Uhura’s role, though I was glad to see that she finally had something more to do than just open hailing frequencies, only served to reinforce my conviction that women were being given short shrift in Search. Who had to stay behind, when the fellows went zipping off to Genesis in search of Spock’s more corporeal half? Uhura. It was implied that she had to remain to bollix Starfleet’s efforts to capture the Enterprise, and then arrange for the reception on Vulcan, but this sop went by at warp-speed in the general excitement of the getaway. I came away with only the briefest and vaguest of allusions that Uhura’s role in helping to save Spock’s life had any significance at all, and her contribution was dwarfed in comparison to the men’s.
A further slight of women in Search…was that Amanda, Spock’s mother and Sarek’s wife, was not even mentioned.
…The only significant female role found in Search was that of Saavik, the young Romulan-Vulcan lieutenant…I liked Curtis’ Romulan/Vulcan lieutenant better…
…But of all the slights and omissions I noted toward women in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, none sent my blood pressure up as rapidly as the scene on Spock’s home planet in which we were treated to the sight of Vulcan “priestesses” sporting diaphanous gowns more appropriately found in a seraglio than in a solemn, dangerous rite with religious overtones. This vision of Vulcan women dressed in such a ridiculous fashion wasn’t only sexist – it was also completely illogical…Those gauzy, split-to-the-thigh gowns were utterly inappropriate for the Vulcan climate. None of the priests wore them, of course.
…My third (and biggest) problem with [The Search for Spock] was with the treatment of women in the film. In Wrath of Khan, there were many women in evidence, and two women had major roles – Saavik and Carol Marcus. In Search, there was only one female present during the film’s significant action – Saavik. Carol Marcus had mysteriously vanished and her role as the scientific genius who created the Genesis Effect had been usurped by David Marcus, her son (and Kirk’s, of course). Throughout Search, David was referred to as the sole creator/inventor of Genesis. In addition to being a major stumbling block insofar as continuity is concerned, I feel the omission reflected a return to the ‘male-dominant’ view of the Federation we saw in the ’60s on aired Trek.Science Fiction/Fantasy Author A.C. Crispin reviews Star Trek III: The Search for Spock in Starlog, November 1984.
Now it’s been a really long time since I watched Star Trek III but of course I was interested to read these comments on its representations of women by A.C. Crispin. It also makes me interested to read the Star Trek novels Crispin wrote to see how she dealt with the female characters.