Last week I had the pleasure and honour of kicking off a very special blog series, Fiction’s Fearless Females. In celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, a collection of your favourite bloggers have come together to commemorate the greatest females in fiction. This week we have a special piece from Nancy of Graphic Novelty², a fearless female herself as she keeps the more rambunctious of us bloggers in the group in line and on point. Nancy offers us a look at a woman who is more than a brilliant female character, she is a true leader portrayed by a fantastic, often underappreciated talent, Captain Kathryn Janeway. I may not be a Star Trek fan but even I have to give it to Nancy here, Janeway is a badass fictional female.
Fiction’s Fearless Females: Captain Kathryn Janeway
In celebration of Women’s History Month, Kathleen and I have joined up with some other amazing bloggers to celebrate! A group of eight of us (and perhaps more if others wish to join in) are each picking a fictional fearless female to feature. I had the pleasure of participating in another blogging series last year, The Great Chis Debate, in which several of us argued who the best cinematic Chris was (Chris Pine was absolutely the winner) but in this series, there are no winners, as each woman featured in the next few weeks are fabulous and ALL are deserving of praise.
Our series was expertly kicked off by the Green Onion, who wrote about Ellen Ripley of Alien movie fame. Ripley was a perfect starting point as her first 1979 representation showed “She represents all that is great in a heroic character and being a woman doesn’t define her, it’s just a part of who she is” and led to other excellent portrayals of women in film and on television. That now leads me into my choice for our #FictionsFearlessFemales series: Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Star Trek Voyager crew, played brilliantly by Kate Mulgrew.
Star Trek is my favorite fandom, as many of the posts on my blog revolve around the movies, television and webseries that have been inspired by the original classic. In the first series we were introduced to Uhura, who was beautiful, smart, ambitious and an equal to the men- she was the original Star Trek role model. All strong female Star Trek characters owe a debt to her, and we were blessed with other great women in the Star Fleet universe such as Doctor Beverly Crusher and Deanna Troi of The Next Generation series, plus Kira Nerys and Jadzia Dax of Deep Space Nine. But Star Trek took the next logical and needed step of having a new series feature a female captain, with subsequent series Enterprise and Discovery building off Janeway’s pioneering role.
In 1995 Voyager premiered with the perfect captain who I picked as best captain in my earlier post My Perfect Star Trek Crew. The series premise was for the newly launched U.S.S. Voyager crew to track down an infiltrated Maquis ship and bring them to justice. The Maquis were a paramilitary terrorist group in which Janeway had sent her Security Officer in as an undercover operative and had enlisted a disgraced former Starfleet officer who had been a gun for hire for the Maquis to help find them. Voyager’s crew and the Maquis fighters are accidentally drawn 70,000 light years to the far side of the Delta Quadrant by an alien seeking survival, calling itself “The Caretaker.” The Voyager and Maquis crews have to form a tentative bond to survive once both ships are compromised and they have to unite into one crew as they face the reality that it will take them 75 years to get back home.
Through seven seasons the Voyager crew explored and engaged with alien species they were completely unfamiliar with as they journeyed home. Through several dangerous maneuvers and a battling of wits they were able to get back into Federation space in seven years. Janeway was the perfect captain for this journey, for faced with extraordinary pressures, she united two warring factions and built a unified crew out of former enemies. Faced with an untenable situation, she came out stronger than ever. There were times she made some questionable decisions, including cutting off her glorious long hair (I loved her ever-changing hairstyles and buns), but her imperfections and quirks made her relatable.
As with many iconic characters, the real life actors and actresses become forever tied to their roles, and Kate Mulgrew is no exception. She just recently wrapped a well regarded six season arc as Red in the television series Orange is the New Black but she will always be remembered as Captain Janeway. Thus, I loved finding this tweet on International Women’s Day, which was also the day this blogging series launched. She is fully supportive of a new captain in our universe- Captain Marvel! Having females support other females is so important, and never detracts from the original’s glory.
Star Trek presents an idealistic and Utopian future, with Earth moving past it’s racial and cultural differences, and ready to explore space. The tagline was “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!”. And boldly go it did- the series gave us a ground breaking captain that was not defined by her being a female. She was an example of grace under fire who exemplified remarkable leadership skills. Janeway not only is a hero but a role model and a perfect example of a fearless female!
As I wrap up this post, I now pass the baton to Michael of My Comic Relief who will then pass off to my writing partner Kathleen. Other bloggers in queue after Kathleen are Rob of My Side of the Laundry Room, Kiri of Star Wars Anonymous, Jeffrey of The Imperial Talker and bringing us home will be Kalie of Just Dread-full. Please check in weekly as this series unfolds.
Live Long and Prosper, my friends.