Janeway as mother

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Voyager' started by Gotham Central, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. Gotham Central

    Gotham Central Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I was going to put this in the thread on sexism, but I actually think that this is something of a seperate issue.

    One of the problems that I had with the Janeway character was that unlike all of the male captains, she was pigeonholed into the role of mother to her crew. To me it stems from the idea that Janeway was, from the start, concieved as a female captain instead of a captain that happened to be female. The writers on the show seemed to have a real problem actually depicting women outside of a rigid binary of either sex pot or mother figure. Thus Janeway did not get to be the captain/leader in the same way that Kirk, Picard, Sisko or even Archer were assumed to be. No she was placed in the familial role of matriarch with the crew acting more as her children rather than comrades.

    To me, this is the essence of the sexist nature of the Janeway character and why it always baffled me that some female fans hold her up as a good female character.

    I also think that this is one aspect of the character's personality that really turned off a lot of male fans. Who want's to go explore the universe with their mother watching over them? Its also tied into the idea that the Voyager crew had to be depicted as more of a family unit rather than a simple team. So in a way it makes sense that this is the version of Trek that turned a group of kids into recurring characters and made one of the regulars an outright babysitter (I personally percieve it as the Disneyfication of Trek). Doesn't it seem a bit stereotypical that the first female lead is thrust into a maternal role in a family structure...one not shown on ANY other Trek series.

    Just look at our other Captains:

    Kirk was something of a womanizing rogue, who worked hard and played hard. When he was in the big chair he was clearly in charge, but could go have drinks with his men, get in a brawl, or take his men to see exotic dancers (with implied strip clubs not being out of the question). His people looked up to him, but as a friend and trusted leader...not as some father figure.

    Picard was first and foremost THE BOSS. You respected him for his position and the sense of authority that he projected. He was no nonsense and did not take kindly to personal drama getting in the way of doing the job. He commanded a ship full of children and actively worked to keep them away from him. He was not a family man and had no interest in playing that role...and certainly would have none of that from his crew. I recall a specific instance where he was actively annoyed that Counselor Troi wanted him to go talk to Data about some problem he was having. I think he said something about the last thing he wanted to do was go "nursemaid" an android.

    Sisko was simply put, a brother in arms. He was not in the business of being a father to his crew because he had his own kid to worry about...amongst all the chaos he delt with on a regular basis. the role of dad was restricted to his relationship with Jake. Fr everyone else he was friend and boss.

    Archer was an idiot...and spent the first few years trying to be everyone's best pal. Over time he realized that that was a bad idea...especially when things got tough. But even at his friendliest...he was never in the role of dad...nor was his crew ever clamoring for him to fill such a role.



    So why was Janeway forced into this position? Why is the Voyager crew now suddenly a "family?"
     
  2. AuntKate

    AuntKate Commodore Commodore

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    I think some of Janeway's maternalism, if you want to call it that, is a product of the ship's predicament. When there is no safe haven or friendly aliens to rely on, the captain takes on more of a parental role by necessity. And I disagree that male captains don't do this, as well. In the Navy, the captain is revered as the "old man," much in the same way a father is respected. It's the XO who is the badass, and, in Voyager, it is a serious flaw that Chakotay isn't more of the bad guy (making sure that procedures are followed, etc.).

    In short, Janeway's parental attitude is not only common for commanding officers, but necessary because of the ship's exile in the DQ.
     
  3. HoneyBLilly

    HoneyBLilly Commodore Commodore

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    Well lets look at their scenario:

    1. They are 70,000 lightyears from home. People are going to miss their families. And as a woman we naturally have that instinct to protect those we love or are bound to protect.

    2. She misses home too, and she's going to try to fill the void of people that she loves with these people she has to go home.

    3. They look to her for strength, and even though it may not seem that her being motherly is her being strong, it's her reassuring them that they'll be okay and they can get through it because she's scared to. Hugs and "coddling" tell a lot about a person.


    Janeway had to protect them, that's why she came off as motherly. Because that's how women can be when they are protecting their own people.
     
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  4. froot

    froot Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Wait, am I missing something? When was Janeway ever pigeonholed into solely being a mother figure? She's shown doing the "mom" thing quite a bit of course, particularly with certain characters, but that wasn't the only facet to her character. Q gives her some guff about being a "mommy" in Q2, but he's not exactly known for his tact.

    She was also shown as a tactician, a scientist, a diplomat, a lover, and a badass with a very big gun. You know, the same shit the other captains do. She wasn't sitting around knitting sweaters during space battles. What about "Macrocosm?" "Scorpion?" "Counterpoint?" "Year of Hell?" Her shindig with Jaffen in "Workforce?" Hell, in "Workforce," the others come to her aid, not the other way 'round. Or even "Night?" I'd say Chakotay was kind of mommying her there.

