No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Noddy, Sep 12, 2013.

  1. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This is one of those instances where, just because we didn't see it on screen doesn't mean that it isn't so. Barring the eccentricities and remarks of a few characters, women by the 23rd century were doing exactly the same things men were (maybe even a little more as, other than one instance in the 22nd century, human men still weren't getting pregnant).

    Starfleet of the time had dozens of stations and hundreds of ships and we only got to see the CO's of just a handful. There may not have been any prominent women Captain's of a Constitution-Class but that would be by chance rather than design.

    In my mind at least, Number One was promoted to Captain after serving Pike for two tours, but instead of being given the Enterprise, she was instead offered a much larger deep-range explorer (based on the designs for upgraded Enterprise "Planet of the Titans") which would see her go further out into uncharted space than any other starship Captain. So whilst Kirk is fighting Klingons and teaching alien women to love, she is seeing things no other Starfleeter has, establishing peaceful relations with new and unusual species, and keeping the Federation safe from threats it could never have imagined. But as I said, that's just how I envision things.
     
  2. Avro Arrow

    Avro Arrow Commodore Commodore

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    ^ Can't remember if this was mentioned upthread or not. Non-canon, of course, but John Byrne had her in command of the Yorktown in at least one of his IDW comic miniseries.
     
  3. robau

    robau Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Go to peopleofwalmart.com and tell me what matters is what's inside them.
     
  4. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    The court officer was never spoken to/of, so nothing definite on his rank. He does have the same uniform trim as Scott and McCoy, so lieutenant commander seems like a good fit. He wears a starbase badge instead of "ribbons," though. Another inconsistency is that Como. Mendez wears the same trim as Kirk.

    A while back I took a shot at a (male) dress uniform scheme that filled in the blanks for lieutenant and below. I don't have any idea where to take it for admirals. It does seem odd, though, to have one dress uniform ranks system for males and a different one for females.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Avro Arrow

    Avro Arrow Commodore Commodore

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    ^ Nice work! The asymmetrical lieutenant j.g. seems a little odd, though. Maybe a viable alternative would be to have lieutenant retain the front piping from lieutenant commander but drop the collar piping, then have lieutenant j.g. have just the collar piping and not the front piping.

    You're right, admiral is kinda tricky. Maybe you could have the piping that runs from collar to armpit be the wide piping. But I'm really not sure how you would differentiate the four different admiral grades.

    Good catch on Mendez... I never clued into that. I'm guessing the real-world explanation is that they only did a commodore version in red, so when they needed another gold one, they just gave Throne one of the two gold captain's uniforms they had created for Court Martial?
     
  6. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Thanks! I did the asymmetrical thing on purpose as a callback to the old Horatio Hornblower navy, where an epaulette on one side instead of a pair was the difference between a lieutenant and a commander.

    That's always been my guess, also.
     
  7. borgboy

    borgboy Commodore Commodore

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    So I watched Turnabout Intruder today at the end of my TOS blu ray marathon.
    Side note - the blu rays looks amazing, the colors really pop and the new special effects look good to me.
    As for the topic at hand, I still think the intention is that women weren't allowed to be captains, but there is more wiggle room in what we're told than I remembered, to allow for a different interpretation.
    It does go against the spirit of the series to have such an awful sexist policy at the heart of Starfleet. I'm glad to accept his as being just that Kirk didn't have room to be a captain and still have a relationship with Janice, and that's what she meant by "your world of starship captains doesn't allow women", or whatever it was she said.
    It's odd that Uhura is missing from this episode, with some white woman I don't remember seeing before doing her job.
    It's worth noting that the fan film series Star Trek Continues did a vingette recreating the final scene of this episode, and continued the story for a few more minutes with the guys doing a wrap up talk. It was pretty good, but it didn't change anything in the meaning of the episode other than all the guys being generally sympathetic to Janice's illness.
    As for Janice's illness, I was shocked that Kirk, McCoy and the gang seem fine with Janice's accomplice Dr Coleman being allowed to "take care of her". It gives the general impression he's going to be allowed to treat her as a patient instead of being locked up like he deserves. Perhaps we can interpret that Coleman is going to console her from their joint cells, but that doesn't feel like what was intended.
    Gender politics aside, I overall enjoyed the episode. There were a lot of good things in the episode, good acting from everyone except maybe Shatner, who hammed things up a little too much, but in his defense it's a pretty hammy script. There's some neat moments for me as a Kirk/Spock shipper, with Kirk in Janice's body mind melding with Spock, and Spock's subsequent protectiveness towards him. They can be seen holding hands shortly after the mind meld, and there's a general atmosphere of things being post-coital, with the mind meld as a sexual metaphor. A radical interpretation I realize, but subtext is open to interpretation. The actress who plays Janice does a pretty good job of playing Kirk I thought.
    Janice in Kirk's body does have what I thought was an obviously flirtacious vibe with Dr Coleman, to manipulate him, and it works.
     
