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

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Old December 9 2013, 06:09 PM   #256
Warped9
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Christopher wrote: View Post
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I have had women as superiors like many if not most of us have. I never saw one of them have their femininity as a problem to their authority. And only one do I recall trying to overcompensate by being something of a hardass. The rest were able to let their individual qualities come through without losing respect or authority. Being tough doesn't mean being insensitive or unfeeling. Being tough is being able to persevere in the face of difficulty and adversity.
But that's a modern perspective. I'm talking about the assumptions that TV writers living in the 1960s would've held, assumptions that we've now outgrown. As I've said before in this thread, gender equality has advanced so far in the past 40-50 years that what seemed like a progressive attitude toward women by '60s standards looks sexist to modern eyes. We can't understand the mentality of TOS's writers unless we realize how much the goalposts have shifted.
True. But as you have said we don't have to let that taint our view of TOS' fictional universe which itself leans to fitting our more contemporary perspective.

Individual experience counts for a lot. I started watching TOS when I was 11 in 1970. Since day one it never occured to me that women could not command a starship. I did see some examples of male chauvanism in real life in the '70s and '80s, but society had already begun to evolve and it didn't come across as blatant and rampant as it must have been when TOS was in production. I was inclined to be more open minded unless proven otherwise about people's motives. More recently I have seen more blatant sexism in action even if it was played mostly under the radar so to speak. At first I couldn't believe I was seeing such an attitude from men I actually thought were more well rounded. It taught that what these men had learned was they couldn't be obvious in their sexism and had learned to be more subtle about it. I saw them try to hinder the advancement of two particular individual women simply because they were women and having nothing to to with their qualifications and abilities. These guys simply believed women were not suited for management. And this despite numerous women already being in management positions throughout the company nation wide.

Now if I had spent my formative years in the '40s or '50s or '60s then maybe I might have had a different perspective. I also benefitted from having parents who didn't teach us that women could do only certain things. My mother was generally stay-at-home, but my father never treated her like a second class person. I've also never really experienced a female supervisor who was generally incompetent so I have no real basis to generalize and say all women could likely be the same.
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Old December 9 2013, 07:30 PM   #257
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

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Individual experience counts for a lot. I started watching TOS when I was 11 in 1970. Since day one it never occured to me that women could not command a starship.
Right. I didn't realize the chauvinist subtext of "Turnabout Intruder" until, oh, the past decade or two. It never occurred to me when I watched the episode growing up. Now I can't unsee it, but it took me a long time to realize it was there. So it's not really a blatant or unambiguous element of the story.
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Old December 9 2013, 08:01 PM   #258
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

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Individual experience counts for a lot. I started watching TOS when I was 11 in 1970. Since day one it never occured to me that women could not command a starship.
Right. I didn't realize the chauvinist subtext of "Turnabout Intruder" until, oh, the past decade or two. It never occurred to me when I watched the episode growing up. Now I can't unsee it, but it took me a long time to realize it was there. So it's not really a blatant or unambiguous element of the story.
I've known people discussing this for a long time, and while I can see why they might think it obvious to me it just isn't as blatant as some make it out to be.
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Old December 10 2013, 12:21 AM   #259
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

I guess that's a difference in perspective and pov. The sexism seems pretty obvious to me, but I do largely forgive it as being part of it's era. Much in the same way I'm still very frustrated that new Trek and even Enterprise never bothered to have a real gay character, but I had no expectation that TOS would.
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Old December 10 2013, 12:40 AM   #260
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

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I guess that's a difference in perspective and pov. The sexism seems pretty obvious to me, but I do largely forgive it as being part of it's era. Much in the same way I'm still very frustrated that new Trek and even Enterprise never bothered to have a real gay character, but I had no expectation that TOS would.
Enterprise was the perfect time to finally have a character who happened to be gay. It started to become a bit ridiculous how almost no sci-fi shows of their era had gay people in the cast of characters (BSG, I'm looking at you. One lesbian and a character who only had a personal life in webisodes were not enough)
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Old December 10 2013, 02:53 AM   #261
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Sci fi still lags behind in LGBT diversity. When Sci fi does bring diversity, more often than not it's a hot lesbian. Hot lesbians are great, but it's frustrating not to see gay men and trans people.
It was disappointing that Enterprise didn't have a prominent gay character. From what I've heard Reed was supposed to be gay. It would've been a chance to do something different, instead his sexuality revolved around a pointless attraction to T'Pol.
NuTrek really has disappointed me on that front. After the first movie came out I read an interview with JJ where he talked about wanting to do a gay character, but clearly it didn't happen. Not enough time once they had Kirk having three ways and ogling Carol Marcus in her underwear I guess.
BSG was a little disapointing, what with Gayeta only being shown to bi in the webisode without carrying it over to the main series. Besides Michelle Forbes's lesbian character I'm pretty sure all the Six cylons were supposed to be bi, for what that's worth.
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Old December 10 2013, 03:49 AM   #262
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

