Monday, March 18, 2013

Women in Star Trek

Time for a feminist-related Nerdy Ravings post!

Yes, I am a feminist. I think all women should be. This is a great topic for another post. Moving on.

As a feminist nerd, I tend to be attracted to nerdy things with strong female characters. And as a person who is highly interested male-female relations, I like to see how men and women get along when the woman is a strong female character.

Which leads me to Star Trek. Obviously.

Have you seen the original Star Trek series? Yeah.

I am actually least familiar with the original Star Trek. From what little experience I have, female characters tend to be sex objects of the ever-womanizing Captain Kirk. I am not a fan of his. And I certainly hope William Shatner was not taking himself seriously during the making of this series. I love Spock (who doesn't?). McCoy, Sulu, and Scotty are great fun.

And then there is Uhura. Who is sort of a side character, but is important to the crew in general. But that's about it. Sex object central for women in that series.

In the new movies, I still love Spock and hate Kirk. Go figure. And love Uhura. And love Uhura and Spock together (aww, the romantic soul inside me just laps that up!). In having to stick with the original series there are not a lot of strong females. Which is OK considering the context in which they have to work. I think Uhura is cool enough to stand on her own.

And we move to Star Trek Next Generation. A series I am a bit more familiar with.

Lots of good male characters here: Captain Picard, Commander Riker (who doesn't think that face is oh-so-handsome?), Data (who I just adore), La Forge, and Worf (another one I am fond of who has the worst luck ever).

Strong females? Sort of. Briefly we have Lieutenant Yar, but mostly Doctor Crusher and (arguably) Counselor Troi.

I tend to argue against Counselor Troi, myself. It's like they were trying to put a "strong" female on the bridge, but ended up with a rather stereotypical, all-understanding female thing. And has anyone noticed how sometimes her accent goes wonky? Where is the actress from? (Apparently England, but her parents were Greek so I guess that explains it). Anyway, I guess I appreciate the efforts of the Star Trek franchise to include a female...

I loved Lieutenant Yar. Besides being Chief of Security (get it girl!), I may have had a little crush on her! She was cute and tough. Awesome. I was so sad when she left.

Doctor Crusher, however, is a good start for strong females. She has had her share of bad experiences in the past, but is still a strong individual and a talented doctor. And a great single parent to boot. Good for her!

I also think an argument can be made for Guinan. I love her. She is so sure of herself. She would make a better Counselor than Troi to my mind.

And occasionally you have Ro Laren, who is more of an aggressor if you ask me. She's strong, but a little rough around the edges. As the series continues, I tend to like her more. And the episode where she, Guinan, Picard, and Keiko are turned into little kids? Priceless!

Finally, a couple of good female role-models for us female fans.

Lets move on to Star Trek Deep Space Nine.

I used to watch this and Voyager with my dad growing up, so I remember them best.

Again, good, strong male characters: Captain Sisko, Odo (whom I am rather fond of), and Worf and O'Brian from Next Generation. Quark is actually a favorite of mine. And then there's Doctor Bashir. I kind of can't stand him. He's probably the only doctor character in all of Star Trek that I don't like.

Females? Major Kira! And Jadzia Dax! So not too many females, but these are good ones! Kira is second in command to Sisko--finally, a woman with more power in the male-dominant hierarchy! And Jadzia Dax is just awesome. She has a lot of influence and knowledge, but is very strong, confident, and independent, as well. And I liked her and Worf together. Again, that romantic part of me! Poor Worf. That part sucked. And I didn't like Ezri Dax much...

Now we're getting somewhere!

And lastly for Star Trek Voyager. The series I have the most experience with.

We have good men and women here: Ensign Kim, Leiutent B'Elanna Torres (one of my favorites and B'Elanna is a cool name!), Seven of Nine (who I have very mixed feelings about--sometimes I love her for her intellect, but I hate her for the fact that she is also there as a sex object), Chakotay and Tuvok (they're OK), and the Doctor (love him).

First time I get a leading lady: Captain Janeway.

This stems from an argument that Isaac and I had about Star Trek. Very important, I know.

He told me that Captain Janeway was a bitch. To which I responded that, no, she's a woman in power who doesn't speak like a stereotypical woman.

Have you ever read articles about how men and women talk to one another? And how women usually talk when they are in a position of power? Fascinating! As such, I have done a lot of reading in this area. If a woman is in power, there seem to be two different ways for her to communicate, especially with men who rank beneath her:

1. To talk in a more "feminized" fashion. By this I mean that she tries to be too nice. And women in this category constantly end sentences with a question. For example, "These products need to be over here so that they are with like products. That way customers can find them easier, you know?"  I worked under a woman who talked like this constantly. She was the assistant store manager and the general merchandise manager. She had the most power second only to the store manager. If you are one of these women, at best, men beneath you will just think you are lenient and nice, at worst, they won't take you seriously.

2. To talk in a more "masculine" fashion. If men talk to other men or even women, this is usually how it works and no one will notice anything. If a woman talks like this, she is usually called a bitch. And not just by Isaac.

So think about it. If you think Janeway is a bitch, why? What is different from the way she talks to her underlings? Doesn't Captain Picard talk to his underlings in the same way? Yes. But since she is a woman, she gets a bad reputation. She's not mean or nasty, she's in command. Just like the male captains. She never orders anyone abut needlessly, she's not catty. Go watch some more episodes if you don't believe me. She's not a bitch. She's a strong woman in power.

And good for her! I like Janeway. And if I have daughters, I would much rather they look up to Janeway than Troi. Janeway is very strong, independent, collected, and organized. She absolutely does not need men to do anything for her personally. And I admire that. And aspire to that.

Which is why I like Star Trek Voyager. I know not everyone does, but my feminist sensibilities crave it! Hooray for strong female characters!

And now we have been re-watching much of Voyager and Isaac told me he agrees with me now--he thinks he was picking up on her not speaking like most women and being in a position of power. Isaac is as much of a feminist as I am, but he doesn't always pick up on such subtleties. Now he knows and likes Janeway just fine. Time to view her as a person, not as a woman.

Thank you for reading this edition of Nerdy Ravings. Til next time!

No comments:

Post a Comment