    And, actually, it was Chakotay who generally filled the role of counselor.

    She'd often chill out and drink with Chakotay, play rough-and-tumble games on the holodeck, and have chats with people that weren't mothering sessions. I can think of several scenes off the top of my head where she's just hanging out and yapping with someone. I wonder if this is more a problem with certain viewers interpreting everything a woman does as maternal rather than an issue with the character...

    Plus I'd argue that Picard, particularly, was very paternal at times. I don't think that's a bad thing. That's simply someone in charge looking after and giving a damn for those under their protection.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2011
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  5. lurok

    lurok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well put froot, and you've verbalised the riposte I was searching for. To be fair to GC, I thought his initial post was interesting in terms of raising questions about the perception of Janeway, though I think you've countered that with the argument that it probably says more how we as a society view women. Janeway clearly has both a maternal and an authoritative side, and neither is a bad thing nor mutually exclusive. There's a couple of other points think worth raising: she's the first fully-realised female captain we've got to see (cf Garrett, Benteen, the Saratoga captain - sure there are others) so it's not as if other reference points where there are with Kirk, etc. Also, Kirk, Picard, Sisko and Archer single so sexual dalliances more acceptable. Janeway had a partner at series start, so clearly wasn't going to be some sort of female Don Juan. For me personally, reason I like Janeway and Sisko so much is that both excellent captains but had strong emotional bonds with crews.
     
  6. AuntKate

    AuntKate Commodore Commodore

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    I'm not sure why people pigeon-hole Janeway like this, but I have a couple of ideas. I don't think some detractors ever watched the whole series, or, if they did, they haven't seen it since it last aired in 2001. As a result, they don't have a very "comprehensive" view of Janeway through the whole series. I think some detractors have only seen a few episodes where Janeway was on the warpath or maybe especially parental toward Seven or someone. (I don't think anyone who saw the awkwardness Janeway showed toward Q's son in Q2 would call her motherly). Finally, I think some people arrive at the show wanting and expecting to dislike Janeway, so they tend to find things to nitpick about, one of which is that she is too "maternal." I like that Janeway is both multi-dimensional and flawed; she seems more real to me than the other captains. ;)

    Edited to add: I love Picard, but I think he is paternalistic in the worst possible way--distant, uninvolved, even uninterested in what goes on with the families on his ship. He loosened up with time, and especially after "Ininer Light" and the loss of his brother and nephew, but I was very unhappy that the writers decided to take the character in this direction. Is it worse for Janeway to be maternal than it is for Picard to be paternal?
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2011
  7. Gotham Central

    Gotham Central Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You yourself admit that the character is maternal, yet suggest that people have some ulterior motive for pointing this out. As i pointed out, no other captain is depicted as being in any sort of familial role as it relates to their crew. Yet there it is with Janeway.

    You fling Picard to the other side of the galaxy and I doubt his position and attitude toward his crew changes. The same with Kirk...who was actually shown as being very close with his crew.

    Now you might find her in the role as ship mom appealing...and more power to you if you do...but the reality is that this is a character trait that is only found on Voyager.
     
  8. froot

    froot Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Captain Ransom forged a very tight-knit relationship with his charges in "Equinox." Actually, he even went one step further than Janeway and let everyone address one another by their first names. Their desperate situation changed they way they dealt with each other. Voyager was a "family" too, and while they got more lax with names over time, they never dropped military protocol entirely.

    Would Picard or Kirk or Sisko act in a more paternal fashion in Voyager's situation? Perhaps not. Their crews would still become more like "family," though, no matter what. In that situation, things could only go a few ways: there could be horrible bloody mutiny, the crew would become more tight-knit, or everyone would eventually split off and settle down on various planets. But it wouldn't be business as usual.

    But your argument was that Janeway was in 100% Mom Mode the whole show. Along with the examples I cited, I could give many, many more where this is not the case. I do like and appreciate that facet of her character, and it is very important. But it's not the only way she interacted with her crew, nor is the way she interacted with aliens or her lovers (which would have been weird.)
     
  9. AuntKate

    AuntKate Commodore Commodore

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    I suggest that she is maternal at times, but a careful viewing of the whole show would reveal many other facets of her character, as well. I found her painfully un-maternal when she was "mothering" Q2. And, for what it's worth, I found Sisko to be very "maternal" in his interactions with his crew and the station. I don't fault him or Janeway for it. I think it is a facet of their characters that is appropriate at certain times and in some situations.
     
  10. JanewayRulz!

    JanewayRulz! Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Hmmm.

    I assume you don't agree?

