Sci-fi was once the province of men, both as writers and creators, but also as avid consumers of the genre. With the notable exception of Mary Shelley (I’m sure someone will point out more) science fiction writers have been in possession of a penis and because of that sci-fi has been shaped by the male psyche.
Today that’s not so true. Girls do sci-fi too. This is partly because women’s attitudes have changed (in the same way that men now share some interests that would have been historically viewed as the province of women), but also because sci-fi now tries to cater for the other half of the world’s population.
In the beginning of course there was no Ripley taking on armour-plated, acid-blooded, ravenous aliens single-handed. Women as was too often the case were the victims to be protected and rescued when they fell into the hands of the bad-guys.
Even the bloody villains were blokes – and usually with some physical disfigurement. There you go yet another archaic stereotype “he looks suspicious he has an eyepatch”.
Back to my point. Men were in charge and women, in the stories at least, loved it. Take James Tiberius Kirk. Hero of Starfleet he may have been, intrepid explorer and valiant defender of Earth but he was never an Adonis and his banter was less than sophisticated. Despite that women fell at his feet whenever the script writers felt they could get away with it.
Being male written you also get the male toys. Nice big spaceships, often phallic. Guns, lots of guns. Oh and bombs, missiles, the occasional dog fight in a damaged fighter on the corona of an exploding star. And don’t forget the big throbbing engines, LOL
I suppose the ultimate in male penis extensions in sci-fi was the light sabre. The bloody thing even gets an erection! Most of the time it’s in your belt and innocuous, but someone spills your pint of Tatooine lager – you whip it out and show him what happens when you switch it on to intimidate the offender. That sounded quite homo-erotic.
As always film and literature is a product of its time. The Outer Limits and Twilight Zone came out of the cold war, as did Star Trek and Star Wars. The political and social conditions prevailing at the time made them what they are, including their depiction of and attitude towards women.
Later sci-fi has been freer to explore other themes, more caring and maybe more feminine storylines. That’s not to say that all girls decorate their spacecraft with hearts and flowers. If you have a Klingon girlfriend you could be in for some interesting nights in that don’t involve cuddling up next to the fire and could result in broken bones.
Female characters in sci-fi can now express their sexuality as they can the other aspects themselves and that makes them believable characters. The genre is richer for it.