One of the many, many things that Deep Space Nine does better than any other Star Trek series is comic relief. On Next Generation, the Ferengi were insufferable, and even though Lwaxana Troi was brought back over and over again in the mistaken belief that she was endearing, the only decent episode she ever had on the show was a dramatic one, in which she fell in love with an alien whose culture required him to kill himself at age 60 since growing old and feeble was, to his people, dishonorable. She admitted that she was being selfish in trying to convince him to turn his back on all that, and for a moment, the audience saw the vulnerability and loneliness in this scared old woman. Deep Space Nine handled her fairly well, giving her a deeply moving scene in which she and Odo get stuck in the turbolift and she explains that he doesn’t have to be afraid to revert to his liquid state in front of her because she knows all about being afraid to let anyone see the real her. (Odo is a changeling, a race of people who are naturally fluid and can stay solid only by force of will, FYI.) By the same token, the Ferengi on Deep Space Nine are actually pretty funny, partially because they are three-dimensional characters and not just gag machines. Quark, Rom, and Nog all had both comic and serious moments and for the most part, it worked.
I’m very tired of meetings. Let me explain. I just got an email from one the administrator people at my program saying that I needed to meet with her and my adviser because my G.P.A. has fallen below the level required for graduation. I don’t want to meet with them. I respect that this is a significant problem, but I’m not sure what they want me to say. I busted my balls all last semester and still failed to get the grades I wanted. On my end, that’s basically all there is to it. My elective professor asked me to meet with her after getting a zero on my first quiz, meaning that I literally might as well have not shown up. I studied for that quiz. I studied for all of her quizzes. But even though I answered all her questions, I rarely gave her the answer she wanted, which, to her, was as good as leaving the question blank. So she failed me, but not before giving me a Christmas card inviting me (along with everyone else in the class) to her New Year’s party and telling me what a delight it was to have me in her class. What. A. Fucking. Bitch. Maybe I’m being harsh. Others got along with her better than I did. But to me, she was just a brick wall that I crashed against again and again without ever making the slightest dent. She refused to alter even the tiniest aspect of her teaching to make things a little easier on me, then wondered if there was something she could do. Uh, yeah, how about you give me a half-point on that one quiz just for spelling my name right? It will make me feel like less of a tool, believe me. Add up the points in my economics course, and I got, like, a 25. But the professor gave me a C-minus anyway because hey, I tried. I don’t even like him that much, but I’ll take 100 of him over one of her. Meetings with concerned advisers and shit basically just exist for their benefit. And one day, I just might refuse to even attend. But they’ll have to push me a little farther first.
Getting back to sci-fi/fantasy, I feel that I should talk about Jim C. Hines. I haven’t read any of his books, but he did something lovely on his blog a while ago when he modeled some of the poses that women take on genre book covers. If you’ve ever wanted to see a balding middle-aged man model sexy badass action chick poses (and who hasn’t?), please do yourself a favor and feast your eyes upon this. You’ll get a hearty chuckle. He tried modeling male poses as well, and found that while they were still pretty ridiculous, they weren’t as difficult to twist himself into, and usually put the man in a position of power rather than vulnerability. Food for thought, no?
I guess what really drives me nuts about the whole incident with my electives course is just that my professor acted like she was doing all she could to help when she really wasn’t. All she had to do in order to make my life so much easier was move her middle finger half an inch and type a C into the box or document or whatever that she types grades into. It would not have compromised her integrity as a teacher, and it would have made for a better holiday gift than inviting me to join her on New Year’s. If I were in her position, it’s what I’d do. That’s all I’m saying.
I think a lot of female geeks would feel much more welcome in geekdom in they didn’t feel so objectified by the books/comics/games/movies/whatever that they enjoy. After a while, they probably develop thicker skin, but I doubt it ever stops being annoying.
Bad things don’t happen every time we step outside of our comfort zones and try something new. Sometimes, they do, and that sucks. I wish I knew how to tell the outcome before I started, but I don’t. I may be an evil mastermind, but I’m still human.