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Sci fi still lags behind in LGBT diversity. When Sci fi does bring diversity, more often than not it's a hot lesbian. Hot lesbians are great, but it's frustrating not to see gay men and trans people.
It was disappointing that Enterprise didn't have a prominent gay character. From what I've heard Reed was supposed to be gay. It would've been a chance to do something different, instead his sexuality revolved around a pointless attraction to T'Pol.
NuTrek really has disappointed me on that front. After the first movie came out I read an interview with JJ where he talked about wanting to do a gay character, but clearly it didn't happen. Not enough time once they had Kirk having three ways and ogling Carol Marcus in her underwear I guess.
BSG was a little disapointing, what with Gayeta only being shown to bi in the webisode without carrying it over to the main series. Besides Michelle Forbes's lesbian character I'm pretty sure all the Six cylons were supposed to be bi, for what that's worth.
After reading this post I've been thinking on how I could best respond without offering offense.

I don't mean to sound insesitive, but this is a matter of perception. For the larger part of the audience this isn't a pressing issue. We are also talking about something dealing with one of the last taboos in popular entertainment.

To what advantage does having a gay character bring? It's not something too many writers or creators or producers are going to take a chance on for anxiety over alienating some part of their core target audience. I'll admit that a lesbian character offers some measure of titllation for many men in the audience and as such are not seen as threatening. But a prominent gay character is one of the last taboos and there are males in the audience that would indeed feel uncomfortable with that.

Also it isn't like gay characters haven't been done in SF or more particularly SF literature. David Gerrold's Blood And Fire is what immediately comes to mind, but I'm sure there must be others. And the Phase II fan productions did a TOS version of Gerrold's story and did include a gay character who was actually Kirk's nephew. And Peter Kirk had a lover that Phase II didn't shy away from showing. There have been gay superheroes in comics. I'm thinking of Apollo and Midnighter in the superhero title The Authority. Apollo and Midnighter were also lovers. I think there might also have been a lesbian character in The Authority, but I'm not sure I recall exactly.

Since it hasn't happened yet in popular visual sci-fi then it possibly speaks to creator/producers not yet ready to tackle it.

I have to admit to a measure of blindness on this issue because in all honesty it isn't a pressing issue for me. I admit I'm uncertain about my own feelings if a major character in a favoured SF production were revealed to be gay. A lot would depend on how it was depicted. I know there was a bi female in Babylon 5 (Commander Susan Ivanova) and I love Babylon 5 as a series. And Ivanova was a major character. But admittedly a bi or lesbian female isn't usually seen as threatening to a male audience and Ivanova was done rather lowkey when it came to her sexuality. It wasn't something they really dwelled on.

Not being gay I'm at odds at seeing this as a pressing issue because I don't personally feel unrepresented in science fiction. I've known few openly gay men (mostly through work) and have never felt personally threatened by any of them. But then I've never seen them act in an overt manner that made me feel uncomfortable. I have to admit that when I was a teenager in the '70s it could have been a differnt issue, but then being openly gay in the '70s would have been a risky affair in broader society. On rare occasion I have been approached by a gay male in much the same way as a man might try to strike up an acquaintance with a woman. The circumstances played out in such a way that I didn't really feel threatened in any way because when I wasn't responsive the men took the hint and left me alone. If any of them had persisted then it would have crossed the line into harassment much the same way a woman could feel harassed from a man who won't take no for an answer.

That said I do know individuals who have been freaked out by being approached by another man, and these guys otherwise seemed like well rounded and well composed individuals. To me that speaks of a percentage of the audience who would indeed feel uncomfortable with seeing a major character in SF who was openly gay. Most men put a great deal of stock in their sense of masculinity of which being attractive to women is a big part of it. The fact that another male could find them (or someone with whom they identify) sexually attractive can make them feel uneasy in terms of their own masculinity. They wonder if they are somehow unconciously putting out the wrong subliminal signals.

