I was about fourteen years old when I started watching the X-Files for the first time. The show was already two seasons in and my family didn’t have cable, so we had to get a friend of the family to record the show on VHS and lend it to us each week. This was all before the age of on demand internet streaming, of course. During that time, I fell in love with the characters of Mulder and Scully and the overarching mysteries of the story. I even came to love the Smoking Man and his tragic loneliness. I found every book in our library on the show and deep read into the conspiracies once I did gain access to the internet in 1997.
The character of Dana Scully (portrayed by Gillian Anderson), was the first female character who I considered to be a role model. She was an independent, career driven woman. Although she made career choices that her family didn’t approve of, she still followed them. She didn’t come off as butch or tomboy, she managed to still stay feminine while keeping in male dominated professions (medical doctor and FBI agent). I think that if I had continued to follow her example instead of getting distracted by fluffy shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I might have been a bit more dedicated in my career.
When I left high school, I had no idea what I wanted. I thought about archaeology because it combined two things that I love, history and science. I ended up with a degree in history but by the end of my studies, my academic effort was less than subpar. I am not sure what happened to my passion to success, it might have been depression or possibly that I didn’t find that school what a challenge to me. It’s easy enough to regurgitate facts and figures for a test but I found that I wasn’t great at writing essays. I bet if I went back now, that would be a different story.
With the recent release of new seasons of the X-Files, I am watching the series from the beginning. Now that I am an adult and in the same age range of the characters in the show, I appreciate Dana Scully more than I did as a teenager. She is an intelligent, practical, and rational woman (except in regards to religion). She lets the facts dictate her understanding and findings. I think that because I look up to Scully so much, I have become more skeptical in my views on politics, religion, and science. It’s not that I buy into conspiracy theories but I do read every news story and research article with a grain of salt. It’s because I studied history and learned to question every document for both bias and motive. Between my training in sociology and history, I have learned to become skeptical about everything. I still want to believe (I had that poster on my wall for years) but I know that belief is not enough by itself and a certain amount of facts and figures is required before I can take any leaps of faith. But Like Scully, I have a spiritual belief that adhere to. I know that many of my belief cannot be completely supported by science but like Scully, I still have faith in them.
The strength in Dana Scully’s character lays not with her skepticism or her devotion to her partner, Fox Mulder, but in her feminist pragmatism. From her determination to not be overlooked simply because she’s a woman or her willful desire to do things herself, Scully is an inspiration to women who want to be seen as equal to their male counter parts. While Scully is a pretty woman, she’s not too pretty. Her beauty lies in her intelligence rather than in her appearance. She doesn’t play up her looks and in early episodes, she quite geeky looking. Later on, as fashion for professional women starts to look less Murphy Brown power suites and more clean cut famine business casual, Scully takes on almost a softer looks. It’s like she cares more about being comfortable rather than trying to keep up with the boys. Her shirts are never too revealing and her makeup is subtle.
Watching the show from the beginning, I realise now how much of an impact Scully had on my own feminist ideals and my choices as far as my indepence goes. I never wanted someone to look down on me simply because I am a woman. I never understood why men would think that just because they are men that it gave them a right to think of women as lesser or at the very least, less capable. When I am met with someone who does have this ideal, I get angry at them and my respect for them disappears. The same thing happens to me when I meet women who think that men are lesser. All and all, I just want everyone to be on the same playing field.
I made the choice a long time ago to put building any kind of a relationship second to my own passions. I left long term relationships when I felt like I was going to get trapped in it. I have even sabotaged perfectly good relationships because I didn’t want to end up married or with children. When I tried to change directions with this, I found that I didn’t actually want to be in a relationship with anyone and that I didn’t want to do the normally get married and have children path that so many other people take. I am perfectly okay with being single and driven to my own career.
It’s easy to let yourself become wrapped up in work and in daily routine; it’s harder to allow yourself to open up to the commitment of a relationship or to raising children. My last relationship said that I would be good as a mother but I don’t think I can commit to that at this point in my life. At thirty five, I want to be focused on myself and on my life. I barely give myself room to be with friends or family and when I do, I limit my time with both. The longest relationship I have been able to commit to, is the one I have with my dog, Dexter. His life is in my hands and I barely feel that I am responsible enough to handle that at times. I can’t even imagine taking on a child and raising it to adulthood at this point.
I haven’t finished the X-Files, so I don’t know what Scully’s fate is but from what I have seen of her, she remains true to her character and is still an inspiration to me and if I could be so lucky to live with such integrity and passion in my life, that maybe one day, I too will be some one’s role model.
~Clara D. Munro