I want to take another little pause because I came across something interesting on my usual TrekBBS forums: TheMarySue.com reviewed every televised episode of each Star Trek series to see how the show does against the Bechdel Test, the shockingly challenging standard of having two named women in a story who talk about anything in all creation which is not a man.
The results are ... actually, approximately, what I might have guessed: the Original Trek has a pitiful record, while Voyager does extremely well in passing, perhaps because any time the Captain and the Chief Engineer talk about the spacetime anomaly technobabble of the week the episode passes. Meanwhile the Original Trek had stretches of as many as five episodes in a row that didn't even have a female character, much less have two that could speak to one another. (I exaggerate, grossly. There are only two Original Series episodes in which no female character speaks.) (This is admittedly making some gender-normative assumptions about certain aliens.) Actually, I'm less shocked that no episodes of the Original Series's first season pass than I am that only about two-thirds of Voyager's third season do; what the heck was going on that Janeway and Torres and Um ... What's Her Name They Fired For Seven of Nine ... didn't have anything to chat about?
And the conversation about this went about the way I expected, and about the way every Bechdel Test thread ever progresses: complaints that passing the Bechdel Test doesn't mean something is any good, which is a good reminder of something nobody has ever forgotten, ever. Complaints that something can pass the Bechdel Test while still being atrociously sexist, again a useful reminder for people who are dumb. Grumbling about, what do you want, Quotas where women have to get so many characters? Complaints about hey, if the Bechdel Test is so meaningful how come nobody tests whether they satisfy the reverse test?
And yet there's cause for hope. A large number of the commenters didn't say things that made me feel weary of life, and a healthy number appeared to agree that it really shouldn't be so hard for Star Trek to have multiple female characters who say something about, oh, hey, the plot maybe? Anything? Maybe we'll yet get science fiction that isn't so sexist.
Trivia: In 1825 the United States exported 171,000,000 pounds of cotton to Britain alone. Source: Big Cotton: How a Humble Fiber Created Fortunes, Wrecked Civilizations, and Put America On The Map, Stephen Yafa.
Currently Reading: It's An Old New England Custom, Edwin Valentine Mitchell.