Angel One – a lovely, peaceful planet. At least it was until four off-worlder men landed there and started thinking that men and women should be treated as equals. Not a popular idea on this matriarchal planet. Good thing the Enterprise is here to take the men away. Now if only they were willing to go. Can the men evade the death sentence suddenly imposed? Find out when we put Angel One in the Mission Log.
Tags: The Next Generation, The Next Generation Season 1
The line “women, by our very nature, want only what is best for their men.” is actually one of my favorites in this episode. I didn’t interpret it as a sexist commentary on the nature of women (that is, us little earth women) but as a parallel to how the patriarchy justifies its status quo. Many arguments are made about how patriarchy benefits women because men exist to protect their women and should therefore retain power. Similar to the philosophy of some early American slave owners who believed they had paternalistic responsibilities to their slaves. I found this to be really a fascinating line, commenting on our own culture’s sexism and how it is justified. Perhaps this is giving the writers too much credit though, as yes, the rest of it is fairly abhorrently sexist. It made me cringe that they were only able to imagine a matriarchy where the men were much smaller. And when “real-man” Ramsay shows up he becomes without question in charge, as opposed to an equal leader with Ariel. So many more things that you two touched on. Just ugggg.
I will disagree with you both about the ending. I liked the way it ended up. Not that I agree with Beata’s philosophy about keeping men subservient, but had she decided to change her society that she has known and led for many years just because Riker came in and made one speech, it would have been contrived and problematic in other ways (all she needed was a real man). As you two pointed out with many of the TOS episodes, that happened a lot (Nazis, Gamesters, etc) and it always felt incredibly contrived. I’m glad Star Trek moved to a more nuanced understanding of how one rousing speech impacts a society.
I totally agree with your read of that line. I actually think this was one of the only times that this episode successfully turned the tables and made a nuanced statement on sexism. The rest was just so ham-fisted that it ended up being incredible sexist itself.
And I agree with your take on the ending. We haven’t dismantled the patriarchy after all of these years (despite a number of amazing speeches), so it would have been nonsensical for the episode to end too neatly.
Karen Montgomery “Mistress Beata” RIP 2015
Thanks to all the actors and actresses and behind the scenes people who make Star Trek happen for us fans. Over the years, we see these people over and over first on re-runs/repeats, then VHS, then DVD, then youtube or Netflix and we relive these episodes and adventures. We know some of their lines by heart and when we get curious, and go on IMDB or Wikipedia we find out that some have died. Everyday is a gift. Thanks for your part in giving us a fun show that we love and can enjoy over and over, most likely, till the day we die. See you on the other side….
Pretty much when you ascribe universal motivations to the nature of women, it is hella sexism.
Oh, what a sweet mess this was. It generated more questions than it answered, like: how can Starfleet personnel be bound by the Prime Directive and not private spacefarers? Does that mean some corporation can go to a primitive planet and enslave its inhabitants with impunity? How could the existence of a couple of alpha males on the planet really threaten the society of Angel one, when the native males seemed to like the way things were already? Where did the respiratory virus come from? Did the holodeck generate it? Did the holodeck generate LIFE?
Re: “It generated more questions than it answered, like: how can Starfleet
personnel be bound by the Prime Directive and not private spacefarers?
Does that mean some corporation can go to a primitive planet and enslave
its inhabitants with impunity?”
That would have been interesting and fruitful material for the ST franchise to explore: What are the rules and regulations — if any — for civilian explorers when contacting and interacting with the cultures of other planets…?
I’ll be exploring that in the SF series I’m working on… ^_^
The relationship between Reicher and the mistress COMPLETELY undermines the potentially interesting commentary of a “role-reversal” world. He’s still operating under immense male privilege.
I wish we could have really seen the shoe on the other foot. Reicher feeling slightly uncomfortable about the revealing nature of the clothes but not saying anything (though you did get the unfortunate “I think you look sexy!”). Reicher feeling nervous about being left alone with a person in power who clearly views him as an object undeserving of equal respect. Reicher having to walk the landmine field of spurning unwanted advances from someone with whom they are trying to establish “diplomatic relations.” Reicher worrying about the scorn and shaming he would get for having sex with a diplomatic contact while on an official mission.
Reicher never feels unsafe. He never feels out of control. He finds the Mistress’s casual sexism quaint, rather than degrading or threatening because he is cloaked in the comfort of male privilege from which he came and to which he will return.
This episode also misses its own point because it decided to take on sexism but then tells the story solely through the male perspective. Troi and Yara have very little to add to the discussion. The idea of women from a patriarchal society (albeit more egalitarian) navigating a matriarchal society is interesting. Personally, I would have stood up for my male crew more or engaged in more dialogue with those in power (woman to woman…). But since this episode is through a male perspective, and pulls its punches, it becomes a game of dress-up.
I, too, give this episode *some* credit for attempting this plot. But it has a very cardboard view of what sexism and misogyny entail. There’s more to it than “women are dumb and should be subservient.” I think if they would have committed a little more fully, and maybe hired a few feminists to give their two cents on how to capture the less surface, more nuanced, more feeling side of living in a patriarchy, this episode could have been one for the books.
Instead, it just ends up being pretty sexist.
If you want to see this done painfully right, here is a video a few years ago about a heterosexual girl living in a world with homosexual norms. Trigger warning. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ROXTFfkcfo