Major Kira is number 21 in Godard’s Letterboxes 100 women in SF.
Major Kira Nerys was born during the Cardassian occupation of her planet, Bajor. She grew up in a labour camp and was recruited into the resistance when she was 13 years old. After the Bajoran resistance chased the Cardassians off their world, Kira was given the important role of First Officer on the Federation Space Station, Deep Space Nine, from where the Federation hopes to guide Bajor’s entry into the United Federation of Planets.
From a feminist perspective, there are always problems with the representation of women in Star Trek due to the tendency towards a lot of unexamined sexism on the part of the writers. For example, no matter how tough and self-reliant a female character is, there will always be bizarre episodes in which she acts like a terrified little girl. Kira is no exception to this rule, but as Star Trek women go, she’s definitely one of the better representations and Nana Visitor is really great in the role.
Kira comes across as a complex, multifaceted character. She has a hot temper and a violent past which haunts her; she’s a professional soldier but also a deeply spiritual person; she’s extremely loyal to her people and her friends. She gets her heart broken more than once in the show — one of her lovers dies and another, the shape shifter Odo, decides to return to his people at the end of the series. But Kira never lets this affect her professional life. Over the course of the series, Kira develops a lot, dealing with her violent past, addressing her prejudices about the Cardassians and building strong friendships with the station’s federation crew. She is promoted to Colonel and eventually Commander. Overall, she is an interesting, well-rounded woman of science fiction.
Typical Kira quote: “I was thirteen when I joined the Resistance. Been hanging around the Shakaar base camp for a couple of weeks, you know, running errands, cleaning weapons, that kind of thing. And one night, they had an ambush planned and they were a man short, so I volunteered. But everyone thought I was too young, too small […] But it was… up to Shakaar and… he stared at me for a long time before he decided I was big enough to carry a phaser rifle after all. So we set the ambush up along the ridgeline, that night, and waited. I was so cold, my hands were shaking. I was so afraid that one of them would look at me and think that I was nervous, that I kept biting my fingers to keep the blood flowing. We must have waited there three or four hours before the skimmer appeared, set down right where Furel said it would. And when that hatch opened and the first Cardassian appeared, I just started firing. And I didn’t stop, until I’d discharged the entire power cell. When it was all over, I… I was so relieved that I hadn’t let anyone down, my head was giddy. Furel told me to stop grinning, that it made me look younger, but I couldn’t help it. I was one of them. I was in the Resistance.”