When I was a little kid, I idolized Captain Janeway. She was so strong and smart and everyone respected her. She didn’t give up on people. She didn’t need a man. She was always there to listen when you were going through a tough time.
Having said this, it’s totally cool if you don’t love Captain Janeway as much as I do. It’s cool if she isn’t your favourite Captain. Maybe you take issue with some of her decisions around the Prime Directive. Or maybe you like your captains a bit broodier, like Sisko; or with more inclination to sleep with random aliens, like Kirk; more into the classics, like Picard; or more grumpy and prejudiced like Archer…
…wait, no, you do not get to like Archer more than Janeway. Sorry.
But when I’m looking through fan forums about Janeway I feel like I come across some frankly sexist comments like this a little too often:
- (on picking the worst captain) “Easily Janeway. who the F loses a starship on a shakedown cruise? Pfft a woman that is who.”
- “That damn schoolmarm hairdo of hers drove me crazy.”
- “She should’ve fired her hairdresser.”
- “Mulgrew was Captain Lame…the network vips were only doing the politically correct thingy…Voyager was the p***y cruise…not a strong male character among them.”
- “That woman’s voice is the most horrid thing I’ve ever heard. It’s like taking a normal woman’s voice and somehow applying 80-grit sandpaper to it.”
- “She was leaning towards the high side of ‘normal’ BMI range during Voyager.”
- “Did anyone else notice that she is neurotic at times? Some days she is in a bad mood, she overreacts.”
- “She should’ve stayed in the kitchen.”
- “I would’ve made her have a long-term affair with the Ensign that empties the trash in the Engine Room.”
If you don’t like these, do not read this StarTrek.com Facebook thread on the decisions Janeway got wrong (seriously not cool, StarTrek.com! Stop picking such horrible poll questions and then letting the sexist trolls run rampant in your comments!).
Another commenter explained why her friends don’t like Janeway:
“I remember one friend said that they couldn’t stand her voice. Another friend said that it seemed like she knew too much science.”
Then there are some that make you think a woman captain can’t win – that some people haven’t figured out that leadership can come in different forms. For some people she’s too feminine: “at least as interested in prancing around in frilly dresses on the holodeck as she is in leading her crew”. And
“Janeway was everyone’s mother, never really a captain that had to make the hard calls like Kirk and Picard had.”
For others, she’s trying too hard to be masculine:
“I understand there’s a certain talent for acting like you are always in command of the situation, but whereas Picard and Kirk pulled that off perfectly, Janeway just seemed like she was being arrogant.”
There are also a lot of folks who argue that Janeway is good because she “has balls”. I don’t know if it’s intentional but it’s certainly interesting that the way some people stick up for the woman captain is to say it’s still masculine qualities that make her a good leader.
Luckily, of course, there are fans who stick up for Janeway and have come up with great arguments for that. Here were some comments and article excerpts that made me feel better after reading some of the more sexist stuff:
- “I liked Janeway, she came across as real to me and I found her a good character played by a good actress. I did not care one way or another that she was a woman, I simply wanted a good character played well, and she came across to me that way.”
- “Janeway was a science officer and had that background. And she commanded a much smaller vessel, so I liked seeing that type of interaction. It was fun watching Janeway be on the ball, jumping on a crewman’s idea, and keeping up with their explanation.”
- “70,000 light years from home, a crew made up of Starfleet regulars and Maquis renegades, and yet she kept them together until they found an eventual way home. If this wasn’t a true example of someone acting like a Captain, being a true leader of people, I don’t know what is.” [x]
- Janeway is a strong female character to rock all strong female characters: A leader who is female-gendered, in touch with her sense of gender, and yet invested with a non-gendered position of highest responsibility which she executes with capability and compassion. (from the excellent “Janeway Doesn’t Deserve This Shit” at Tor.com).
Now, good night, and: