It may seem like an odd thing to be inspired by, but I have been inspired – perhaps a better word is urged, or compelled – to write about my experiences of sexism in my life, and of them being taken to extremes.
As a child of the later sixties (I remember 1967, although very little about why it and 1968 and 1969 were truly important) and seventies, I well recall the flap about women being called Ms., or about whether it was appropriate for my female schoolteachers to wear slacks. Of course no one kept their maiden names then – what are you, nuts?
When I practiced law in the 1980s, I was repeatedly confused for the court reporter, despite wearing suits and carrying large briefcases. When I got married in 1992 (and hyphenated my surname), I was pulled aside by a male friend who asked me, “Are you sure your fiancé will allow that?”
I first addressed the ultimate price of sexism in a story called There’s Something About Hoshi. While the execution was not very good (I was very new to Star Trek fan fiction writing then), and a lot of it was played for comedy, the essence of the story was, I think, abundantly clear – if you blame women for all of your problems, you might want to get rid of them all. And if you do, be careful what you wish for. I recently updated the story a bit
(mainly to accommodate some names that will show up in the E2 stories), and was struck by how telling I think it still is. It was also written, at the time, to address complaints I saw about slash fiction, where people (It was, I felt and still feel, thinly veiled homophobia) objected to it on its face, as opposed to reviewing and appreciating it on its merits. It’s one thing to object to characters being changed beyond recognition (or paired in ways that make no sense); it’s another thing to think that no one in the Trek Universe will ever, ever love someone of the same gender.
Of course they will. Hell, in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, they already have.
The sexism angle for story-telling truly hit its stride with The Cure is Worse Than the Disease. In that story, it becomes clear that Daranaean women have few rights. Even the top caste (Prime Wives) are kept from too much meaningful education, and are appeased with trinkets.
Take Back the Nightamps up the sexism to the extreme, as a third caste female is killed for refusing to take part in sexual relations – a thing that, in The Cure, is illegal for her to do.
After a couple of more family-oriented Daranaean stories, I was ready to tackle sexism in that society again, and presented Debate. What’s the debate about? Whether Prime Wives will be granted the right to vote.
Finally, more Daranaean sexism comes full circle, and the reader can see a bit of why at least some of the women stay – in Flight of the Bluebird. In Bluebird, I also wanted to acknowledge that things are seldom fully one-sided, and that the men might be a part of the society finally reforming itself.
My plans are to eventually begin to cross over into other canon series. Hence the reader can expect to see the TOS Enterprise encountering Daranaeans in some fashion.
There is also the possibility of tackling sexism at some point in some other context, possibly under the guise of time travel.
In the tradition of Trek stories begin about contemporary social issues, under the guise of science fiction, I like to comment on any number of societal problems. But it’s sexism that, I think, speaks to me the most.