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Portrayal of Women in Star Trek

KelisThePoet

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POSTS: 636

Report this Jun. 12 2013, 2:47 pm

We have a new Star Trek movie that has attracted some attention on these boards and elsewhere for its portrayal of female characters, particularly Carol Marcus.  And I personally am watching Deep Space Nine for the first time right now and am struck by how that series portrays its female characters.  Thinking about both the new movie and Deep Space Nine together led me to consider how female characters have been portrayed more generally in this franchise and especially in more recent years.  If, as some fans claim, the portrayal of female characters in Abrams' movies is problematic, how do those problems compare to what other installments of the franchise have done?


Below are three potentially problematic aspects of female characters' portrayal, each followed by a brief summary of my thoughts on how different installments of the Star Trek franchise have handled them.


Number (and ratio) of major female characters


There will always be those who claim that the number of female characters doesn't matter; that it should be determined by the needs of the story, not by gender politics.  I think I agree to the extent that I don't think the creators need to fill an exact quota of female characters before which their work should be considered sexist (and ostensibly after which they get something of a pass on gender-sensitive issues).  But I think most people interested in gender equality and progress would agree that a show like Star Trek should portray a large number of women filling important professional and dramatic roles.


The original show had arguably three major female characters (Uhura, Chapel, Rand), but lost one very early on.  A "generation" later, The Next Generation did not manage to do any better (Troi, Crusher, Yar).  Much to my amazement, Deep Space Nine went backwards (at least in the initial seasons I'm watching), starting out with only two major female characters (Kira, Dax).  And Voyager managed only to bring things slightly above the level established by the original show, by managing to hang onto three major female characters (though not the same three) throughout its run (Janeway, B'Elanna, Seven, Kes).  Enterprise reduced the total back to two (T'Pol, Hoshi).


In the original cast movies, Chapel slowly faded into irrelevance, leaving Uhura as arguably the only major female character, though Saavik faded in and out.  The TNG movies had basically the same cast as the series.  Some female love interests and villains did pop in and out of the movies (both original cast and TNG), but since they were clearly designed to serve the needs of one movie, rather than join the family, so to speak, I'd count them as being in the same category as the series' supporting female characters like Guinan, Ro, Keiko, etc.


Abrams" first movie gave us one major female character, the new Uhura, but I think she had a more prominient role than the original Uhura and more prominent than most of the "major" female characters in the ensemble-driven series of the TNG era.  In Into Darkness, Uhura's role was made even larger, and Carol Marcus was added.  So after all this time, the franchise is still averaging something in the neighborhood of two major female characters.  Hardly progress or regression, I'd say.


Number of human female characters


You may shrug your shoulders at this potential problem area.  Why should it matter to the interests of gender equality and progress whether the female characters are human or not?  Let me try to explain why I think it does matter.


The original Star Trek series, particularly in its third season, portrayed many socially powerful alien women in guest roles.  To a degree, especially for the time, this was exciting and progressive.  It allowed audiences to think beyond conventional gender definitions toward more culturally "alien" possibilities.  But the problem with these strong alien women was the suggestion that powerful women are somehow alien, not just to certain cultures but to human norms more generally.


The TNG era series leaned on the crutch of the strong alien woman far too often, in my opinion, to explain and distance the stronger traits of its female characters.  Most of those series' strong female characters--Kira, Dax, B'Elanna, Seven, T'Pol, Ro--were either nonhuman or part-human.


By contrast, Into Darkness portrays two strong human women--strong, both in the sense of their assertive personalities and in the sense of their influential professional roles.  In my opinion, that's progress for the franchise.


Further, Abrams' Uhura is a good example of a strong woman who also represents real, human ethnic diversity.


Exploitation of female characters for sex appeal


Anyone fairly familiar with this franchise knows that it has always used attractive women for sex appeal--though defenders of the original show will rightly point out that its miniskirts were also a symbol of feminist liberation.  It's probably unrealistic and unfair to throw the sexist label at particular creative people over this or to expect the franchise's sex appeal to disappear.  However, it would also be wrong not to acknowledge the fact that using female characters this way is culturally problematic--even though Star Trek has also always used male characters for sex appeal, because that doesn't present the same kind of cultural problem.


