the things that you enjoyed as a child.  (Though sometimes it's painful when your favourites haven't aged well.)  Over the last few years, I've been going through Star Trek: Deep Space Nine with my son and one of the things I've greatly enjoyed about reconnecting with the series is Nana Visitor's portrayal of Major Kira Nerys, a former freedom fighter who was part of the fight to drive the Cardassian occupiers off of the planet Bajor and who is now part of the official Bajoran government, trying to get used to diplomatic solutions rather than violent ones.

One of the challenges with early science fiction television is that the female characters often had very limited roles, as was parodied in Galaxy Quest where Sigourney Weaver's character merely repeated the computer.  Kira was unusual in that she wasn't presented as serene and patient, or sensual and seductive, or cool and competent.  She gets frustrated, loudly and frequently, expressing her irritation with politics and the stupidity of other people.  It's a refreshing role model, especially since the other characters accept her anger and don't diminish her as a person or as an effective leader.

Another part of the character that I found intriguing was her spirituality.  Religious and spiritual rituals don't have a big part of the Star Trek universe.  It's most often used as a plot point for a reveal that time travel or alternate dimensions or alien beings have been the source of some religious belief.  And in this case, Kira follows the teachings of the Prohpets, alien beings who exist beyond linear time in a wormhole.  But knowing that her gods have a physical form doesn't undo Kira's belief in their teachings or in the role they play in her culture and life.  She's not apologetic about her beliefs but she also doesn't push them on other people.  It was one of the few positive examples of spirituality in pop culture that I recall from my early years.

I also liked the fact that Kira had fought for her freedom.  These days, her stories about the Cardassian occupation strike a little closer to home.  She did something that I don't think many people would have the courage to do: work with the man personally responsible for many of the atrocities that occurred in her lifetime, Gul Dukat.  She doesn't ignore his actions.  Indeed, she throws them in his face at every opportunity, forcing him to acknowledge what he's done.  But she still does what is necessary, even when it puts her in an awkward situation.

She also doesn't shy away from acknowledging that she also did terrible things in pursuit of her planet's freedom: bombs, assassinations, and sabotage.  In season one, Kira is very quick to judge others.  She expresses her anger at collaborators, at the damage the Cardassians have done to the planet, and the need to work with the Federation.  As the series progresses, she learns that the situation isn't always as simple as it appears on the surface.  In the season 6 episode Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night, Kira travels back in time and discovers that her mother became one of the Cardassian comfort women.  At first, she assumes her mother must have been horribly forced and tries to protect her.  Then she discovers that her mother has accepted the role and Kira ruthlessly condemns her as a collaborator, selling out Bajor in exchange for her own full belly, helping a resistance cell to plant a bomb in her mother's quarters.  At the last minute, she discovers the real reason why her mother is choosing to stay as a comfort woman: her family.  By providing sexual favors, Kira's mother is able to give her children and husband a place with adequate food and away from the capricious whims of the Cardassians.  She may be a collaborator, but she's also a provider and a mother who cares desperately about her family.

That's the most valuable lesson that I took away from Major Kira.  That even when someone is quick-thinking and quick-acting, they can still be open to discovering the rest of the story.  That passion and compassion don't have to be opposite sides of the coin.  And that there is always room for a strong woman who isn't shy about expressing her opinions.

(Keep on reading for more information on next month's Heroine Fix and a special offer on my own books.)

If you want to read about my own impetuous and opinionated heroines, start with Revelations, now available for just 99 cents US (1.27 Cdn) on all platforms.

Or you can check out some other posts, like last month's Heroine Fix on Evey from V for VendettaOr last week's post on why The Crow is one of my favourite dark romances.  Or visit my Hidden Diamond page to discover new authors who write paranormal romance, romantic suspense and strong female characters.  October's feature is fellow Canadian Rosanna Leo.

Next month, I've decided to do my first holiday-themed Heroine Fix: Georgia Byrd from Last Holiday, played by Queen Latifah.  It's a story about how sometimes fear can hold us back and sometimes it can push us forward.  It's about seizing the day and how even those heroines who are larger than life can get a happily ever after.  Join me on December 13th for your next Heroine Fix.

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