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How Dana Scully Fought Government Conspiracies, Aliens, and Societal Gender Norms

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

It’s no secret that throughout the entire history of media and advertising, women have been subject to negative and often harmful portrayals. In advertising they’re objectified and sexualized in a way that can be detrimental to the young girls seeing these ads. And in other forms of media like TV shows, movies, and music women are often stereotyped as over emotional, irrational, vapid, self-centered and a plethora of other “feminine” characteristics with negative connotations. By combating all of these harmful and diminishing portrayals, the 1990’s tv series, The X-Files, became an iconic show, and Special Agent Dana Scully, an inspiration to girls everywhere.

Special Agent Dana Scully is a perfect representation of a smart, strong, confident women able to work right beside men, despite the sexism she may endure from them. She has a degree in physics, works as a forensic pathologist, and kicks ass as an FBI agent. On top of that, she’s not afraid to disagree, or go against the beliefs of all the men she is surrounded by in her job. Rather, she’s intelligent enough to form and calculate her own opinions, and strong enough to voice those opinions no matter the backlash from the men she works with.

Even more representative of a fight against gender norms is the juxtaposition between Scully and her partner in the X-Files, Special Agent Fox Mulder. Mulder is characterized as irrational and driven by his emotions. In other words, he displays all the “feminine” characteristics society usually condemns. Scully, on the other hand, is rational, level-headed, claiming in the first ever episode, “What I find fantastic is any notion that there are answers beyond the realm of science. The answers are there. You just have to know where to look.” She displays the “masculine” characteristics that we revere in society. But despite the discrepancies between the two, they’re able to work together enough to uncover some of the biggest government conspiracies known to man. Despite them not falling into traditional gender roles, they’re still able to do their jobs kicking ass and discovering the truth.

I started watching The X-Files when I was 8 years old, and it’s clear to me now just how much of a positive impact Scully had on me. This positive portrayal of a woman in power no doubt inspired not just me but hundreds of other girls. Whether it be joining STEM fields, the police force or FBI, or even just learning how to embrace traditionally “masculine” traits, Scully changed the status quo, and the show The X-Files proved just how powerful of an effect the media has on young girls.

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