On a subtler note, after the first Abrams movie was released, people criticized Uhura for her romantic interest in Spock.  For reasons I don't think I can fully and adequately defend here, I disagree with the premise that representing a female character with romantic interests is necessarily sexist or anti-feminist. And I don't think Uhura's romantic interest was mishandled in a sexist way.  At the very least, Uhura would not be the first female character in this franchise to serve as a romantic partner to one of the major male characters--not the first by a long shot.


However, I do find it troubling that the only other major female character in the new movies, Carol Marcus, also seems to be set up for a romantic relationship with one of the principal male heroes.  I worry about the subtle and insidious message that the primary reason for introducing major female characters is to pair off the male heroes.  I don't think Abrams and the other creative people are intentionally sending that message, but when there are only two major female characters in the new movie and there happen to be two principal male heroes, I think the implication is there.  So on that score, Into Darkness may be a bit of a regression.


 


So, in sum, I don't think we can really call Into Darkness' handling of female characters progress, which is sad, but there's been very little if any substantial progress in that direction from any of the more recent Star Trek installments.  And that's more sad.


Falor was a prosperous merchant who went on a journey to gain greater awareness: Through storms he crossed the Voroth Sea/ To reach the clouded shores of Raal/ Where old T’Para offered truth./ He traveled through the windswept hills/ And crossed the barren Fire Plains/ To find the silent monks of Kir./ Still unfulfilled, he journeyed home/ Told stories of the lessons learned/ And gained true wisdom by the giving. – Falor’s Journey, “Innocence”

chator56

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POSTS: 498

Report this Jun. 12 2013, 4:20 pm

Interesting analysis. I wonder why you equate TOS female leads (Uhura, Rand, Chapel) with TNG female leads (Crusher, Troi, Yar). First, I'm not sure Rand or Chapel really qualify as leads, they are more secondary characters, or supporting cast. Rand and Chapel have traditional female roles. TNG makes the head of security as well as the ship's doctor, females, and both are leads. I would argue this makes TNG more progressive. Roddenberry originally wanted the first officer to be a female as seen in the original pilot of TOS, "The Cage." But the studio didn't like it. VOY also comes out on top for having a female captain and engineer, the two most important positions on a starship.


Based on your reasoning, is NuUhura better than original Uhura, since she's a stronger female character?

2takesfrakes

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Report this Jun. 12 2013, 5:13 pm

STAR TREK does not lead the masses around by the nose.
It does not have a responsibility to show women in any
particular light. For one thing, the target audience for
STAR TREK, or any Sci-Fi is horny, college-aged fanboys.
And they are not going to go out of their way to complain
about the T&A content, or that these chicks should be
role models in any way. The only problem I have with Uhura
and Spock getting it on is that it does emphasize how her
character really IS redundant! ANYONE can answer the phone
on the ENTERPRISE. Her doing makes no odds. So, what else
to do with her, but pair her off. As for Carol Marcus ... she is
predestined to carry, feed and water Kirk's future Space Seed.


chator56

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POSTS: 498

Report this Jun. 12 2013, 5:52 pm

2takesfrakes,


You have a point in that there are no communications officers in the 24th century. However, Enterprise found a way to preserve the role by making Hoshi Soto a linguist/translator at a time before the universal translator came into being. Abrams carries this over in making NuUhura a linguist/translator, not just a communications officer/switchboard operator. Eventually, technology will make her position obsolete though.

CountJohn

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POSTS: 177

Report this Jun. 12 2013, 5:57 pm

You didn't talk about the only thing that really matters here, which is whether or not the female characters are actually good, or as good as the male characters (or to put it another way, whether they're being written as people and not just a representation of how a writer sees women as a whole). That's why Ds9 was hardly a step "backwards" considering that Kira and Dax were by far the two best female characters the franchise had had up to that point (and probably since). I actually think the sexual aspect was more of a problem in the later series than in TOS, because Seven and T'Pol's catsuits didn't at all fit with the tone of those shows and just felt really forced. TOS was a super-sensual show on the whole, so the mini-skirts fit right in along with Kirk getting his shirt torn every other show, and Khan's man-cleavage (not that there weren't problems with the depiction of women on the show).  Saying that there's something "problematic" about showing women in a sexual light, but that it's 100% fine to have the exact same situation with male characters seems hypocritical and the opposite of what feminism is supposed to be about.

