We’re all for praxis, just not for going outside

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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. Jack Graham
    March 4, 2016 @ 1:31 am

    On the question of the age difference… is there not a case for saying that the problem with disparities in age between partners is essentially a problem of our world, i.e. patriarchy, and that a utopian approach might be to posit a society where romantic and sexual relationships between people of differing ages are not problematic because the fundamental inequalities of power that cause the problems have been removed? The way to do it might be to go further than Trek ever has and portray such relationships (always between adults of course) as commonplace, and just as likely between older women and younger men as the other way round, and as part of a generally more fluid socio-sexual praxis? I don't necessarily put that forward as a statement of my opinion, but as a question.


  2. Froborr
    March 4, 2016 @ 3:56 am

    I don't see how. Relationships require skill to navigate, and hence an experience imbalance is necessarily also a power imbalance. Age isn't the same thing as experience, of course, but they track together pretty well.


  3. Jack Graham
    March 4, 2016 @ 6:53 am

    But 'experience' would have a different meaning in altered social and cultural arrangements. Experience of what? Life in a utopian society? That would be different to experience in our society. The dangers that experience helps you deal with would be different.


  4. Josh Marsfelder
    March 4, 2016 @ 10:41 am

    The biggest problem is that this is never relevant because Star Trek never does showcase romantic relationships between older women and younger men, unless you count Jadzia Dax. Gene Roddenberry's idea of a sexual utopia is one where middle-aged men are considered sexual dynamos by 20-30 year old women because "age no longer matters."

    Star Trek fundamentally still operates on 20th century gender roles and sexual politics. Mid-century gender roles and sexual politics.


  5. Ross
    March 4, 2016 @ 11:36 am

    I don't see how "He's older therefore more experienced therefore insurmountable power imbalance" makes any sense at all. "Experience" isn't a scalar; this isn't a JRPG (Though now I've got this crazy image of a Final Fantasy game where they discourage grinding by preventing the hero from getting the girl if his XP is more than 20% higher than hers). He's got more experience at being alive and at being the captain of a starship, but his experience wouldn't count for shit if the thing they were doing were, say, surgery. If you accept Josh's thesis that Picard is asexual (Or, say, Diamanda Hagan's more radical thesis that he's a eunuch), in terms of a romantic relationship, she's obviously the more experienced one (Probably true even if you don't accept it).

    (Also just throwing in here that the age gap is even greater if you go by the demicanonical character bios, since Picard is something like 10 years older than Stewart)


  6. Dustin
    March 4, 2016 @ 7:48 pm

    Furthermore, the squicky relationship dynamic being referenced is one in which significantly older men, usually of means, date women are just barely adults. But McFadden and Stewart are both middle aged professionals and peers, a woman in her 40s and a man in his 50s. That's hardly akin to the age gap between Anthony Quinn and his last wife. A ten year age gap is not remotely a big deal at that point.

    Otherwise, I agree with this: "people's feelings for one another can change over time because we're always growing and can't be expected to stay in the same place in life forever." That's a very mature realization that a lot of narratives cast aside in favor of shipping (I despise shipping). Unfortunately, the last TNG film and the TNG novels ignored seven years of character development and paired everyone up.


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