Where No Man Has Gone: Women in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

gif via fanpop

gif via fanpop

For a long time, I thought Star Trek: The Next Generation was the end-all and be-all of all Star Trek reboots. Sure, it’s a bit campy at times, but who doesn’t love Captain Jean-Luc Picard saving the day with his wits and idealism? I grew up watching the show. But now that I’m older and marginally wiser, I see re-runs of TNG and I cringe a bit. Sure, Picard is as intrepid as ever, but many of the primary female characters are shoehorned into tired stereotypes. The moment you start googling TNG, you open a Pandora’s Box of sexism from the whole production crew. It seems like despite whatever other role they play, women in Star Trek are first and foremost sex objects. This even bleeds into today’s film reboot of Enterprise, where a sexy female co-star strips down to her sexy underwear in both of the movies. For a show about a wagon train to the stars, set in an idealistic post-scarcity future that was revolutionary in so many other ways, it’s deeply disappointing. And then I started watching Deep Space Nine, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that DS9 does a much better job with its female characters. 

Spoilers for Seasons 1 and 2 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine after the jump.

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Sexualized Saturdays: The Sexist & Racist Themes Portrayed Through the Orion Slave Girls

Ah, Star Trek, a TV show that gives us a glimpse of a utopian future where everyone in the Federation is equal and the government secretly looks the other way and even condones sex trafficking. Wait—what was that second part? Oh, nothing much. Just the conveniently overlooked fact that in order to keep at least somewhat peaceful relations with the Orion Syndicate, the Federation sometimes ignores and even sometimes seems to condone sex trafficking. But hey, it’s okay, right? Because the Orion women like being taken advantage of and sold as slaves…

Yep, one of my least favorite things about the Star Trek universe will forever and always be the Orion slave girls.

Trigger warning for rape, rape culture, rape apologism, sexism, racism, abuse, sex trafficking, and slavery after the jump.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Non-Human Characters Outside the Gender Binary

Lal: “I am gender neuter. Inadequate.”
Data: “That is why you must choose a gender, Lal, to complete your appearance.”

the-offspringOh, Star Trek, you are one of those shows that consistently disappoints me. This conversation from Star Trek: The Next Generation perfectly illustrates how our society tends to view gender in a strict gender binary. In the episode “The Offspring”, the robot Data creates his own android progeny named Lal. He decides to create Lal gender neutral, so that Lal can choose what gender to be. It seemed like a great idea, but it quickly turned problematic when Lal declared gender neutrality “inadequate” before promptly choosing a female gender. For people who don’t fit the gender binary, this statement is wildly offensive. The message seems to be if you aren’t male or female then you are… inadequate. How fucked up is that?!

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