The American Educational System and the Bill of Rights
We not only allow but encourage everyone to think for themselves, and share these thoughts with anyone and everyone else. The ideas of Charles Darwin, which blasted away the Genesis version of how things happened in the Bible is accepted because everyone is allowed to think these things through. In most parts of the world, including Afghanistan, the fact that you can question everything is contrary to "how things were done" and therefore are a problem for those that are intrested in preserving the way things are.
The idea that women should be allowed to be independent of men, educated, allowed to vote, and holders of property were not part of common thought for most of the world prior to the 1700s. These changes in thought are the result of many years of persistance by devoted women including Susan Anthony and others.
The Impact of Societal Change
When the Industrial revolution changed how many things were done in the 1800s, some people started shooting and blowing things up. At the time they were called Luddites, but in today's context they would be called terrorists. The way of life for many people around the world is changing in way that they have no control over. The Internet, mass communication, and technological change are things that those of us in the developed world take for granted, but as these things start to impinge on other cultures, there is often a clash as many human beings are fearful of change.
The Impact of Science Fiction
Science fiction is a story device for placing a person so far away that the unbelievable might be possible. This allows the reader or movie viewer to allow the premise, even if it is not part of what they "know". That women can command a starship in the distant future plants a seed that perhaps they could do something of equal stature and responsibility now.