Pop Culture

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?

LaPrincipessa's picture

Female Athletes: Their Appeal at the Box Office to be Tested

Does America really like the female athlete? Pop culture to the rescue! This weekend, I’m certain we'll find out.

Most sports, for women, are truncated versions of the male sport. I'm sure someone has written why female sports aren't as lucrative; why the allure of a female sup-ah-stah isn't there. For goodness sake, there's a multi-billion dollar business that is conducting it's Finals series right now; profiting big off the notion that this female version of that sport is feminism gold. They pretend this means men and women ballers are the same and equal: "Look a pro league for women! BE HAPPY BITCHES! LOOK WHAT OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS DID FOR YOU!” But we know the true message is: "these chic's can hoop, but just not quite good enough". Most of us know that when a "women's" section of a male activity is created, separately, from the male version, this isn't equality, its sexism. So what happens when, using the stereotypical male sports-movie script, women are the athletes?

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