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

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

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Perhaps not explicitly, but nothing reinforced it either. And Number One commanding the ship in Pike's absence certainly comes close.

    In any case, it's not a problem, because this is fiction. We're not watching a documentary beamed from the future. We're not required to treat every last line of dialogue or frame of film as some immutable truth. We're allowed to reinterpret it, to ignore its mistakes. Roddenberry himself wanted fans to do that. He admitted in later years that TOS contained mistakes and bad ideas that shouldn't be considered binding. When he had the Klingons redesigned in TMP, he asked fans to accept that they'd always looked that way and TOS just hadn't depicted them correctly. His introduction to the TMP novelization adopts the pretense that TOS was a 23rd-century dramatization of Kirk's "real" adventures and was "inaccurately larger-than-life" compared to the real thing.

    So there is no problem. If we can pretend that the wrinkly space art in the side screens of the bridge was actually an approximation of video screen images, or that the crude marionettes of Sylvia and Korob's true forms with visible strings were just an inaccurate representation of something more alien, then we can pretend that TOS's portrayal of gender roles and relations was another inaccuracy resulting from the '60s attitudes through which the depiction was filtered. These are just stories, and stories are filtered through their tellers. But we're allowed to refilter them through our own interpretations.
     
  2. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    No, it was directly contradicted in TOS, as has been mentioned several times in this thread. Number One was second in command in The Cage/Menagerie, and took command of Enterprise while Pike was missing.
     
  3. borgboy

    borgboy Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'm not denying any of the good points, except I don't see Number One as contradicting Lester. Number One was a first officer who sometimes had command of the ship, not the actual captain. Playing Devil's advocate, it seems likely that in that scenerio, women were allowed to be first officers, not captains. I don't see the contradiction.
     
  4. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    It strikes me that you simply want to have it spelled out explicitly instead of accepting the evidence being presented.

    Number One was shown in command and performed capably. Her position as First Officer implies a command structure that allows her to rise above that. There's nothing in TOS that definitively says she can't. To keep harping on about this suggests a stubbornness to prove blatant sexism in Starfleet and the TOS writers.
     
  5. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    If you go through all the implications, that doesn't make sense. An officer is either qualified to take command or not, not qualified sometimes and not qualified other times. If women weren't qualified to take command, then (a) Number One would never have been assigned as XO or (b) when the CO's position became vacant, the next senior male officer would take command. But what we saw in the episode was Number One taking command and everyone in the ship following her orders.

    Number One not being the "actual captain" really has no bearing on the issue, because how would one know if her command was temporary or not? If Pike was dead Number One would have been the captain at least until higher command could get a replacement to the ship.

    So, just as some say the intent in "Turnabout" is clear, the intent in "The Cage" seems equally clear: Women could command starships. It seems much easier to dismiss the claims of one erratic character than much of a whole episode that shows a woman in command of a starship.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But that's an absurd premise on the face of it. As the others have said, it makes no sense to allow someone to be first officer and forbid them from being captain. And it makes even less sense for a society 250 years in the future to be so antiquatedly sexist as to have a glass ceiling in place -- particularly when we know that ceiling didn't exist a century earlier or two decades later. There is a wealth of circumstantial evidence, common sense, and just plain basic decency that tells us that "Turnabout Intruder"'s implications are not only immensely improbable, but morally repugnant. I cannot for the life of me understand why you even want to "play devil's advocate" for such an indefensible premise. Forget it. Ignore it. Retcon the crap out of it. Burn it down, bury it, and salt the earth. There are better causes to devote your thought and effort to.
     
  7. borgboy

    borgboy Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I have no agenda to prove sexism in TOS and I don't agree with the episode at all. I'm just not comfortable igniring continuity. I'd rather explain it. I really do have an open mind on the issue and will reconsider this when I finish my ongoing TOS marathon. I am absolutely taking into consideration that Lester was wrong as a valid interpretation.
    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.
     
  8. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Some continuity needs to be ignored. The need for everything to be "real" and to come up with a piece of pretzel logic to keep the silly stuff is ridiculous. Star Trek is full of contradictory information, TOS more than the rest. Go with what makes the most sense.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Nerys Myk is right. Any long-running canon contradicts itself and glosses over its own mistakes all the time. With a novel or a movie, you can go back and fix the errors and inconsistencies before release, but with an ongoing series, the whole thing is a work in progress and there are bound to be things in early installments that the creators later reconsider and want to undo, but since they don't usually have the option to go back and edit a work that's already been published/released, they just retcon things and pretend they were different all along. There's no such thing as an airtight continuity, and if the creators themselves want to ignore a past mistake, it doesn't do them any favors to keep digging up something they chose to bury. That does not serve the intent of the overall work.
     
  10. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    I couldn't have said it better.
     
