Sunday, May 24, 2009

Star Trek: A Feminist Review

Star Trek has elicted mixed reactions for this viewer. On one hand, I am not a Trekkie - and in fact, I despise Next Gen. for its goofiness. But, due to the many recommendations and the fact that I am a JJ Abrahms fan, I thought - why not?

To begin - and give credit where it is due: Star Trek was an enjoyable film. The plot line was well paced and exciting, it was visually spectacular, the acting well delivered and likable. Importantly, it produced in me the thrill of the speculative; that excited feeling where you speculate - what if we do develop interstellar space travel, what if there are other intelligent species out there.

That being said - the movie failed the Bechdel test (to my knowledge, correct me if wrong) and overall, represents a fairly spectacular, if unsurprising gender fail.

The new military uniform: Mini skirts and fuck me boots?
Aside from mothers and the martian conquest of Kirk, the film has a single main woman actor: Lt. Uhura. As we are told that the Lt. is highly accomplished academically - in a number of fields, we can assume that women are allowed to participate equally in Abrahms ST universe. Fabulous - they can get an education, join the military, participate on panels, etc.

And yet, the uniform for military women is patently ridiculous. While the men are strutting around in a uniform that looks both functional (read comfortable, accomodating, will keep the wearer warm in the air conditioned ship - and yet, allow them to engage in combat with ease) the women are running around in riding mini skirts and come fuck me boots.

Not only does this act to sexualise the women (as it is clearly meant to - we are given a number focusing shots of the Lt.'s legs) the uniform suggests/limits the functionality of what the women are able to do. Clothing is both an indication of class and of the wearer's purpose. A ballgown denotes where/what the wearer is doing - as does a set of overalls. The womens uniform in Star Trek relegates them to non-combat and administrative roles. Clearly, the women are not going to be fixing the ships engine's or kicking any physical ass.

Ultimately, the uniform represents a gender double whammy - let's sexualise the women and relegate them to the sidelines.

The feminist sf blogosphere has offered a detailed discussion of Star Trek. Rather than recreating the wheel, here are a few links:

Star Trek doesn't update gender roles
Heroine Content: Star Trek

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nothing is created in a vacuum: On Patricia Wrede's Thirteenth Child.

I and it looks like many other sf fans will never read Patricia Wrede's Thirteenth Child. Why, you ask? Put simply, Wrede has written an alternative history of the settlement of America - with a few speculative twists. What are the speculative twists you may be thinking? Aside from the traditional speculative tropes, for whatever reason, Wrede has decided to reimagine an America sans Native Americans.

When I first read the summary of this on, I was speechless, dumbfounded and incredibly uncomfortable. In one sense, I attempted to give the author some leeway. Perhaps Wrede felt that she didn't want to navigate the intricacies of the immigration invasion of America, so she side stepped them. But side stepping by obliterating Native American existence - is like genocide by omission.

Here's the problem. Nothing is created in a vacuum and audiences do not read in one. To write about colonisation is fraught with danger. Wrede has in fact (perhaps unknowingly, perhaps subconsciously) written a white washed and racist text. To reimagine America as devoid of its Native occupants is precisely as many would currently choose to have American history written and read. It is disenfranchising to Native American people, and IMO reflects authorial laziness.

What is the point of reimagining colonial history - without actually putting any thought into how you will treat the indigenous occupants?

I am not American. My reaction to this is highly influenced by the Australian history wars, in which there are many calls for an essential white washing of the Australian invasion.

For an thought provoking write up, visit: Maunderings & Ponderings
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