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

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Old November 22 2013, 05:55 PM   #136
Warped9
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

This has become a pointless discussion when some insist on giving weight to the statements of a character that is clearly shown to be batshit crazy and delusional.
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Old November 22 2013, 06:13 PM   #137
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
This has become a pointless discussion when some insist on giving weight to the statements of a character that is clearly shown to be batshit crazy and delusional.
Interpreting the intent of the episode does not depend exclusively upon what Lester says. The context of the time in which the episode was made, in conjunction with at least one other line of dialog not made in conversation with Lester, also matter. I'm thinking in particular of the last line of the episode:
KIRK: Her life could have been as rich as any woman's, if only. If only.
Naturally, people will try to parse that in this or that way, and we won't ever agree about the intent of the episode when it was made. That's fine. We don't have to agree. Just remember next time this topic comes up (and it will) that "the other side" thinks that it's not just what Lester says that's the problem.
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Old November 22 2013, 06:17 PM   #138
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

It would be easy to dismiss what Lester says in the episode if it weren't for her scene with Kirk at the beginning and the tag scene with Kirk ("If only...") at the end. Those scenes make it pretty clear (to me) what idea Arthur Singer was trying to convey in his teleplay for "Turnabout Intruder" -- women cannot be Starfleet captains.

Which is not to say that "The Menagerie" doesn't contradict this. It clearly does. "Turnabout Intruder" also says that General Order IV is the only place where the death penalty is still on the books in Starfleet. "The Menagerie" contradicts that, too. Best just to ignore the whole thing and move on.
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Old November 22 2013, 06:27 PM   #139
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

"if only..." What? People are mind readers? Who says the intent of the episode is to affirm that women are second rate and cannot be allowed to command in the TOS universe? Could this seriously be taken as the point of this story? That's ridiculous.

The point of this story is to show the lengths a bitter and irrational person will go to to exact revenge upon a lover that spurned her.
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Old November 22 2013, 06:30 PM   #140
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
Naturally, people will try to parse that in this or that way, and we won't ever agree about the intent of the episode when it was made.
No, I think we all agree that the intent of the episode was that women couldn't be captains. (Edit after seeing Warped9's post: Well, most of us do.) But most of us recognize that the audience is allowed to interpret a work of fiction in a way that differs from the author's intent, especially when that intent is in conflict with the rest of the series. The audience is not passive or subordinate. Every reader of a work of fiction is an interpreter of that work, bringing meaning to it from one's own mind and experiences that differs from the intent of the author. An audience should be actively engaged with fiction, thinking about it, using their own judgment and creativity to add something of their own to the work -- not just being passive sponges who unquestioningly accept what's fed to them. Speaking as an author myself, I think that if something I write doesn't motivate you to think for yourself and engage actively with interpreting the work, then I haven't done my job. Even if your take doesn't agree with mine, you're still thinking and imagining rather than just absorbing, and that means I've written something that made you think, and that's good.

So nobody has to be a slave to authorial intent. And really, nobody is. If you decide to go exclusively by what you believe the author's intent to have been, that's still your own choice about how to interpret the work. Whatever you read into a work of fiction is ultimately more about your own intent than the author's. If you go along with the author's intent, it's because you want to, not because you're required to. And thus you can make a different choice.
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Old November 22 2013, 06:41 PM   #141
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

I can just see it. "Guys, here's a story about one of Kirk's former lovers really out to get revenge on him. And while we're at it we'll contradict three years of positive role models for everyone and concretely establish that women don't have what it takes to be starship Captains and can never hope to be. Oh, we'll also be ignoring what we established way back when the series was being developed as well as that little episode earlier this season that showed a woman commanding a squadron of starships. But of course she was alien and obviously superior to human women."

Yep, I'm pretty sure it went something like that.
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Old November 22 2013, 06:56 PM   #142
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
Who says the intent of the episode is to affirm that women are second rate and cannot be allowed to command in the TOS universe? Could this seriously be taken as the point of this story?
I've been utterly serious on this point, in this thread and several others. I believe Christopher is being utterly serious, too. Harvey also, and no doubt others have been as well.

That's ridiculous.
Yes. Yes, it is. That's the point!

Turnabout Intruder was the last episode made. I have to wonder whether standards had slipped because a lot of people involved were depressed, thought it was futile to care, were worrying about what comes next, etc. Can those knowledgeable with the product shed any light on this, one way or another?
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Old November 22 2013, 07:09 PM   #143
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

borgboy wrote: View Post
I do think women holding thd rank of first officer but being barred from being a starship captain makes as much sense as barring them at all.
I don't think the two make equal sense at all. If women are barred completely from being commanding officer, it would only make sense if they were also excluded from the chain of command completely. It would only make sense if a male officer had succeeded to command in Pike's absence. Why would a woman be eligible to take command sometimes, but not at other times? It's not credible.

Placing women in the chain of command implies just that: They are in line to take command, period. Just like in the real world, when the US Navy allowed women to become line officers in the late '70s, it became inevitable that eventually a woman would take command of a US warship.

As to whether a first officer succeeding to command counts as being "the captain," "The Tholian Web" strongly implies that it does. Kirk tells Bones, in his recorded message, to remember that Spock "is the captain," and Scott and McCoy both call Spock "captain."

