Tweet of the Day: Falling out with Flying
According to the progressive view of history, today is better than yesterday, and tomorrow will be better than today. So surely the role of women will expand as we move into the future specially in the military. But not too far, not like women will be fighting in the frontlines or anything any time soon, but they will inch ever closer.
Enter the Bridge Bunnies, a group of young women (no older than 30, although men are also allowed) who serve as background characters in a command position in a military sci-fi show (mostly anime). The reality is that these jobs were and are often filled by men, but if you want to appear to be both progressive without taking away the eye candy, this might be the trope for you.
There is another reason for using the trope that has little to do with sex. Warships operate in a series of watches, that is crews alternate their positions from rest periods to work periods. It is one the many reasons why you have different “alert” conditions. Keeping a crew on action or battle stations means that their watches will be 12 hours long, to ensure that all stations are manned at any moment. This will wear down a crew rather quickly. Instead crews have shorter watches and more duties per person than just their station watch. Junior ratings might be given some time to study for an upcoming technical exam (although they will have to study around their schedule), rest periods a bit more common, or they would be running some kind of drills, such as weapons, repair or firefighting drills (in modern warships all crew are trained in damage control/firefighting). That would mean that every time the captain goes to the bridge their might be different people on station doing different things.
And for consistency sake we just can’t have that. It is hard enough for the audience to keep track of a half a dozen characters or so, adding more one-shot characters thrown in just for the sake or verisimilitude is just a waste of time. Therefore a steady crew of background characters exists to fill in the roles of the bridge crew (or any area of the ship often visited by the main characters). Similar situation happens on TV. You could cast a dozen extras to shout that the shields are 40% or you could have a cute character in a mini-skirt say it on a weekly basis. This trope doesn’t preclude the existence of such extras but it cuts down on their use.