I’ve been watching Star Trek Voyager on DVD recently, and after I’ve seen it all I’ll probably do a series of articles on several of the female characters. But for now, I want to comment on one thing that’s standing out for me:
Of all the cultures Voyager’s crew meets in the Delta Quadrant, not one of them has been a matriarchy.
Maybe the writers feel having a female Federation Captain just isn’t interesting unless her gender is perpetually at odds with the hierarchy systems of everyone she meets. I was personally hoping the show wouldn’t be about Janeway being a woman, but rather she’d just happen to be a woman and the story would be about her and her crew.
A lot of sci-fi fans wouldn’t be bothered by this, I admit; we’re so inured to seeing Yet Another Patriarchy on every planet we visit in any franchise of sci-fi/fantasy. But one of the best qualities of of the genre is its ability to show other norms than the ones continually shoved down our throats here on earth.
There was an episode of Star Trek Deep Space Nine that accomplished what I’m talking about. The station took in some refugees which were led by a woman. In this race, women ran the households and had multiple husbands. When Major Kira failed to hide her surprise at this, the woman demonstrated equal surprise at the idea of women having only one husband. That sort of presentation opens up a thought avenue.
It may not be the show’s intention, but presenting an entire galaxy full of patriarchies just like the ones here on earth reaffirms the erroneous assumption that patriarchy is a natural state, and not one requiring dozens of laws and tons of enforcement to “keep women in their place”.