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Can We Ease Up On All The Star Trek: Into Darkness Feminist Ranting?

I’m a woman and a geek. I saw Star Trek: Into Darkness and did not walk away horribly offended, irritated or dismayed about how women were portrayed in the film. I do not think it was a slap in the face to women. I do not think it sent a bad message about women. I think bashing the movie for its treatment of women is unwarranted.

Yes, I am fully aware that all the Kevlar in the world is not going to protect me from the virtual hail of bullets that is now sailing in my direction, but that’s okay. I think it’s just as important, maybe more important, to speak up when you’re not jumping on the current bandwagon. This is one of those times.
There were a couple of scenes that sent feminists into a tizzy. One was in the image above which shows the very beautiful Alice Eve in her underwear. She’s gorgeous and she’s hot and I can say that because I’m a woman, but heaven help the guy who agrees. He’s a slimy, sleazy scumbag. 
Let’s remember for a second that the other person in this scene is Captain James T. Kirk who is known for, dare I say notorious for, his many liaisons with beautiful women. Carol Marcus is likely fully aware of this when she asks him to turn his back and knows he’ll likely sneak a peek.
Is this weak? Is she being manipulated by Kirk? Nope. If anything it’s the other way around as she’s clearly distracting him to the point that he doesn’t quite know what to do with the situation.
Is the actress weak or being manipulated by doing a scene in a very modest bra and panties? Nope. She was paid to act and that’s what she’s doing, acting.
What about the audience? Are we being manipulated by being shown this beautiful and sexy woman in her underwear? Nope. There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying looking at a beautiful woman.
Just because the makers of the film chose to show Alice Eve in her underwear doesn’t mean they see women as inferior, or only as eye candy, or as unimportant. It means they thought she was beautiful and that men would like seeing her in more than what a lot of women wear at the beach.
It’s worth nothing that we’ve seen Captain Kirk shirtless and sexy. I don’t recall men freaking out about  this and I don’t recall women being afraid to say they liked it. I liked it. Chris Pine has some killer abs.
So, relax about the affront to all of womankind.
Another scene that ruffled feathers was in the conference room with all the Starfleet higher-ups. There were no women there. I have only seen the movie once and I’ve heard some say there was a woman, but not enough women or no women, the complaint is the same.
Why were there no women? I don’t know. Should there have been women? I suppose, yeah, there could have been a woman or two there, but why is it seen as a deliberate slight? It likely wasn’t intended to tell women they are unimportant, worthless and incapable of holding positions of authority.
We women are strong and smart and I give us way more credit than to think that just because women weren’t at that table that we’re suddenly going to lose all our self-esteem and cower in a corner. That’s ridiculous. To think that it would cow women in some way doesn’t give us enough credit for being the smart, powerful creatures that we truly are. 
This is just a movie. Just. A. Movie. Imbuing it with the power to alter the course of women’s progress through history might be a bit of an overreaction. People argue that it sends a message that is just another part of the misogynistic agenda to keep us down. It’s a piece in a giant puzzle of oppression. 
No. It’s not. As I said last week, it’s a movie about aliens and spaceships and we all need to take a giant step back and breath.
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33 Responses to “Can We Ease Up On All The Star Trek: Into Darkness Feminist Ranting?”

  1. In the scene with Alice Eve in her underwear, the character present was McCoy, not Kirk as it appears to say in the article.

  2. I honestly remember it as Kirk, in fact had a big discussion about it on twitter last night, about the very fact that it was Kirk who was in the room with her and turned around for a look.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It was Kirk.

  4. Nicole says:

    With the whole discussion, the thing that upsets me most is the implication some sites (not you, obviously) are making that her intelligence is diminished by her being in her underwear. As if her sexuality instantly makes her dumb. This is far more hurtful than the scene itself which IMHO is benign.

