The Skant in TrekLit

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Gotham Central, Jan 26, 2014.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^I thought that was "skank."

    I believe "skant" is a portmanteau of "skirt" and "pants," because it's sort of a culottes-like garment.
     
  2. Jedi_Master

    Jedi_Master Admiral Admiral

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    Since we are parsing here, I grant you that aesthetics vary by CULTURE, but not likely TIME. Culture does have an impact on initial impressions, although those impressions are often changed when a person actually wears the garment in question. Time however is not as big of a factor, as the human body generally needs to have certain types of covering, and fashion tends to follow those needs.
     
  3. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    The skant-wearing officers aren't too dissimilar to some of the people I see occasionally walking about town. I live in the London area, and we have pretty much every ethnicity, culture, religion and personal oddity on the planet, so little surprises me when it comes to fashion choice ;). Some of the Scottish visitors from the Highlands come down in traditional highland dress, meaning short kilts on the men, complete with sporran and other additions. People often ask them about it, and they tend to play up their Scottishness. At least, I think they're playing it up...

    Basically, when big, beefy guys can be seen strolling in and out of McDonalds wearing highland dress, a skant is unlikely to raise any eyebrows. By the 24th century, where there's no longer a sexual division of labour, and with a million humanoid cultures added to the mix, I imagine the concept of gender-specific clothing would largely be obsolete. Who even knows what's normal anymore, when there's so much variety and so little tying any one person to a particular social identity?
     
  4. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    Too late, sir. The entire bridge already knows your private affairs.

    No, please, please don't clam them up.
     
  5. Jedi_Master

    Jedi_Master Admiral Admiral

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    Two points..
    1) Isn't the kilt in a way culturally gender specific? If you see someone wearing one it says "Scottish male".

    2) Aren't pants unisex? The contention, as I understand it, is that 24th century Starfleet officers should be wearing unisex garb, but don't they already do that?
     
  6. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    Who's to say what the "unisex garments of the... future" will be? Given the vast number of types of garments we've had during the last several thousand years, it'll probably be some combination of them... or something entirely different that may owe its origins to new technology or even new alien cultural influences.

    On the subject of trousers and whether or not people who wear them are also people who ride horses... that may have been true centuries ago, but now? I live on the Canadian prairies and have been on a real live horse exactly twice (hated it both times). None of the reasons I wear pants have to do with horses. I've had the not-really-fun experience of shivering in the early morning because it was simply expected for girls to wear dresses to school. I remember my grandmother telling me how she wished she could have worn pants when she was younger, given how cold the winters got here. You'd think that she could have worn pants, given the fact that she and her younger brother had to ride a horse to get to school...

    I'm not saying fashion doesn't play a huge part in whether or not people in this region wear pants, but the weather definitely does.
     
  7. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    1) Yes, it is. I'm sorry about any confusion, there - I wasn't trying to make a direct comparison between now and the 24th century Federation; I meant that after another few hundred years of cultural integration and intermixing, advanced technology eroding gender roles in occupation, and the influence of a million alien cultures, it would be like today's cosmopolitan cities taken up to eleven. Kilts are indeed gendered, but I assume that the Federation has so many styles and traditions (many of them probably contradictory!) that they'd eventually all bleed into one another. Which in some way might well be a shame. Then again, the novels have explored the "Federation diversity or Federation homogeneity" issue before. It's an interesting question, isn't it?, and a very important one. People take their symbolic adherence to cultures, sub-cultures, tribes, genders, etc, very seriously. Does a completely free and diversified society eventually undermine itself by leeching the significance from its own component cultures - its functional diversity eventually torn apart into complete alienation and troubled individuality? :)

    2) Oh sure. I wasn't trying to justify the odd uniform variant, I was just throwing my two cents into the "looks silly" discussion. Again, sorry for any confusion - I need to be clearer rather than waffling on. (I have no idea why Starfleet would want to introduce a skant option, myself)
     
  8. Gotham Central

    Gotham Central Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Pants are unisex NOW. As any woman born prior to the 1960s would tell you, a woman in pants prior to that would have been considered quite scandalous and as unacceptable as a man in a dress.
     
  9. Jedi_Master

    Jedi_Master Admiral Admiral

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    Here is my unnecessarily long and detailed discussion of the "silly" concept.

