Monday, May 26, 2014

Kick-Ass Women: Lt. Uhura

I can't remember a time when I didn't watch Star Trek. My first memory of television was an episode (and no, I've no idea which one). One of my favorite characters was Lt. Uhura. And why wouldn't she be? Granted, she technically was the telephone operator, but otherwise, she was the epitome of the kind of woman I aspired to be. She was beautiful, good at her job, and had a full life.  She was an accomplished singer and seemed to love life. Even more importantly, unlike those two blond women, she didn't pine after any of the men on the show (I have decided that the William Shatner-directed Star Trek V in which Uhura announced to Scotty she had always loved him doesn't really exist). She was a woman who had a career and a life, and stood on her own two feet. She didn't need a man to define her. Which, if you think about it, is what we all. 

And for years, the real reason I wore hoop earrings is because I wanted to be as much like Uhura as I could. 

Uhura was the only woman on Star Trek I admired. The show was produced in the 1960s, and despite its creator's progressive attitudes (Star Trek had one of the most diverse casts at the time) women were mostly seen through the prism of the men around them, caring and loving them, sex objects, and almost always scantily clad. Gene Roddenberry recognized the plight of women, however, as evidenced by the last episode ever, the horrible Turnabout Intruder.  Even in Roddenberry's utopia, women were prohibited from captaining starships. Janice Lester was a classmate of Kirk's, and just as talented, but the Federation's refusal to promote her drove her insane. The only way she could become captain was to use advanced technology to change bodies with Kirk.  But because of her gender or impaired mental health (or her lack of experience, to be fair), she was clearly incapable of leading. Spock eventually figured it out, bodies were switched, and everyone felt sorry for the poor woman whose ambitions were frustrated by her gender. It was a terrible end to a great show. 

This series comes as a result of my discovery of Starbuck on the Battlestar Galactica reboot. As I loudly pronounced at the time, Starbuck was easily one of my favorite characters ever. The fact that she was female was perhaps the best part - otherwise Starbuck would have been just another cliche. As I bought about Starbuck, I thought about all the other kick-ass female characters I've loved through the years. I decided to start with the original. 

Who are your favorite kick-ass women?

No comments:

Post a Comment