Friday, February 6, 2009

2-6-09 Are Women Getting the Shaft in the New Trek?

Over the course of the last few weeks I have come across some of the most jaw-droppingly corrosive minds and they’re all trying to defend their own sexist/racist attitudes by saying that I’m being oversensitive.

Well, I’m here to clarify a few things.

I don’t consider myself to be a prude. As long as men’s and women’s sexuality is treated respectfully, sex in movies, literature and television has its place. If it’s genre appropriate, then fine. It’s when I perceive a line being crossed that I get a little miffed. Okay – A LOT miffed.

Case in point – I have said and I will continue to say that there is absolutely NO reason a shot of Kirk grabbing Uhura’s breasts in the bar fight scene is necessary for the development of either of their characters in the film. Uhura can be a strong female role without having to defend her breasts and Kirk can be just as big an asshole without showing what a letch he is.

Once again – a Trek female role is being defined by her place among the men – instead of being just another member of the crew. The shot was placed in the movie as a joke – a way to get the target audience (14-24 yr old boys) to giggle at the expense of the ONLY female bridge crewmember this film cast. (Remember – Number One is conspicuously missing.)

I’ve been bitching about how poorly Trek female characters had been written in TOS, TNG, and to some degree ENT. (I’m holding out on DS9 because so far I like what I see from Kira and Jadzia – and I haven’t seen enough of Voyager to render an opinion) but I guess I never realized the complete disregard for women a lot of the male fans have.

The one thing I really like about Uhura, was that for the most part – she avoided being defined by the men around her. She had a job which she performed well and was never unduly molested by her fellow crewmembers. Sure she kissed the Captain – but they were BOTH forced to. But she was treated respectfully and sure she was sexy as hell – but she didn’t have to sleep with or pine for a coworker.

Troi: She was totally defined from first moment we see her as being “Riker’s ex” and from that point on until season 5 she could be defined as the “whiny love interest for Riker.” After Face of the Enemy – when she actually started to really contribute something other than “Pain, pain, pain” and holding Barclay’s hand – did she start to really become a more meaningful character. The moment Jellico put her ass in the uniform she started to grow a little respect…I loved post season 5 Troi…she really evolved.

Same problem with Crusher! She was “Wesley’s mom.” Yes, she was a doctor – but she was the moralist whose morals twisted with every episode at the writer’s whims. Worse yet – she was also defined from “the Naked Now” as PINING for Picard – a stereotypically female trait that the writers just couldn’t resist giving her. So the two women who survived season one were defined by their unrequited love for the Captain and First Officer. Bleh. (I’m sorry – if my husband died under my boss’ command, I don’t think I would be wanting to jump into bed with him. And if I did – that tells you something about the quality of my marriage…dumbest character trait ever.)

Skipping DS9 and Voyager for now…

I end up in Enterprise. I loved both Hoshi and T’Pol. Loved them. T’Pol was an awesome Vulcan and her position on the ship was more than earned. Catsuit? Oh yeah – dumb as hell. She should have been in a uniform from day one. Personally, I thought she looked better in it. Hoshi? Talk about a well-written character….Hoshi’s fear about space-travel, the shudders on the ship, the EVA suits, everything was a perfect example of reality. Her fears WEREN’T stereotypically female – they were stereotypically HUMAN. If Hoshi’s character was a man who spent his life studying languages on Earth and got recruited to travel in a space-ship – I’m sure he would have suffered the same uneasiness of the new situation. The beauty was Hoshi grew from it – her character evolved. She was treated respectfully by those around her and not once ended up being defined as pining for love or being a mother or being a caretaker. She simply was a valued member of the crew…just like Travis, Reed, T’Pol and Trip…

Okay – so what am I off about?

Well – here on the TU threads I’ve had to explain why just the one shot of the new movie is insulting. To the point where somehow opinions about how women should just “get over it” and “deal with it” and that “they’re only just boobs” has become the mantra of a few of the guys.

Then this morning I read this:

A discussion about who was a better character – Crusher or Pulaski…

And the discussion turned into well - who would you rather see naked.


It is precisely this attitude that I opine that Mr. Abrams is pandering to. There are more female Trek fans than I think people give credit for. I venture to say at least half of the people on this board and at The Omega Sector BBS are women.

Then to add to it – I was recently involved in a conversation wherein someone said that racism was worse than sexism because it just was. This person must have held the opinion that there are varying severities of discrimination and that it was more okay to discriminate based on sex than it would be for skin color or heritage. This person thought that I should just get over my sensitivity about treatment of women because they “didn’t suffer” like blacks did through slavery and that no woman should be offended because guys find breasts hot.

No. I’m NOT kidding. This person actually said that to me on the eve of the inauguration when they IMd to tell me that all white people were racist. I’m still waiting for the apology.

Another person told me that race was no longer a “taboo” subject – that EVERYBODY knows that racism is wrong.

Trek is supposed to be moving forward here folks. There are quite a few women who were drawn to into the male dominated work force by the mere presence of a black woman on the bridge of fictional starship.

Trek had these lessons at its heart and yeah – they learned to be better about them as time went on – Crusher and Troi evolved a little and Hoshi and T’Pol were leaps better…but I can’t help but feel that somewhere those lessons are not only being lost – but that the stereotypes of women are being reinforced by 24 frames and that somehow I am being oversensitive because I see a whole new generation treating women disrespectfully.

So – here’s the imdb link to Star Trek 2009 .

Peruse the cast list for a bit. See if you can find a female character that isn’t stereotypical. Keep in mind Uhura “gets to” have her breasts in Kirk’s hands AND “gets to” take her top off in the movie too! I don’t know about you…the rest appear to be:

Mothers (Amanda Grayson and Winona Kirk)
Wives (Nero’s wife – Grayson and Kirk again)
Caretakers (A Doctor and a nurse)
Sex Objects (Orion Slave girl and Flirty Cadet)
Or what appear to be toss-offs - a Lt. and a Transporter Chief….ooooh. Exciting
And get this: The ONLY females in command positions….Are Romulan. The enemy.

This is foul.

I want this to begin a real adult discussion. If you think I’m wrong – let me know the reasons why! I promise to be adult and listen to your point of view. I promise to really try to hear you. I may not agree with you, but if I really am wrong about asking for something better for women in Trek – I need to know why.

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