Steven's dream-walking ability has only ever been used to visit the minds of the living:
Kiki, Watermelon Steven, Malachite, and Blue Diamond are the only people I can think of off the top of my head, but all of those people were in some kind of emotional distress, and alive. Steven's never shown the ability to see the past memories of anyone dead or otherwise non-existent; if he could, then he'd have been seeing Rose's memories in his dreams this whole time.
So, the ability to see Pink Diamond's memories from her point of view must be something unique to Stevonnie. It's important that the flashback of Pink Diamond's argument with Yellow Diamond actually begins with Stevonnie trying to get Connie's mother's attention: Steven doesn't have a mother figure that represents the kind of oppressive, hurtful authority that Dr. Maheswaran holds over Connie, so the context for Pink's relationship with Yellow had to have come from the Connie part of Stevonnie.
If Steven's dream-walking powers are an extension of his own natural empathy, then Connie's broader range of experience gives Stevonnie a broader range of feelings to empathize with. Steven is a free-range kid with almost no actual rules in his life: he doesn't go to school, he doesn't have after-school activities, he never worries about money, he pretty much does whatever he wants all day and just happens to be very naturally well-behaved. But Connie? Connie lives under her mother's thumb, and her mother is a well-meaning tyrant who only chooses to show Connie affection when she's using love as an excuse to shut her down, forces her to go to lessons just to make sure she never has free time, and yet pays so little attention to her that she didn't even notice her glasses were fake for a year. Connie's life is MUCH more like the typical Homeworld Gem's life, and that gives Stevonnie an edge when it comes to empathizing with Gems.
It's important that the flashback of Pink Diamond's argument with Yellow Diamond actually begins with Stevonnie trying to get Connie's mother's attention: Steven doesn't have a mother figure that represents the kind of oppressive, hurtful authority that Dr. Maheswaran holds over Connie, so the context for Pink's relationship with Yellow had to have come from the Connie part of Stevonnie.
You're right about this. Using Dr. Maheswaran to depict Yellow Diamond was not meant to emphasize the "mother figure", or as I prefer to call it, mentor, but rather the dynamic between the two: an austere being who places strict limitations on another who is in many ways a dependent.
In fact, I would take it a step further and suggest that this person (austere being) in Connie's life just happens to be her mother. It could have been a teacher or someone else, but Dr. Maheswaran was the best fit because:
she's already established with the audience, and we are familiar with her interactions with Connie
Connie sees/interacts with her the most
This could actually be the only person in Connie's life who is asauthoritarian/oppressive as YD
With this in mind, the term "mother figure" sounds a bit limiting, and could expand to include any authority figure, regardless of blood relation and/or sex and/or gender. But, he doesn't.
I also appreciate the connection you made between Connie's experience and that of the typical Homeworld Gem's. I'm not sure if we can simplify PD's experience to that of other Homeworld Gems that aren't Diamonds though. We don't actually know what her relationship was like with BD or WD, and since she was technically a Diamond she probably wasn't as "opressed" as the subordinates.
We don't actually know what her relationship was like with BD or WD, and since she was technically a Diamond she probably wasn't as "opressed" as the subordinates.
I think PD was oppressed, but in a different way. She was a Diamond, but she was definitely the lowest-ranking of them (and may have been an off-color Diamond, possibly) and while most Gems see themselves as lesser than the Diamonds, they view themselves as serving a function and take a worshipful view of their Diamonds. Most of the Homeworld Gems are servile/subservient, but they view that as their natural function in life because it's literally the reason they exist, and they know it, so it's not what we'd call oppression on Earth. PD was in a position that should have made her equal to Yellow (she even says she's just as important), but for any of various possible reasons, she was treated as her inferior. It's a similar dynamic with Connie and her mother: when it comes to handling themselves in a serious, life-threatening crisis, they're essentially equals, if Connie isn't the clear superior of the two. Dr. Maheswaran doesn't even look at her patients when checking their vitals, but she still believes so strongly in her superiority that she'd rather put her daughter at risk by doing nothing than believe she might not be a useless moron. I think the shared experience there was one of oppression in the sense of both of them having been assumed inferior by someone who should have treated them as an equal.
First, I agree with your analysis of Homeworld Gem subservience. I also agree that Connie and Pink Diamond had similar feelings of inferiority with their respective authority figures.
However, I would argue that their situations are a bit more complicated. If we review the events of Jungle Moon, I can understand why Yellow would be reluctant to allow Pink such a responsibility. Pink started jabbing at a bunch of buttons in a clearly overzealous and incoherent manner, and when we take into account how she all but throws a tantrum when Yellow tells her "no", Pink probably doesn’t even realize how much responsibility such a task is. Finally, if we take into consideration that once she got her colony, an unprecedented insurgency arose, we have little if any reason to believe that Pink is equal to Yellow in terms of competency.
