Mentions on Social Media
We’ve seen a number of comments on Twitter (including some that popped up as we were writing this), about the low ratio of women to men that have been cast in Star Trek Discovery so far. We’re in full agreement with these comments and have posted a few of our own on the subject.
To date, there has been just three female characters cast. Two actually, since the third actress hasn’t been officially announced yet. There are eight males in the show that we know of so far. That’s a pretty big difference in our opinion. It’s actually the highest ratio of male to female casting of any Star Trek series since The Original Series.
Right now you may be thinking to yourself; there were only two on ‘The Next Generation’, two on ‘Deep Space Nine’, three on ‘Voyager’ and then two on ‘Enterprise’. But most Trek shows have only 7-8 main characters. Even still, that’s shameful – we’re especially talking to you, Enterprise. All are far from parity, yet somehow still closer to equally-balanced than what Discovery is shaping up to be so far. Besides, why would we hold those examples up as something to strive for when Star Trek can do better.
‘Star Trek’ Tried in the 60s – Now?
Looking back at Star Trek: The Original Series in the 1960s, it’s pretty clear there were certain ideas about gender roles, even if Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry didn’t necessarily subscribe to all of them himself. The crew of the original USS Enterprise had only one primary female character (and she was a glorified secretary), plus a few others that were recurring. As a matter of fact, Star Trek almost never happened because of traditional views about women. In its original pilot episode, the second in command of the USS Enterprise was a woman. Simply known as “Number One” (played by Majel Barrett, series-creator Gene Roddenberry’s then soon-to-be-wife), she took on what is generally considered a masculine trait; being logic-driven. Studio execs wouldn’t have it and told Roddenberry to go back to the drawing board and lose the woman character. It was their opinion that nobody would believe a woman could hold such a high position.
Even Star Trek: TOS script writer and story editor Dorothy Catherine Fontana needed to be credited simply as “DC Fontana” in an effort to hide her gender from the studio (and in fairness, a large segment of the viewing public too).
Given the franchise’s early history of trying to push the gender envelope, but being held back, it’s extra important for Star Trek to do the right thing now, when it can. But absolutely not only because it can, but because that’s what Trek is about – representation and equality. Something for everyone to watch and identify with in some way. IDIC – Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.
One good thing that Star Trek Discovery‘s showrunners have done is acknowledge and own this 50-years old past. It gives a shout-out to the pilot episode’s “Number One”. Sonequa Martin-Green’s character, still not officially announced, will also be known as Number One. That’s in addition to her actual name, Rainsford – Lieutenant Commander Rainsford.
Though at this time it isn’t clear if Rainsford is intended to be the same character or if the shout out-stops there. None of this excuses the current imbalance.
Women Behind the Scenes
Like each previous franchise’s attempts to include various under-represented people(s), we know that Discovery has a fairly large writing staff, and many of them are indeed women. And that’s great and as it should be! Now let’s give the current and the next generation of women heroes and role models they deserve on-screen. Not just behind the scenes, and not just the series lead role.
That’s what Star Trek has always meant to a lot of people – many of whom already have or will see themselves represented for the first time on-screen. It’s the reason for the popularity and longevity of the shows.
Do you feel that Star Trek Discovery needs to add more women cast to the show? Let us know by commenting respectfully at the bottom of this page. Bigotry not welcome.