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Posted 18 hours ago

I’ll be joining All Things Trek again this Saturday, April 19, to talk about pregnancy and motherhood in Star Trek. Also joining us will be Kathy Ferguson, who teaches in Political Science and Women’s Studies at the University of Hawaii.

Listen live at 1 p.m. Pacific/4 p.m. Eastern at http://trekradio.net/

If you missed the last episode I did a couple of weeks ago, where we talked about the recurring child characters on Trek, you can catch up on the All Things Trek website.

Posted 18 hours ago

TNG 4X16 “Galaxy’s Child”

jescissa:

trekkiefeminist:

image

A few years ago I went for a first date with a guy I met online. It was almost unreal how much we had in common. As we played Scrabble at a coffee shop we kept bringing up more and more things we had in common. At one point I asked if there was any foods he disliked, and he said no but that he was somewhat allergic to peanuts.

After the extended coffee we went for a walk and were having such a great time that we decided to tack on dinner, too. We went to a nearby sushi restaurant and the food was taking a really long time. My goma-ae came and I totally forgot about his allergy and offered him some. A few minutes later he stopped chatting so freely, and a few minutes after that he said, “Um, was there peanuts in that?”

I gasped and stammered that there probably was and I must’ve forgot. I was pretty mortified.

"Yeah, um, I might have to go throw up," he said quietly.

I apologized over and over and he said, “Well on the bright side we found something we don’t have in common: I don’t think it’s ok to poison someone on the first date.”

I was chewing a piece of sushi when he said it, but I was so nervous I laughed out loud and spat rice across the table at him. It was a miracle we even ended up friends.

But as embarrassing as that date was, there could always be a worse date. There could always be a Geordi La Forge date.

But before I get into that part of the plot of “Galaxy’s Child”, first I want to talk about the other plot-line in the episode, which is that the Enterprise encounters a space-dwelling alien, which looks like a giant floating clam, and accidentally kills it. They quickly realize the alien was pregnant and lashed out at the Enterprise in self-defence. The fetus is still alive.

image

Crusher suggests delivering the baby alien by using the phasers to perform a C-section, despite knowing next to nothing about “the bio-functions of the adult, much less the child”. A minimum phaser blast killed the mother, so using phasers around the fetus doesn’t seem like a genius move.

However, the procedure is successful. But the baby immediately attaches itself to the Enterprise and starts draining its energy. Eventually, they manage to get “Junior” back to its relatives before it destroys the ship.

In her book Sexual Generations: “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and Gender, Robin Roberts looks at this part of the episode and how it relates to societal views of pregnancy and reproductive rights.

Read More

I never liked this episode for Geordi. How can someone who acknowledges the personhood of an android and has a Starfleet captain for a mum fall right into the “nice guy” cesspit? He used his knowledge to try to pick her up not to offer her friendship and when she’s rightly upset about the misuse of her image he acts like that’s her fault.

I also didn’t like the way they killed the alien, saved the baby & just left. In the film Insurrection, Picard asks “Remember when we used to be explorers?” Well, here was a great opprtunity to explore and connect with a new species & they kill one & think it’s okay because they saved it’s baby & don’t bother to stay & try to communicate with and study the group.

I love it! That’s such a perfect summary of this episode’s issues. I love the connection you made about Geordi’s behaviour to the “nice guy” thing. If anyone isn’t up on the discussion on that, it’s basically looking at how some guys proclaim they’re “nice guys” and complain that women keep choosing “jerks” over them to date.

The two problems with that is that it often seems like these “nice guys” aren’t really thinking about how they’re really coming across, and there’s a sense of entitlement that somehow women owe it to them to date them. I think this cartoon from Eat That Toast sums it up perfectly. 

Geordi totally fits that bill in this episode when he blames Leah Brahms instead of his own creepy behaviour and totally unrealistic expectations.

Listen to Guinan, Geordi! She’s always right! 

Posted 1 day ago

TNG 4X16 “Galaxy’s Child”

image

A few years ago I went for a first date with a guy I met online. It was almost unreal how much we had in common. As we played Scrabble at a coffee shop we kept bringing up more and more things we had in common. At one point I asked if there was any foods he disliked, and he said no but that he was somewhat allergic to peanuts.

After the extended coffee we went for a walk and were having such a great time that we decided to tack on dinner, too. We went to a nearby sushi restaurant and the food was taking a really long time. My goma-ae came and I totally forgot about his allergy and offered him some. A few minutes later he stopped chatting so freely, and a few minutes after that he said, “Um, was there peanuts in that?”

I gasped and stammered that there probably was and I must’ve forgot. I was pretty mortified.

"Yeah, um, I might have to go throw up," he said quietly.

