Why no women captains?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by uniderth, May 9, 2020.

  1. uniderth

    uniderth Commodore Commodore

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    Wait, wait, wait. I know you were just about to post about how it's never actually stated that there were no female captains, or how there's evidence against it. I'm also sure that whatever your point was it's valid.

    BUT, let's assume for a moment that it is in fact true that in Kirk's era there are no women captains. Let's pretend that the phrase "Your world of starship captains doesn't admit women." is accurate; and it means "women cannot be starship captains in Starfleet/UESPA."

    What would be the most logical reason why this would be?

    EDIT: Just to clarify. Feel free to include or exclude other series as you wish. This is primarily about Kirk's series.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2020
  2. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Sorry, I still have to reject the premise. Either being a woman disqualifies a person from commanding a starship, or Number One was acting illegally in "The Menagerie" and the Enterprise crew were following her unlawful orders.
     
  3. Takeru

    Takeru Takeru - Space Police Premium Member

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    There is no logical reason for this. We cannot assume that there are no female captains, it makes no sense.
     
  4. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    The easiest explanation is that Janice Lester was either wrong, delusional, or attacking James Kirk directly rather than Starfleet as a whole.
     
  5. Angry Fanboy

    Angry Fanboy Captain Captain

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    The only 'logical' reason would be society in the 2260s being similar to that of the 1960s and largely holding the view that women were unsuited/unable to hold such a position.
     
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  6. uniderth

    uniderth Commodore Commodore

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    Granted, but the premise of this hypothetical is that what she stated was true and at face value.

    Thanks for answering the question. So to continue this line of reasoning we would need to figure out what conditions would lead to this worldview in the 23rd century.
     
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  7. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Cartoon Premium Member

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    Lack of forward thinking by writers in the 1960s.
     
  8. Angry Fanboy

    Angry Fanboy Captain Captain

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    Thanks.

    Not really interested in continuing the line of reasoning any further to be honest - can't see the value of it so I'll bow out gracefully at this point!
     
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  9. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    It's actually neither, since both ENT and DIS showed us women can be captains too. In order to make your scenario work, we have to remove TOS from the rest of the Star Trek universe and put into its own self-contained 'verse in which there was no advancement in women's rights since the 1960s.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2020
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  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    One possibility that I think was alluded to in a Trek novel by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens (I forget which one), and that I've alluded to myself in one or two of my novels, is that it's a function of TOS taking place in a colonial era. Since young colony worlds would have a need to maintain a high birth rate to ensure their survival and growth, there could be a resultant pressure for women to embrace the traditional roles of childbearing and parenting, to focus on family over other pursuits, and to avoid putting themselves at risk. So a social stigma against women in the military could re-emerge, or at least a stigma against staying in a military career long enough to age out of one's childbearing years. Since it usually takes a long time to become a captain, that could be why most of the women we see in TOS Starfleet are younger women at lieutenant rank or below. (Kirk was a captain in his 30s, but was supposed to hold the record for youngest starship captain.)

    So it's not that women are considered incapable of captaincy or military service -- otherwise there wouldn't be any female officers allowed at all -- but rather that there's a greater societal need for them to be fruitful and multiply, and a need to keep them safe and protected so that they can do so. This has essentially been the traditional view of gender roles in a lot of societies, including '60s America -- that women's role in bearing and raising children is essential and invaluable to the survival of society and thus needs to be encouraged and protected, that it's just as valuable as masculine roles but needs to be separate. This is what Roddenberry seemed to be going for in "Turnabout Intruder" -- the idea that women's roles are just as worthy in their own way and that women should be proud and happy in those roles, rather than delusionally trying to act like men. Though of course "separate but equal" philosophies are never really equal in practice.

    Where this hypothesis falls apart, though, is that despite the purported abundance of human colony worlds in the Federation, nearly all the human characters in the shows are from Earth, which would have no reason to revert to priorities like that. So it doesn't really hold water as an explanation.
     
