Tag Archives: star trek

Jane Tiberia Kirk beams back from an away mission

Star Trek’s ‘Parallel Lives’ and The Awesome Women In The Mirror

IDW Publishing’s Star Trek comics follow the adventures of the Enterprise crew as they explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, and boldly go where no one has gone before.

In Star Trek #29, the Enterprise continues its five-year mission under the command of Jane Tiberia Kirk.

Yup, that’s right:

an image from a parallel, gender-flipped version of the Star Trek universe, where the Enterprise is under the command of Captain Jane Tiberia Kirk.

Captain Jane Tiberia Kirk, Lt. Commander Spock, and Yeoman Jason Rand.

The fun doesn’t end there: the entire crew, from Lea “Bones” McCoy on down to Hikari Sulu and Pavlovna Chekov, is gender-swapped. (Spock is apparently a gender-neutral name among Vulcans).

Mainstream comics have a well-earned reputation for epic fail when it comes to gender, so when I saw pages of this comic on Racebending’s Tumblr, I had a dual reaction. On the one hand, shut up and take my money. On the other: I hope this isn’t a foul mess.

I grabbed a digital copy from the publisher, and I’m happy to report that is not, in fact, a foul mess. With one glaring exception, the characters have kept the sensibilities and interpersonal dynamics of their better-known counterparts. Captain Kirk is still full of bravado, Bones is still a curmudgeon, and Spock is still Kirk’s good sense. No one’s been turned into a whiny damsel, and artist Yasmin Liang hasn’t drawn our intrepid heroes straining their backs to present their breasts and butt to a viewer they can’t perceive.

Because the characters are still so very much who they are in the normal timeline, the comic gives us a glimpse into a mirror universe I’d sure like to visit: one where a group of brilliant female cadets were given control of a top-of-the-line star ship after stopping a Romulan terrorist when no one else could. Where women can discuss engineering, theoretical physics, and the Prime Directive as readily as they talk about babies. Where Captain Jane T. Kirk’s “love ‘em and leave ‘em” approach to sex isn’t any more of a mark against her character than it is against Jim’s.

It’s a universe where Jane, like Jim, is free to be driven not by romantic prospects or the need to prove that she’s as good as any man out there, but by the desire to live up to her mother’s legacy–to be worthy of Georgina Kirk’s valiant sacrifice aboard the USS Kelvin.

But while the story is giving these women room to be whole people, it’s also not glossing over the way gendered expectations hit Jane differently than they do Jim. Where Pike pegged Jim’s tenacity and passion as leadership qualities, Jane is instead ‘headstrong’ and ‘emotional’–and catches flak for it from her superiors.

Admiral: "Everyone at starfleet command is confident in your abilities, Kirk, despite your headstrong reputation. But we are not oblivious to the fact that you are the youngest captain in the fleet..." Kirk: "You can lose the code words, admiral. 'Emotional.' 'Headstrong.' Just come out and say it. A young female captain makes the bigwigs back in San Francisco nervous."

This fool just called Captain Kirk ‘emotional’ in front of the entire bridge crew. Apparently she’s not emotional enough to flip him the bird he so richly deserves for that.

One thing about the comic did give me pause: Lt. Nnamdi Uhuro. While everyone else is essentially the same person they are in the main timeline, the gender swap seems to have deprived the lieutenant of every ounce of his good sense:

Uhuro: "Or maybe I just want to protect the woman I love. Must be an Earth thing. The gallant knight always wants to save the pricess, y'know?"

I’m pretty sure that if the real Uhura heard a dude talking like that, she’d roll her eyes in twelve languages.

It isn’t just that this is out of character for Uhura, who would never brook this kind of nonsense. Uhuro is the only man of color with a speaking part in this comic. Giving him the fail-ball here has some unfortunate implications.

I’m also a bit sad about not having the real Uhura around because she holds a special place in pop culture history. Most folks have heard Nichelle Nichols’s story about Martin Luther King, Jr. personally talking her out of quitting Star Trek, and Whoopi Goldberg’s story of how powerful it was for her, as a child, to see Nichelle Nichols in that role: a black woman on TV who wasn’t playing a maid.

People of color remain underrepresented in Star Trek, but in the time since Nichols hung up her communicator, we’ve seen several Black men don the uniform: Sisko as a captain, LaForge as Chief Engineer, Mayweather as a helmsman. If we’re counting aliens, we’ve also got Tuvok and Worf at tactical. But in nearly fifty years of Trek, Uhura is the only black female Starfleet officer we’ve had in a core-cast role. Any mirror universe where she’s not rockin’ her ear-piece is the poorer for it.

And speaking of people of color being underrepresented: this Enterprise is just as white as the original. I wish we’d seen more of Sulu. In this version, she’s the only woman of color in the core cast, and she barely has one line.