  8. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Throughout the series we saw other characters at familiar posts such as the helm, navigation, engineering, sciences and even communications. On a ship with 430 crew aboard of ocurse there will be more than one person qualified to man a given position. We saw Lt. Palmer fill in for Uhura and in TAS we got Lt. M'ress as an alternate Communications Officer. So Uhura could have been off-duty or whatever while someone else filled in.

    Recently I put forth the idea to the web series Star Trek Continues to hopefully feature (or at least reference) a female starship Captain in a future episode. As has been said upthread the tone of Janice Lester's bitterness goes against the spirit of the series and it's a shame this episode came along at the very end. Mind you if we'd gotten a chance to actually see a female starship Captain earlier in the series then it would have been easier for more people to just dismiss Lester entirely as a truly vindictive nutbar with no sense of reality and be rid of the notion that Starfleet might bar women from starship command.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    You had seen her before, in the role of Angela Martine in "Balance of Terror" and "Shore Leave." Here, though, Barbara Baldavin's character was called Lisa. She was actually the casting director's wife.

    Nichelle Nichols was unavailable for the episode due to a singing engagement. It wasn't the first time she'd been unavailable; her role had been filled by Lt. Palmer (Elizabeth Rogers) in "The Doomsday Machine" and "The Way to Eden." Keep in mind that only Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelley were regulars contracted for every episode. The rest appeared intermittently. Uhura was in only 65 episodes of TOS.

    I think that's adequately covered by Number One in "The Cage" and the Saratoga captain in TVH, and of course retroactively by Erika Hernandez in Enterprise.

    Also, there's that female human on the Elysian Council in "The Time Trap" who seems to be wearing a version of a Starfleet uniform. We can't see her rank stripes, but if she's on the ruling council, it stands to reason that she was probably her ship's captain. And since she's in an unfamiliar uniform variant, it's a reasonable supposition that she was lost sometime prior to "The Cage."
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2013
  10. borgboy

    borgboy Commodore Commodore

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    Thanks for the info Christopher! I was curious as to why Nichelle Nichols wasn't in that episode. I figured she had some other commitment, but it's neat to know more.
    Funny enough, Uhura is in the Star Trek Continues epilogue to this episode. I just figure she came on shift while all the action was going on in the brig.
    I of course did notice the occasional alternate crew member filling in for the regulars, which I had no problem understanding. They're just working different shifts in show, and out of show the actors weren't available as they weren't on contract. Uhura's absence there just stood out more because it was the last episode, and also had signifigance as she's the most prominant female character in the series, and this was an episode with a focus on the roles of women in Starfleet - maybe. Chapel of course was in this episode, and it's odd to see the character with brown hair instead of her usual blonde hair. Which isn't signifigant of anything, just an observation.
    The perception that there may not be any female captains is backed up not just by what Janice says but by the lack of female captains seen or referenced in the series. It's part of the culture at the time, I get that. It's interesting though that two of the strongest most interesting and powerful women we see in TOS are the enemies, the Romulan Commander, and the Klingon science officer Mara. While offically enemies of the Federation, both were intelligent, sympathetic and interesting women in positions of authority. I wonder if tptb were able to get away with showing women in power by having them be of the enemy and not the Federation, or if it just worked out that way, and/or wasn't something they did conscously?
     
  11. Noname Given

    Noname Given Vice Admiral Admiral

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    With regard to "Turnabout Intruder", the stuff we're discussing is based on this two line exchange:

    J. Lester (to Kirk): "Your world of starship captains doesn't admit women. It isn't fair."

    Kirk (sincerely): "No, it isn't. And you punished and tortured me because of it."
    ^^^
    Here's the thing: We (the audience) don't really know how the situation played out in their relationship. It's entirely possible Starfleet at the time didn't allow women to be appointed to command of a Starship; but given the in universe position of the "Number One" character during the days of Captain Christopher's command, it doesn't seem likely - as if he were killed in deep space, she WOULD assume command for the duration of returning to a Starbase, so if Starfleet didn't feel women were capable of Starship command, I doubt they'd have been promoted as high as second in command either.

    Thus, my take on the above has always been:

    Lester WAS in fact a Starship command candidate, but was denied on some sort of psychological grounds; but she didn't see it that way - IE In her mind, the denial was made because the majority of Starship commanders are male, and thus it's an 'old boys club' doing everything it can to maintain that.