    That you don't agree she's a "good female character"?

    Hmmmm.

    Well, to turn your other argument around, I WOULD like to go exploring deep space with MY Mother, because my Mother was a kick ass/take names type of woman who didn't let anyone stand in her way at work or in life.

    Kind of like Janeway. :bolian:

    Captain Janeway, as a "maternal figure" actually was created IN the Delta Quadrant out of necessity and out of the course of a natural process called aging. Remember her comments to Tuvok in the "Caretaker"...

    JANEWAY: Kim's mother called me just after he left her. Delightful woman. He's her only son. He'd left his clarinet behind. She wanted to know if she had time to send it. I had to tell her no. Did you know he played clarinet in the Julliard Youth Symphony?
    TUVOK: I did not have the opportunity to meet Mister Kim.
    JANEWAY: I barely knew him. I never seem to have the chance to get to know any of them. I have to, I have to take more time to do that. It's a fine crew and I've got to get them home.

    She had to get them home, but it was going to take more than the TOS "5 year mission" to do it. Her people were going to be gone from home for decades IF they were lucky, which meant a paradigm shift for this Star Fleeter.

    From "The Cloud":

    Personal Log, Stardate 48546.2. Our journey home is several weeks old now, and I have begun to notice in my crew and in myself, a subtle change as the reality of our situation settles in. Here in the Delta Quadrant, we are virtually the entire family of man. We are more than a crew and I must find a way to be more than a captain to these people, but it's not clear to me exactly how to begin. At the Academy, we are taught that a captain is expected to maintain a certain distance. Until now, I've always been comfortable with that distance. Maybe this is just the way it works. Maybe the distance is necessary. Maybe more than ever now, they need me to be larger than life. I only wish I felt larger than life. Computer, delete last sentence.

    As has been noted in the thread, interacting with your team in a parental context is NOT limited to women. My Father was "the old man" in the (post WWII) Army. Blessed with gray hair in his twenties, he was able to pull off the Father figure even as a young sargeant. He had young troops (met him as teens) who still called him decades later because he WAS their Father figure. We see that same icon in entertainment too, and I think I threw out the name Leroy Jethro Gibbs of NCIS fame as a PRIME example of that icon in a previous thread. He's the Father figure of NOT just the women on his team (Ziva & Abby) but of the men too, going as far as to upbraid Tony's Father for his deficiencies in the parenting department.

    Picard, as has been mentioned above, was a distant Father figure. To me, Kirk was "the boss" as was Sisko. (Although Picard was in charge, I can't look at him as "the BOSS" since Riker told him in "Farpoint" that the Captain would NOT be allowed to leave the ship for dangerous away missions... :rolleyes: and he couldn't even force Worf to help the dying Romulan :klingon: . Oh, and by the way, I DO love Picard!)

    Janeway wasn't "Mom"... or "Mommy", but yes... she was definately "Mother". She took the crew under her wings in those 7 years as they became the most important thing in her life, and their welfare came first as much as possible.

    "As possible???"

    Yes... because first and foremost this Mother Bear WAS a starship Captain, which meant that she would have no hesitation sending you to your death if that was the only way she could save her ship and crew ( and if she couldn't figure out a way to take your place!) Oh, and remember something about Mother bears, you DON'T want to get between them and one of their cubs. :techman:

    Just ask the BORG Queen if you think I'm lying. ;)

    Speaking as a female fan, I can think of few characters MORE worthy of my praise. Did she have issues? Oh my yes, thank GOD! But didn't all of them? Kirk was married to the Enterprise... as was Picard. Sisko was a widower, and it showed for too many years. Archer? All I remember is him straining at the Vulcan bootheel that he felt was on humanity's neck for far too long.

    I love Janeway, as you might have guessed from the ID. I'm sorry you didn't, but I am SO glad that I have someone to look up to, as amazing as Kirk, as powerful as Picard, as driven as Sisko.

    Thank-you, PTB. :bolian:
     
  11. henbane

    henbane Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    To the OP (GC) - I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but Janeway's "at times" maternalistic behaviour reflects quite accurately what happens in "the real world" when a group of people become isolated for an extended time (proven psychological/sociological/anthropological fact). Given this fact (and the predictable fanboy distaste for a woman in the big chair), I'd say it was rather brave of the writers to include this characteristic as part of her role in Voyager ie it's normal!

    As for boys not wanting to go on adventures with their mums - that's also rubbish. My brother walked the Kokoda Trail, Himilayas and Kilimanjaro with my mother and grandmother - I love sport too but thats way too much walking and climbing for my liking (I'm female).
     