But while I wish the ladies of this Enterprise were more diverse, this comic still put a smile on my face. It’s well-written, well-drawn, and funny. Jane Kirk is a great character, and one I wouldn’t mind spending a lot more time with. I’m sad that this is just a two-parter, and not an ongoing series that I can buy every copy of forever.

I’m even sadder that it takes alternate timelines like this for us to get the kind of representation that white men can take for granted. Even white as this mirror-cast is, we’d never see a crew like them on the big screen.

You can get a digital copy of Star Trek #29 directly from the publisher, or pick up a paper copy from your local comic book store.

Linkspammers of Catan (first fortnight of April linkspam)

Enjoy!

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on delicious or pinboard.in or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Star Trek Anniversary Cookies by Darla from http://bakingdom.com

Happy 45th Anniversary, Star Trek!

It’s the 45th anniversary of Star Trek today! I fell in love with the show during Star Trek: The Next Generation’s run, and in rewatching it with my sister I’ve been realizing a lot of stuff I didn’t notice the first time ’round. For one, I’d never really thought about how many minorities, women and people of all ages are just there, both in the background and the foreground. There was more diversity on the Enterprise-D or even the original series than I see in most movies today. No wonder I could always see myself on the Enterprise!

Anyhow, it’d be easy to go on and talk about how happy I am to live in the future that Star Trek helped inspire, but instead, I’m going to link someone else’s tribute to trek, because hers is, well, cuter:

Star Trek Anniversary Cookies by Darla from http://bakingdom.com

Star Trek Anniversary Cookies by Darla from http://bakingdom.com

Darla says,

What is a lonely girl geek to do on the 45th anniversary of one of her all time favorite shows?

Make cute cookies that everyone else will love, so that they’ll tolerate the Star Trek marathon that’s ’bout to play on Netflix Watch Instantly all day long. That’s what.

That’s one awesome way to celebrate an anniversary! Go visit her post, To Boldly Go Where No Cookie Has Gone Before… for many more pictures and explanation of how she did it!

And please feel free to reminisce about trek (or talk about cookies) in the comment below.

The Linkspam of Souls, January 24, 2010

If you have links of interest, please share them in comments here, or if you’re a delicious user, tag them “geekfeminism†to bring them to our attention. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links in comments and on delicious.

On geekitude, hierarchy, and being a snob

Liz Henry’s thoughts on geekitude got me wanting to post my own half-formed thoughts on the topic. (Crossposted from my personal blog at Skud’s suggestion.)

Evidently I have the capacity to continuously raise my standard for what makes a real obsessed fan of, say, Star Trek or Cryptonomicon or whatever. I read the Memory Alpha wiki (Star Trek compendium), but I don’t contribute to it; I only know a word or two of Klingon; I haven’t *memorized* more than, say, ten lines of Cryptonomicon.
So I can always say, “oh, I’m just a regular person who happens to like this thing, there are OTHER PEOPLE who are really obsessed.” But that’s just No True Scotsman in reverse. These goalposts must be made of new space-age alloys, they’re so easy to move!

But when I come across an enthusiasm more ardent than mine, there is a kind of intellectual squick, a cooler and more abstract horror. And there’s relief — at least I’m not like that, at least there’s someone below me on this imagined hierarchy. Which makes little sense; to whom am I proving this alleged cool?

Obsession is a derogatory synonym of mastery.

Mel’s post on how she learns tickled my brain. When I learn, I like to hypothesize internally consistent systems of rules. And then I take pride in the architecture I’ve built, in my mastery of my personal social construction, and bond with new tribe members when we learn that we share intersubjectivities.

New skills are tools and catalogs of tools. If you learn what I know, then you’ll realize certain tasks are far easier than you thought. I can be uneasy with that power; it’s like the disorientation of suddenly driving an SUV, getting used to a bigger, stronger body.

But an expert also confidently says, “No. That’s far harder than you realize.” While the fairy tales usually scorn naysayers — they’re just obstacles in the hero’s way — in our real lives, over coffee and beer, we shake our heads and say, “I told him it wasn’t gonna work.”

I had a dinner with an out-of-towner once, and happened to mention that Roosevelt Island’s tram is a major means of transit for RI’s residents, and that when it gets taken down for construction/maintenance for several months (sometime soon, I believe) it’ll be a big hardship for those residents. It would suck to commute by car (that teensy bridge would get backed up real fast), and the RI stop on the F subway line will get uncomfortably crowded. She started making suggestions. Run more F trains? Well, that would probably throw the rest of the system out of whack. Get a bigger bridge? Probably not worth it for a five-month workaround, and besides, building bigger roads means asking for more traffic. She finally said in bewilderment, “Well, they should just fix it!” And I said, eh, it is complicated, isn’t it? And we moved on.