KelisThePoet

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POSTS: 636

Report this Jun. 12 2013, 9:04 pm

I think it's important for individual female characters to be portrayed positively, but I strongly disagree with CountJohn that "the only thing that really matters" is whether the individual female characters are "actually good."  If they're good but few in number, they come across as tokens.  If they're good but portrayed as aliens, they don't make a positive statement about human women as strongly as they should--and worse, might be read as making a negative statement about human women by contrast.


Of course, it's also a somewhat subjective judgment if a character is "good" or not.  In the case of Deep Space Nine's female characters, I personally think they are good, strong characters.  But there are only two of them in a cast otherwise dominated by men.  And one is arguably represented as strong because she is Bajoran (in the pilot, O'Brien makes a crack about Bajoran women to Sisko, with the implication that they're unusually assertive).  The other is represented as drawing her strength from an androgynous alien slug living inside her.  As individual characters they're cool.  As the show's only major representatives of women, they're unacceptable and a huge step backward.


To make another somewhat subjective character judgment, I strongly disagree with the opinion that the original Uhura is a weak character, either in terms of her personality or her position.  TNG-era Star Trek represents communication technology as being so far advanced that it's just a matter of pushing the right button, so some people look back on the fact that Uhura handled communication through the lens of the TNG era shows and then conclude she was given a frivolous job.  But in the original series it was not represented as frivolous.  It was represented as a position that required a great deal of technological knowledge as well as on-the-job creative thinking, and the fact that the officer in charge of this technical job was an African-American woman was truly revolutionary.


In the supposedly more enlightened Next Generation none of the major female characters had such an interesting role.  Tasha Yar was given the socially progressive but somewhat stereotypical role of being a fighter in charge of tactical, and she was quickly axed (almost as quickly as Rand was axed, and she was barely more central to the drama than was Rand, if at all).  I suppose it's all well and good that Crusher and Troi were portrayed as a doctor and a counselor.  Those are strong professions, though I don't think those two characters themselves were portrayed as particularly strong, in terms of personality.  But even though Troi and Crusher were portrayed as professionals, their work was often portrayed as peripheral to the command structure, scientific investigations and technical workings of the ship.


Another overlooked gem of a character from the original series was Christine Chapel.  Yes, it's a shame she's a nurse instead of a doctor.  In terms of her profession, they could have given her a bigger role.  But her role in the drama was big.  The original show was not an ensemble show, so it focused the most on Kirk, Spock and Bones (and later Scotty), but Chapel's role was as big as Chekhov's, Sulu's and Uhura's.  She's kind of been forgotten as a member of the original family simply because she dropped out of the original cast movies, and I was quite disappointed that she was not brought back into the family with the Abrams movies.


I'm not trying to say that Chapel and Uhura were perfect characters, when it comes to positive portrayals of women, but I think they've been unfairly maligned, just as the later series have been over-praised in some quarters for being more progressive on gender issues than they actually were.


Two more small(er) points.  First, it is not hypocritical to say that male eye candy does not have the same cultural baggage as female eye candy.  Feminism is about working toward gender equality in society as a whole, not about holding men and women to the same standard in every instance.  Historically, men and women have not been treated the same, and as a result, inequality persists in our culture and has to be addressed on a case-by-case basis according to the special circumstances.  Just to use a material analogy, if I give a millionaire a dollar and a working class person a dollar, I've just treated both people the same, but I'm not working toward economic and class equality.


Second, in response to 2takesfrakes, all I can do is shrug and acknowledge, yes, many people do not think Star Trek is the place for progressive social commentary.  But those of us who do are interested in the execution of that social commentary, which is what my post was about.