  5. mellowtigger says:

    "Just a movie" is an inadequate response to a movie that claims heritage to "just a tv series" that did, in fact, inspire social change. If we're judging Into Darkness by social standards half a century old, then can we at least admit that the movie is no longer utopian storytelling like the original series?

  6. Dante Dan says:

    The no women in high command of star fleet is much more of an issue.

    Even now there are a few women in the upper reaches of the military. In the future there will be more (unlikely 50% but probably get to at least 15-20%. Star trek has always been about a better future ie first interracial kiss other races than white on the command deck equal rights for robots etc etc. Does this mean that is changed in the reboot? I'm no equal rights for women no matter what blah blah but that was always one of the special things about Star trek and I think it changed my thinking (a bit) to see a black woman on the command deck, a female admiral a female commander as a kid I thought "thats odd but I guess the future will be different". Guess what we do have female captains, commanders and Admirals now. We are likely to have a female president in my lifetime and the UK had a female PM lead us in a major war. If you had asked me as an 11 year old will the USA have a black president and a female president in 50 years I would have laughed.

    A woman in underwear – who cares, well I guess in the good old USA where things seem to be about 20 – 50 years behind the times depend on which party you are listening to that actually might be an issue.

    I guess it is just a film after all but Star Trek was always a bit different to the mainstream. Maybe now it is just another franchise appealing to the mass market. That is fine but it is just a bit of shame imho.

  7. Dante Dan says:

    The no women in high command of star fleet is much more of an issue.

    Even now there are a few women in the upper reaches of the military. In the future there will be more (unlikely 50% but probably get to at least 15-20%. Star trek has always been about a better future ie first interracial kiss other races than white on the command deck equal rights for robots etc etc. Does this mean that is changed in the reboot? I'm no equal rights for women no matter what blah blah but that was always one of the special things about Star trek and I think it changed my thinking (a bit) to see a black woman on the command deck, a female admiral a female commander as a kid I thought "thats odd but I guess the future will be different". Guess what we do have female captains, commanders and Admirals now. We are likely to have a female president in my lifetime and the UK had a female PM lead us in a major war. If you had asked me as an 11 year old will the USA have a black president and a female president in 50 years I would have laughed.

    A woman in underwear – who cares, well I guess in the good old USA where things seem to be about 20 – 50 years behind the times depend on which party you are listening to that actually might be an issue.

    I guess it is just a film after all but Star Trek was always a bit different to the mainstream. Maybe now it is just another franchise appealing to the mass market. That is fine but it is just a bit of shame imho.

  8. It was Kirk and that makes all the difference. I'm one of those easily annoyed by the way women are portrayed in movies types. However, let's remember that the original series came out in the late 60's. Kirk was a pig dog. And women generally had minor roles during that time period. So it's no wonder that in Star Trek Into the Darkness they are keeping true to the original series. And frankly, Kirk (Shatner) was a much more annoying womanizer than this modern reincarnation. So, yes Carol Marcus in her underwear normally would be annoying, but here it is in keeping with the tradition of the original series, and it makes sense.

  9. jessi roman says:

    Bravo for writing this! I loved the movie. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it. Regarding feminism, I'm a bit of an anti-feminist, to be honest, and I bring that up because I think it is relevant. That being said: the nearly-nakey scene was forced. Before being influenced by the opinions of those on the interwebs – while I was actually WATCHING it happen – I remember thinking "this is weird… why do they have her standing here in her underwear?" It's not offensive, but it felt off. To be honest, I didn't even notice the lack of women in command until reading Felicia Day's bit about it. And then I thought, "Oh, yeah… where were all the women?" There was definitely a lack of strong intelligent women being portrayed. The ratio didn't reflect CURRENT trends, and I hope the future doesn't regress our presence in positions of authority… all that being said, I do not think it was a slap in the face to women… but I *do* think it was some bad decision making in writing, casting, directing, etc. I don't think it diminishes from the fun… I don't think it's offensive… I do think they managed to ruffle some very loud and angry feathers though…. feminists are notoriously outspoken and combative.

