Thursday, May 03, 2012

The (Cult-TV) War on Men: Seven Female-Dominated Societies that Have it in for Males



In the national discourse there's been a lot of talk about the War on Women lately.  

For instance, not long ago, Congress held a committee meeting about birth control and no women were present. Then, a Republican candidate for President, Rick Santorum, made the claim that women are "too emotional" for combat assignments in the military.  Then Virginia considered passing a law that would - literally -- force non-medically-necessary "trans-vaginal" penetration upon women seeking to have an abortion.  

Finally, when asked if he supported equal pay for women in the form of the Lily Ledbetter Act, Presidential nominee-to-be Mitt Romney whiffed because he needed more time to interface with the vast, remote computer bank storing all of his previously-held positions on the issue.  Accessing…Accessing…

While this war on women continues, no end in sight, into Election 2012, cult television history reminds us precisely where this kind of talk could be headed.  Unless we're very, very careful, women will strike back and wage a War on Men.

And men will lose that war...badly.

In the sincere hope of preventing such an unfortunate eventuality and brokering a truce in this ongoing battle between the sexes, I thus offer up a tour of the “War on Men:” seven of the most memorable Matriarchies in cult-television history. 

You’ll note that many of these female-dominated cultures -- oddly -- play rather distinctly as kinky male fantasies rather than as legitimate, consistent visions of female rule. 

Or didn’t you realize that the first order of the day when women rule the planet is the imposition of a new dress code?

Cat-suits and whips for all!


1. “The Confederacy of Ruth” (Planet Earth [1974]). In this post-apocalyptic pilot/TV-movie from Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, Dylan Hunt (John Saxon) attempts to rescue a PAX doctor from “The Confederacy of Ruth,” a female dominated society. 

The culture is ruled by the dictatorial Marg (Diana Muldaur), and all men are considered property, and called “Dinks.”  The men are also routinely drugged by their women to make them compliant and untroubled by their status as slaves.  Once Dylan kicks off the effects of the drug, he turns on his manly charm and teaches Marg a thing or two about…dinks.

Planet Earth asked the memorable question: “women’s lib? Or women’s lib gone mad?!”

2. "Medusa" (Star Maidens [1975]).  In this short-lived German/British series created by Eric Paice, the planet Medusa drifts in space, and its inhabitants dwell in an underground metropolis.  There, women rule, and men serve as domestic servants.  Two slaves, Shem (Gareth Thomas) and Adam (Pierre Brice) decide they are tired of being taken for granted (“who takes care of the kids?!”) and make a beeline for nearby Earth. 

Their female masters pursue, but are troubled by the fact that Earth is ruled by men (!).  Indeed, the Medusan mistresses claim such a set-up is in “violation of all common sense.”  Considering the Earth a “great disappointment,” the Medusan Matriarchy sets out to retrieve Shem and Adam.  If they fail, a new, illegal “men’s liberation movement” could take hold on Medusa, overturning the apple cart.

3. Entra" (Space: 1999: "Devil's Planet" [1976]).  In this second season episode of Gerry Anderson’s Space: 1999, Commander Koenig (Martin Landau) is captured by Elizia (Hildegard Neil), the warden, governor and absolute ruler of the prison colony of Entra.  The prisoners incarcerated there are all men -- political dissidents who spoke against female rule, apparently -- and are now guarded by cat-suited Amazon women who viciously wield whips.  

The prisoners' only opportunity to escape this hellish life is to survive sadistic Elizia's vicious game, "The Hunt."  If a prisoner does survive being hunted by Elizia and her women on the inhospitable moon’s forest surface -- being both outnumbered and out-equipped -- he can be transported back to the home world, his sentence is commuted.  

The only problem: a plague has decimated the home world, Ellna, killing all living beings.  So when Elizia beams the victorious political dissidents back home, she's actually issuing the troublesome men a death sentence.  

4."Turnabout" (The Fantastic Journey [1977]).  In this episode of the short-lived TV series set in the Bermuda Triangle, Queen Hayalana (Joan Collins) finally tires of her brutish husband and his stupid men, and with the help of a powerful computer called "The Complex," zaps all the males of the province away to a null zone, or pocket universe.  

