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100 sci fi women #52: Olivia Dunham

I feel a spate of television and film women coming on at the moment.

Olivia Dunham Fringe

I was going to write this myself, but then I found this on DogPossum’s blog, and it so neatly fit what I was going to say, I figured I would steal it instead:

“She’s a crack shot. She is really, really good with a gun.
She’s a good fighter. She wins most fights, and when she doesn’t win, it’s only because her opponent is, I dunno – a car or something.
She’s super clever and figures things out. There are lots of things to figure out in Fringe.
She’s a good explainer. Because she’s a good figure-er-outer, she often has to explain things to other characters. Usually her male partner Charlie, but also quite often her boss.
She listens and thinks and listens again. She’s not always flapping her lips, yapping. She’s listening.
She’s a good runner and jumper.
She’s very gentle and patient with Walter, who’s not only a habitual drug user (and abuser) but a mentally unwell older man who’s been quite seriously damaged by his time in an institution. She listens to him and pays attention to him; she doesn’t patronise him. She protects him when he needs it (and when he asks), but she is also willing to let him take care of himself.
She used to be a prosecutor in the military. She investigated and then prosecuted a middle aged white man who later became her boss. He was charged with sexually assaulting a number of women. When he became her boss, he sought revenge on her through systematic harassment. She didn’t take that crap; she kept on being a badass agent. She didn’t martyr herself; she called him on his bullshit. Her usual boss was this bad boss’s friend. At first he didn’t want to like Olivia because of this. Eventually he figured out Olivia was a gun, and that his friend was crap. Then he became a better boss. Olivia kept on being a gun, regardless.
She’s willing to tell bosses off if they need it. She’s also prepared to listen and to admit she was wrong.
She really likes her sister and her little niece.
She had good, solid, platonic relationships with her male coworkers. There is never even the intimation of sexual tension between her and (the awesome) Charlie. They are partners in the truest sense. He has a wife he loves and Olivia is busy being… Olivia.
She operates in an all-male world – the FBI (or is it CIA? Whatevs – some institution) – but she is aware of gender issues and articulates them. Most especially in her dealings with the bad boss. But she also makes comments about men in positions of power who can’t handle assertive women. She has one great line in the first season about how the men around her (especially her male boss) aren’t listening to her because she’s ‘getting emotional, just like a woman’. And then she says something, very sternly, about how she is getting emotional, because this is emotional stuff, and that this emotion is making her a better agent. Olivia is not only calling the men around her on their mysogynist bullshit, she’s also reworking the role of ‘great agent’ to incorporate a range of characteristics not traditionally located in the male arse.
And she is a fully sick agent.”

Dogpossum has more to say, and I recommend reading the post in its entirety.

I would also add that she is awesome because she takes risks even but they are calculated risks. And she opens her mind to things that are amazing, and continues to take them in her stride. Beyond season one we learn that she herself has powers and is central in and of herself, but this does not become a distraction from her going about her job in an awesome way.  She cares deeply about people but does not spend her whole time emoting. And when she is damaged and vulnerable, she is slowly coaxed into reaching out, to finding the help she needs.

Charlie: As hospitals go, not bad.
Olivia: Yeah, unless it’s run by an evil genius who is creating accidents to kill people.

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One response to “100 sci fi women #52: Olivia Dunham

  1. your firend ⋅

    I like very your film (agant dunham)

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