Tag Archives: gender

Star Trek Miniskirts: Feminist or Nah?

Aesthetics carry messages about values. Star Trek, while frequently written about in historical, literary, and technological terms, was also a visual experience with a distinctive aesthetic, and there’s a lot there to talk about! I just wrote a term paper on the topic, and it’s my pleasure to bring you some highlights related to Star Trek’s costumes —  specifically, the infamous miniskirts.

A variety of Star Trek uniforms

StarTrek.com

William “Bill” Ware Theiss, a gay costume designer at the beginning of his career, developed the costumes for the full run of the show. The iconic uniforms were the third version developed over the course of several pilots, and their final form was a combination of practicality and aesthetics. The two earlier styles made use of velour tunics, chosen for their futuristic sheen under stage lights. Velour shrinks with every wash, though, and since television costumes are laundered every day, the tunics had to be continually refitted for the actors.

The uniform colors, along with brightly-colored sets and lighting, were chosen in part simply because color televisions were becoming common in the United States in the mid-1960s when Star Trek first aired. The parent network, RCA, even advertised their color TVs by telling customers how good Star Trek looked on them — The bright red color in particular was added to blue and gold versions because it was “RCA color TV-friendly.” The final effect is sleek and colorblocked, a “futuristic” impression largely stemming from minimalistic styling. The bright colors and figure-hugging cuts also project a confidently eyecatching demeanor.

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Guest Post: Friendship to the Max! Lumberjanes

Via Boom Studios

Via Boom Studios

Guest post by Leah, who writes at  The Lobster Dance, a blog about gender and media (and often Japan) and I’ll Make It Myself!a food blog about gender, geekery, and sometimes cannibal jokes. Find her work on Comparative Geeks here.

Lumberjanes

Created by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis & Noelle Stevenson. Illustrated by Brooke Allen (vol. 1-8) & Carolyn Nowak (vol. 11-). Colors by Maarta Laiho. Letters by Aubrey Aliese.

This review has one mild spoiler, but if you’re like me, it’ll make you want to read the series more!

You’re in a quiet theater, watching the previews for the latest action ensemble movie. Out of the silence you hear it–

But what if they were all women?

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Science Fiction Today – Gender

GI have heard Gender described as the civil rights fight of the next century. Well, that means much of the fight is in the future – Science Fiction time! Of course, first I think I want a definition of Gender.

Let’s peel some definitions apart. There’s “sex,” which is physically male or female. Then there is “gender” – often used as the word instead of “sex” – which is about masculine or feminine traits. Definitions on those traits are probably beyond the scope of a short post… Then there is “sexuality” which is about what sex one is attracted to… well, also probably which gender. All of these elements taken together could perhaps be called a “gender identity.”

Between all of those elements, there are a great many laws being passed – that increase or decrease freedom in these different areas. Laws like ones being passed in some countries against homosexuality. Or like laws being passed in the United states – in some states, allowing homosexual marriage… in others, trying to stop it. It’s a hot enough topic that I don’t think I can fully say what utopia or dystopia would look like with this – so let’s look at three possible future states.

Gender Difference Illegal

One way that the dice could fall is for the laws blocking any forms of gender difference – anything outside of masculine males who like women, and feminine women who like men – would be illegal. Parts of the laws to get to this point are already in place in many places.

Depending on how these things are defined, though, what would life look like? For instance, take the geeky things that we love here on the blog. They tend to be considered “guy” things – comic books and their movies, video games – but not “masculine” things. So who would get to enjoy these things?

Gender as a Non-Issue

Then again, there’s the other extreme – gender differences are all made legal, and we have all moved past them as an issue. But how likely is this? After all, there’s the hope that the same could be said of race, but that doesn’t seem to have happened…

Indeed, while many of the apparent legal barriers have been removed, racial tensions still exist. So while on one extreme there are legal pressures against difference, on the other extreme having none of those legal pressures does not inherently mean that society is cured of what ails it.

So how even do you get to a point where it’s a non-issue?

Genderless Society

Of course, if we really want to talk science fiction, then it’s not a legal remedy one way or another. It’s science. And I could see genetic engineering, eugenics, or some form mental or physical controls being used to “solve” the gender question.

Okay, if I’ve already mentioned race, then let me mention the book I just finished reading, The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin. In it, a character could change all of reality through dreaming. At one point, he dreams about a solution to racial difference – and he dreams that everyone was grey, that everyone had always been grey. No racial difference.

Okay… so is a solution like that utopian or is it dystopian? You tell me.

Historical Note: Though I used it as the conceit for this post, it is an oversimplification to think of gender identity as the civil rights battle of the next century. Even just thinking the last 150 years of American history, the basic narrative could at least be seen as race and slavery… then women’s suffrage… then race again… then feminism… then gay rights… to today, where honestly it feels like all of these things are in play. And it was probably the same in the past: all of these things were in play at once. None of them are a “start” and “stop” dialog, and there is no clear “end” to them either.

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, and also part of our occasional series on Science Fiction Today. You can read an explanation of both here. We are striving to keep these posts short, and know that we have not covered every example or angle – plenty of room for discussion!

Predestination: Movie Review and LitFlix!

Predestination comes out tomorrow in the US, but in keeping with this time travel movie, I’m giving you a review before the movie is out! Well, okay, maybe that’s because it’s an Australian film, and I caught it on our flight over there. And for our readers elsewhere, I have found that IMDb keeps release schedules, so here’s the international release schedule. Looks like many countries have already gotten this film, with a few more still to come!

I have a couple of goals with this review. The first is to talk a bit about the film, trying to avoid spoilers, while still setting enough of the scene to pique your interest. I think that may be necessary because I don’t know how well the trailer does at that. This isn’t an action movie, but a thoughtful speculative story, where the characters and their personal stories are the interesting part. This is a gender-bending, time-traveling, science-fictional piece that avoids feeling like a Hollywood flick. By, you know, not being made in Hollywood.

The other thing I would like to do is sneak this in as a LitFlix for the year, before we actually have our 2015 list together for you! The film is based on the 1959 short story All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein. It’s a short short story, but it was amazing to see how they turned it into a film! So I’ll talk about that too, but I’ll still try to keep away from spoilers. I recommend this movie and hope that you get a chance to see it, whether on the big screen or at home!

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Is Gamer Girl and Fem Shep Helping or Hurting?

Mass Effect 3 Shepherd Wallpaper

I have seen the term Gamer Girl or Gamer Gurl used in a couple different articles and it got me thinking. Why do we need to use the term Gamer Girl to define a woman who games? After seeing it referenced in one occasion I actually got a little mad. I consider myself a gamer, the fact that I am a woman is just another aspect of who I am, but it does not define me as a gamer. By calling out the gender, are we at the same time calling out that we are different? When really a gamer should be a gamer no matter what. By adding girl to the end of gamer, it could be argued that we are making a subtle statement that there is a difference between being a Gamer and being a Gamer Girl.

Now I do understand the reason that these terms have arisen. How do we denote the rise in women calling themselves Gamers if we do not distinguish that there is a difference. It is a fine line that has to be walked to try and confront gender norms and highlight that both men and women participate in the variety of activities. At the same time culturally the default is to think of certain things as activities for men and therefore we need to confront that. How do we do that without emphasizing that there are women participating in these tasks? Continue reading