Promising "an end to male domination," Hayalana then captures the series' heroes, Varian (Jared Martin), Dr. Willaway (Roddy McDowall), Scott Jordan (Ike Eisenmann) and Dr. Fred Walters (Carl Franklin), and plans to keep them as “breeding stock.”  To convince these visiting men to remain docile and cooperative, this cold-hearted queen then poisons their food, and tells the men they will only receive the antidote only if they comply with her wishes. 

Hayalana’s plans come crashing down however, when none of the women in the province are capable of controlling “The Complex,” a computer built by…you guessed it, a man.

5. "Xantia" (Buck Rogers in the 25th Century [1979]: "Planet of the Amazon Women.") Buck (Gil Gerard) is captured by gorgeous slave traders and auctioned off to the highest bidder in this first season episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.  You see, all the men of Xantia have either been killed in one of their incessant wars, or are being held prisoner by the planet’s enemy: the Ruathans.  Thus the women of Xantia need some *ahem* company, not to mention some men to do all the physical labor. 

Watch as Buck is stripped down to his chest, and the women “bidders” at his auction coo and gasp over his manly physique!

6. "Adore" (Otherworld [1985]: "I am Woman, Hear Me Roar.")  In this episode of the 1985 cult series, Otherworld, a militantly female society rules the roost in the province of “Adore,” founded by a female Zone Trooper commandment, Livia.  

The men in “Adore” do not even know how to read, and the "gender stratification" laws discourage marriage.  A “gender patrol” walks the streets, maintaining order, and girls ogle slave men in the popular magazine, “Available Hunk.” 

And, of course, there’s the Gender Arcade, the marketplace where men are greased up, stripped down, and sold to the highest bidder. 

When the patriarch of the Sterling family, Hal (Sam Groom), objects to the status of males as second-class citizens, a woman in power reminds him to: “keep in mind that this is a conservative part of town and will resist compromise.”  When Hal’s wife, June (Gretchen Corbett) sticks up for him, the same women sneers: “Oh…I understand…you’re progressives.” 

7. "Angel One." (Star Trek: The Next Generation [1987]:"Angel One.") In this first season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Enterprise D visits the Matriarchy of “Angel One” in hopes of finding out if survivors of a freighter, the Odin, landed there.  They find out that a group of men did survive, and are making trouble for the female leadership. 

Mistress Baeta (Karen Montgomery) – or “the elected one” – pronounces the death sentence for the survivors of the Odin and any women unwise enough to attempt to alter the peace of Angel One’s female-dominated society.   Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) steps in to argue against the death penalty.  Ultimately, he is persuasive...perhaps because Mistress Baeta still remembers the space stud in his colorful, open-chest blouse and earrings…

Finally, besides Star Maidens, another series also featured female-dominated world as its setting: Norman Lear's All that Glitters (1977), starring Linda Gray and Greg Evigan.  I've never seen it, but would love to get my hands on a few episodes.

3 comments:

  1. dave starry12:34 PM

    Great article; memories of "Planet Earth" are forever burned into my brain from viewing the original TV broadcast at the impresionable age of 10. I really need to pick up the Warner Archive DVDr of this some day and revisit.

    Speaking of female dominated futuristic societies, another that immediately sprang to mind was the Star Trek episode "Spock's Brain". I'm not sure if that qualifies however, since those women really didn't know what they were doing.

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  2. This is always an interesting premise (though I'm not a fan of Season 1 'Angel One' in ST:TNG), and it works because we know the opposite has long be true in most human societies (and not necessarily for the better). My recent re-read of Stephen King's THE STAND reminded me of his discourse on that subject (in a post apocalyptic world) of male domination. I find it fascinating that a lot of these resolve to the women falling back into the 'charms' of men. I don't know if you remember, or have seen it, but the Queen of Outer Space (not among the high-mark 50s sci-fi films) used this premise, as well. And it was a hoot (along with Zsa Zsa Gabor's acting). Fine post and thoughts, John. Thanks.

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  3. Hi Dave and Le0pard13:

    Dave: You're right to recall the Eyemorgs on Spock's Brain. That's another female-dominated society that didn't work out too well, for anyone. "Planet Earth" is great. I think it's the best of the three pilots with that premise.

    Le0pard3: It's an interesting premise, but I feel the way that you do, that the female dominated society is often visualized in terms of male sexual fantasy, and not in terms of a consistent, logical notion. The women do, it seems, always do end up falling for men, like Mistress Beatta and Riker in ST:TNG's Angel One. Good point.

    best to you both,
    John

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