Contrast this situation with Connie's, where the "inferior", despite showing prowess defending herself against Gem monsters, is still legally a dependent of Dr. Maheswaran. Connie still isn't mature enough to live independently, and she relies on her mother both financially and intellectually. I bet it was her mother who inspired Connie to read all the books she does, which has expanded her knowledge. Dr. Maheswaran is austere and a bit aloof at times regarding Connie's competency, but that doesn't mean Connie can handle the amount of responsibility that her mother can.
Since humans grow and develop throughout their lives, we can't really say that juvenile humans, like Connie, are capable of handling as much responsibility as an adult, like Dr. Maheswaran. The life-threatening situation involved supernatural/alien beings, something that Connie had specific training in, but her mother did not, and to take that one example and generalize it to other responsibilities is a bit presumptuous. As an adult, Connie may surpass her mother in competency, but as of now, they aren't actually "equals". Gems, on the other hand, don't grow or develop as far as we've been told, and their competency is determined by caste. Pink and Yellow, both Diamonds, should be entitled to the same things, but in reality they are not. The issue instead is that Pink was not treated as an equal because she acted like a juvenile, and that attitude is deemed unsuitable for colony leadership.
As to whether she was off color or defective, I can't remark on that right now. I'm not ready to accuse Yellow of discriminating against Pink for being overcooked.
You're looking at it in objective terms, I'm talking about it as a personal shared experience. Even if she clearly wasn't very mature (at least in that flashback), Pink Diamond saw herself as Yellow's equal and felt it was unfair that Yellow was denying her based on the way she acts. There's a whole first half of that dream sequence where Dr. Maheswaran is both collossal and completely oblivious to Stevonnie's presence.
Legal dependency isn't really relevant here. Connie's mother may be her legal guardian, but in terms of practical guardianship, Connie is much, much more able to take of herself (and others) than Dr. Maheswaran. Connie knows what it's like to feel like you're doing your absolute best and have made huge accomplishments and earned a huge amount of confidence, only to be told that you can't have what you want (the sword, the Earth) because someone who you feel has no business ordering you around (Dr. Maheswaran in a gem battle, Yellow Diamond) is refusing to acknowledge you based on arbitrary rules that they made up (the "no swords ever" rule, and "how a Diamond should act").
Pink IS definitely a huge brat in that scene, but she doesn't have to be right for Connie to understand how she felt.
Connie's mother may be her legal guardian, but in terms of practical guardianship, Connie is much, much more able to take of herself (and others) than Dr. Maheswaran.
If practical guardianship amounted to fighting Gem monsters, then yes, Connie is better equipped than her mother. But there is more to the life of human being doing that, just like there's more to ruling a colony than being a Diamond. They don't let just anyone become a doctor, and frankly I find that statement debasing toward Connie's mother and a gross overestimation of Connie's competency.
It's reasonable to conclude that Connie could empathize with Pink Diamond because she feels she's earned or is entitled to it, but to claim Connie's mother is an incompetent individual is unfounded, and I don't know why you brought it up.
You're taking some huge liberties with what I've been saying, here. I'm specifically referring to Connie's mother as being an incompetent COMBATANT, with no experience or knowledge of Gem history or magic, but still shutting Connie down because she just assumes that Connie is a child and therefore useless.
I'm not going to get into her incompetency as a doctor or a parent. I mean, yes, her skill as a doctor is entirely an informed ability as per the trope of the same name, and she's about as terrible a parent as she could possibly be without being openly neglectful or abusive, but that's not relevant to what I'm saying here.
So let me rephrase:
Connie is able to sympathize with Pink's feelings of frustration with Yellow Diamond because she experiences similar frustrations with her mother, albeit for different and more justifiable reasons. This is how Stevonnie is able to have dreams of Pink Diamond's memories: since Steven has a more open and egalitarian relationship with his father and his surrogate moms, he has no context for the relationship that Pink Diamond had with Yellow Diamond, and therefore can't subconsciously empathize with her.
That's literally all I'm saying, please simmer down.
The relationships between PD + YD and Connie + Priyanka are similar but not the same. Humans grow and that's the main difference between the two. Priyanka has seen her daughter since she was an infant, and her fears for her unknowing infant carries over to when Connie is now a child. She doesn't shutdown Connie because she's useless (also ignoring the fact that Connie has been hiding her training from her parents pre-Nightmare Hospital), she shuts Connie down because she has legitimate fear for her beloved daughter. Even if you are the most skillful combatant in the galaxy, as long as there is a sliver of chance that you may get hurt, even get killed; a caring parent will almost always forbid it (especially as a child) or accept it with reluctance.