    Lets use (in my mind) apt comparison.

    The characters all speak English. Why? Because the television audience for Star Trek historically has been majority English speaking. It is incredibly ethnocentric to think that 300 years from now that the majority of the entire human population spread across the galaxy will be speaking English, and even more ridiculous to think that aliens would speak perfect English (including the mouth movements).The creators of the show recognized that and created a "easy out" with the universal translator. So there is an in - universe explanation of why people are all speaking a language in the future that is amazingly easy for us in the present to understand.
    Even in the novels there is little discussion of the how alien X is somehow speaking perfect English or how in the middle of speaking perfect English it can choose to use it's "native" language for a few words. Apparently the universal translator can be selectively turned on and off at a whim.

    The existence of the skant is a similar type situation. It is apparent that the creators of the show decided that the skant was not selling very well to the MAJORITY of the intended present day audience, and it went away. Of course an author or story teller could specifically mention its existence or have a character wear it, but I think the chances of that are as slim as an author describing the fact the Universal Translator is actually doing the talking when an non - human is conversing with a human via subspace.

    So we can all take comfort that in the 24th century Garak speaks beautiful Cardassian and that his shop used to specialize in repairing Lt. Bashir's skants, even if that never shows up on camera.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Tell that to the women in past centuries who've had their body shapes unnaturally and often painfully distorted by whalebone corsets, bustles, foot-binding, stiletto heels, torpedo bras, and the like. You're enormously underestimating how big a difference time can make, perhaps because you're only approaching the question from a male perspective. Historically, men's fashions have been more guided by practicality than women's.


    Exactly. Just 60 years ago, a woman wearing pants would've been considered a transvestite. It's actually a sexist double standard that we today consider it perfectly acceptable for a woman to wear pants but ridicule the idea of a man wearing a skirt. I've always applauded the idea behind the skant; it was an attempt on Roddenberry and Theiss's part to reject that double standard, to say that it was just as acceptable in the future for a man to wear a "dress" as for a woman to wear pants. Maybe it would've worked better as off-duty attire than a uniform variant, but they already had the precedent of the miniskirted female uniforms of TOS.
     
  11. Jedi_Master

    Jedi_Master Admiral Admiral

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    So I supremely confused.

    Is the going argument that a single garment, long enough to cover the buttocks on an average human but no longer than mid thigh needs will serve as proof that Starfleet is not a sexist organization? Or is it that this same garment needs to be described by a TrekLit author so that the entire written world knows that HUMANS in starfleet have progressed to the point that gender issues are no longer important?

    Why is THIS garment so important as a symbol? Why do we assume that in the future wearing a skirt is "gender neutral"? Would it not be just as likely that 200 years from now female humans are forced to wear pants, and that it is considered "feminine" for males to wear pants and therefore Starfleet shows it's progressive nature by having male humans wear them as well?

    I just don't get the argument here. Personally I think that skant is a silly looking, impractical outift. At least a few people agreed with me because they disappeared. However, if a Treklit guy like our dear Christopher decided to have a character wearing one, then I would roll my eyes and still enjoy reading the book. In the future what people wear is not a big deal. what they DO is the big deal. A Trek Lit author is free to make all kinds of interesting choices, that reflect his or her view of what the future will be like in an organization and culture that is free of many of the "definitions" that exist today. But forcing them to use ONE garment as proof of IDIC is just as silly as that little miniskirt that women wore in TOS and men wore in TNG.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I'm not saying it's important -- I'm saying just the opposite, that diversity in fashion should be accepted as something people have a right to practice and not argued about and objected to because it doesn't fit some narrow preconception about fashion or gender. You're the one making a federal case out of it; we're just saying it's not that big a deal. If you treat equality as something that has to be made an issue of and declaimed about in speeches, then clearly equality hasn't truly arrived yet. The real way to demonstrate it is not to make an issue out of it, to simply present it matter-of-factly as part of everyday life.
     
  13. Jedi_Master

    Jedi_Master Admiral Admiral

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    So it's not a big deal, but the OP wanted to know if it exists in TrekLit and the conversation went from there to where? I mentioned my opinion that it went away because in the "real world" some people felt it looked silly, yet somehow my personal opinion is viewed as being illustrative of the fact that equality has not yet arrived because OBVIOUSLY my opinion is based on my male gender normative?
    That is a circle in a circle in a circle - Skantception!

