mass media

alan7388's picture

Polyamory in the News: how the world is seeing us.

Hi folks! Another season, another news roundup....

Of Star Trek, Spring Break, and Sexual Assault

Trigger warning for mention of rape/assault especially of inebriated persons, and of sexual slavery.

Hello! I’m Maggie, usually called Wednesday hereabouts.

My first post here at SGB will be on the subject of media and rape culture. For those who don’t know me, I am a student in a field related to media analysis, and I’m a rape survivor, so these are both issues in which I have really strong interests. Specifically, I’ll be addressing the rape-apologist ‘Spring Break’ T-shirts marketed by the Star Trek franchise.

(Fellow non-American peeps not familiar with North American culture: spring break refers to the term break for college students right about this time.)

Context: the Star Trek online store advertised ‘Get your exclusive Spring Break gear featuring Orion Slave Girls and Romulan Ale at the Starfleet Academy Campus Store.’ (source) The Facebook page is saturated with misogynistic comments, and there have been reports of survivors being harassed and threatened when they criticised the publicity material.

If you’re not a Trekkie (and goodness knows I’m not, though because of my fannish interests I have some favourite lady characters), you might be wondering what this means in terms of canon. On Star Trek, the Orion are a species who can emit emotion-altering pheromones. Their first appearance was as a race whose women are frequently sold into sexual slavery, although retcons later suggested that they could control their owners using their pheromones.

Using this justification, I have been told – and apologists have been saying – that the T-shirt is alright, and that the concept of ‘Orion slave girls’ is alright, because the Orion are in control, anyway.

I’m going to unpack this very, very briefly here: Who created these characters? Whose gaze is served and fulfilled by the notion of always-sexually-available women being owned? Who gets to invent a back-story that magically makes it ‘acceptable’ and puts a veneer of consent upon the female body?

Syndicate content
Powered by Drupal, an open source content management system