Sad day for women and startrek fans

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Pride for Red D...
Sad day for women and startrek fans

Majel Barrett, widow of Gene Roddenberry and an actress in many startrek series died yesterday.  The main character I remeber her for may haver been the comic relief, but she was certainly an amazing character who was adventurous, did what she wanted, was who she wanted and didn't care about what others thought. Majel was also a producer of other sci fi series- see the link to the blog below :

http://blogs.feministsf.net/?p=963

 

I sometimes think that it was the idealism in start trek that has led me to being a feminist. 

Loretta

Pride for Red Dolores wrote:

I sometimes think that it was the idealism in start trek that has led me to being a feminist. 

This is sad news indeed. I hadn't given much thought as to how ST might have shaped my feminist views but certainly will now. Ms. Barrett was an amazing woman and her contributions to women, through her work, will live on.

CMOT Dibbler

 

How old was she?  

-------------------------

Takes more than combat gear to make a man Takes more than license for a gun Confront your enemies, avoid them when you can A gentleman will walk but never run -Sting, an englishman in new york

Tommy_Paine

It should also be remembered that Majel Barret was originally cast as the original "number one" of the Enterprise in the Star Trek pilot.  (The Cage)  

Although the pilot never aired as such, the footage was utilized in the Hugo Award Winning episode, "The Menagerie".

 

Wilf Day

She must have been very glad to see Kathryn Janeway, Kira Nerys and Guinan go where no woman had gone before. But at least she got to play a few decent roles as Ambassador Lwaxana Troi on DS9. They owed her that much after miscasting her as Nurse Chapel. Too bad the only DS9 episode Dorothy Fontana wrote did not include Majel Barrett.

CMOT Dibbler wrote:
How old was she? 

Born Majel Leigh Hudec February 23, 1932, in Cleveland, Ohio. Only 76. Leukemia. 

 

Unionist

Hate to be honest, but I never heard of her (other than through her husband). I always thought [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nichelle_Nichols]Nichelle Nichols[/url], as Lt. Uhura, boldly went where African American women had rarely gone before:

Quote:
It was in Star Trek that Nichols gained popular recognition by being one of the first black women featured in a major television series not playing a servant. During the first year of the series, Nichols was tempted to leave the show, as she felt her role lacked significance; however, a conversation with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. changed her mind. Though specifics of the conversation vary, in generalities she has reported that Dr. King personally encouraged her to stay on the show, telling her that he was a big fan of the series and told her she "could not give up" since she was playing a vital role model for black children and young women across the country.[2] It is also often reported that Dr. King additionally added that "Once that door is opened by someone, no one else can close it again."

 

Wilf Day

Unionist wrote:
I always thought [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nichelle_Nichols]Nichelle Nichols[/url], as Lt. Uhura, boldly went where African American women had rarely gone before.

She was a great actress, and a major pioneer -- but let's face it, most of the time she just answered the phone. In theory she was fourth in command, but:

Quote:
Ms. Nichols, during an interview with David Gerrold, mentioned that in the script for one episode, Lt. Uhura was to assume the helmsman's position because all the senior officers were on a planet, but the script was rewritten to exclude that action by the Lieutenant.

Nurse Chapel was no better, but Majel Barrett hung in there until TNG and DS9 gave her more scope.

 

Pride for Red D...

Sci fi can be very mysoginistic and racist so making any postive contibution all the more important.  I think sci-fi has enourmous potential as a forum for social discussion and change, because it is the realm of pure imagination. As I just said though, given it is human imagination the result can be sexist and racist. This is relflected in the fact that Majel was the comic relief as Diana Troy's older, flirty, gold digging mother- and since older women aren't supposed to be sexual. And while Lutenent Uhira did break barriers as an Africna American woman, she still in a short skirt like all the other women on the 1st star trek. This somewhat undermines the power. Many star trek women are strong and empowered, but are made to be feminine in someway so it's not as challenging as it otherwise would be. Seven of nine anyone ? 

 

Wilf Day

Pride for Red Dolores wrote:

Seven of nine anyone ? 