  11. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    You don't have to ignore continuity because as many of us have said more than once the strength of what is established in "The Menagerie" trumps the perceptions of an irrational and unstable character in one episode. The apparent inconsistency has been explained, more than adequately, because the statements uttered against "no room in command for women" (or words to that effect) are being uttered by an irrational and bitter character carrying a huge chip on her shoulder. Her perception is wrong.

    Put it in a real world context. Every day people make sweeping generalizations about something that annoys them while ignoring evidence that punches holes in their assumptions. I have a friend whose mother thinks all Germans are Nazis at heart despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. And this women would have been a small child at best durung WWII if she had even been born yet. I have no idea why she feels as she does and insists on holding to such an irrational belief, but she does.

    Kirk rejected Janice Lester because his career ambitions had priority over a committed longterm relationship. It's also quite possible that when Lester saw this happening she got ugly about it which simply would have strengthened Kirk's resolve to leave and stick to his long range goals. Lester's irrationality painted Kirk's behavior, his choice, as evidence that Starfleet and starship command excluded women. It's no different than a women being heartbroken and all of a sudden she labels all men as chauvanist pigs. Over the years Lester's bitterness grew instead of her getting over it. Subsequently she discovers alien technology in an archeological dig that gives her an idea and she hatches a plan to steal the one thing her former lover valued more over her: his life of starship command. She plans to exact her revenge upon a man who dared to reject her. This is Fatal Attraction long before it was depicted by Michael Douglas and Glenn Close.

    When Kirk sees her again after all those years he chooses not to argue with a woman who is apparently quite ill and possibly close to death. As the story unfolds we see mounting evidence that Janice Lester is batshit crazy and possibly even insane. She allowed her bitterness and resentment to become all consuming.

    All this is right there on the screen: Janice Lester is a hysterical, unbalanced and hateful individual with a huge grudge driving her. Her perception of reality is thoroughly flawed. Now how can one reasonably take the flawed perceptions of such a character as definitive evidence to rebut what had already long been established in "The Menagerie" that woman can hold command positions?
     
  12. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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?

    I believe the evidence shown in TOS and TAS were that there were no women Captains. Not in the bar in 'Court Martial', in the War Games or any of the abandoned/destroyed ships the Enterprise encountered. However, we didn't see the Captains of half a dozen of the Constitution Starships in TOS. For all we know they were women, Vulcan, Andorian, Tellerite or some combination.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. We didn't see any bathrooms in TOS or TAS, but that doesn't mean they didn't exist. Just that they weren't shown.

    Inconclusive. We only saw the commander of one of the four ships in the war games of "The Ultimate Computer." Of the other three, the only one mentioned by name was Captain Harris, with no first name or gender pronoun employed. We can't rule out the possibility that Harris was female, or that the captains of Hood and Potemkin may have been.
     
  14. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    How many ship commanders did we actually see?

    - Pike (Enterprise)
    - Krasnowsky (unknown vessel and class)
    - Chandra (unknown vessel and class)
    - Kirk (Enterprise)
    - Tracy (Exeter)
    - Decker (Constellation)
    - Wesley (Lexington)
    - April (Enterprise)

    - Captain John Daley was commander of the Astral Queen which likely wasn't even a Starfleet vessel. ("Conscience Of The King").
    - Captain Ramart commanded the Antares which was a much smaller vessel than the Enterprise, possibly a freighter or survey ship. ("Charlie X").
    - Captain Merrick had commanded the Beagle, a civilian merchant vessel. ("Bread And Circuses").
    - Captain Markel commanded the science ship Ariel. (TAS "Eye Of The Beholder").
    - Commodore Stone is referenced as having commanded a starship ("Court Martial") but we don't know what class.

    - Captain Harris of the Excalibur is killed ("The Ultimate Computer") but it's never established whether Harris was a man or woman. In other episodes we also are never told who commanded the Yorktown, the Intrepid, the Potemkin or the Hood.

    - Number One ("The Cage/The Menagerie") is established as the Enterprise's First Officer and is in command during Pike's absence exactly like Spock is in command in Kirk's absence. If Pike had been lost then Number One would have been in command until they returned to starbase and Starfleet chose either to promote her as permanent Captain of the Enterprise or to seek a replacement for the lost Pike. In much the same way when Kirk is apparently lost ("The Tholian Web") Spock is in command until Starfleet chooses to give him permanent command as Captain or elects to just replace Kirk.

    Number One's example is sufficient enough to outweigh the lack of evidence elsewhere in the series. Her example is definitive evidence as opposed to a lack of evidence to the contrary and no definitive evidence to the contrary.
     
  15. Leviathan

    Leviathan Captain Captain

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    No need, the concept makes perfect sense.

    Clearly all the female commanding officers figured out the smart plan was to be an Admiral. Hell, all the ship commanders wound up in beeping chairs, other dimensions, driven mad by planet killers, or blown to bits by mad computers.

    ...pft, smart money is on Admiral.
     
  16. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  17. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    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:
    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.
     
  18. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  19. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    "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.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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.