Falor was a prosperous merchant who went on a journey to gain greater awareness: Through storms he crossed the Voroth Sea/ To reach the clouded shores of Raal/ Where old T’Para offered truth./ He traveled through the windswept hills/ And crossed the barren Fire Plains/ To find the silent monks of Kir./ Still unfulfilled, he journeyed home/ Told stories of the lessons learned/ And gained true wisdom by the giving. – Falor’s Journey, “Innocence”

Pooneil

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POSTS: 1023

Report this Jun. 12 2013, 10:18 pm

I agree with KelisThePoet on pretty much every point. When I first read about the characters for "Enterprise" I thought it sounded like TOS with a female Spock. DS9 treated Dax as "one of the guys" whenever it suited the plot; Kira wasn't much different. The two human women on DS9, Kassidy and Keiko, were very minor and two-dimensional.


Perhaps the main problem is the writing staff, most of whom have always been men. Even when they create a strong female character, they're likely to dress her in a catsuit and high heels. Meanwhile, William Shatner's waistline expands, and no one cares.


A while back someone posted an idea for a new series or a fan fiction series. He listed the crew of the starship he'd made up, and I pointed out to him that all the female characters were aliens -- Klingons, Romulans, whatever. The implication being that women are not quite human. Star Trek has always had male characters like Spock, Data, and Odo to balance out similar female characters like Seven and T'pol, but it would be nice if they included an "average" woman, the way Riker or Trip were average men.

OtakuJo

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POSTS: 16362

Report this Jun. 12 2013, 10:42 pm

Quote: 2takesfrakes @ Jun. 12 2013, 5:13 pm

>

>
It does not have a responsibility to show women in any
particular light.

>


If Star Trek wants to portray itself as progressive, or even as acceptable, entertainmemt, then it absolutely does have that responsibility. I'm not talking about Feminazi politics or prudish limitations here. I'm not talking about taking the "fun" out of sci-fi, or banning the portrayal of confident, sexy characters of either gender, but the simple obligation of any cultural franchise to consider the affect of representing any demographic in an objectified or stereotyped manner.


That said,


I think that Star Trek's record in this regard is highly mixed. The mini-skirt uniform on TOS, while impractical, was itself seen as a symbol of liberation for women in the '60s -- and this can and should be taken into account. Uhura, as a black lady and a member of the Enterprise's elite, was a progressive character for her time even if we might today complain of tokenism and that kind of "Captain Planet Syndrome" in the original series casting. More importantly, she was a strongly individual character and I would say rarely subject to demographic typecasting.


Voyager did best as far as the ratio of male/female characters is concerned. But for characterisation, I would place DS9 at the top. Certainly the more prominent ladies were alien, but they were -- as noted -- very strong and with a lot of focus given to their development as individuals. Also, some attention needs to be given to the secondary characters on DS9, I feel, because they were so prominent compared with other series (even with other series of sci-fi. Or any genre for that matter.) So people like Kassidy Yates & Keiko O'Brien mattered to the story as more than just eyecandy. While there are no human ladies in the main cast (and keeping the ratio clearly mattered to the producers -- it was a major reason why they wanted Ezri Dax to be female), the prominence of recurring human characters makes this barely noticeable.


The gratuitously skin-tight suits of T'Pol and Seven, and the sheer weirdness of decom. on Enterprise, could easily be seen as backward steps. It is possible that the character of both Blalock and Ryan make up for this to some degree. They (like Kira) can be well-developed characters even while they basically form the eyecandy requirement for each show. Personally I think that Troi AND T'Pol both look best in standard Starfleet uniforms (and also -- let's face it -- brains are sexy.) So they're not that sort of "professional but compliant" stereotype from earlier space operas that exist only to be the object of sanctioned sexual harrassment. Even Gaila, the Orion from ST09 had some ability to be sexually expressive but still a headstrong individual character.


In the case of Carol Marcus, I think I mentioned this in the "movies" board -- she is a smart, no-nonsense, and professional. No doubt she knows that Kirk's allowing her onto the ship is more of a groinal than a cerebral decision on his part -- and that is problematic; we could get more into that later if you like -- but then she'll let it slide because it gets her where she needs to be. Bones' flirting was kind of fun because of the crew's reactions. Regarding the strip-down scene, the problem is not that she shows bare skin (Jennifer Sisko and many others also have bikini scenes where there is absolutely no problem whatever), but that there is no logic behind it. Why. Is. She. Doing. This?! On the other hand, she is a character from a single movie, so there's not much chance to develop her more fully. But other movie characters (like Lily from First Contact) had were able to develop into complex people with the screen time they had.