CommishSleer wrote: View Post
The rank of Captain has a much higher status than First Officer. It was never claimed that women could not hold high ranks but did they have what it takes to be that special unique thing - a Starship Captain?
The rank of captain and the position of captain are different. We have been discussing the position. It was shown that a Starfleet officer can go beyond the rank of captain without having commanded a starship ("The Deadly Years") so the rank is not really pertinent to this issue.

It seems pretty clear to me that "Turnabout" and "The Cage/Menagerie" contradict each other. I can also see all kinds of benefits in supporting the "Cage" interpretation and little for "Turnabout." Unless you're wedded to the idea of gender inequality in the TOS Starfleet, I'd say discard what "Turnabout" says on the subject and don't give it a second thought.
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Old November 22 2013, 07:36 PM   #144
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

I don't agree the intent of the episode is to establish women cannot command. Particularly when the prime example used is a nutbar. And then they don't come out and explicitly say it. What I see is individuals using the words of an obviously irrational character to prove something that isn't supported anywhere else in the series. They are choosing to interpret something in a particular negative way rather than accepting what is a much more likely explanation.

Lester was nuts. Period. Nothing she says can be trusted because she's long lost grip with all reality.
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Old November 22 2013, 07:51 PM   #145
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
I don't agree the intent of the episode is to establish women cannot command. Particularly when the prime example used is a nutbar. And then they don't come out and explicitly say it. What I see is individuals using the words of an obviously irrational character to prove something that isn't supported anywhere else in the series. They are choosing to interpret something in a particular negative way rather than accepting what is a much more likely explanation.

Lester was nuts. Period. Nothing she says can be trusted because she's long lost grip with all reality.
This does not describe my position, and I've already explained why.
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Old November 22 2013, 07:58 PM   #146
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
I can just see it. "Guys, here's a story about one of Kirk's former lovers really out to get revenge on him. And while we're at it we'll contradict three years of positive role models for everyone and concretely establish that women don't have what it takes to be starship Captains and can never hope to be. Oh, we'll also be ignoring what we established way back when the series was being developed as well as that little episode earlier this season that showed a woman commanding a squadron of starships. But of course she was alien and obviously superior to human women."
But that's the thing -- prejudice isn't a conscious decision. What's insidious about it is that it's unthinking, so even people who imagine themselves to be progressive can still have a lot of prejudices they haven't realized they have. By the standards of the 1960s, including women on a starship crew at all was progressive, but that didn't overcome the unexamined assumption that women would naturally fill the traditional roles of secretary, nurse, and the occasional scientist or lawyer, while men would fill the traditional roles of command and security and hold almost all the senior positions. They challenged one of the preconceptions of their era -- that women couldn't be allowed to serve on military vessels -- but they unthinkingly embraced another set of preconceptions -- that there was a natural difference between the roles that men were suited for and the roles that women were suited for.

So you're right that it wasn't the conscious intent of the episode to assert that women should be excluded from command -- because that was something the writers didn't think they needed to assert. It was the default position that they accepted without thinking -- that men and women naturally have different specializations. The point that Roddenberry was hamfistedly trying to make was that, even though women's roles are different from men's, that doesn't mean they aren't valuable in their own way. He was going for a sort of misguided variant on ST's "It's okay to be different" message, saying that women didn't have to adopt male roles in order to have self-worth. We can recognize today how many unexamined preconceptions were blinding him, but it was too close to the everyday standards of the time for the episode's makers to realize how condescending they were being.

It's important to have a historical perspective about these things, to recognize that prejudices are overcome incrementally and that attitudes that were progressive in their own day can be extremely backward by today's standards. So we have to take care to evaluate a creator's intentions in the context of their own era's attitudes rather than our own.
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Old November 22 2013, 08:08 PM   #147
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
I don't agree the intent of the episode is to establish women cannot command.
That may be putting it too strongly. The intent of the episode was to give the characters an interesting dilemma to resolve in an entertaining way. Women's eligibility for starship command was a background detail to which the writing/editing team probably did not give a lot of thought, compared to the main plot.
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Old November 22 2013, 08:15 PM   #148
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

What I'm getting out of all this is that some seem to be asserting that an unconcious assumption (on the part of the writers) is to be taken as a de facto assertion that women cannot command in the TOS era. And that latent assumption is supposed to trump everything else seen in the series. I know Christopher and others are not arguing that, but some others (like the OP) seem to be taking that tack as "This is what the writers really meant."

Maybe I'm thick but I don't see that latent assumption screaming all over the screen in that episode. I can see it if someone chooses to parse it so finely just to say, "There it is! It's a fact!"

It's only there if one is looking for it and chooses to blow it all out of proportion.
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Old November 22 2013, 09:19 PM   #149
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

I'm thinking it was conscious. A refection of the mindset of the times.
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Old November 22 2013, 09:58 PM   #150
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

"If only..."

If only she wasn't TOTALLY INSANE, of course. Got nothing to do with her gender. But rather, everything to do with the obvious fact that she was a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic.

Like I said before: Janice's obvious insanity means that nothing she says or does can ever be taken at face value. Thus, it's easy to dismiss even the "Your world of starship captains doesn't admit women" line. (That is, if you don't believe that she was speaking personally about KIRK's world, of course.)

And like I also said: In the perfect future utopia that we all know Gene wanted to depict, it is inconceivable that he would leave just this one detail (women in command) out of it. If Gene was as sexist as a lot of people keep saying, Number One would never have existed! If a woman can be XO, then by definition, she can also be a captain. Simple logic.
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Last edited by Rķu rķu, chķu; November 22 2013 at 10:11 PM.
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