  10. Chris Vasko says:

    Honestly I think this is mostly being blown up because JJ is getting Star Wars so they are going to put him under a microscope. On top of that its the age of the internet so if people can find a reason to complain they will. I agree the scene felt like it wasn't needed in the movie and was just there to show you how great a body Alice Eve has.

    I can't comment on the HQ scene because if I don't think it was a big deal either then I'll be antiwomen, but I'll just say I didn't notice.

    However, I've hears similar outcry that Cumberpatch's character was a slap in the face of minorities. I thought the movie was great, but at the same time I think a few small tweeks could have made it even greater.

  11. Chris Vasko says:

    Btw thanks for pointing out the Kirk half naked thing, where are feminists talking about him being objectified?

  12. KatieDoyle says:

    Personally, I do think the underwear scene is a bit gratuitous. I agree with your idea that it was illustrating a facet of Kirk's ladies man qualities, but it bothered me more because of the larger context of women in the film and their status as one-dimensional secondary characters. For example, Uhura, who it seemed largely existed to flesh out the character of Spock.
    I don't think it's a problem that the higher ups at Starfleet were all (or mostly) men, but a lack of women shows that those making the movie probably just weren't thinking of putting women in those higher positions, and that annoys me.
    I know it's "just a movie" but movies and television are so embedded in our culture that their continued lack of diversity in female characters (as well as any non white male characters) DOES become a slap in the face. I would never say that this movie is going to someday be seen as the first step in the downward fall of women, because that's just not true.
    However, this isn't just another big budget Hollywood movie. It's a movie based on a television series that has a long and proud history of showing equality and diversity when there was none. And personally don't think the movie lived up to that tradition. It wasn't an affront to all womenkind, but I think its lack of overall diversity and the way it turned anyone who wasn't Kirk or Spock into bit parts, was an affront to the legacy of Star Trek.

  13. I enjoyed ST even though its now an action movie in space rather than the more thoughtful and moral dilemma situations faced in the past episodes. I think the no women in high ranks thing could be something to do with ST being more mainstream now. I bet if Gene Roddenberry was alive he'd have something to say about it. As for the underwear scene, as pretty as she was I had forgotten about it within minutes as her character was strong and intelligent. Most movies now have at least one scene in it for sex appeal – Chris Hemsworth in Thor for eg. It's just eye candy for those that appreciate it I guess and a price we pay for formerly geek only movies going mainstream.

  14. Pixie says:

    You are right, it was Kirk when she was stripping down.

  15. I have a big issue with that, too. Just because there was sexuality and they showed it doesn't instantly mean she's a dumb character. You can be smart and sexy.

  16. Pixie says:

    I honestly don't get what the big deal is. I was expecting there to be some major crime against women in the movie. There wasn't. It was your typical Sci-fi/Action summer blockbuster. My only issue with the "underwear scene" is that it felt a little like they were toying with a Marcus/Kirk love connection and they never followed through.

  17. I don't think they've gone for utopian storytelling in a long while, more elements that allude to a brighter future within a very action-oriented scifi film. I also don't think the social standards shown were out of date. It certainly didn't feel like a film right out of the 60's/70's

  18. It was McCoy in the scene, when they were going down to a planet to open up one of the torpedoes. Also if you look at the photo of higher ups, there are indeed four human females, possibly a fifth, one vulcan female, and we can only guess what gender that alien was.

  19. Trek has always been pretty good about showing women in higher ranks, and I do wonder why they didn't consider this more when they came up with that table. I actually was really curious, and I haven't done the Trek research to know, if there is anything out there already about who was in command at the time. You know, a book, old episode, what have you, that would explain it.

  20. Pixie says:

    The purpose of the new movies are not to bring social change. They are suppose to be summer blockbusters and nothing more. It is an opportunity to bring a wider audience to the franchise. I personally don't have an issue with that. I like Star Trek in most of its forms, even the this one.

