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

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Old September 14 2013, 10:59 PM   #46
The Old Mixer
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

"It's just that I can't get used to having a woman on the bridge. No offense, lieutenant...you're different, of course."

Even Number One is presented as an exception, not the rule.
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Old September 14 2013, 11:18 PM   #47
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Christopher wrote: View Post
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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.
On that point then I want to see a memo or firsthand account or some other documentation that establishes the TOS staff saying, "We won't show any women in command positions." I want to see someone's story outline proposing a female command rank character and then having it shot down.

Basically I want to know if the idea was even pitched or it just never occurred to anyone including D.C. Fontana. Seems strange to me because it seems exactly the sort of thing Fontana would have liked to see happen.
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Old September 14 2013, 11:41 PM   #48
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

It wouldn't have been worth a memo in those days. This was pre-women's lib...the secondary status of women was thoroughly ingrained in our culture. As Christopher has been distinguishing, while the show may take place in the 23rd century, it was very much a product of the mid-20th.
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Old September 15 2013, 12:09 AM   #49
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
On that point then I want to see a memo or firsthand account or some other documentation that establishes the TOS staff saying, "We won't show any women in command positions."
Again: I am not arguing with you on this point. I am not arguing with you at all, so please stop trying to manufacture an argument. I am not saying one damn thing about the policy of the series as a whole. I am talking about the script for "Turnabout Intruder." I am talking about one episode. I am saying that one of the reasons "Turnabout Intruder" is such a crappy episode is because of the gender condescension that pervades it, more than in the series as a whole. That's not about Star Trek. It's about episode 79 of Star Trek, and how it (along with "Mudd's Women" and some other bits here and there) fails to live up to the standards of the rest of the series on the issue of gender portrayals.
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Old September 15 2013, 12:39 AM   #50
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

We are then coming to the same point. The idea was so ingrained that no one even thought of it or bothered to pitch the idea? Not even D.C. Fontana?

That may well be yet fortunately that sentiment never got conveyed in a blatantly apparent manner.

I'm not trying to manufacture an argument. I'm trying to clarify that a sexist mindset that did indeed exist at time was not blatantly conveyed in the fictional universe portrayed onscreen. It simply would have been nice, though, if they had taken even just one opportunity to put the issue to rest as they had with the one time character of Commodore Stone and the other command rank characters seen briefly in "Court Martial" (Stone, Kraznowsky, Chandra) and "The Menagerie" (Mendez).

On the flip side it's just as well the characters of Matt Decker, Ron Tracey and Commodore Stocker were not written as women or that could have simply fuelled the argument opined by Janice Lester. But Admiral Komack, Admiral Fitzpatrick, Commodore Wesley or either Captains Kraznowsky or Chandra could have been protrayed by a woman. Hell, the latter two mentioned didn't even have speaking parts, but that wouldn't have mattered in establishing the fact.
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Old September 15 2013, 12:56 AM   #51
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

^It's pretty blatantly conveyed in the Pike quote that I posted earlier. He considered it remarkable to even have a woman on the bridge, never mind in a command position...and then specified that Number One was an exception...not unlike a half-Vulcanian science officer, I guess....
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Old September 15 2013, 01:08 AM   #52
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

As I said, you have to consider the context of the times. Having women on the ship at all was a major step forward. But there were limits that '60s writers and audiences weren't ready to cross yet, for the most part. Progress comes one step at a time, not all at once.

It reflects what was going on in society at large around those times. The idea of women in the workforce was becoming more acceptable, but it was still assumed that it was the purview of single women, and that they'd give up their careers when they got married (an unquestioned assumption we see reflected in McCoy's lines about Carolyn Palamas). In The Avengers, Mrs. Peel was an accomplished secret agent as a presumed widower, an icon of female empowerment for her time, but in her final episode, her husband turned up alive and she gave up the spy game to go back to being a housewife, just like that, no questions asked. It was just a given that that was what a married woman did.

And by the same token, TOS could be progressive enough to include women on the ship, but not enough to put them in command positions. They could be portrayed as partners or subordinates of male officers but not superiors -- not unless they were exotic Others like Romulan commanders. Not because there was some formal policy statement against it, but just because it didn't occur to them. There were assumptions they made that we question when we look back on them, but that doesn't mean they questioned them. Maybe they didn't consciously object to the idea of women in command, but it didn't really occur to them to try it either.

It's a lot like the non-portrayal of gays in TNG and after. Roddenberry made noises about how it was "time" to acknowledge that gay people existed in the Federation, and there was never any formal policy against it, but the producers were just never strongly enough motivated to depict it, and made excuses for avoiding it.

So no, there's not going to be some smoking-gun memo formalizing the glass ceiling. That's not the sort of thing it was. It was more a sin of omission, a failure to look beyond certain preconceptions.
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Old September 15 2013, 03:24 AM   #53
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Christopher wrote: View Post

And by the same token, TOS could be progressive enough to include women on the ship, but not enough to put them in command positions. They could be portrayed as partners or subordinates of male officers but not superiors -- not unless they were exotic Others like Romulan commanders. Not because there was some formal policy statement against it, but just because it didn't occur to them. There were assumptions they made that we question when we look back on them, but that doesn't mean they questioned them. Maybe they didn't consciously object to the idea of women in command, but it didn't really occur to them to try it either.
It's interesting to consider that in TOS was there ever an occasion where a woman gave an order to a man on the Enterprise? I remember Rand tried to in 'Naked Time' or maybe she was trying to stop men sexually harrassing her.

