Monday, March 3, 2008

Men on Ships

The thing with men who spend their lives on ships [re "Kiss me, Hardy," below] is that since there's only one sex present, members of that sex play all the gender roles that society generally divides between the sexes. And to a large extent, that's what you see on Star Trek.

Women were present on the starship Enterprise, of course, but they may as well not have been, for the most part. Even when they figured in the plot, they weren't full-blown people but plot devices or stereotypes (the voracious vixen, the smothering mother, etc.), who mostly served to threaten the men's loyalty to each other or the ship.

So, as a woman, I almost never related to the female characters; yet I didn't feel excluded. Because the men displayed such a range of traits--including classical "female" behavior, from McCoy's bitchy tenderness, to Spock's weepy breakdowns, to the way Kirk strokes other men's bodies--I could relate to them. And I felt invited to enfold their classic "male" behavior into mine too: love of whirly gadgets, rationality to the point of irrationality, and comfort in wielding authority. I really lust after that last one.

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