Look at the backlash regarding the issue of slash faction regarding prominent SF characters. There is no question whatsoever that James T. Kirk and Spock are heterosexual men with no interest whatsoever in each other beyond starightforward friendship. And yet some element of fandom (oddly predominantly female) get a kick out of making the characters lovers. Other characters throughout popular sci-fi have been treated likewise. Note also when George Takei came out as gay and the backlash when some suggested his character of Hikaru Sulu might also have been gay. I admit I was one who took issue with the notion because previously it never occured to me that Sulu could be gay, particularly given we meet his daughter in Generations. But gay men portraying straight men is nothing new. Film star Rock Hudson was doing it in the 1950s and '60s and I'm sure others were, too, only it would be decades before the broader general public would learn of it.

At present I think we are still dealing with stereotypes when it comes to LGBT characters, stereotypes that can make many other people uncomfortable. I know for myself I'm not particularly fond of things like Toronto's Gay Pride Parade held every summer. Seeing how some of the individuals behave in public bothers me, partly because i see a double standard in which if straight people were to behave that way publicly they could well get arrested.

Forgive my rambling, but I'm at odds as to how else to respond to your post. I also apologize if I've unintentionally offended anyone.
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Old December 10 2013, 04:16 AM   #263
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

What advantage was there to having female captains, or female officers at all on screen in the 60s? Star Trek in the 60s pushed boundries and made people think, and facilitated social change. Just as some people learned to overcome their racism in part from seeing the diverse cast of TOS and characters like Uhura were positive role models at a time when there weren't a lot of black characters in the media to look up to. Just as girls of all races could look up to Uhura as a woman exploring space, portraying previously unseen roles for women.

The fact that there would be some people who would be uncomfortable with a gay character is why there should be one. I'm sure many people in the 60s were uncomfortable with TOS's racial and ethnic diversity, and that inclusion of a united humanity is one of the great things that is often brought up about the importance of Star Trek. A gay character in TNG would've meant the world to me in the 80s when I saw a teen and there were no role models, and that gay character could've helped some people grow past their homophobia into tolerance, or acceptance.

It is disappointing to see Trek, once on the cutting edge of social issues, to have fallen far behind and playing it safe for decades now. The novels have done better, as have the fan films, and that means the world to me. Being able to read about Keru in Titan, or T'Prynn in Vanguard, or the non-heteronormative characters in New Frontier, and other supporting LGBT characters that have been included, that's very important to me - and I appreciate all the people involved who brought those characters into Star Trek. I'd just like to see the movies, and any future television shows finally keep the promise of a future free of prejudice and a humanity truly united.

I think there is something of a parallel with the abscence of women in power in classic Trek and the invisibility, or erasure of LGBT people. We're supposed to assume that they're out there, but they're out of sight, and I think many people (they're out there) would put forth the suggestion that we're not seen because we're not a part of Star Trek's utopian future. I think a lot of straight people don't understand why the invisibility in media (Which is improving) is hurtful. I grew up in a society that tried to pretend I didn't exist, and that can be very alienating and isolating.
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Old December 10 2013, 04:38 AM   #264
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

I'm not saying it shouldn't be done. I'm speculating as to why it hasn't yet been done.
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Old December 10 2013, 04:44 AM   #265
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

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Sci fi still lags behind in LGBT diversity. When Sci fi does bring diversity, more often than not it's a hot lesbian. Hot lesbians are great, but it's frustrating not to see gay men and trans people.
Warehouse 13's Steve Jinks is gay. He hasn't been shown in a relationship, though, aside from one episode where he was reunited with his ex-boyfriend.

I think we're getting a larger number of LGB characters in SF lately. They've been a fairly frequent presence in Doctor Who -- most notably Captain Jack and Madame Vastra & Jenny, but multiple others as well. And practically everyone in Torchwood was at least a little bit bi. We've had a lesbian regular in Stargate Universe, and the current Dracula limited series portrays Lucy Westenra as a closeted lesbian. Of course Lost Girl has plenty of "hot lesbian"/bisexual action, but we've also seen at least one gay male couple in a guest role on that show. Oh, and Felix Dawkins on Orphan Black is flamboyantly gay and promiscuous, something the show has portrayed fairly graphically. Orphan Black also features a lesbian couple, Cosima and Delphine -- although Delphine is technically bi, because Cosima is her first female lover.


Warped9 wrote: View Post
For the larger part of the audience this isn't a pressing issue.
Racial inclusion wasn't a pressing issue to the larger part of the audience in the '60s and '70s either. The majority can't learn to broaden their horizons until someone has the courage to challenge their prejudices. And that's a role that the media have often played in the past, and that Star Trek was noted for playing, including people of color in its vision of the future even though doing so might not have been a "pressing issue" for "the larger part of the audience."


