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

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

  1. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Yeah, there was kind of an ingrained reluctance for popular entertainment to take the lead on social issues. Summed up in that old Hollywood saying, "Pictures are for entertainment; if you want to send a message, call Western Union."
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Well, no, what I'm saying is that they did take on social issues, but there was a limit to how much they could challenge the audience to change its views. Push people too far and you provoke a backlash. You can achieve more progress in the long run if you do it incrementally, move people forward a step at a time.
     
  3. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Right, I'm just saying as much as there was a desire to push the boundaries, there was also a countering force that said, "don't go too far, it's not worth it."
     
  4. Hartzilla2007

    Hartzilla2007 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Which was said not two seconds after standing next to a woman on the bridge who was not Colt or Number One.
     
  5. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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    Maybe he had dictated it to someone. (Sounds kind of dirty...)
     
  6. borgboy

    borgboy Commodore Commodore

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    It isn't just what Lester says, but the way Kirk generally agrees with her that gives credence to her claims.
    I'm watching my shiny new TOS blu rays, and will watch this episode carefully when I come to it, to see just how clear or vague it is that women really can't be starship captains.
    I would point out there's a big difference between a woman sitting in the captain's chair commanding temporarily as first officer and actually being captain.
    I remember in a thread in the Lit subforum someone said there's a book that says there was a 100 or so year period where women were banned from being starship captains. Which doesn't prevent a woman from holding the rank of captain while working a different job besides leading a starship.
    But then there are books like Vanguard that contradict the sexist ban by having female captains anyways.
    I never liked that it was suggested that women couldn't be starship captains, but once that was in place, I'd be curious to see a story that explored the issue, why it happened in the first place, and the resolution being that the ban was lifted and a worthy female officer be promoted to starship captain.
    I think there's wiggle room with the Enterprise era that there were female starship captains then, and the ban began somewhere between there and TOS era.
    It is a good point to remember TOS was a product of it's era, and it's prejudices. I do like when I read a TOS era book that does things the way I think they should've been done, with stronger female characters with authority.
    In a related note, have any of the novels had gay characters in TOS? Vanguard in TOS era certainly has, but what about TOS novels? I know there have been in ENT, TNG, DS9 and Voyager novels. As a gay man I really appreciate finally seeing gays in those stories, and I think that gives me an understanding of how women are written in Star Trek is important.
     
  7. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Enough of us have seen the episode several times to know it all comes down to interpretation. If you choose to believe that it's supposed to say women in TOS can't command a ship then that's probably how you'll interpret it. If you believe that TOS just never actually got around to showing it then you can interpret the scene as Kirk just not bothering to get back into an old argument. And seeing how Lester shows herself to be crazy it's understandable Kirk knew the futility of trying to argue with someone who isn't all there.

    And although it's often discounted the fact is we did see a woman in command: the Romulan Commender in "The Enterprise Incident." And she commanded a whole squadron and not only a single vessel. Granted you can argue she's an alien, but in context of a 1960's television show the actress was playing a woman in position of command authority.

    This issue keeps arising as if some are trying to find a definitive answer. I don't think there is one because the series doesn't say anything definitive about it one way or the other. So we come back to interpretation.
     
  8. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    I know this whole thing is related to one line by a madwoman in the last episode of the series. Roddenberry was already washing his hands of Star Trek, the show had already been cancelled, and everyone else was just trying to get the thing out the door. I don't think Janice's line should be interpreted literally. She tells Kirk, "Your world of starship captains...", not "Starfleet's world..."
     
  9. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    It's not so much a question of how to interpret the episode as it is a question of how it should be retconned, so that it can be a part of a continuity that we find acceptable.

    Like it or not, the intent of the episode is glaringly obvious. I've seen it several/enough times to know what an embarrassment it is. It may be canon, but I'd sooner throw Turnabout Intruder off a cliff than accept it into continuity the way it was written.
     
  10. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    That's the kind of agreement that goes "Uh, yeah, sure" while secretly thinking to yourself "What a raving nutbar she is."

    Lester is obviously looney-tunes. You only have to watch three minutes of her to see that. Therefore, absolutely nothing she says should, or even can, be taken at face value.

    Besides, think about it: How likely is it that in the perfect future utopia Gene always wanted to create, they'd leave just ONE detail out?
     
  11. borgboy

    borgboy Commodore Commodore

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    It's not about how I want to interpret it, but what I saw and heard.
    Just like I want to think Kirk and Spock are madly in love, but that's not really the intent of the series. I'm well familiar with subtext and making up my own stories though. Just as an example. I think it's obvious what was intended. I try to make the books work with continuity too though, and the books have both touched on this and contradicted it.
    And yes, the Romulan commander is fabulous. I'd say they could get away with having the bad guys have a strong female leader more than they could with the good guys.
     
  12. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    You can tell somebody to your face that you agree with them, but not really do it. You're just doing it to be nice to them, and/or you're afraid that they'd suddenly chop you into fragments with a machete if you don't. If Kirk ever told Janice he agreed with her, trust me, that's why he did it. :lol:
     
  13. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    No matter where you go, there you are.
    One could even choose to interpret it that the world of starship captains does not allow women to be truly themselves.