Agreed, which is why I mentioned Janeway, Kira Nerys and Guinan.

And Jadzia Dax, who may have been the best female character ever done on any Star Trek series. She was a strong woman in her own conflicted way -- she had to be, to marry Worf.

Tasha Yar, even if she did get drunk once and seduce Data. 

B'Elanna Torres was more than half strong.

And there's debate about Dr. Beverly Crusher, but she always seemed pretty strong to me, and in the series finale we see she will end up as Captain.  Dr. Katherine Pulaski was strong enough for anyone, even if she was strongly prejudiced against androids.

Trivia note: Captain Erika Hernandez, captain of the Columbia, was one of the very few characters on Star Trek: Enterprise who didn't put me to sleep. Along with Hoshi Sato, who was stronger than she thought.

 

rural - Francesca rural - Francesca's picture

I met Majel in a bar once, incredible woman.

 

She will live on as the voice of the computer in Star Trek 11

Pride for Red D...

Where did you meet her ?

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

Pride for Red Dolores wrote:

Sci fi can be very mysoginistic and racist so making any postive contibution all the more important. I think sci-fi has enourmous potential as a forum for social discussion and change, because it is the realm of pure imagination. As I just said though, given it is human imagination the result can be sexist and racist. This is relflected in the fact that Majel was the comic relief as Diana Troy's older, flirty, gold digging mother- and since older women aren't supposed to be sexual. And while Lutenent Uhira did break barriers as an Africna American woman, she still in a short skirt like all the other women on the 1st star trek. This somewhat undermines the power. Many star trek women are strong and empowered, but are made to be feminine in someway so it's not as challenging as it otherwise would be. Seven of nine anyone ?

 Sci-fi  and fantasy as a genre can be misogynist and racist I totally agree but as you also say it is a realm of fantasy and imagination so there is the potential.  That potential actually is already being used for this very discussion due to the work of many women who are pushing it.  Women like Majel Barret, she was a pioneer in her own right.   I think her work behind the screens that did more to this end.  It does bug me though that in many of the news stories start with the descriptor 'Gene Rodenberry's wife...'  At least they do go on an list many of her other accomplishments. 

There is already a active sub-genre feminist sci-fi as well as quite active work and discussions about women in it and women writers.  At many conventions, even the largest ones like the Comic Cons,  it's now quite common to have panel disscussions on the topic of sexism and feminism and there are now some totally dedicated to women who write sci-fi and fantasy like Wiscon 
 The same thing is happening in the computer gaming world as well.  

 The history of women within what still by many is looked at as male oriented and dominant genre is facsinating.  Star Trek and the later shows as imperfect as it was did break down a lot of barriers much has happened since then.   For me at least I think thats one of the reasons I've always been a Sci-Fi and Fantasy nut, that it's common to find women in untraditional roles, especially 20 odd years ago.   I loved Star Trek with Janeway as a captain, because Janeway was a captain. I remember when it first came out that it was quite a big deal in the Sci-Fi world.

 Star Trek and it's popularity paved the way for many other shows, some good some bad of course but shows like Babylon 5 or Farscape all had female roles that moved way beyond the stereotypical scantily clad female that clung to the pants of the male character type roles and who were always in a sub position.

 Most recently we have the newest Battlestar Galactica which features many female characters.  In the hardcore sci-fi world it caused waves by replacing prominant male characters with females, primarily Starbuck.  It was and I guess still is condemned as being 'feminist propaganda' by some.  Not surprisingly it was mostly males who had big, big problems with the changes. 

 Here's one example that caused me quite a giggle and pretty much sums up many other 'opinions' I've read on the issue...

