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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old September 14 2013, 01:05 AM   #31
Christopher
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

^What's startling is that he misspelled his own mistress's name.
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Old September 14 2013, 01:14 AM   #32
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

"Honey, I can't even spell her name! Why would you think I was sleeping with her?" That would convince any suspicious wife.
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Old September 14 2013, 04:33 AM   #33
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Neither NBC no Desilu shot down the idea of a female second-in-command. Their reservations were that they resented GR casting his well known extramarital girlfriend and they didn't think Majel Barrett could carry the role.

But seeing Number One commanding in "The Cage" and then in "The Menagerie" establishes women could command in TOS. Also we got a woman in command of a Romulan Squadron, which was somewhat of a back door way of doing it.

I simply think they didn't think enough about it and no story outline seems to have pitched the idea during the series, or none that we know of so far.

Looking at the 79 episodes we did get there are a number of instances where they could have cast a woman in the role. Anyone of the Commodores, Admirals or other starship Captains we saw could have been written as a woman. But the story outlines weren't pitched that way so you can call the writers of the day sexist as well. And apparently no one on staff---neither Roddenberry, Coon, Fontana nor other---thought to pitch the idea in one of the stories either. From this it seems to be an unconscious omission.

Unless, of course, it comes to light the idea of a woman in command was pitched and someone shot it down. Otherwise the evidence within TOS is that Janice Lester was bitter as hell and a nutjob to boot so her opinion means squat.


Sara Shane, Jeane Bal or Lee Merriwether would have been preferable to Majel Barrett as Number One. I think there were any number of actresses around the time who could have pulled it off better particularly if NBC had bought the show based on "The Cage."

It should be said that if TOS had shown a woman as an Admiral for even just the one minute they were on the screen it would have huge---because it would have said she had had to go through all the ranks to get where she was. I keep thinking of Commodore Stone in first season's "Court Martial"---it established that not only was he (a black man) commanding a base, but that he'd also commanded starships.

And as was stated upthread we did see women in positions of authority in other fields.
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Old September 14 2013, 09:10 AM   #34
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
It should be said that if TOS had shown a woman as an Admiral for even just the one minute they were on the screen it would have huge---because it would have said she had had to go through all the ranks to get where she was.
You can become an admiral without commanding a ship.

Looking at the 79 episodes we did get there are a number of instances where they could have cast a woman in the role.
It would have been very interesting in Journey to Babel if Spock's mother had been the Vulcan ambassador, and his father the Human attending spouse. Leave the majority of the scripted dialog intact.

Would have had to of some changes in The Corbomite Maneuver's dialog.

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Old September 14 2013, 12:07 PM   #35
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

^^ Actually there is also the reference in WNMHGB to consider. The reference in TCM alone doesn't specifically say Spock's father was Vulcan. Spock said Balok reminded him of his father without specifying his father was Vulcan.

Yes, you can become an Admiral without commanding a ship, but if someone can be an Admiral with all its inherent responsibilities then it follows that someone else somewhere can command a ship. I'm saying seeing a woman as a Starfleet Captain or a Commodore or an Admiral would have been huge from a 1960s perspective and that would have carried forward after TOS went into syndication. Look how many women and others said they were excited and inspired by seeing Uhura and Sulu on the bridge and in positions of responsibility. If 1960s viewers had seen a woman of command rank on the show even as a guest character it likely would have made a significant impression.
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Old September 14 2013, 12:19 PM   #36
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

I tend to go with Kirk's assessment not Lester's: Starship captain is "a position she doesn't merit by temperament or training" not because she is a woman.
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Old September 14 2013, 12:46 PM   #37
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

BK613 wrote: View Post
I tend to go with Kirk's assessment not Lester's: Starship captain is "a position she doesn't merit by temperament or training" not because she is a woman.
Yeah, that pretty much says it there.
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Old September 14 2013, 05:25 PM   #38
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
Looking at the 79 episodes we did get there are a number of instances where they could have cast a woman in the role. Anyone of the Commodores, Admirals or other starship Captains we saw could have been written as a woman. But the story outlines weren't pitched that way so you can call the writers of the day sexist as well. And apparently no one on staff---neither Roddenberry, Coon, Fontana nor other---thought to pitch the idea in one of the stories either. From this it seems to be an unconscious omission.
I think it was more deeply rooted than that. Keep in mind that Anne Mulhall was the only female Starfleet officer we saw in TOS who held more than lieutenant's rank. Even Number One was a lieutenant. The glass ceiling was firmly in place and positioned pretty low.


Warped9 wrote: View Post
It follows that someone else somewhere can command a ship. I'm saying seeing a woman as a Starfleet Captain or a Commodore or an Admiral would have been huge from a 1960s perspective and that would have carried forward after TOS went into syndication. Look how many women and others said they were excited and inspired by seeing Uhura and Sulu on the bridge and in positions of responsibility. If 1960s viewers had seen a woman of command rank on the show even as a guest character it likely would have made a significant impression.
Baby steps. People have to be eased into such ideas incrementally. By 1960s standards, just having a woman on the bridge of a starship at all, even as a telephone operator or secretary delivering coffee, was huge and made a significant impression. That alone pushed them out of their comfort zone, but was still close enough to what they were used to seeing as women's roles that they could accept it. Seeing a woman as an admiral in charge of many starships and the fate of worlds would've been pushing it and been a lot harder for '60s audiences to believe in. That was a step that had to be saved for later, after audiences had been primed for it by seeing women in gradually increasing positions of authority.