I got the impression that Charlene Masters was in charge of the guys in her section (even though she didn't have the Lt bands on her uniform).

I watched TOS for the first time in the 70s and you sort of accepted the type of sexism that was in it them. At least they had some women aboard and some of them weren't secretaries, some were scientists, doctors and even Captains or First Officers (if you count aliens like Mara and the Romulan Commander).

Now I look back and choose to think they did have women captains and command crew - that we just didn't see them. LOL. At least the dialog in TOS didn't rule it out completely.
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Old September 15 2013, 03:47 AM   #54
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

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It's interesting to consider that in TOS was there ever an occasion where a woman gave an order to a man on the Enterprise? I remember Rand tried to in 'Naked Time' or maybe she was trying to stop men sexually harrassing her.
Actually she just stood there ineffectually and had to beg Spock to order the crewman to leave her alone -- which didn't last long.

Keep in mind, this is the same Janice Rand who, in "The Enemy Within," seemed to take the position that the captain was entitled to sexually harass her if he really wanted to.


I got the impression that Charlene Masters was in charge of the guys in her section (even though she didn't have the Lt bands on her uniform).
Indeed; when she invited a male subordinate to have coffee, he joked, "Is that an order?"


I watched TOS for the first time in the 70s and you sort of accepted the type of sexism that was in it them. At least they had some women aboard and some of them weren't secretaries, some were scientists, doctors and even Captains or First Officers (if you count aliens like Mara and the Romulan Commander).
Mara was Kang's science officer. TOS fans tend to fall into the habit of assuming that science officer and first officer are the same post, but that's not usually the case.

Now I look back and choose to think they did have women captains and command crew - that we just didn't see them. LOL. At least the dialog in TOS didn't rule it out completely.
And TAS, which was set during the same 5-year mission, did have Uhura command the bridge a couple of times, though only when the menfolk were incapacitated or unavailable.
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Old September 15 2013, 04:18 AM   #55
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Christopher wrote: View Post

Mara was Kang's science officer. TOS fans tend to fall into the habit of assuming that science officer and first officer are the same post, but that's not usually the case.
I suppose she could have been FO but it was probably unlikely.

Still she did boss Klingon men around and that was something lacking from the rest of TOS.

I remember in TOS there were quite a few alien species ruled by women. Maybe its only Earth type cultures who are sexist in the future of TOS

And of course you have Vulcans with TPau and yet Amanda 'obeys' her husband and TPring becomes the property of the victor.
Sorry strayed off topic a bit there.
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Old September 16 2013, 01:09 AM   #56
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

I don't believe that her statement is proof that there are no female starship captains. First she is mentally ill and feeling persecuted. She said something like the world of starship captains doenst allow women.

That could mean there are very few female captains. More importantly it could mean that "I" didn't make it so it is naturally systemic discrimination.
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Old September 16 2013, 12:44 PM   #57
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
We are then coming to the same point. The idea was so ingrained that no one even thought of it or bothered to pitch the idea? Not even D.C. Fontana?
I don't think Dorothy Fontana would have felt she was in a position to rock the boat and bring up things like this. In a way, she was in a somewhat precarious position too and had to establish that female writers are just part of the same club (a reputation for feminism probably wouldn't go over well in a writer's room in the 1960s). BTW, does anyone know if her decision to be credited as D.C. had anything to do with downplaying her gender?

That may well be yet fortunately that sentiment never got conveyed in a blatantly apparent manner.
Well, I would consider Mudd's Women and Turnabout Intruder to be pretty blatantly sexist. However, if the argument is they had ingrained, subconscious sexism, it isn't something you would expect to find blatantly, just in subtle ways.
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Old September 16 2013, 01:43 PM   #58
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

I think that trying to codify the discussion in terms of whether things were made blatant or overtly fought for or whatever is missing the point. Ingrained discrimination isn't blatant. It's something that people take so much for granted that the question doesn't even occur to them. Often it's the unexamined prejudices that hold people back, even more than the acknowledged ones. For instance, TOS challenged one set of gender preconceptions by having women included on the crew of a military vessel in the future, but left a different set of gender preconceptions unchallenged by having those women mostly limited to conventional roles like nurse, operator, secretary, and the like (plus the occasional pretty scientist who was really just there to be a love interest). They just couldn't see far enough ahead of their own cultural status quo to recognize that those assumptions would come to be challenged later on as well as the others.
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Old September 16 2013, 04:25 PM   #59
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

/\ Or thought that they were far enough out on a limb as it was, and didn't want to take on more challenges...
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Old September 16 2013, 04:50 PM   #60
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

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/\ Or thought that they were far enough out on a limb as it was, and didn't want to take on more challenges...
That too. Historically, overcoming prejudice has had to be done with baby steps; push too far and you provoke a backlash.
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