100 women of sci fi #55: Ishka

Today’s contribution comes from TeaDrinker:

Ishka  Deep Space 9

Ishka is the mother of Quark and Rom, two of the main Ferengi characters resident on Deep Space Nine, the space station setting for Star Trek’s first spin-off series. Ishka enters the show as a comedy character, but develops over the series to become one of the most outspoken feminists in the history of Star Trek. Ferengi society is uber-capitalist and its females are oppressed, forbidden from wearing clothes, owning property, or, worst of all, earning profit – the activity that gives meaning to Ferengi life. Ishka rejects these constraints and sets out earning profit for herself in secret, almost getting her son, Quark, into serious trouble in the process. Not content to stop there, Ishka forms a romantic relationship with the Grand Nagus – the head of the Ferengi financial empire – becomes the power behind the throne and starts to work on changing Ferengi society from within. Ishka is a lot of fun. She’s resilient, positive and friendly, but ready to defend herself energetically when necessary. She loves both her sons, but is honest about their limitations. Her grandson, Nog, inherits her rebellious qualities, refusing to obey the “rules of acquisition” and choosing to join Star Fleet instead of earning profit.

I predict that one day, a female will enter the Tower of Commerce, climb the forty flights of stairs to the Chamber of Opportunity, and take her rightful place as Grand Nagus of the Ferengi Alliance.

100 sci fi women #35: Jadzia Dax

Another contribution from Tea Drinker:

Jadzia Dax Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Jadzia Dax is the Science Officer on the Federation station Deep Space Nine.  She is also a joined Trill.  Selected members of her species become hosts to symbiotic creatures who share their planet.  The host and symbiont experience a complete merging of personalities and retain the memories and aspects of the personalities of all the previous hosts.   Jadzia is the eighth host for the Dax symbiont.   Her previous host, Curzon Dax, was the best friend and mentor of the Station’s commander, Benjamin Sisko, and the two remain close friends after the Dax symbiont is transferred to Jadzia.

Terry Farrell is great in a difficult role in which she has to convey complexity while maintaining a coherent character.   She combines the exuberance of a young woman with the maturity of an older woman.   She’s very professional; cool under pressure, wise, as well as being a brilliant scientist.  She’s also one of the most playful Star Trek characters.  Dax likes to party.  She revels in relationships that the more buttoned-up characters find a bit incomprehensible, enjoying the company of Klingons and Ferengi along others.  Her pursuit of the Klingon officer, Worf, is a delight as she cracks through his reserve (he’s by the far the more neurotic partner in their relationship).  Dax and Worf marry during Season 6.

Unfortunately, Terry Farrell left the show at the end of Season 6 and was replaced by the inferior Ezri Dax (who the fans dubbed Ally McTrill), a more conventional character and a disappointingly sexist representation in general.  But let’s not allow that to detract from the achievements of Jadzia Dax.

Sometimes I like it when the bad guy wins.

100 sci fi women: #21 Kira Nerys

Another guest post tonight from Tea Drinker – and I insist that all you Nathan Fillion fans head over to her site right now because you will like what you see! OK, enough for the advertising segment. If you however have a woman to add to the list, please feel free to email me at godardsletterboxes@gmail.com and I’ll be happy to share with the world!

Major Kira Nerys Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Major Kira Nerys was born during the Cardassian occupation of her planet, Bajor.  She grew up in a labour camp and was recruited into the resistance when she was 13 years old.  After the Bajoran resistance chased the Cardassians off their world, Kira was given the important role of First Officer on the Federation Space Station, Deep Space Nine, from where the Federation hopes to guide Bajor’s entry into the United Federation of Planets.

From a feminist perspective, there are always problems with the representation of women in Star Trek due to the tendency towards a lot of unexamined sexism on the part of the writers.   For example, no matter how tough and self-reliant a female character is, there will always be bizarre episodes in which she acts like a terrified little girl.  Kira is no exception to this rule, but as Star Trek women go, she’s definitely one of the better representations and Nana Visitor is really great in the role.

Kira comes across as a complex, multifaceted character.  She has a hot temper and a violent past which haunts her; she’s a professional soldier but also a deeply spiritual person; she’s extremely loyal to her people and her friends.  She gets her heart broken more than once in the show — one of her lovers dies and another, the shape shifter Odo, decides to return to his people at the end of the series.   But Kira never lets this affect her professional life.  Over the course of the series, Kira develops a lot, dealing with her violent past, addressing her prejudices about the Cardassians and building strong friendships with the station’s federation crew.  She is promoted to Colonel and eventually Commander. Overall, she is an interesting, well-rounded woman of science fiction.

Typical Kira quote:  “I was thirteen when I joined the Resistance. Been hanging around the Shakaar base camp for a couple of weeks, you know, running errands, cleaning weapons, that kind of thing. And one night, they had an ambush planned and they were a man short, so I volunteered. But everyone thought I was too young, too small […] But it was… up to Shakaar and… he stared at me for a long time before he decided I was big enough to carry a phaser rifle after all. So we set the ambush up along the ridgeline, that night, and waited. I was so cold, my hands were shaking. I was so afraid that one of them would look at me and think that I was nervous, that I kept biting my fingers to keep the blood flowing. We must have waited there three or four hours before the skimmer appeared, set down right where Furel said it would. And when that hatch opened and the first Cardassian appeared, I just started firing. And I didn’t stop, until I’d discharged the entire power cell. When it was all over, I… I was so relieved that I hadn’t let anyone down, my head was giddy. Furel told me to stop grinning, that it made me look younger, but I couldn’t help it. I was one of them. I was in the Resistance.”