BK613 wrote: View Post
I tend to go with Kirk's assessment not Lester's: Starship captain is "a position she doesn't merit by temperament or training" not because she is a woman.
We can read it that way today, but I'm pretty confident that the underlying assumption of the screenwriters was that she lacked the temperament because she was female -- that command just wasn't women's work. Luckily it's implicit enough that we can ignore it, but looking at it in the context of '60s attitudes, the undercurrent is clear.
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Old September 14 2013, 05:49 PM   #39
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

The fact that Roddenberry describes Lester as "hysterical" three different times in his treatment (at one point, he even calls her "female-hysterical") indicates something about his view of women, I think, at least at the time.
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Old September 14 2013, 06:54 PM   #40
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Christopher wrote: View Post
BK613 wrote: View Post
I tend to go with Kirk's assessment not Lester's: Starship captain is "a position she doesn't merit by temperament or training" not because she is a woman.
We can read it that way today, but I'm pretty confident that the underlying assumption of the screenwriters was that she lacked the temperament because she was female -- that command just wasn't women's work. Luckily it's implicit enough that we can ignore it, but looking at it in the context of '60s attitudes, the undercurrent is clear.
As long as I can remember I didn't interpret it that way. We had seen positive examples within the series that suggested women could rise higher in rank and unless it's actually spelled out otherwise I took it to mean they could achieve command rank.
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Old September 14 2013, 07:44 PM   #41
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
As long as I can remember I didn't interpret it that way. We had seen positive examples within the series that suggested women could rise higher in rank and unless it's actually spelled out otherwise I took it to mean they could achieve command rank.
But not all TOS episodes were written by the same people with the same sensibilities. Shows weren't staff-driven back then so they could represent a multiplicity of voices and attitudes, even with a producer like Roddenberry rewriting most of the scripts himself. For instance, Kirk was often less successful in his seductions in episodes written by women -- e.g. "By Any Other Name" (co-scripted by Fontana), wherein Kelinda is more amused by his seduction than overcome by it and ends up becoming the aggressor with her own preferred boy-toy Rojan, or "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" (by Jean Lisette Aroeste), where his attempt to seduce/distract Miranda bombed completely.

But Roddenberry was responsible for not only "Turnabout Intruder," but the story behind "Mudd's Women," an episode which implies that women have no prospects in life at all beyond being wives or sex objects (despite Uhura's token presence, the male crewmembers act as if they rarely see women on the ship, in keeping with decades of military and space-show cliches). And he co-wrote "Bread and Circuses," in which Kirk raises only a token objection to spending the night with a sex slave. Some TOS episodes are more sexist than others, but the very worst examples all seem to be in episodes with Roddenberry's name on them.

Which, really, is strange, considering how willing Roddenberry was to give Dorothy Fontana a prominent role in the show, a role that's no doubt largely responsible for the more positive portrayals of women we got. He also cowrote his Planet Earth pilot with Juanita Bartlett, which is a good thing, since I think her perspective helped the story dodge a lot of sexist pitfalls. I don't think Roddenberry was consciously sexist; I think he really believed he held a progressive view toward women and their equality. But he had a lot of strongly gendered attitudes and assumptions that I don't think he could entirely see past. Which isn't surprising for a man of his generation, living in that decade, so he can't really be blamed for it. He tried to be progressive, but he wasn't nearly as progressive as he probably believed he was.
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Old September 14 2013, 08:36 PM   #42
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

As far as I'm concerned TOS never spelled out that women couldn't command so I choose to accept that they could because it's not contradicted otherwise.

People holding contradictory views in terms of equality is nothing new and still exists today. And I know at least two individuals personally exactly like that.
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Old September 14 2013, 08:58 PM   #43
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
As far as I'm concerned TOS never spelled out that women couldn't command so I choose to accept that they could because it's not contradicted otherwise.
I don't see how Number One can be interpreted any other way. She was the second-in-command, and took actual command, therefore she was qualified in all respects, including gender, for command. What is the alternative, that a female second-in-command has to give way to the next-ranking male to fill in for the captain? That's ridiculous.

But as Christopher said, the show was not made by a single author, and different writers brought different interpretations which could dilute and even contradict other aspects of the production. But personally I give the example of Number One greater weight than other issues that may contradict it.
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Old September 14 2013, 09:39 PM   #44
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

J.T.B. wrote: View Post
Warped9 wrote: View Post
As far as I'm concerned TOS never spelled out that women couldn't command so I choose to accept that they could because it's not contradicted otherwise.
I don't see how Number One can be interpreted any other way. She was the second-in-command, and took actual command, therefore she was qualified in all respects, including gender, for command. What is the alternative, that a female second-in-command has to give way to the next-ranking male to fill in for the captain? That's ridiculous.

But as Christopher said, the show was not made by a single author, and different writers brought different interpretations which could dilute and even contradict other aspects of the production. But personally I give the example of Number One greater weight than other issues that may contradict it.
And that's the thing. There's nothing to specifically say a woman can't be in command.
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Old September 14 2013, 10:39 PM   #45
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
As far as I'm concerned TOS never spelled out that women couldn't command so I choose to accept that they could because it's not contradicted otherwise.
We're talking past each other, discussing two separate issues. Of course I agree completely, as I have already said, that it's best to interpret TOS's conjectural universe as one that allows female captains. That is not even in dispute as far as I'm concerned. But I'm talking about a different issue, which is not about the overall hypothetical universe of the 2260s Federation, but about the creative process and intent behind the writing of specific individual scripts for the 1960s television series named Star Trek. We can certainly, gladly disregard the sexist authorial intentions behind "Turnabout Intruder," but there is no doubt in my mind that the intentions were there -- not in the series as a whole, but definitely in that particular teleplay.
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