Perhaps I am being a little too forgiving. I haven't included any of the characters who, for whatever reason, either started off badly (Troi) or Just.Didn't.Work (Anij), because I think that there is always that risk of having a milktoast character whatever their gender, race or creed. So, in conclusion, I don't think Star Trek's treatment of women has gotten better. Or worse. But neither has it remained constant throughout. It's certainly had its ups and its downs.


Have you ever danced with a Tribble in the pale moonlight?

OtakuJo

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POSTS: 16362

Report this Jun. 12 2013, 10:45 pm

Quote: Pooneil @ Jun. 12 2013, 10:18 pm

>

>but it would be nice if they included an "average" woman, the way Riker or Trip were average men.

>


Do you think Doctor Crusher might fulfil this role somewhat? She always seemed very averagey.


Have you ever danced with a Tribble in the pale moonlight?

CountJohn

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POSTS: 177

Report this Jun. 12 2013, 11:07 pm

A well devoloped character is never a token. Well devoloped characters are ends in and of themselves. Tokens are bland pointless characters who are only there just so that there can be a woman/minority in the cast. Let me put it this way, let's say we have one show that only has one major female character, and she's a wonderfull, three-dimensional, nuanced character, and we have another show, where nearly all the leads are women, but they're all shallow, awful stereotypes. Which one depicts women better?


As for Dax and Kira being "one of the guys"; sometimes writers just can't win. If you write female characters with their gender as a huge part of their identity, then you get critisized for writing them "as women and not as people", but if you write female characters who don't have gender as a large part of their identity, then it "doesn't count" because she's "one of the guys". My rule of thumb is that if you write a character of either gender where you could change just a few lines of dialogue and believably switch the character's gender, then you've written a fully realized character and not just a gender archtype.


The problem with your position on "eye candy" is that it causes you to ideologically switch between the normative and normal, on the same issue. Feminism is a normative movement, in that it supports gender equality because it's "the right thing to do", and not really to attain any pragmatic end. But, you're essentially arguing on this issue that it's neccesary to work within the confines of the world (the world Feminism condemns and wants to change) as it is, in order to avoid "problematic" ends. I don't see how a movement that advocates radical change can do that and still claim moral authority.


I probably didn't explain that very well, so I'll let Noam Chomsky do my talking for me-


"if an action is right (or wrong) for others, it is right (or wrong) for us. Those who do not rise to the minimal moral level of applying to themselves the standards they apply to others -- more stringent ones, in fact -- plainly cannot be taken seriously when they speak of appropriateness of response; or of right and wrong, good and evil. In fact, one of the, maybe the most, elementary of moral principles is that of universality, that is, If something's right for me, it's right for you; if it's wrong for you, it's wrong for me. Any moral code that is even worth looking at has that at its core somehow."     


 

KelisThePoet

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POSTS: 636

Report this Jun. 12 2013, 11:47 pm

A well devoloped character is never a token. Well devoloped characters are ends in and of themselves. Tokens are bland pointless characters who are only there just so that there can be a woman/minority in the cast. Let me put it this way, let's say we have one show that only has one major female character, and she's a wonderfull, three-dimensional, nuanced character, and we have another show, where nearly all the leads are women, but they're all shallow, awful stereotypes. Which one depicts women better?


 


Both of those hypothetical shows have positive aspects of their depiction of women.  Both have negative aspects.  Neither is absolutely better.  That presumes I agree with your subjective assessment of the value of the characters in the second hypothetical show, of course.  To me one of the problems of arguing that a show's merits depend solely on such subjective criterion as whether the characters are good is that such a criterion can be used to defend any show.  This show only has one female character but all is forgiven because she is the most amazing/realistic/complex character ever, and there's no real way to prove or disprove such a statement.


 


But more to the point, I think we're partially disagreeing over terms, and that may be my fault for using the word "token" inappropriately.  That word carries a lot of connotations about the quality of the character that I did not really mean.  A better word would be exception.  If a show presents a great female character but she is the exception to the rule represented on the show, I have a problem with that.


