Should they have had a female Commodore in TOS?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Lance, Dec 30, 2013.

  1. Lance

    Lance Commodore Commodore

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    It seems to me that one of the more unsavory things that people use as a stick to beat TOS with -- the whole "no female captains" thing spelled out by insane mentalist Janice Lester in TURNABOUT INTRUDER -- could have been easily seen off by simply casting an actress as one of the Starfleet-commodore-of-the-week in seasons one or two, who is a superior of Kirk. Would have easily underlined that not only are women starship commanders, they can be higher in rank than the leading man of the show! I kind of like how they did this with Commodore Stone in COURT MARTIAL. A black man, who is also Captain Kirk's superior officer, without it ever being mentioned or made note of as in any way unusual. That's progressive. :techman:

    Considering that Gene Roddenberry was progressive enough to cast a woman as the Enterprise's first officer in the pilot episode (admittedly she was being played by his girlfriend...), it seems a shame they couldn't have extended this to other Starfleet flag officers, ala Commodore Stone.

    As it is, the apparent chauvanism of Starfleet in TURNABOUT INTRUDER stands in contrast to earlier in the very same season, where THE ENTERPRISE INCIDENT clearly shows us that the Romulans are happy for their women to command ships. Doesn't paint our 'heroes' in a very good light by comparison. :shifty:
     
  2. BoredShipCapt'n

    BoredShipCapt'n Commodore Commodore

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    But if Roddenberry couldn't get away with a female First Officer, how would he have expected to get away with a female Commodore, especially early in the series?
     
  3. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Alas, "Turnabout Intruder" was the final episode to be aired, so there was no opporunity to fix things by casting a female captain or commodore until the movies came along over a decade later . . . .
     
  4. Lance

    Lance Commodore Commodore

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    How did he get away with giving Kirk a superior officer of color?

    If the role was simply cast as a female, on the merit of the performance given, then I think it would've been passed by the suits without an issue.

    My impression was that the suits didn't have a problem with a female in a strong leadership position per se. They just had a problem with the actress who Roddenberry had cast in that role in THE CAGE. It was the nepotism they wanted to discourage.
     
  5. Avro Arrow

    Avro Arrow Commodore Commodore

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    Yes. End of line.

    Yes, this is my current understanding as well. My *original* understanding was that they protested against having a female as second-in-command, but I believe it was later revealed that Roddenberry just spun it this way, and the actual objection was to Barrett. Of course, because of this history, the perception that the network objected to a female first officer persists to this day.

    Of course, I wasn't there, so I guess who knows. Recollections can become muddled over time.
     
  6. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Because advertisers figured minorities had money to spend as well and they wanted it.
     
  7. urbandefault

    urbandefault Commodore Commodore

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    I always took Janice Lester's comment about no women captains as the ravings of a lunatic. She couldn't make the cut, so she broadened it to include all women.

    As for replacing the character of the first officer? I figure Gene did it and blamed it on NBC.

    A black man as commodore? It could just have been a case of casting the best actor who auditioned.

    I don't give these things much thought in real life. Putting the best people in the jobs they are qualified for just makes sense to me, no matter where their reproductive organs are located, or what color their skin might be.
     
  8. Armored Saint

    Armored Saint Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Racial and gender issues are not exactly the same thing. A black man is a man.

    From an ethnic and cultural point of view, TOS is a quite US-centric universalit utopia. You have Sulu, Uhura and Chekov (during the Cold War Space Race), but most surnames on the Enterprise are English, Scottish or Irish. It doesn't mean that TOS was not really progressive.
     
  9. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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  10. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    Exactly. The myth that the network couldn't accept a strong female leading character has been thoroughly debunked, not the least reason that there were already strong leading ladies on television at the time. It was Roddenberry casting his mistress in the role they had a problem with.
     
