This Star Trek parody created by Seth McFarland is only three episodes in and I was not expecting it to actually tackle serious subjects in the same way as Star Trek. I just thought it was going to be a typical parody.
That said, I don't think this series handled it very well. In Star Trek when they had an episode dealing with racism between an alien with black on the right and white on the left and another alien from the same species who was white on the right and black on the left the episode very clearly made a blatant reference to the same thing happening on Earth thousands of years ago. In that episode it's said as something from the past that humans no longer tolerate. They used obvious parallels between what was happening in the episode to comment on the issues of the time.
The third episode of the Orville deals with an alien race who is entirely male. It's said that a female is born about once every 75 years and being female is viewed as a genetic deformity. The entire episode revolves around the argument of if the child should get corrective surgery to be like every other member of her species or to be raised as the only female on a planet of entirely men.
Now here's where I feel they didn't handle the topic very well. The episode kind of hurts it's own argument for three reasons.
1. Even though they're a single gendered race and we're a binary gendered race there is still a clear comparison to make with our society that is never brought up.
There is a rare condition in humans where a child is born with both male and female genitals. Much like the aliens in this episode when such a child is born we would normally perform corrective surgery on the infant to make them one or the other. The parents basically get to choose for their child what gender they're going to be for the rest of their life. It's the same thing, the norm is for a child to be born as male or female not both so when a child is born as both they're forced into corrective surgery which is barbaric. For this alien species the norm is for every child to be born male so to see a female for them is the same as seeing someone with both genders for us.
The episode never makes this comparison. Even though they're trying to make a statement about such things being done to an infant it's never referenced. Most people still only think that everyone is either male or female. People who are both are hidden and shunned from our society in the same way women are for their species. I think without a direct reference to that comparison most people are going to misinterpret the message of this episode to be about sexism against women rather than sexism against intersex people. They hammered in the idea that this species just hates women but not really the idea that women are as rare for them as intersex are for us.
2. The whole idea of the episode was to show that performing an unnecessary surgery on an infant is unethical which I think we can all agree with. The problem is that at one point in the episode they reference another unnecessary surgery performed on infants and actually defend it as if it were completely different. It's not ANY unnecessary surgery regardless of what it is should be illegal without the consent of the person being operated on. If you want it done as an adult that's your business, but to force your views of what the body should look like on an infant, that is unethical.
Of course the reference I'm referring to is circumcision. The doctor who is a woman I might add, objects to performing an unnecessary surgery on a perfectly healthy girl but is totally OK with performing unnecessary surgery on a perfectly healthy boy. I wander, if the aliens were all women and the baby in question was born as the only male among them if she still would of refused the request for a sex change. I honestly feel like the only reason they defended this child's rights is because she was a girl. If the situation had been reversed would anyone care?
3. And this is the final point where the episode failed. Spoilers, in the end the girl does end up getting the sex change. I wanted her to stay a girl. I can't believe they actually went and gave an infant a sex change. I understand the point of episodes like this is to make the audience feel uncomfortable but they didn't need to end it that way. They could of made people feel uncomfortable and still had the more happy ending instead of this whole argument being an utter waist of time.
The thing is, the being uncomfortable comes from early on in the episode when you're unsure of the child's fate. Once you know the child's fate then it's no longer felling uncomfortable, it's just feeling angry because things didn't go the way I wanted them to. If she had been left alone I would of transitioned from uncomfortable to relief instead of from uncomfortable to anger.
I'd be more angry if she was a real child who had a real surgery. That's kind of a relief knowing she's a fictional alien in a tv show but I am still kind of angry because stuff like that does actually happen to real people. Not exactly turning girls into boys but as I mentioned earlier, making intersex children into male or female or cutting off perfectly healthy foreskin for no reason other than "because society deems it normal" it's messed up, it's seriously messed up. Just leave people intact. I don't care if you're boy, girl, intersex or whatever, it's your body, your choice. Having that choice taken from you as an infant is the worst thing that could ever happen to a person.
Ni, peng, nee-wom! Ecky, ecky, ecky, pakang, zoom-ping! Baa weep grahna weep ninny bong!