 


As for Dax and Kira being "one of the guys"; sometimes writers just can't win. If you write female characters with their gender as a huge part of their identity, then you get critisized for writing them "as women and not as people", but if you write female characters who don't have gender as a large part of their identity, then it "doesn't count" because she's "one of the guys". My rule of thumb is that if you write a character of either gender where you could change just a few lines of dialogue and believably switch the character's gender, then you've written a fully realized character and not just a gender archtype.


 


Couldn't disagree more here.  If you have a character and a few lines of dialogue are enough to switch any part of that character's fundamental identity, I consider that to be a very poor character aesthetically speaking, all social and ethical considerations aside.  But I have no problem with a female character who is not conventionally female, if that is a firmly established part of her character.  I do think it's problematic that almost all powerful female characters that hollywood and television give us are either hypersexed or androgynous.  A character does not have to be a femme fatale to be feminine, nor does she have to be a tomboy to be strong.  I loved B'Elanna Torres because she was presented as both feminine and strong, but then they had to make her half-alien, as if there must be some explanation for a woman's strength.  If it's not her masculine side, it's her Klingon side.


 


Similarly, I love the character of Dax (what I've seen of her so far).  She's a scientist, and a cool friend for Sisko, and a sexy woman.  So why'd they have to put an androgynous slug in her stomach to explain it?


 


The problem with your position on "eye candy" is that it causes you to ideologically switch between the normative and normal, on the same issue. Feminism is a normative movement, in that it supports gender equality because it's "the right thing to do", and not really to attain any pragmatic end. But, you're essentially arguing on this issue that it's neccesary to work within the confines of the world (the world Feminism condemns and wants to change) as it is, in order to avoid "problematic" ends. I don't see how a movement that advocates radical change can do that and still claim moral authority.


 


According to moral philosophy, it may be absolutely wrong to objectify a man and absolutely wrong to objectify a woman.  But in the world we live in, men and there privileges are not threatened by male performers posing as eye candy.  By contrast, it harms the cause of feminism to portray women that way.  And that's why the one bothers me and the other doesn't.


 


But there is a serious problem with that position I took.  It runs the risk of being condescending and patronizing, of treating women like victims.  I'm not sure what the answer to that problem is--how to address the historic oppression of a class of people without being condescending and patronizing.  But that's the problem that concerns me, not any theoretical and inconsequential unfairness directed at men.


Falor was a prosperous merchant who went on a journey to gain greater awareness: Through storms he crossed the Voroth Sea/ To reach the clouded shores of Raal/ Where old T’Para offered truth./ He traveled through the windswept hills/ And crossed the barren Fire Plains/ To find the silent monks of Kir./ Still unfulfilled, he journeyed home/ Told stories of the lessons learned/ And gained true wisdom by the giving. – Falor’s Journey, “Innocence”

KelisThePoet

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Report this Jun. 12 2013, 11:51 pm

Quote: OtakuJo @ Jun. 12 2013, 10:42 pm

> some attention needs to be given to the secondary characters on DS9, I feel, because they were so prominent compared with other series (even with other series of sci-fi. Or any genre for that matter.) So people like Kassidy Yates & Keiko O'Brien mattered to the story as more than just eyecandy. While there are no human ladies in the main cast (and keeping the ratio clearly mattered to the producers -- it was a major reason why they wanted Ezri Dax to be female), the prominence of recurring human characters makes this barely noticeable.
I hope I come to agree with you as I watch more of the show.  So far, I don't know who Kassidy is and Keiko, while a fine character, doesn't seem particularly special and is not enough to make up for the gender imbalance in the main cast.  But I'm glad I have something to look forward to, and in the mean time, I will enjoy the many things about the show that are already wonderful.


