So watching the new V as it is being shown on television in Australia. The biggest disappointment: it is kinda boring. However, its lack of excitement is not what I want to discuss here.
Amongst the various things that the old V and the new V have in common is the pregnancy of one of the female human characters to one of the Visitors. There is a very distinct difference in these pregnancies though. In both cases, the women were unaware that the person they were conceiving with was much more non-human than they thought. However in the old series, Robin knew that her sexual partner was an alien. In the current series (at this point), Valerie does not. In the old series Robin was deliberately impregnated as one of Diana’s science experiments, while in the current series it is accidental.
But the biggest difference to me is that Robin was given a choice. Robin knew that she was carrying a non-human baby and was allowed to chose whether to continue the pregnancy. When she chose to have an abortion, she was supported in that choice on the grounds that it was her body, even though the fetus didn’t think so and did not allow itself to be aborted.
In the current V Valerie is not given a choice. She does not know what her partner is, and she does not know what kind of baby she is carrying. Her partner, Ryan, conspires with a 5th column doctor to hide from Valerie what is happening to her own body, and she is shown someone else’s ultrasounds. When Ryan gets the phosphorus she needs to survive – despite having been told ominously by the V Chief Medical Officer that, after taking that there is “no going back” – he hides it in her tea. Valerie is systematically denied choice about her body and her pregnancy by the person who is supposed to care about her the most. And he is one of the good guys.
It is fascinating that at this time the writers have decided to take this approach to the depiction of the alien pregnancy. In 1983, the anti abortion movement in the US was starting to pick up its level of activism. And yet the series deliberately showed the exercise of pro choice values in the approach to the pregnancy. Wanting the pregnancy to continue for plot reasons was easy – make the fetus unkillable without killing the mother. So it is fascinating to me that the depiction in the current V is so aggressively anti choice, so absolutely disempowering to the woman involved.Abortions more regularly are discussed and occur in other series, so why not here, and why so unwilling to even examine the issue from a female viewpoint? Or did it just not occur to the writers what they were doing?
It should be noted that other films and television have dealt with the idea of abortion and the carrying of alien/mutant children such as The Fly. Understanding what you are carrying though does not mean it must or should be aborted due to its difference – Valerie could be willing to embrace this, particularly as her baby was conceived in love. My concern is that she is given now choice, even when the pregnancy could be potentially life threatening to her.
I’m now hoping that Ryan might get killed or turn out to be a double double agent or something, because I sure as hell can’t sympathise with him in any way. And I will be interested to see in what direction this storyline takes itself.