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Star Trek women

2009 February 23
by Cleo Calbot

A topic was brought up in the second panel dealing with the role of women in Star Trek involving women as sex symbols and the way the show either chose to combat that or reaffirm it. Most specifically, I wanted to do a quick study of Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: The Original Series, and Star Trek: Enterprise.

Lt. Uhura

The Original Series is the first (as you might have guessed) and it features everyone’s favorite captain, James T. Kirk, widely regarded as the playboy of Star Trek. This series came out near the end of the 1960s, and showcased the female crew of the Enterprise in extremely short skirts, and usually as objects of Kirk’s lust. Most episodes were “women of the week,” with Kirk seducing, or being seduced by, a different woman, and then leaving her by the way-side.



Following the success of The Original Series, Rodenberry rolled out four more series and then Star Trek: Voyager in 1995. Voyager was the first, and only, series to offer a female captain, in the form of Captain Janeway, who hlin portrayed in the second panel. However, Voyager also offers a sexy cyborg in the form of Seven-of-Nine, who represented the feticization of the machine.

Janeway is later involved romantically with her First Officer, Chakotay. However, unlike Kirk, she remains in a monogamous, loving, emotional relationship. Which leads to the impression that it is perfectly understandable, even encourageable for Kirk to sleep around, while such freedom is not “allowed” to Janeway.

Following along the same vein, Star Trek’s most recent series, in 2001, Enterprise, features a Vulcan Science Officer (yes, like Spock, only female) who shares Seven-of-Nine’s role as sex symbol of the show, named T’Pol. In later episodes, T’Pol’s sexuality is brought to the fore, when she becomes involved with the male chief engineer.

Which I suppose leaves the questions. What is it about science-fiction series in particular that requires female sex symbols? How much of it is trying to reach a target audience, and how much of it is the writer’s actual view of women? Are women in the future something to be owned? Mostly, I’d just like to hear anyone’s opinion on women in science fiction…

2 Responses
  1. February 24, 2009

    One of the movies I thought might be fun for us to watch was the TNG with the female cyborg in it. The intersection there of sex, power, and technology is fascinating to me. In some ways, it falls into the trap of showing that a sexy, powerful female is something to be feared and ultimately destroyed, but like some of the imaginative characters we saw on Wednesday, it seems that the biggest fear factor was technology not gender–and it was technology used to make everyone part of a collective as opposed to using technology to be an individual. It’s interesting to contrast the cyborg woman in that movie with the Borg and with Data.

  2. February 25, 2009

    I am a reporter with The Detroit News and would love to talk to you for a story I am working on in advance of the new Star Trek movie. I can be reached at 313-910-6121. Thanks in advance for your help — Santiago Esparza

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