.'Galactica': Feminist Propaganda That Shamelessly Denigrates Men

 

Quote:
Battlestar Galactica has been removed from storage, and, zap me with a laser pistol, it has been gussied up as feminist propaganda. A writer to the Chronicle plugs the show as the best on television [“Postmarks,” Jan. 12]. It’s the best feminist propaganda, I’ll grant you that.
You can’t fault women for wanting at least one woman to best a man in a science-fiction adventure, but the re-creators of Battlestar Galactica
have used the feminist template to such an extent that the male element
has been emasculated. Take Commander Adama, who appeared initially as a
strong male character. By the end of the pilot movie (aired in 2005),
he apologized to the newly installed female president, the former
secretary of education, for not seeing the wisdom of her orders. As for
the president being a woman, who has a problem with that? But why does
she have to have breast cancer? By handicapping her that way, she
emasculates the commander even more. Starbuck, the best fighter pilot
in the fleet, is now a woman. No, he didn’t have a sex change. The
brassy, cigar-chomping Starbuck is the feminist ideal: She can do
whatever a man does, and she can do it better. Battlestar Galactica shamelessly denigrates men.
 

 Boo hoo.... *insert rolleyes smiley here*

 Anyways, the Sci-Fi world and particularly women do owe quite a lot to Barret.  She will be missed.  I think I can safely say though that she has opened the doors for many other women to follow in her footsteps and they are. 

 If anyone is interested this site has a lot of information and more academic disscussions and reviews about women in Sci-Fi/Fantasy.

  Feminism Science Fiction, Fantasy and Utopia

 

 

 

Pride for Red D...

Excellent post !!!! Thanks for the link, I will look around later. Atre any of these conventions- espcillay the femionist ones ever in Montreal.

Pride for Red D...

And ya, the characters in Battelstar are flawed, but that bevause they're human beings. That'sa what makes the drama- espcially in the President's place, the breast cancer made her a tiking time bom, and her role as a female leader over a male military leader was an element.

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

Pride for Red Dolores wrote:
Excellent post !!!! Thanks for the link, I will look around later. Atre any of these conventions- espcillay the femionist ones ever in Montreal.

 I'm not sure. Most of the conventions I know about are in the States. I know that that Montreal does have it's own Comicon as well as Toronto.  Most of my knowledge about what's happening with women comes from reading various discussions about it all on the net. There's quite a number of groups both in the Sci-Fi world and  gaming world about what is going on.  The story over the years seems to fit a pattern that would likely seem  familar to many.  Very generalized of course.. ;)

 Women - hey we're here and luv this stuff too, what about us?

  Men- What about you?  Aren't you just here with you're boyfriends? Hey nice sexy costume

 Women- Screw off you sexist pigs...we're here too...on our own....haven't you been paying attention

 Men- How quaint, fine but don't frikken ruin it  'k?  We lurv BOOBS!!!!!

 Women- start working together....doing it for themselves...  

 Men-  Come on....BOOBS!!! What's the problem? I don't get it? Huh? 

 Other men-  Idiots.....you're right let's do something and talk about it

 Enter lots of typical kerfluffle..... 

 And now it seems it's at the point where at places like the Toronto Con there's panel discussions like this

 

Quote:
Women in Comics: Why Are There So Few of Us, and Why Are
We Wearing So Little?
Normally
women in comics discussions are panels that focus on the hardships of
being a female creator, or a discussion of the stereotypes of female
characters. Rarely are they celebrations of female creators and female
creations alike. With this playfully titled event, that's about to
change.
Presented by Liana K (Canadian Bar and Grill)
(FEATURING EVA HOPKINS, DANIELLE CORSETTO, ALANA MCCARTHY, CK RUSSELL and AGNES GARBOWSKA)

 

 

remind remind's picture

IN my view, the most women friendly sci-fi TV shows are the Star Gate ones, especially Star Gate Atlantis. Though Sam, in the Star Gate original, is always rescuing the team with her scientific abilities. Which to me is a very positive role model for young women.

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"watching the tide roll away"

rural - Francesca rural - Francesca's picture

Pride for Red Dolores wrote:
Where did you meet her ?

 

I met her in 1994 at a Star Trek convention.  She was in the bar and I'd written an essay proposing that the Prime Directive was actually Canadian in orgin as Pearson had developed Peacekeeping of which 'non-interfearance' is a core mandate, as it the Prime Directive.

She'd read the essay.  But the shows never did anything about it