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martyr
Sun, Nov 4, 2018, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: Turnabout Intruder

I guess whether or not you view this show as sexist really depends on where you come down on the whole "death of the author" question. Star Trek was a show that was deeply progressive for the 1960s, and in many ways remains that way, but it's also a product of its time. It's funny to rewatch in that I think the show is far less sexist than people often think of in a lot of respects (the popular notion of Kirk as a complete slut is basically a collective fabrication of pop culture), and more sexist in other ways.

The meaning of a work can change over time; witness feminists burning their bras as symbols of oppression when modern bras were invented and popularized by a woman decades before. In that vein, I think the "Turnabout Intruder" is a show that was trying to be progressive, comes off sexist, but has looped around enough that a modern viewer can take a different but still progressive message from it.

Lester is a tragic character, and the episode hammers that point home. While fans still quibble over exactly how to take the "women can't be starship captains bit" (and it's the hardest part of the episode to explain away, and factors into the series' general issue of being progressive on women in a lot of ways but very quiet on them in leadership roles) I think it's kind of irrelevant insofar as it's just part of Lester's tragic story. Maybe she actually did get passed over unfairly. Maybe Kirk did behave like a jerk, as many young people in relationships did. But it's festered into an all-consuming passion for revenge, like many a classic Trek villain.

I guess the ultimate question is whether you think Lester is supposed to be emblematic of women as a whole, or should be judged as a character. And I think the intention was definitely the latter. Women aren't all crazy people, Lester just was, and it's understandable why.
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