Falor was a prosperous merchant who went on a journey to gain greater awareness: Through storms he crossed the Voroth Sea/ To reach the clouded shores of Raal/ Where old T’Para offered truth./ He traveled through the windswept hills/ And crossed the barren Fire Plains/ To find the silent monks of Kir./ Still unfulfilled, he journeyed home/ Told stories of the lessons learned/ And gained true wisdom by the giving. – Falor’s Journey, “Innocence”

Pooneil

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Report this Jun. 13 2013, 7:48 am

Quote: OtakuJo @ Jun. 12 2013, 10:42 pm

>

>Voyager did best as far as the ratio of male/female characters is concerned. But for characterisation, I would place DS9 at the top. Certainly the more prominent ladies were alien, but they were -- as noted -- very strong and with a lot of focus given to their development as individuals. Also, some attention needs to be given to the secondary characters on DS9, I feel, because they were so prominent compared with other series (even with other series of sci-fi. Or any genre for that matter.) So people like Kassidy Yates & Keiko O'Brien mattered to the story as more than just eyecandy. While there are no human ladies in the main cast (and keeping the ratio clearly mattered to the producers -- it was a major reason why they wanted Ezri Dax to be female), the prominence of recurring human characters makes this barely noticeable.

>


I've gotten into the habit of disagreeing with you, OtakuJo, so I might as well continue!


Kassidy and Keiko were tertiary characters. Neither one ever got an episode to herself. They were hardly more than convenient accessories to the men they married. Jadzia suffered the same fate when she got married; poor Leeta only existed for Rom's benefit. Compared to men like Nog, Rom, Dukat, Garak, and Martok, (also Weyoun, Damar, Brunt, Admiral Ross...) the recurring women of DS9 were bland and undeveloped.


Perhaps you can help me out with this next one, because it's been a while since I've watched the series. (To KelisThePoet: Spoilers ahead). I never found Odo and Kira's relationship at all convincing because it seemed to be mostly about Odo. As if the writers could only identify with his side of things, and wrote it entirely from his perspective without bothering to explain Kira's thoughts or feelings. Their relationship happened because someone thought that Odo deserved to attain the object of his desire, not because it made any sort of sense for those two individuals to fall in love.


Apparently, the actors didn't think much of it either. So what's your take on the Odo/Kira thing?

chator56

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Report this Jun. 13 2013, 8:06 am

We haven't really talked about how the human females in the series are treated by other males, or by the society. TNG,VOY, and ENT are all progressive in this area; we see female admirals, captains, engineers, doctors, security chiefs, who are all treated with respect and as equals to their male counterparts. I'm not sure DS9 is really a step backward unless one considers that the female leads are not human. This is one area where Abrams Trek is truly regressive. NuKirk basically looks upon women as pieces of meat for sexual gratification, that's why he lets Carol Marcus on board his ship, not because he needs a science officer, but because his pole needs waxing. NuUhura at first appears to be a pretty strong-headed female character, but we later see she is truly a weak, needy female. She lacks the professionalism to keep her relationship private, etc. In Abrams' Trek females do occupy important positions, but not as important as we've already seen. NuUhura is a communications officer/linguist-we've already seen females occupy this role in TOS and ENT. Carol Marcus is a "weapons expert", similar to security chief in TNG.

KelisThePoet

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POSTS: 636

Report this Jun. 13 2013, 12:45 pm

I agree with most of your post, chator56, though not about Uhura's relationship.  Also, I'm not sure the men in Abrams' movies are presented generally as problematic in their attitude toward women, but Abrams' Kirk definitely is--which is a shame in my opinion because Shatner's Kirk was not portrayed as a callous womanizer.  He regularly expressed interest in women, but not in an indiscriminate, disrespectful or hypersexed way.  He was really the lead of the original show in a way that no one character has been in the subsequent installments, so he got the bulk of the romantic stories, but not all of them, and not as many as some fans claim.  This mythology/parody has grown up about him chasing everything female that moves, and sadly Abrams' team seems to have taken this mythology serious.


To me, that's also a shame, because I think Pine and Abrams really got the Kirk character right in other ways.  Throughout most of Into Darkness, I felt that Kirk was amazingly in character, given the situation, but that bit at the beginning of the movie with the cat women and Kirk introducing himself to the two female officers who walked by was more like Denny Crane than Jim Kirk.


Falor was a prosperous merchant who went on a journey to gain greater awareness: Through storms he crossed the Voroth Sea/ To reach the clouded shores of Raal/ Where old T’Para offered truth./ He traveled through the windswept hills/ And crossed the barren Fire Plains/ To find the silent monks of Kir./ Still unfulfilled, he journeyed home/ Told stories of the lessons learned/ And gained true wisdom by the giving. – Falor’s Journey, “Innocence”

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