Avast! Thar be spoilers ahead!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Prop 8 and Inescapable Gender

I meant to post this the day Prop 8 got the smack down. This is from an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called The Outcast. It features a species of beings, the J'naii, that have no sex or gender, everyone is one sex. However, some people feel as if they belong to one gender. Soren asks Riker and Dr. Crusher about the sexual and social differences between males and females and which one has power over the other. Crusher states that both sexes/genders are equal but Worf contradicts her in the next scene. He labels a card game as a woman's game because too many cards are wild, the strength of his hand is never certain. However, Worf seems to overcome some of his prejudices (if not all) when he volunteers to help Riker rescue Soren. Maybe I am wrong and he is just willing to rescue Soren because she is a woman and that part makes sense to him. I wonder if the annihilation of sex was in part an attempt to make all equal without having the nagging problems of gender and sexism.

Jonathon Frakes stated that the episode needed to go further, since all the actors who played the J'naii were female. He wanted Soren played by a male so that their kiss could push boundaries the way the original series did when Uhura and Kirk kissed. Others have commented that having an all female caste to play the androgynous species made them look like fascist lesbians and man-haters. Not at all what I thought. I must have misread some of the actors, though, since there was on J'naii who I assumed was played by an actor with male reproductive organs.

While the episode did fail to make up for the lack of positive queer characters, I think it did hit some important parts. This episode was obviously about queer rights. Soren mentioned how she snuck around, meeting others who felt gendered as male, having relationships with them but always keeping it a secret. If her speech were taken out of context, it would make a very beautiful speech against homophobia. My one real criticism is that Soren is "fixed" by the psychotherapy. I could not be fixed by psychological manipulation into being a lesbian, asexual, or transgendered. Well, if someone gave me a penis and removed my mammary glans, I probably would be transgendered. I simply am hetero and female and a woman.

In any event, this post is for Eric and for Tawny and for anyone else who was ever told that their love was wrong or who had their love denied them.

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