  12. AuntKate

    AuntKate Commodore Commodore

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    I always wonder about the fans who complain that exploring with Janeway is like hanging out with their mothers. Why is that a problem? Is it a problem to hang out with your fathers? Has anyone ever complained that having Picard as a captain would be like hanging out with your dad? It makes me wonder what has happened to these people, and their mothers, to make them feel that way. I would have followed my mother anywhere, but not my dad, and that was true for all the kids in my family (including the boys).
     
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  13. HoneyBLilly

    HoneyBLilly Commodore Commodore

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    Same with my family. We: my two older sisters, two little brothers, and my little sister was too young but she would have to, even used to tell my mom that if she ever wanted to divorce our dad we were going to stay.

    I actually remember a time when I was five or six where I literally grabbed my mom's legs as she went off to work for the first time since the oldest was born.

    So what's the problem with Janeway being maternal?
     
  14. froot

    froot Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    ^ The problem is that the OP doesn't have a flying clue what sexism is, nor does he seem to have watched (or retained) much of the show at all. :lol:

    I think people just like tossing around blatantly idiotic arguments with the word "sexism" attached in this forum just because they like to see if they can get the female contingent's ovaries in a bunch. (Which they usually do, LOL. I know mine feel uncomfortably bunched.)

    (...I'd hang out with both my parents on a space adventure. :lol: They're both smart, think-on-your-feet sort of folks.)
     
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  15. Santa Garrus

    Santa Garrus Calibrating the Holidays Premium Member

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    I'm gonna have to throw the penalty flag on that one. Archer did try to lead while being friends with his crew. That doesn't mean idiot.

    He led by trying to create a sense of camaraderie, so the crew would feel like they could make suggestions. Which makes sense, being that they were Starfleets first deep space exploration vessel. They didn't need to think outside the box, they needed to make it.

    I personally think of all the ready rooms, Archers was the easiest one to knock on the door of. There's something to be said for that.
     
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  16. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I was wondering about Doctor Smith's eventual sexual vent and how it could only come about through the murder of a shepherding figure...

    He''d Have to kill John to get Maureen.

    He'd have to kill Don to get Judy.

    He'd have to kill John and Maureen to get Will.

    And he'd have to kill the monkey to get Penny (Shades of resolutions no?).

    ...

    That's the problem with being a "space family"... No room to breed.
    ...

    For me the most important episode of Voyager is Night. It shows that Janeway is like a swiss army knife usually, able to be anything for anyone to confront any problem head on but without an external exacerbament, she is functionless. An empty void on the inside who only attains identity by reacting to direct stimulus and not from drawing on internal character or even, if I may say, a soul like mentally healthy people.

    Janeway was a mother when she thought she had to be, but out of sight out of mind and then she suddenly had no continuing consideration for anyone she might have thought of as a child minutes earlier.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2011
  17. froot

    froot Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Depression and/or crippling guilt = no soul?! This line of reasoning doesn't even track. I could actually relate a real-life story that's sort of similar to this, but it's pretty terrible. Suffice it to say, whoa.

    Don't go into the psychiatric profession anytime soon. :eek:
     
  18. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    In fight or flight, the first time they meet NEW aliens, the first thing Archer did was forward DIRECTIONS TO EARTH to prove that he was friendly and forthcoming to his "new friends" so that they could trust his good intentions.

    Space battle.

    They got lucky or the crew would have been meat on hooks and then the homeworld, also nothing but meat on hooks.

    "Idiot" is an all to polite use of verbiage to describe the man's condition.
     
  19. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I didn't see her as depressed. Depression couldn't be instantly countered by a bad guy showing up and trying to kill everyone, well chameleon pirates stealing their deuterium.

    She was just on standby, disenaged because there was nothing worthwile to hold her attention in the space desert, even such mundane tasks as "looking after her crew" and "maintaining the facilities of her starship". It was beneath her. If Kathryn didn't get to be a hero, didn't get to fight an unconquerable foe (Didn't Don Quixotee shut down when reality insisted that those windmills most certainly were not giants.) then she might as well stay in her quarters and rock back and forth.
     
  20. froot

    froot Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Except that she wasn't cured by the Malon showing up. The action didn't solve any of her problems. She snapped into action and everything, but still wanted to "atone" somehow by staying behind and ensuring Voyager's safe journey through the vortex. And the crippling guilt issues were obviously still simmering deep inside well after that episode, or else Admiral Janeway wouldn't have decided to drop-kick Time in the face in the finale. She wasn't on standby simply because she had nothing to do (Chakotay implies she was still doing work, but was hiding,) she was on standby because her guilt was catching up with her. "Coda" also mentioned that she'd had problems in the past with depression.

    For most of the series, we see her handling downtime just fine (although it's clearly her preference to work a lot.)