I apologized over and over and he said, “Well on the bright side we found something we don’t have in common: I don’t think it’s ok to poison someone on the first date.”

I was chewing a piece of sushi when he said it, but I was so nervous I laughed out loud and spat rice across the table at him. It was a miracle we even ended up friends.

But as embarrassing as that date was, there could always be a worse date. There could always be a Geordi La Forge date.

But before I get into that part of the plot of “Galaxy’s Child”, first I want to talk about the other plot-line in the episode, which is that the Enterprise encounters a space-dwelling alien, which looks like a giant floating clam, and accidentally kills it. They quickly realize the alien was pregnant and lashed out at the Enterprise in self-defence. The fetus is still alive.

image

Crusher suggests delivering the baby alien by using the phasers to perform a C-section, despite knowing next to nothing about “the bio-functions of the adult, much less the child”. A minimum phaser blast killed the mother, so using phasers around the fetus doesn’t seem like a genius move.

However, the procedure is successful. But the baby immediately attaches itself to the Enterprise and starts draining its energy. Eventually, they manage to get “Junior” back to its relatives before it destroys the ship.

In her book Sexual Generations: “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and Gender, Robin Roberts looks at this part of the episode and how it relates to societal views of pregnancy and reproductive rights.

Read More

Posted 3 days ago

Uhura’s role, though I was glad to see that she finally had something more to do than just open hailing frequencies, only served to reinforce my conviction that women were being given short shrift in Search. Who had to stay behind, when the fellows went zipping off to Genesis in search of Spock’s more corporeal half? Uhura. It was implied that she had to remain to bollix Starfleet’s efforts to capture the Enterprise, and then arrange for the reception on Vulcan, but this sop went by at warp-speed in the general excitement of the getaway. I came away with only the briefest and vaguest of allusions that Uhura’s role in helping to save Spock’s life had any significance at all, and her contribution was dwarfed in comparison to the men’s.

A further slight of women in Search…was that Amanda, Spock’s mother and Sarek’s wife, was not even mentioned.

…The only significant female role found in Search was that of Saavik, the young Romulan-Vulcan lieutenant…I liked Curtis’ Romulan/Vulcan lieutenant better…

…But of all the slights and omissions I noted toward women in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, none sent my blood pressure up as rapidly as the scene on Spock’s home planet in which we were treated to the sight of Vulcan “priestesses” sporting diaphanous gowns more appropriately found in a seraglio than in a solemn, dangerous rite with religious overtones. This vision of Vulcan women dressed in such a ridiculous fashion wasn’t only sexist - it was also completely illogical…Those gauzy, split-to-the-thigh gowns were utterly inappropriate for the Vulcan climate. None of the priests wore them, of course.

- Science Fiction/Fantasy Author A.C. Crispin reviews Star Trek III: The Search for Spock in Starlog, November 1984.

Now it’s been a really long time since I watched Star Trek III but of course I was interested to read these comments on its representations of women by A.C. Crispin. It also makes me interested to read the Star Trek novels Crispin wrote to see how she dealt with the female characters.

Posted 6 days ago
I love this blog, and have turned to it as a good jumping point for a paper that i'm writing for my (yes you heard me) Star Trek class. I think that while the Prof. has achieved enough by virtue of teaching it, he's fallen down on the job by not really focusing on the issue of women in Trek. Personally, I'm having a hard time adjusting to writing about it especially without discussing other shows that have had arguably better characters (Leelah, Soolin etc...) How do you reconcile your love?
heathenlyhues asked

Thanks for the note and I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. I love that you’re in a Star Trek class!

On your question, I’m not sure I totally understood. Were you asking how I avoid comparing cross-fandoms? For me that’s not too big of an issue because Star Trek has always been my biggest fan-obsession and there are so many characters across the 6 series, 12 movies and all the myriad novels, comics and games. That means it’s never that hard to find comparisons to draw.

It’s also important for me to think about my audience. If I started getting too heavily into referencing other series, it’s be unaccessible to a chunk of people who aren’t into those shows (I admit I had to look up who Soolin is - sorry!). 

But what I think you meant with your question was how do I reconcile being a fan with the issues I find with the representations of women in Star Trek? Basically, I see my critique as an expression of how much I love the show - you have to be a fan to spend this much time on something!

Every time I watch an episode, especially in ones that I remember disliking initially, I challenge myself to keep an open mind and find something to appreciate. For example, “Elogium” is a super-creepy episode, but I found on the re-watch that I had to acknowledge a few really great scenes.

One thing I’m finding is it’s a lot easier to write reviews of episodes that are either totally excellent or have major issues. The ones that are pretty good or just so-so in terms of story and gender representation are the hardest to write and I’m sitting on notes for quite a few of those.