I felt very superior and sophisticated at this – scorn is shorthand for status. There’s a whole other thread here about urban systems, interdependence, respect for homeostasis. But basically, I’m ashamed of that impulse to snobbishness. Had I time, love, security, and patience enough, I’d be about sharing, not shaming.

I like being enthusiastic. I like sharing myself. My opinions, my judgments, and my ideas sometimes feel like an extension of myself, as much as my adopted culture says I should take criticism of those opinions impersonally.

But sometimes I have a snobbish geekiness, so complacent & happy to bond with one person by slamming another. Either because I have more mastery than her (e.g., re: transit), or less (e.g., re: Star Wars).

So, the Twitter version: Parallax sucks, and I love mastering worlds because I can’t master myself.

A link roundup without a bicycle (2nd October, 2009)

If you have links of interest, please share them in comments here, or if you’re a delicious user, tag them “geekfeminism†to bring them to our attention.

a sentimental viducation

I’m not much of a night-owl but I remember as a dorktastic 80s teen propping up my eyes with matchsticks, almost, so I could watch the music videos on Rage, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s indie answer to MTV. I loved music videos then (Golden Brown! Safety Dance! Wouldn’t It Be Good! Wild Boys! Man Overboard! Big Time! Wuthering Heights! – I told you I was dorktastic) and I love them now (recent faves include Her Morning Elegance and Happiness.) At its best the three-minute pop music video is the Faberge egg of late-20th-century art forms; tiny, brilliant and exquisite.

Now a confession: despite being an avid lurker at the gates of fandom I have neglected my viducation. Oh, sure, I love the classic Closer, and I had Lisztomania on constant rotation after we lost John Hughes, but it wasn’t until Skud took me in hand the other day that I first saw Lim’s stunning Us. Fanvids combine the miniaturization of the pop video with the metatextuality and wrenching attachment of your favourite show. To marvellous effect!

So: what else am I missing? What else is there that’s accessible to the dilettante fan (Here’s Luck’s Superstar is fantastic, as long as you’re intimate with late-season Buffy/Faith power dynamics, whereas Francesca Coppa fave A Fannish History of Hotness is shiny crossover win), that marries beautiful music and apt lyrics to sharp editing and production? I like reboot Kirk/Spock and Spock/Uhura and Nine/Jack and Ten/The Master, and I will always be a sucker for John/Aeryn. And if anyone can find me high-class Hermione/Luna I will have your babies. I will. I like meta and politics and hoyay and angst and sweet emo pop and the funny. What do you like? Bring me your shinies! Otherwise I might have to do some real work…

Geeky things to do with bits of string

I knit. Sometimes I crochet, and sometimes I sew, but mostly, lately, I knit. My Nanna taught me when I was a kid, and I’ve done it on and off ever since.

Sometimes people look at me funny for liking textile crafts, as if it were a strangely un-reconstructed 50s housewife sort of thing to be into. I disagree, but let’s save that for some other time.

Instead, have some geeky things made out of string:

Got any more to add to the list?

Daughter of Link Roundup (August 31st, 2009)

Photo by lyrabellacqua on Flickr

Photo by lyrabellacqua on Flickr

quick hits: enterprising women (see what i did there?)

One of my formative geek experiences was watching Star Trek with my Dad, so when the reboot came out this summer I watched it with a huge mob of friends and a childlike glee. That moment where a young James Tiberius Kirk looks out over the Iowa cornfields to what will become the USS Enterprise? The hairs on the back of my neck stood up.

Zoë Saldaña’s kickass reinvention of Uhura was another big part of that delight. I was a bit surprised to find that not everyone shared my neo-Uhura love, and greatly relieved when Rebellious Jezebel and Rawles laid out strong arguments in favour.

Much more problematic (=bullshit) were the characterizations of Kirk’s and Spock’s mothers, both swiftly consigned to refrigerators to give Our Heroes matter on which to brood. You may imagine how much I appreciated Latropita’s open letter to Winona Kirk: “Who wouldn’t want to hear your stories?” That plaint inspired a whole LJ community, Where No Woman, dedicated to those untold stories.

In her provocative and memorable meta-fic, Bravecows reminds us that however shiny our future may be, our stories will not all be the same.

“Don’t think I don’t believe in Starfleet,” said Sharanjeet. “I think our kind of job is very important also. But a lot of you young people just come in thinking about all the holo-movie you see. You think you’re going to have adventure like all the starship captain you hear about. You don’t really know what to expect. But you know, when you come onboard a Starfleet ship and the computer cannot understand your accent, you really have to start to wonder.”