Cartoonist/writer Alison Bechdel is credited with coming up with something called "Bechdel's Law" as a gauge for whether she'd be interested in seeing a movie. (See our Cinematical Seven on Bechdel Law) It first appeared in a 1985 installment of her long-running strip, Dykes to Watch Out For, and it goes like this:

1. The movie has to have at least two women in it.
2. Who talk to each other.
3. About something other than a man.

Sadly, if you were to restrict your film-going to films that comply with Bechdel's Law, you'd find yourself avoiding about 99 percent of Hollywood movies, including those that are ostensibly produced for the female audience.

And the new Star Trek? Oh, that's right out.

Like most of America, I love J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot. It's exciting, funny, smart, and the special effects are awesome. But it's a serious sausage fest. If Star Trek were a treehouse, it might not actually have a sign on the door that says "He-Man Woman Haters Club," but there would definitely be free cootie shots available in the sick bay.

How nice it would have been if this brand-new Trek for a brand-new generation reflected some of the strides that women have made in society (if not motion pictures) since the series began in 1966. But the Enterprise's lone named female crew member, Lt. Uhura, is nothing more than The Girl, to be ogled in her miniskirt -- and, at one point, in her underwear -- and lusted after by both Kirk and Spock, if only to make it clear that these new Starfleet men aren't nearly as slash-ficcy as their predecessors. To be fair, there are other women in Star Trek. Sort of. There are doomed mothers. And in a nod to Kirk's randy reputation, he gets some smoochin' from a scantily clad green-skinned maiden who turns out to be Uhura's roommate, and they talk about ... men. So much for that. Oh, and in a scene on the bridge, Abrams regular Amanda Foreman has one line as an anonymous crew member. But other than that, the women of Starfleet are nothing more than extras in go-go boots walking around in the background.

As for Uhura (played by Zoe Saldana), once it's been established that she's a genius at xenolinguistics, and that her translation skills are responsible for the Enterprise avoiding a potentially deadly trap, her entire role in the proceedings is to look soulfully into Spock's eyes and ask suggestively if there's anything, if you know what I mean, she can do to make him feel better. Considering that he's her superior officer, that's inappropriate in a whole Starfleet Rule Book of ways, and serves to make Uhura less a competent officer than she is, well, an easy lay.

As I mentioned above, I loved the new Trek. I even went to see it a second time on opening weekend. There's a lot to enjoy in Abrams' reimagining, and I'm looking forward to seeing where he takes the franchise.

But guys? Just because the franchise changed the words from "where no man has gone before" to "where no one has gone before" you don't have a Get Out of the Brig Free card where sexism is concerned. Try making Uhura something more than a space hooker who can speak six languages, and you'll boldly go in a much more progressive direction.
categories Cinematical