    (Or one could simply ignore "The Turnabout Intruder" as an embarrassingly bad instance of chauvinism even for TOS Trek and even for the era. Though I know that's not a possibility for some. :) )

    The chauvinism of Trek reflected a spirit of the times, but there was a tradition of action (or just active) heroines in popular culture to draw upon by the time it was being made: Honey West, Annie Oakley, Sheena, Modesty Blaise et cetera. It wouldn't have had to be undertaking some big "message" in dialing down the chauvinism a notch. I think it just probably reflects a preference of Roddenberry's at the time.
     
  14. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    I don't recall trying to fit into continuity being an issue before TNG. Wasn't there a female starship Captain in TVH in 1986? And Alan Dean Foster made reference to Kirk reflecting on Uhura likely being a fine starship Captain sometime in the future in one of ADF's adaptations of the TAS episodes. It could have been his adaptation of "Beyond The Farthest Star" but I'm not sure.

    I still think it comes down to how one interprets what's onscreen and influenced by assumptions or preconceptions brought to watching the episode. I never took Lester's ranting as evidence a woman couldn't command a starship in TOS particularly after seeing Number One clearly being second-in-command in "The Menagerie." I always saw it as Lester basically accusing Kirk of not having any room for her in his "world," his life of starship command, not that Starfleet wouldn't allow a woman to command.

    Oh, well. This issue will just continue to keep going round and round.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Within the episode, yes. But it's a bad, stupid episode. This is all make-believe, you know. You're allowed to ignore parts of it, especially parts that the rest of the canon also ignores. "Turnabout Intruder" was a mistake and its stupid, wrong, sexist claim about female captains has been thoroughly tossed out of canon by Enterprise, just like "The Alternative Factor"'s idiocy about antimatter and "Threshold"'s idiocy about transwarp and STV's idiocy about the center of the galaxy being a 20-minute commute have been kicked out of canon by later productions that rightly ignored them.


    Where's the benefit in that? It was a bad idea resulting from a 1960s mindset. I don't see anything desirable about claiming that human civilization had some major backslide in gender equality for a whole century. That would be an awful path for the future to take and it runs counter to Trek's fundamental optimism. That's part of why "Turnabout Intruder" was such a bad episode -- because its sexism betrayed the series' own principles. I think even the older Roddenberry would've gladly disowned it as a mistake if he'd been asked.


    There's a thread in Trek Literature about LGBT characters in the books. I think there must be some TOS characters in the list there. I know there's at least a reference to a lesbian married couple in the Crucible trilogy.
     
  16. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    'The Weight of Worlds' by Greg Cox has a homosexual couple in it.
     
  17. borgboy

    borgboy Commodore Commodore

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    I do hang onto canon pretty hard, even for a story that doesn't deserve it. I can explain things, at least in my own head, that makes most things work together.
    I agree that this does work against Trek's optimism, but then Trek is almost as bad in it's erasure of LGBT characters too. Thankfully the novels have done a better job in following up with Trek's legacy than even the current movies in that department.
    When I get to the end of my TOS ongoing marathon I'm going to do my best to figure out if I can wiggle around the issue. The presence of female captains in Vanguard, presumably set before this ep, put a lie to the whole thing anyways.
    I just watched Mudd's Women, which doesn't involve women as captains, but still gave me a lot to think about on the subject of sexism in Trek. I overall forgive Trek for a lot of these problems, as it was a product of it's time, and ahead of the time in many ways. We do see many women serving in Starfleet, with examples of them having rank and authority,and Roddenberry did want Number One as the first officer, which was pretty bold and daring for the era.
    Even with it's shortcomings, the optimistic future of Trek is very important to me.
    Thanks CommishSleer for the info! I have that one and am waiting to get to it in my reading. It means a lot to me that the novel line has become so inclusive. I still remember how excited I was when the New Frontier series (which I love) had so many non heteronormative characters as part of their cast, which was really ground breaking at the time. Over the years Trek lit has become more and more inclusive while even the new movies haven't made any progress in that department.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The easiest fix is to assume that Lester was paranoid and deluded and Kirk was just playing along with the delusion because he knew it was pointless to try to reason with her.
     
  19. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Logic? Hmmm, interesting concept. :)
     
  20. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    People always talk about the female starship captain stuff when this episode comes up. That I can dust aside pretty easily, writing it off as a nutty characters' perceptions. What bothers me more is the fact that Laster-as-Kirk seems to know all the crew's names. Instead of ""Mr. Sulu, do this" and "Mr. Chekov do that", I'd have preferred for her to have referred to them as "Helmsman" and "Navigator" until the point someone else referred to them by name.

    I like stuff like that. I remember in a very old Daredevil comic book, he was in a police station, and some needed info came up on a computer screen. Daredevil basically "tricked" the person into reading what the screen said, which he, being blind, couldn't himself see!