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

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

  1. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    In sheer numbers, maybe, but according to the latest USN info I can find women command 11 combatants, which if you exclude submarines (not open to women till last year) comes out to about 7% of the active fleet. Which happens to be the same percentage as female unrestricted line officers in the navy.

    http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-n...ensPolicy/Pages/NavyWomenFactsStatistics.aspx

    http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-n...omen in the Navy Fact Sheet_March 2013(2).pdf
     
  2. Darkwing

    Darkwing Commodore Commodore

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    I put it down to Janice Lester refusing to admit she was unfit, and made it (in her mind) a sexist conspiracy. Trek had to live in it's time, even as it pushed the envelope, so it could only push so far.
    On the subject of Lt Palamas, even today, many women go to college just to earn their MRS, and we see some of that in the military, too. Not saying it's the reason for that line, or that it's right.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    With this sort of thing, as with stuff like the technology designs of TOS vs. Enterprise or the Abramsverse, we should be careful to distinguish what was a product of the era in which the show was made with what counts as a "real" part of the Trek future. Whatever we see onscreen is not an actual broadcast from an alternate reality; it's a fictional construct representing a conjectural reality, and what we see is filtered and interpreted through the attitudes of the creators and the resources they have available. Roddenberry himself treated TOS as an imperfect approximation of the "real" Trek future, e.g. when he had the Klingons redesigned in TMP and asked fans to assume they'd always looked that way, or when his TMP novelization's prologue pretended that TOS was an inaccurately larger-than-life 23rd-century dramatization of Kirk's true adventures.

    So just because '60s gender attitudes snuck into TOS episodes here and there, that doesn't mean we have to believe those attitudes have somehow made a resurgence in the future, any more than we have to believe that rotating-drum chronometers and computers that clatter like teletypes are the state of the art 250 years from now. We can just recognize them as an idiosyncrasy of the interpretation and feel free to reinterpret them.
     
  4. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    There is a supposition among some fans that Number One wasn't human, and Shaw was in a support field.

    There also the fact that the Enterprise's crew wasn't a fifty-fifty split of men and women, women were for some reason just a third of the crew. So there is something going on there.

    But if you believe that the Enterprise's crew included a large number of aliens, some humanoid in appearence and others unseen non-humanoids, then the crew might be one-third male, one-third female, and one-third "other."

    :)

    :)
     
  5. Duncan MacLeod

    Duncan MacLeod Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Well Roddenberry claimed that the network made him change that because "it would make it look as if there's a lot of fooling around going on up there."

    Don't know how true it is. But it's what he said in that "Inside Star Trek" album he made in the 70s.
     
  6. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    None of the background info says Number One was an alien and if she was she would still be female. The Talosians sure thought so. Shaw was an attorney who worked a prosecutor, that may be "support" but it's not answering the phone or rolling bandages.

    Why would the crew have to be fifty fifty? Another ship might have a crew where the majority is female. I would hope Starfleet didn't assign crew by taking one from column A and one from column B ( and possibly C) till they had a full compliment.
     
  7. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    Even with Number One, we have Pike's line, "You're different, of course."
     
  8. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    She was on the short list (although I think there was little doubt that Roddenberry's mistress would end up with the role).

     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Ooh, Rod Taylor as Robert April. That would've been cool. Leslie Nielsen in the role would've been interesting too.

    Anyone know who Sarah Shane was/is?
     
  10. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    I would guess this actress: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0788080/

    The memo is filled with names that are spelled wrong, so it isn't a stretch to imagine that Roddenberry meant Sara Shane. Haven't seen any of the films in her filmography, though (which, interestingly enough, ends in 1964, when the first pilot was shot).
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^What's startling is that he misspelled his own mistress's name.
     
  12. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    "Honey, I can't even spell her name! Why would you think I was sleeping with her?" That would convince any suspicious wife.
     
  13. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2013
  14. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You can become an admiral without commanding a ship.

    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.

    :)
     
  15. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    ^^ 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.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2013
  16. BK613

    BK613 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  17. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, that pretty much says it there.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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.


    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.


    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.
     
  19. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  20. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    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.