  11. arch101

    arch101 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    For all it's progressiveness, there were certainly a couple of missed opportunities where a woman Captain could have been easily done. One that comes to mind is that one of the starship commanders in The Ultimate Computer could have been a woman. Wouldn't have been a big deal to show- there were 4 other starships. I agree that Lester was a lunatic. The fact that we saw Number One as a first officer 13 years before makes the whole notion of no female captains just plain silly.
     
  12. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    Seems like the general subject of Janice Lester and females in command has been done to death around here lately...so I'll say yes, sure would have been nice if TOS had clearly shown a woman at or above Captain's rank in Starfleet, so we wouldn't be constantly going around and around about it 45 years later....
     
  13. uniderth

    uniderth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Perhaps there were some important founding members of the Federation that would not join unless there were females were restricted from being Captains. Then eventually these planet's cultures changed and the restriction on female command officers was lifted sometime in the 2270s.
     
  14. Armored Saint

    Armored Saint Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Perhaps Federation species had been all contaminated by a Klingon experimental virus which was finally cured just before the Whale probe arrival.
     
  15. Avro Arrow

    Avro Arrow Commodore Commodore

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    :wtf:

    I prefer to believe that the Federation was not founded with deliberate sexism included as an inherent part of its founding.
     
  16. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    This is reaching unnecessarily. It's also like the U.S. government ordering businesses to remove woman from positions of authority just to appease a backward country that suppresses woman's rights just so they can do business in said country.

    The lack of evidence is not evidence. There are many things in the Trek universe we never actually see or even hear referenced yet we know those things must be there. We never see a toilet and related facilities aboard the Enterprise and yet we know they must be there. We never see other Starfleet ship designs and yet we know they must be there. And those are two things with less evidence of existence than the likelihood of female starship Captains.

    Number One from "The Menagerie" is the strongest evidence that woman can indeed command in the era of TOS. Throughout most of the story she is actually in command while Pike is absent. And she is clearly established as the ship's First Officer. There is no supportive reasoning whatsoever that would allow a woman to be a ship's second-in-command, with potential to have to actually take over should the Captain be lost or killed, and yet not allow her to actually attain the rank and position of starship command and likely beyond.

    That the series never actually showed it after "The Menagerie" is not sufficient evidence to argue that women were actually barred from command. Nothing that follows in the series contradicts what is established with Number One and her position. What is said by an unstable character in the final episode, "Turnabout Intruder," all comes down to how one chooses to interpret it. This is a bitter and irrational individual still seething because her former lover rejected her in favour of his Starfleet career and ambition to become a starship commander. Her behaviour throughout the episodes clearly illustrates she did not possess the temperament, training and ability to command. In today's terms Lester has a victim mentality---everything is someone else's fault and through no failing of hers.

    She's a reject on two counts:
    - Kirk rejected her because he felt a committed relationship could likely hinder him attaining his career goals. Hence his "world of starship Captains" had no room for women, but more specifically no room for Janice Lester. And she blames him for rejecting her.
    - Assuming she tried for a command path Lester's own shortcomings made her obviously lacking in the required qualities. If we assume that female commanders are fewer than males then we can see how Lester's victim mentality could see her professional rejection as a form of "old boys'" chauvinism excluding women. She can't see the failings in herself so she can only see it as someone else's fault.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014
  17. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    Yes, but Number One was "different, of course."

    :)
     
  18. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, she was. She behaved like a professional officer while Colt was all tongue-tied because of her attraction to Pike. And the other women we saw on the bridge in "The Cage" also behaved professionally.
     
  19. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    Ah, the real reason Pike wanted to leave the service! Too many women on the bridge!

    ;)
     
  20. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    But the lack of evidence is the lack of proof. While it true that if something happen to Pike (and something did) Number One would take over in his absence, should Starfleet have a policy of not assigning females to command starships, Number One would have been replaced as soon as possible. Her command of the ship would have been temporary.

    If present day several officers were removed from the chain of command (death or injury) and a female senior officer found herself in command of a aircraft carrier, she would likely remain in command only as long as it took to replace her.

    While it possible for a female officer to be given command of a combatant in the US Navy, it's very rare.

    :)