To what advantage does having a gay character bring?
Same as the advantage of any other character. The key is to get over thinking of them as "gay characters," as if that's their entire identity, and understand that they're just people like everyone else, that they have relationships like anyone else, and that it doesn't fundamentally make any difference whether the people they have relationships with are of the opposite sex or not.

Plus, of course, there's the obvious fact that a lot of people in the audience are LGBT themselves and would be more inclined to watch if they didn't feel excluded and marginalized. The broader the audience you appeal to, the bigger your audience can potentially get. Advertisers realized this about African-Americans 50 years ago: they watched TV, they spent money, so it was just good sense to include people they could identify with in TV shows so they'd be more motivated to watch, allowing more products to be advertised to them. It's just good business sense to be inclusive.


It's not something too many writers or creators or producers are going to take a chance on for anxiety over alienating some part of their core target audience.
Fortunately that's an outdated concern. The generation that's come to adulthood in recent years considers sexual orientation far less of an issue than their parents did. We can see this in election results, in the increasing number of legislatures legalizing gay marriage. And there's a lot more LGBT inclusion on TV today than there was a decade ago. Oddly it seems to be less common in genre shows than in mainstream shows, but they're catching up, I think. After all, most TV shows are aimed at younger viewers because they're the most active consumers. The prejudices of the older generation would therefore have progressively less sway over TV programming as time goes on, just as they have less sway over social legislation.


Since it hasn't happened yet in popular visual sci-fi then it possibly speaks to creator/producers not yet ready to tackle it.
Once again: Jack Harkness, Steve Jinks, Felix Dawkins. Okay, I feel W13 has been too timid about it, keeping Steve fairly asexual beyond often talking about being gay, but that's progressive in its own way because it treats him as just a person who happens to be gay rather than defining him by that one trait. Orphan Black, meanwhile, has been anything but timid in its portrayal of Felix. And Torchwood was pretty overt in its portrayal of guy-on-guy couplings, especially in the US-produced Miracle Day.


I know there was a bi female in Babylon 5 (Commander Susan Ivanova) and I love Babylon 5 as a series. And Ivanova was a major character. But admittedly a bi or lesbian female isn't usually seen as threatening to a male audience and Ivanova was done rather lowkey when it came to her sexuality. It wasn't something they really dwelled on.
B5 was embarrassingly timid in its attempt to be "progressive" with Ivanova and Talia. They kept it all off-camera and implicit so that you were barely aware of it at all. Whereas its contemporary DS9 was pushing the envelope with "Rejoined" and the passionate, lengthy, on-camera kiss between Terry Farrell and Susanna Thompson. That stirred up a nice bit of controversy and helped push the envelope in the portrayal of lesbian relationships on TV. But we've come so much further today. Yes, there's still a way to go with the portrayal of male same-sex relationships, but showing women making out on TV is no longer even a big deal.


Not being gay I'm at odds at seeing this as a pressing issue because I don't personally feel unrepresented in science fiction.
I'm not gay either, but I am human, and that means I feel diminished when any other human being is excluded or belittled just for having some difference from the majority. Why should empathy be limited only to those who are exactly like oneself?
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Old December 10 2013, 04:50 AM   #266
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

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I'm not saying it shouldn't be done. I'm speculating as to why it hasn't yet been done.
I honestly didn't really get that from your previous post. I did answer questions you were asking.

As for slash fiction, there's all kinds of fan fiction out there. I don't really get the "backlash" against slash. It's fan fiction. You have to look for it to find it. It's the easiest thing in the world to ignore. Slash in part is created because there is so little gay representation, and in the past there was none in the media. Some people weren't seeing the kinds of characters and stories they wanted to, so they made their own, and sometimes appropriated the characters to subvert them to their own interest. I don't see any great difference between Kirk and Spock fan fic versus, say, Kira and Sisko.

It hasn't been done because tptb were afraid to take chances in part, and in part it's possible there were people behind the scenes who were homophobic. I heard pretty broad hints that Berman was the one who was preventing a gay character from being created, which is ironic since he's recently criticized JJ for not having any gay characters. I don't know that Berman was homophobic, but at the least he was complacent and not willing to take chances. He freely admits there are times he dropped the ball on the opprotunities to address gay issues, such as how the "special" episode about T'Pol and the mind melds was supposed to be a gay metaphor and an AIDS metaphor (which to me seems wrong headed to try to do both of those at the same time, implying that it's the same issue when it's not).

