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While watching "Starship Troopers" the other day I noticed that both men and women were taking showers together, training and fighting along side. Are the sexes equal in that world/universe? Could women become a "citizen" ? Or is the showering scene more of a director's choice?

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The movie or the book? –  dan04 Jun 17 '12 at 23:07
    
While I think this questions pretends to the movie I won't reject an answer if it is based on the book as well. –  Darius Jun 17 '12 at 23:11
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@Darius - the book and the movie are incredibly different. There are more differences than similarities. –  DVK Jun 17 '12 at 23:15
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Incredibly Different –  Pureferret Jun 17 '12 at 23:21
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@Darius - see the answer for details of the subject matter. However I will be cynical and note that the MAIN reason for including women in MI in the movie was fanservice as opposed to meaningful political message. Gratuitous sex and nudity FTW! –  DVK Jun 17 '12 at 23:45
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up vote 22 down vote accepted

To answer the primary question, in both the book and the movie women had 100% the same right to enter the Federal Service and through it, to become citizens.

The official rules are cited by Sergeant Ho at the time of Rico's recruitment:

But if you want to serve and I can't talk you out of it, then we have to take you, because that's your constitutional right.
It says that everybody, male or female, shall have his born right to pay his service and assume full citizenship

Moreover, there are many examples of women serving, including Rico's school-age romantic interest, Carmen Ibañez (a Navy junior officer when we see her later in the book), and already-serving women in the Navy, especially the Troop ship captains (e.g. Yvette Deladrier commanding "Roger Young").

On the other hand, like many things in Heinleinverse, and especially Starship Troopers version of it, things are extremely practical. In other words,

  • women are concentrated in the Navy, especially as pilots, due to smaller size, better tolerance for high Gs and faster reflexes. I don't have the exact quote but I seem to recall that most pilots and captains of starships were women for those reasons.

  • OTOH, in the book, there didn't seem to be any women in Mobile Infantry (while not commented on, it seems Heinlein painted MI physical requirements as too much for a woman).

  • UPDATE - I just found evidence that there definitely are women serving in the armerd forces outside the Navy - namely, Carmen talks to Major Rojas during recruitment, who is a female, and holds a non-Navy rank of a Major.

Just to be clear, there seemed to have been absolutely no prohibitions or limitations stated in the book referring to women being in any of the branches, as long as they qualified. The differences between MI and Navy appear to be purely practical ones.

There was also a side story clearly illustrating that the gender IQ differences weren't an issue at all in Starship Troopers universe - Captain Jorgensen of "Tours" tutored Rico in math during his officer candidate tour (and was implied to have been the most qualified person on the ship to do so - not a big surprise for a starship captain coming from pilot track). It was also implied that Carmen was very good at math, way more so than Rico :)

As a separate note, as noted above, there wasn't any hesitation about placing women in command of a starship (eat your heart out, Roddenberry).


To address your last comment about shower scene - yes, that was 100% director's choice, and contrary to the spirit of the book (surprise!). On the ship, the female officers lived separately (separate quarters) and there was even a guard post guarding said quarters, though it was kind of implied that the latter was mostly for ritualistic historical reasons rather than practical or moral ones.

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The Director's commentary of the film has an interesting anecdote about filming the shower scene –  CamelBlues Jun 18 '12 at 2:55
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@CamelBlues But tell us! –  Thecafremo Jun 18 '12 at 11:44
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Women in the Starship Trooper movie universe, definitely have the same rights to citizenship as men.

Quoting form the Movie Script

      DJANA'D
    I'm going in for politics. You gotta be a
    citizen for that. So here I am.

      KATRINA
    I wanna be a mom. It's easier to get
    a licence if you've served

      SHUJUMI
    Federation's gonna give me a scholarship
    when my hitch is up. I wanna be a
    neurologist, study brain chemisty and
    associated stimulus...

These are the women who explain why they are going for citizenship. Not only does Djana'd want to be a citizen but also into politics. I would say that's equal rights.

It seems that is the whole point of citizenship, sure it splits people into citizen and non-citizen. But everyone in those tiers has the same rights.

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It's odd that this universe has limitations on having children. You'd think they'd want as many future soldiers as possible. –  dan04 Jun 18 '12 at 9:00
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Only if their Parents were Citizens to help <stike>brainwash</strike> educate their children. –  Pureferret Jun 18 '12 at 9:08
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@Pureferret - That was one of the many idiotic "fsck Heinlein" uber-BS pieces put into the movie by Verhoeven to pervert the whole meaning of the book to serve his twisted "Heinlein's ST is a fascist state" misinterpretation. There was nothing even remotely similar in the book –  DVK Jun 18 '12 at 12:55
    
I always figured it to mean overpopulation problems –  Jersey Aug 21 '13 at 20:38
    
@Jersey - nope, it was one more "artistic" approach at showing that the society is a dictatorship in the movie. –  DVK Nov 17 '13 at 0:47
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