Back to the fan critique thing, it’s helpful for me to read background info on what the creators and actors thought about the show overall, as well as characters and specific episodes. It’s always easier to critique than to create so I have to remember that they’re ultimately just people who mostly had good intentions (although I reserve the right to get seriously annoyed when I come across interviews like this Fred Freiberger one).

That doesn’t mean we stop calling the mistakes out and offering our thoughts and support to do things better. Because there are so many positive representations we have seen in the Trek universe, I think it’s totally worth it to stick it out and try to make things even better in future Trek incarnations. I 

I hope that answers what you were asking - feel free to get in touch anytime if you have other questions. Good luck with your paper - I’d love to read it when it’s done!

Posted 1 week ago

Kirstie Alley in Starlog Magazine, June 1982:

"When I was a little kid I used to watch Star Trek on TV. Every week, every episode, I’d sit there thinking, ‘I should play Spock’s daughter.’ I mean, I could arch my eyebrows as good as Leonard Nimoy! Get ‘em waaaay up there. Whenever I’d watch the show I’d write dialogue for myself so I could actually take part in the story. When Leonard said a line I’d respond.

"When my manager told me about this part, I thought, ‘Perfect! It’s not Spock’s daughter but it’s pretty close.’"

And this was an interesting observation on the challenge of portraying an emotionless female and worrying how the audience might react:

"The most difficult aspect of the job was developing Saavik in a believable, acceptable way. With a man, it’s easier to adapt to an emotionless personality than it is with a woman. When you’re trying to show no emotion as a woman, you can come off as being cold and unlikeable if you’re not careful. It was hard to be unemotional and yet remain feminine."

This made me think about how we tend to think of women as more emotional and men as more rational/logical, which means it’s easier to accept men in a range of roles, but also makes it harder for men in real life to express a full range of emotions for fear of it seeming “unmanly” .

For women, that assumption of women=emotion/men=reason is a lose-lose - if you’re emotional you ‘re irrational or overly sensitive, but if you’re unemotional you’re “cold and unlikeable” or “unfeminine”. I think that overall issue persists in society, even though characters like Saavik and T’Pol and other women Trek characters like B’Elanna, Dax and Janeway, help us challenge that underlying assumption.

Posted 1 week ago
In a better world, Robert Wolfe muses, people would get more uptight about the violence in an episode like ‘The Way of the Warrior’ than the fact that two women shared a kiss in ‘Rejoined.’ ‘We got flak,’ he admits, ‘but we got more flak from killing Vedek Bareil’…I don’t think it should be a big deal. At the very least, I think it’s a thought-provoking episode. Any time television can make people think a little bit and question things a little bit, wonder a little bit where they’re coming from, that’s a good thing.’
Interview with DS9 writer Robert Wolfe in Captains’ Logs: Supplemental by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman, 1996.
Posted 1 week ago

imadoctornotadragonslayer:

The rank of Captain is generally held by the commanding officer of a starship. Captains may also serve as starbase commanders, the heads of experimental engineering teams, and head divisions of support personnel.


All known (canon) women captains in Starfleet.


Thanks to many contributors at Memory Alpha for the information, and TrekCore for the screencaps.

Thanks for putting this together - it’s a great resource! 

Posted 1 week ago

Let’s just say that I’m having a conversation with Chakotay and I’m making a call about us leaving a certain planet, and that means obliterating the planet. I’m playing three different things at once there.

I’m letting Chakotay know I’m in command, that I have to overcome him as both the First Officer and as a male who’s used to running his own ship. Secondly, I’m making a decision based on my background as a military person. Third, I’m overcoming my instinct as a woman to possibly say something nurturing.

All of that has to be read by the audience instantly in what transpires in the scene. It’s n ot good if I just say, ‘Look, pal, we’re going to do this, and that’s it.’ You have to see the internal conflict. That’s what makes her - I should say that’s what will make her, if I can do this properly - compelling for people.

- Kate Mulgrew in the March, 1995 issue of Starlog.

I love that she was putting this amount of thought into her scenes and how the character’s background and relative position as a woman would influence how she’d behave. This definitely brought to mind scenes where you can see those wheels turning in Mulgrew’s head and it makes me appreciate even more what she was trying to bring to the character of Janeway.

Posted 1 week ago
I also feel so lucky to be able to have a character that’s so three-dimensional. There is something new that I’m learning every time I come to work. B’Elanna is a character that you can look forward to watching as she grows and progresses. The more conflict, the better, as far as I’m concerned, as she tries to reconcile the two sides of herself. There’s so much potential here, and I can see this being a very satisfying experience for the next several years. I’m very excited about that.
Roxann Dawson in a May 1995 interview in Starlog.