    Both male and female humans wear non gender specific garb - PANTS!

    The problem that arises is that most Trek fans acknowledge that the "ideal" future is one that is peaceful, inclusive, etc. yet some clamor for that future to reflect the most cutting edge and progressive thinking available at the current time.
    For instance, a new Trek Series would undoubtedly be encouraged perhaps even required to have at least one LGBT character. Yet human culture embraces a multitude of ideas and mores, and a representative slice of a group of humans could contain any number of combinations, including religious individuals, monogamous heterosexual married individuals, and single, childless, asexual, genderless individuals. A recent Trek novel even had a crewmember who wore a hijab, a small detail that I thought was very cool as it showed a rare moment where religiously influenced cultural garb still existed in HUMAN culture.

    I feel that it is a misplaced notion to expect that a specific character, costume, or event be placed within a story to PROVE that society in the future conforms to whatever the most progressive standard is at this current date. Why not just accept that whatever representative slice that the storyteller took of society in the 24th century did not include a person, place, or thing that is - by our standards - progressive?
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Are you even listening? The idea that pants are not gender-specific is an extremely recent one. Even as recently as the '70s, during my own lifetime, pants were considered masculine attire, and girls who wore pants were considered tomboys.
     
  15. Jedi_Master

    Jedi_Master Admiral Admiral

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    I noticed that point several posts ago, and I am unsure why you are bringing it into the discussion as it alone proves that Starfleet is a progressive organization by "current" standards. Even in the late 80's there were still lots of people who felt wearing pants was not a "womanly" thing to do, which was and is silly. So putting women in pants was a big sartorial step for the creators and writers. In addition, Counselor Troi was given a regular uniform which was a big step at the time when just a few years previously in the U.S. Army men and women had different uniforms. So pants = progress. What seems to be the issue is that now the "progressive" thing to do is to have males wear what has traditionally been considered female clothing, although such an idea ignores that men have been wearing flowing garments for a very long time.
    So my contention is that the writers and creators of Star Trek have already shown that Starfleet is a progressive organization sartorially, and that inclusion of the skant won't change that. Therefore an author can choose to include the skant or not based on their opinion of the appearance of the skant itself and not be judged "sexist" if they decide not to have one of their male characters wear one.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2014
  16. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Captain Captain

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    One of the churches I attend (being pan-denominational, I bounce around among 5 different churches in 3 different denominations when I'm home) has a substantial Samoan congregation, and they generally worship in traditional Samoan attire. The male version of which is approximately the same length as a Scottish kilt.

    At any rate, at age 51, I can say with some authority that Christopher is exactly right: I have WATCHED women's pants go from being barely-acceptable casual attire to being commonplace work and even formal dress attire. And I've seen the advent of the Utilikilt (tm) for men. And I've also seen at least one heterosexual man publicly advocate male dresses.
     
  17. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Anything that somebody has a right to wear, somebody else will have the right to point and laugh. Nothing is above criticism.

    And to be brutally honest, I don't give a CRAP what real fashion will be like in 400 years' time. All any of us know is what things look like now, and the way I see it, the skant is as cringe-worthy as anything I've seen on that show.

    Was it Eddie Izzard? ;)
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2014
  18. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    Whut? :wtf: By my math, 60 years ago = 1954. I wasn't born at that time, but my mother was. I've got photos of women on my mother's side of the family when they were wearing pants. I don't recall any scandalous family stories that any of them were considered "transvestites." Context does matter, of course. It's wildly impractical to wear a dress when working on a farm or out fishing or hunting.

    Put that into the context of what women wear on the job. I recall an episode of Adam-12 where one of the female police officers had to get out of the car, kneel on the asphalt, and point her gun at the crook they were chasing. What had me flabbergasted was the fact that she was wearing a skirt. The only thing between her skin and the road was pantyhose. That's not the remotest bit practical, for reasons that include her ability to run and climb if she had to, plus it's no protection at all from whatever's on the road - rocks, gravel, etc.
     
  19. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Nichelle Nichols requested one... and got it for ST III.
     
  20. Gotham Central

    Gotham Central Vice Admiral Admiral

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    But she did not wear a skirt in any of her scenes in ST:III or IV.