  21. Definitely room for improvement, absolutely, and I do agree that the underwear scene wasn't even filmed particularly well. That kind of criticism, I totally understand!

  22. Part of the double standard that bugs me. Objectified men are okay?

  23. The Star Trek legacy, I think, is the much bigger debatable issue and the more important one. There was a utopian feel to the original series, a sense we had become better than what we are today. Trek has lost a bit of that over the years. Less so in the television programs, but the films are now very action and adventure focused. That change isn't one I'm particularly happy with either.

  24. David E Martin says:

    Yeah, I count 4-6 women in that scene too.
    TFG — WELL SAID !!!!

  25. Yep, definitely Kirk. Which is why, in the next scene on the planetoid, McCoy was the one providing the extra help with the bomb-defusing operation. Because he could follow Marcus' orders and advice without getting distracted.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Does no one remember the scene towards the end where Uhura totally saves Spock's ass by shooting Khan? And the whole scene where she talks to the Klingons to try and diplomatically resolve their capture? Nope. Totally takes away from a strong female presence, right?

  27. raymunji says:

    Haha I can’t believe people are getting their knickers in a knot about this.
    – First this is not the first movie to show a woman in undies and doesn’t diminish her for showing it – does anyone remember True lies – Jamie lee Curtis a mature lady strips down and does a sexy dance and then attempts to beat up arrnie she seemed pretty kick ass to me didn’t make me think she was any less of a person because she was in here undies hell at her age, looking like that… power to the people.
    – 2 Uhura in the first season and first 6 movies was a receptionist she is totally kicken in the reboot – shooting Khan, she has the whole scene with the Klingons, the guys trust her judgement and believe she can do it, if she was meant to be a scared little house wife she wouldn’t have left the ship.
    – There are 6 out of the 20 people in that room are women plus an alien (which could go either way) which means 30 – 35% or about a third are woman – I didn’t see and Australians there should I start a protests ?, Guarantee my daughters aren’t going to watch this movie and think darn, I can’t be in a high position in a company or the military because Star Trek told me so….. Please come on.
    I have a feeling most people who complained about this movie probably didn’t watch it. Or were to busy perving on kirk to notice all the women in the movie.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Not going to state an opinion either way, but just a note that there are at least 5 women in the conference scene. I'd say 6 but I'm not positive on the last one, the person's face is mostly obscured.

  29. The point is not that Uhura isn't strong or isn't capable of speaking Klingon.

    The point is that the two women featured (Uhura and Marcus) presence always is in relationship to a man. Uhura is Spock's love interest, Marcus is eye-candy for Kirk and Admiral Marcus daughter.

    And the big problem with this is that it's so frequent in ALL movies that we have been accustomed to it.

    So Star Trek is not any worse than any other block buster. But it is not any better either. And if you compare the 40 year old show which did it's best to push boundaries (despite being a mere TV show) it's a bit sad to see that standards haven't changed.

  30. Nakedhobo says:

    There is something else about the other characters being relegated to more minor roles. People are comparing what they do in a 2 hour film to what they did over the course of an entire TV series. There were plenty of episodes of the Original Star Trek where Uhura does nothing more than answer the space phone. Kirk and Spock were almost always the focus of the original series, followed by Bones and then Scotty. The rest of the cast was support, and I think they are actually getting more screen time per hour in the movies by far than any of them did in the original series.

  31. angie says:

    It was Kirk and it was when they went on the shuttle, right after she said something about his reputation.

    I finally remembered to come here and post that I counted 5 or 6 women in that scene. I saw it again and made a point to count them. Glad a few other people noticed also.

  32. David E. Martin says:

    Just in case anyone wanders by three years later, here’s my graphic showing there were in fact SIX woman, all Captains (according in seating) in the Star Fleet Conference Room scene.
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=576671382353423&set=a.561765233844038.1073741826.100000317006566&type=3&theater

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