Priyanka assumes that Connie is incapable of defending herself because even when Connie was still younger, she has been monitoring her activities. Priyanka knows (at that time) what Connie could and could not do. It was only then, when she was training in secret that Connie learned to be a competent guardian. A fact that her mother did not know about (read the Nightmare Hospital transcript).
Yes, she was a controlling parent but I wouldn't call her a terrible parent as she actually changed for the better. Priyanka's deal with being overly controlling was born out of lack of communication between mother and daughter, albeit in a form of a positive feedback loop.
Why I brought up the human-gem difference again because this is what deviates how each of the races see incompetence. Humans start out as an infant and completely incompetent and as they mature, they grow competency. Gems on the other hand pop out of the ground knowing what they should already be doing. This shows that Yellow disallows Pink on having her own colony as she is incapable of leading as of now (assuming Gems mature mentally). Even Yellow's quote to Pink "Then why don't you act like it, Pink?" shows that Yellow isn't adverse to giving Pink her own colony and seeing her as an equal as long as she shows that she can do it, much like how Connie had to show her mother that she could be a guardian by protecting her in the hospital. The main difference being that Connie actually showed off her prowess while Pink threw a tantrum.
Also, Steven can sympathize with Pink Diamond in the dream. It just made more obvious sense to use Connie's mom instead. The earlier seasons of SU shows this. Steven being frustrated with the Crystal Gems because they think he isn't ready to do battle. In "On The Run", when Amethyst shows Steven the Prime Kindergarten, Pearl literally says to Amethyst that he wasn't ready for it and it should be noted that prior to this, Steven has already been on many adventures with the CGs. And this was after "The Test", where the CGs rigged a test for Steven to accomplish. At the end of the episode Steven just accepts the fact that the CGs don't see him as a complete equal not because he's a child, but because they care too much for Steven for anything to happen to him, so he just plays along with their ruse. Because to him, family is more important than his view to be seen as an equal.
The mere fact that they are children that have the capacity to do something that is more than what they are expected to have in a society run by adults is a literal indication that both Steven and Connie can sympathize with Pink.
It's a similar dynamic with Connie and her mother: when it comes to handling themselves in a serious, life-threatening crisis, they're essentially equals, if Connie isn't the clear superior of the two.
These are your words, and you gave no specific context. How am I supposed to interpret that statement if you don't refer to Gem combatspecifically? Does Connie know how to treat a human that's gone into shock? That seems like a serious, life-threatening crisis to me.
Connie is still learning how to fend for herself anyway. In Gem Hunt, she read up on how to survive in the wilderness, but then made a bold, impulsive move that puts her directly in harm's way, and who knows what would've happened if it hadn't been for Jasper.
I thought I'd be ready to fight, but I wasn't. I failed.
You weren't supposed to fight, you were supposed to call me and you did. This was a total success.
And I also disagree with this:
and she's about as terrible a parent as she could possibly be without being openly neglectful or abusive
Her intent is not to make Connie miserable or debase her, and Iudexkoo posted a great analysis of this. Clearly, she's not the perfect parent, but her guidance has allowed Connie to be much of who she is today, even if she didn't directly encourage her actions. Greg Universe has also had reservations about Steven and "Gem Stuff", but I don't see you attacking his competency or character. Permissive parenting is not "better" parenting.
As I said, I agree with Connie being able to empathize with Pink's frustrations, but Dr. M is hardly a less competent guardian/mentor than YD is.
Well, yes, in the sense that they are children and understand what adults are, but that's not relevant either.
But here's the thing about Steven's experience with his space moms versus Connie's experience with her mother: Connie's mother is controlling, condescending, and has to be put in a literal life-or-death situation before she pays enough attention to her daughter to even listen to what she's saying, and she doesn't give Connie the chance to prove herself, Connie has to take it by physical force. It's not a communication problem, it's a control problem: Priyanka uses love as a weapon against her daughter (literally, she calls it a shut-down, most of, if not all, the instances where she actually says she loves Connie are when she's using it as a reason not to listen to her) and fills nearly all her free time with lessons and activities, not because it'll be good for her education or for her to learn skills, but so that Priyanka will always know what she's doing every minute of every day, to the point where taking slightly too long with one lesson, at home, will make her late for her next lesson, which is also at home. And she ends up not objecting to the swordsmanship training or actual combat involvement anyway, so her strictness with Connie's schedule has nothing to do with her physical safety. Priyanka doesn't care what Connie does, as long as Connie is doing it on her terms. This strongly echoes Yellow Diamond's reaction to Pink's desire to command a dropship: "When you have your own colony, you can command whatever you want."