    Kirk's response in the above quoted exchange was just to try and calm her down, because he knew from past experience with her (in their previous relationship); to say anything else would just upset her further - but he still can't deny how he felt about how she treated him afterwards (hence the "...you punished and tortured me..." part of his reply.)
     
  12. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, thats a reasonable look at it.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I feel we're going in circles now, since I'm sure I've already addressed this point. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. We never saw 23rd-century Earth during TOS, but we know it was there. And there's a ton of other stuff that we know must have existed even though we never saw it on the show -- bathrooms, a ship's laundry, the planet Cardassia, Greek restaurants, iguanas, pulsars, you name it. It makes no sense to rule out the existence of something just because it wasn't seen in a mere 79 episodes set aboard one single ship. That's far too narrow and biased a statistical sample to allow any reasonable extrapolation to the universe as a whole.


    It wasn't a question of "getting away with" anything, since other shows at the time showed strong women. It's not like anyone at the network or studio was prohibiting it, despite what Roddenberry claimed about Number One. But maybe it was easier to accept because those cultures were exotic.

    And we saw some powerful alien women who weren't enemies, like T'Pau and Natira.
     
  14. borgboy

    borgboy Commodore Commodore

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    True, those are good examples of strong female characters.
    I do think that 79 episodes is enough that we should've seen a female captain, we see quite a few male captains.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^And if it hadn't been the '60s, we would have. As I've said over and over again, there was definitely some sexism shaping the intent of the creators, but there's more than enough wiggle room that we as viewers are free to disregard that intent and assume a more egalitarian Starfleet than we were shown. We have only one piece of evidence inconclusively suggesting a ban on female captains, and a few separate pieces of evidence inconclusively but strongly suggesting gender equality around the time in question, plus several lines of argument strongly suggesting the same. So the preponderance of evidence, common sense, and good taste are on the "no ban" side, regardless of what we were shown.
     
  16. T'Bonz

    T'Bonz Romulan Curmudgeon Administrator

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    Wishing for it doesn't make it so. It was the 1960s and most couldn't deal with a female starship captain. No amount of explanations or retrofitting can make the declaration that Starfleet doesn't have female captains go away.

    It's unpalatable to this female who heard enough sexist shit in the 1960s (directed at me personally) to last the rest of my life, but it's how it was.

    At least Trek got to fix that later, with the movies and subsequent shows, but in the original series on TV (not movies), it was a man's world as far as a captain goes.

    Why is that so hard to accept? It was what it was. All this convoluted thinking to try to work around that is just plain illogical.
     
  17. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    ^^ Because as Christopher says it goes against the spirit of the series overall. And he (and others) have made a decent case for why the lack of evidence isn't sufficient to prove otherwise.

    It still strikes me this issue depends on one's perspective. If you're inclined to see things one way or another then that will influence how you interpret what you see and hear what's on the screen.

    And even if someone (like D.C. Fontana) who was actually there could attest that there was an actual prohibition (against women in command) in place it wouldn't change what's on the screen.
     
  18. RandyS

    RandyS Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Exactly. Why can't we just say that Lester was nuts and let it go at that?
     
  19. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    No one is claiming there wasn't sexism in 1960's society. Hell, you can't even say that about today. But the question is whether that was blatantly telegraphed on the screen in TOS. The preponderence of evidence argues against it while the obviously bitter utterings of an established unstable character suggests perhaps otherwise.

    So it comes down to which evidence makes the stronger case.

    As has been said upthread there were a lot of things we didn't get to see on TOS, but the larger worldbuilding supports those things most likely had to be there. We never saw a bathroom, but obviously they had to be there. We never saw lots of areas aboard the ship, but we know they had to be there. We never saw Earth and Andoria and many other Federation worlds, but we know they had to be there. We never saw more than a few Starfleet ships and starbases, but we know they had to be there.

    TOS was but a small window into a larger fictional universe and it should go without saying there would be more they couldn't show rather than only what we saw.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2013
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    In real life, you're right -- nobody is denying that there were sexist intentions motivating the creators of the show. But the Trek universe itself is fictional. It's just a bunch of made-up stories. And stories can be reinterpreted by their audiences. We're allowed to reject the assumptions that go against the overall spirit of the work. Later Trek writers have themselves canonically overwritten "Turnabout Intruder"'s assertions by giving us Captain Erika Hernandez of the Columbia in the 22nd century. Even if it was "true" in 1969, it is no longer true, because fictional universes can be rewritten. Just as it used to be the case that Tony Stark got injured in the Vietnam War but now the "truth" is that it was in Afghanistan. Fictional worlds are not real and thus their "truth" can be reinvented and updated by later generations of storytellers. Continuity can be rewritten and overwritten. Mistakes can be repaired. And this is one mistake that has already been conclusively written out of the Trek universe as it is interpreted today.