I haven't seen Warehouse 13, so I didn't think of that character. Maybe I should check that out. I didn't know that Dracula was portraying Lucy as a closeted lesbian, that's an interesting interpretation of the character. I do watch Lost Girl, but I haven't seen the newest season that I think is airing in Canada before it airs in the US. I don't remember a gay couple, maybe I haven't seen that episode yet? Lost Girl is pretty good with the lesbian issue, although I've heard some criticism of the same sex relationship being treated as "less than". I'm not sure I agree with that completely, but it does seem like Bo's relationship with her wolf is going to be her "endgame". I've liked how the poly issues have been explored.

Captain Jack on Torchwood was a ground breaking role, even if he is a bit of a sterotype of the slutty bisexual. He's a great character though, arguably the best and most prominent mainstream gay male in sci fi.

Babylon 5 was extrememly timid about Ivanova and Talia. One of my best friends at the time that was on saw the episode and was convinced they were just good friends.

As a gay man I am still invested in fair inclusion for women and racial minorities, and trans people, disabled, older people, etc. You don't have to be a part of that specific minority to want to see a fair diversity of characters in the media. I think it's a lot more interesting to see characters that are from different walks of life than a more bland same-y same-y.

It is a little frustrating as a sci fi/genre fan to see the genre lag behind the mainstream with gay characters. It's even a little insulting to think that this genre is less progressive and able to deal with diversity than the mainstream. Are things really so bad that fans of reality tv are more progressive than sci fi fans? I like to think we're better than that.
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Old December 10 2013, 05:00 AM   #267
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

^^ You've essentially answered the question: individuals behind the scenes not yet ready to go forward with the idea.

As for slash fiction---yeah it bugs me on some level somewhat similar to me not liking how a favoured character might be reinterpreted.
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Old December 10 2013, 05:15 AM   #268
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

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^^ You've essentially answered the question: individuals behind the scenes not yet ready to go forward with the idea.

As for slash fiction---yeah it bugs me on some level somewhat similar to me not liking how a favoured character might be reinterpreted.
There's so much fan fiction out there, and surely some of it that's not slash is also reinterpreting your favorite characters. I can't see giving a thought to caring about other people's fan fiction. That's like, I'm a fan of Picard and Beverly, but if I found out someone wrote a steamy fan fic of Picard and Troi or whatever, it's not like I'm going to be bothered by it. I just will ignore it. What exactly is the purpose of being bothered by other people's fan interests? It's not like you can or should control how other people enjoy their media, what pairings they like or whatever. There have got to be more important things to worry about that that.
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Old December 10 2013, 05:22 AM   #269
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

^^ Do I go out and read it? No. Do I care for the idea? Again, no. It certainly doesn't keep me up at night fretting over it. I actually haven't thought about it for years...until this conversation actually.

Would you prefer I lie and say I think it's a swell idea? That would be totally dishonest in my opinion. If you want to think me a throwback Neanderthal for not embracing the whole idea wholeheartedly then so be it. I won't lose any sleep over that either.

A prominent LGBT character or characters will happen at some point. But I for one can't predict when. I'd hazard a guess at not too far in the foreseeable future.

I will say that I don't like to see anyone marginalized for who they are. I also have to say that I haven't given this issue a lot of thought primarily because I admittedly don't have a personal stake in it. And I honestly don't know how I will feel about it when a prominent LGBT character is put forth in a major series or film. On a principled level I shouldn't have an issue with it. On a personal level I'm unsure at this point. Maybe, when it happens, it won't even really register with me and I'll just accept it for what it is much like I've accepted the individuals I've worked with.
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Old December 10 2013, 07:44 AM   #270
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
Individual experience counts for a lot. I started watching TOS when I was 11 in 1970. Since day one it never occured to me that women could not command a starship. I did see some examples of male chauvanism in real life in the '70s and '80s, but society had already begun to evolve and it didn't come across as blatant and rampant as it must have been when TOS was in production.
Now that's interesting. I was 12 in 1970, and I saw things differently. To me, it was very much a man's world and seeing a woman in other than a traditional (at that time) role was a novelty.

But I considered my formative years as being the 1960s and in addition, as a girl, I experienced direct discrimination for being a girl -being told I couldn't do things not because I was incapable, but because some males said that I couldn't well just because I was female!

But the 1970s saw improvement for sure. And the 1980s? MY girls never had some jackass tell them they couldn't play ball or play with trucks or not do any other thing because they were female. Yay for progress.

I just don't like the whitewashing of the original series, and to be honest, as a woman, it's INSULTING to have Lester tagged as merely a nutjob so that one's precious Star Trek can remain precious. It was what it was and the story to me as a female had more power because Lester was a victim of discrimination.

I love the original series but that doesn't mean it didn't have serious flaws. I am glad that Trek got better going forward in that regard.
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