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  11. Henoch

    Henoch Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    I also feel that cultural norms are cyclical. As for "TOS taking place in a colonial era", I might add "...in a colonial era after a great war." So, maintaining a high birth rate may be even more important for the human race after a disastrous war plus colonization. The only evidence of a war pre-TOS is the Romulan War a hundred years ago, or, some kind of war in which Captain Garth partook about 15-20 years pre-TOS. I vote on the later.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Ummmm....

    https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/DIS_Season_1

    It's now canonical that there actually was a massive war just 10 years pre-TOS. However, I don't think the death toll was as cataclysmic as it would need to be to fit your hypothesis. After all, the war ended just before the Klingons took Earth, so the Earth population was essentially untouched. Again, the attitude might be explicable for colonial humans, but Trek insists on making nearly all its human leads Earth natives.
     
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  13. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    An in-universe justification for a premise that is a result of sexist writing is not needed. "Turnabout Intruder" can therefore be simply ignored, as it should be for the embarrassment that it is.
     
  14. BigDaveX

    BigDaveX Captain Captain

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    If we're looking for an explanation that doesn't boil down to "Lester's just whacky-doodle", the best one I can come up with is that something happened that meant that while it was technically possible for women to become captains in the TOS era, in practical terms it was virtually impossible for that to happen.

    As for what could have happened to do that, well, the best things I can think of are that either Federation society in general for some reason became vastly more misogynistic in the timeframe after Discovery up until some point before The Wrath of Khan, or that something happened to make the Starfleet top brass temporarily more hesitant to promote women to high-ranking positions; possibly it got out that Admiral Cornwell had been in a relationship with a traitor (Captain Lorca), endorsed a mission that would have seen Starfleet commit genocide on Qo'noS (commanded by a female captain, no less), and had ties with the outlawed Section 31.

    And as a possible middle ground between Lester's rants being either completely true or completely nucking futs, maybe something did happen to make it harder for women to get commands in Starfleet for a couple of years, but it soon passed and was no longer an issue by the time of "Turnabout Intruder", with Lester just hanging onto a low point for 23rd-century gender equality as proof that it wasn't her fault she hadn't had the career she dreamed of.

    But yeah, all this is really giving too much thought to an episode concept that started out as Roddenberry just thinking it'd be terribly fun to see Shatner having to act like some crazy broad, and then Roddenberry's storyline being translated to a finished episode by a bunch of people who didn't really understand or care for the series.
     
  15. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Which we shouldn't have to do, because obviously that is exactly what she is.
     
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  16. Nyotarules

    Nyotarules Vice Admiral Moderator

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    The same reason why The Cage had an all white crew - there is no in universe reason for 1960's cultural values that stunk
     
  17. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    The only real reason for Lester's line is Roddenberry's unenlightened views on women despite the lip service he he gave otherwise. Trying to rationalize it as some here have leads to ickier ideas than just the wacko rantings of a lunatic.

    Mostly white. There's that east asian fellow in the transporter.
     
  18. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Cartoon Premium Member

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    There was a Asian guy in glasses running the transporter.
     
  19. uniderth

    uniderth Commodore Commodore

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    Ok ok. Simma down now. We don't need to start counting diversity points. We all get what the real world reasons were for things in the show that don't match our culture today. But let's just indulge in this fantasy what if.

    One explanation I've heard is that another founding member of the Federation had rules against females serving as captains. And so as a compromise this rule was implimented. I think that even made it into one of the Star Trek fan series.

    But I actually think the colonial era idea probably makes the most sense, even if it has flaws upon closer inspection.

    Perhaps What we are seeing is that tail end of this era before it was phased out. Lester was traumatised by something that happened years ago, but things are changing.
     
  20. Nyotarules

    Nyotarules Vice Admiral Moderator

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    Wacky Star Trek explaination coming up - due to Burnham's mutiny and after the disappearance of the diverse crew Discovery, Admiral crazy man Marcus staged a coup and turned Starfleet into a patriarchal, Terran supremacist (with a white bias) organisation, this led to the break up of the UFP and why there is only one non human on the TOS crew because the Andorians, Vulcans and Tellarites decided to remain with their much older startrekking organisations.
    However Spock being half human, with an influential father made the cut and paved the way for M'Ress and Arex to join the crew, just after another coup displaced Marcus after he was exposed as a Terra Prime sympathiser and Earth went grovelling to their former UFP friends and asked for help in reforming Starfleet, however this took about 15 years to complete.