Contrast Steven, who pretty much does whatever he wants. For better or worse, he was raised in a warrior culture with the understanding that his powers would manifest when he was ready, and that his age and lack of experience mean that he would need guidance, but simply being a Gem makes him worthy of the same respect that Pearl, Amethyst and Garnet show to each other. When he butts heads with them, it's becausehe feels betrayed. The Gems trust Steven on a level that most parents wouldn't, and when they withold information from him, especially when it's important to him personally, it's hurtful. The Gems aren't trying to deprive Steven of his freedom because they trust him with the freedom he already has: he's well-behaved, unfailingly kind, and although he's not always successful, most of what he does with his spare time is focused on helping people. When he wants to do something, he does it, but he's absolutely delighted to watch any of the Gems doing what they do and learning from them whenever possible. This is why he can't empathize with Pink on that level: he's never had to seriously clash with his family over anything but information, because if he wants to do something that isn't straight-up impossible, they find a way to support him instead of shutting him down.
The Gems' idea of what is reasonable and what is possible is very different from what a human parent's would be, but since Yellow Diamond's restrictive, authoritative attitude is much closer to Priyanka's restrictive, controlling parenting style than the Gem's supportive, permissive one,Steven has just never felt the way Pink did in that moment, while Connie has. Naturally he could, if he were able to actually interact with Pink in person because that's just what Steven does, empathy is his thing, but since it's subconscious and Stevonnie is asleep, it has to come from an experience that Steven or Connie has had previously. Steven just hasn't had any reason to feel that way, so he literally can't.
Let's just get one thing straight here, Steven was never raised in a warrior culture. Rose's wish for Steven was to become human and not a Gem. And as such Garnet, Pearl, and Amethyst raised him as a normal human boy. It wasn't until the first episode of Gem Glow that Steven's training to become a Crystal Gem began, since before that, he had never shown any capacity that he had Rose's abilities.
Ant you brought up a good point, he's never had to seriously clash with his family over anything but information, because if he wants to do something that isn't straight-up impossible, they find a way to support him instead of shutting him down. Now let's look back at Yellow and Pink, Pink's attitude towards Yellow before blowing up was casual and she was happy about being there with Yellow. A Gem, especially a Diamond, being deprived of a lot of things wouldn't be that happy nor be demanding of what she wants if she knew she wasn't going to receive it. This is akin to spoiled and bratty human children, they have been given all they want in their life but the moment you say no, they blow up. Pink wanted something, at that time, impossible and Yellow said no.
This echoes with a point that gives an idea on the thought process of why each of the Parental figure shuts their respective child figure down. Now let's assume both Yellow and Priyanka love and care for Pink and Connie respectively. Connie wants to be a guardian and fight for Earth, Priyanka doesn't know anything about fighting and being a guardian. What she knows about it, especially being a doctor, is that fighting can lead to injury (or worse). And she wouldn't want to put her daughter through that. With Pink, she wants to be the leader of a colony and command a drop ship, something Yellow knows a great deal about. Yellow knows that at the current point in time, it would be impossible for Pink to do it. It had taken Connie to literally fight in front of her mother to make her at least consider that she could do it because that is the most simplest way of showing how great of a fighter she is. Pink doesn't need to suplex the nearest enemy to them to show Yellow that she can lead a colony. She has to show Yellow that she has managerial prowess, and she knows what she's doing. Pink's childish incessance and her just pushing random buttons on what is an important task, shows Yellow that she isn't capable of leading yet and reinforces the idea that she has yet to earn it.
And my point still stands, Steven can sympathize with Pink in the extent that they've been given what they want in the reach of things that they could have with their given competence. Connie and Steven's sympathy for Pink might not be on the same level, but they both can sympathize with her.
Pink is able to lead, that's why most of Yellow's dialogue to her was that Pink has to Diamond-up if she ever wants to lead a colony. She only really just needs to show that she is a competent leader, but from what she's shown (at least to us) is that she's still too immature for her to be able to properly lead something. She doesn't necessarily jump into colony leading to prove her worth, she could just take baby steps towards it. Like aiding Yellow on minor tasks about being a Diamond and then slowly increase the complexities of her jobs until she has a fine grasp on the concept of leadership. This is similar to how Steven and Connie had to train themselves in order to become great fighters. They didn't become great fighters over night, they had to train for days, weeks, even months to be competent.