My first experience seeing a women’s military uniform in a science fiction television show was Star Trek: The Next Generation. Those suits covered neck to foot with stretchy fabric. Unless you were Deanna Troi, then it covered upper torso to foot. It seemed sensible and easy to maneuver in, and it wasn’t different from the male uniforms. They’d come a long way from where they had been though. Once I had the magic of the internet at my fingertips a few years after I watched my first episode of The Next Generation, I finally learned what the original series uniforms looked like.
Wow. Female officers wore the shortest of mini skirts paired with just under the knee black boots. I like skirts. I’d cosplay that uniform, but I don’t think I’d enjoy wearing them everyday on the bridge of a spaceship. What if you dropped something or needed to rewire the science console? At least the skirts appeared to be loose and cheerleader-like so that running away from aliens was possible. I understand it was the times and also for appeal, but I’m glad progress has been made in that area.
The theme for military uniforms in recent decades seems to be equality. We see this in all Star Trek series after (and including) The Next Generation, Stargate (though those are modeled on modern U.S. military uniforms), and the new Battlestar Galactica. One of many things I like about the reimagined Battlestar Galactica is that the equality is consistent all the way up the ranks. Men and women both wore the same battle dress uniforms (BDUs), pilot suits, and duty blues. The women’s outfits didn’t even look tighter. Crazy!
Besides functionality, I want equality in military uniforms. Women’s uniforms don’t need to be special or different, even if ship counseling is involved. Then again, we don’t want to encourage the unfortunate men’s uniform skirt-pants seen in an early Next Generation episode. I can have it both ways, right? Right.