The next generation of feminism: The most insufferable sexism in ‘Star Trek’
Looks like the Starfleet is finally opening up to some women taking charge, as S.J. Clarkson is set to become the first female director of a Star Trek movie. Ever. Considering there have been fourteen Star Trek movies made so far, it’s a little unbelievable that a woman has only just been given the opportunity to direct one.
Clarkson was named director of Star Trek 4 (from the current rebooted film franchise), with Variety reporting the film will involve some time traveling frolics including Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) running into Kirk’s father (Chris Hemsworth). Clarkson is an exciting step forward for the Star Trek movie franchise and for the Star Trek canon as a whole.
While the movies and various iterations of the Star Trek TV universe have shown moments over the years like the addition of Kate Mulgrew’s Captain Kathryn Janeway leading the crew in Star Trek: Voyager, the show and the movies have suffered some abominably sexist moments over the years that still make us cringe. Here are five of the most sexist moments in Star Trek history.
5. Women use flowerpots as weapons
We have no doubt that a flowerpot is likely a fairly useful improvised weapon for dropping on an opponent’s head like an Acme anvil, particularly if you have no other combat training or weapons to speak of. However, in Star Trek: The Next Generation during a bizarre episode in which the crew of the Enterprise is cast as Robin Hood characters, Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) and Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) fight some bad guys with flowerpots.
Naturally the male crew members draw swords and engage in battle, probably because they don’t have all those female hormones and menstrual cycles holding them back. Couldn’t they have used bows and arrows? Anything else?
4. Deanna Troi’s sexy non-uniform costume
When she wasn’t smashing flowerpots over people’s heads, Deanna was the token Starfleet hottie. For the first seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation she was also the only member of the crew who didn’t wear a Starfleet uniform and instead strutted around in what actor Sirtis once described as a “cosmic cheerleader outfit”.
The jumpsuit showed off her shapely figure and also made no sense given Starfleet regulation. By season six, the character was thankfully ordered to wear a proper uniform, which in turn meant Sirtis could do her job without having to show off her cleavage for no goddamn reason.
3. Captain Kirk chooses a preposterous wardrobe for a Deltan navigator
In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, it turns out that Ilia (Persis Khambatta) has been turned into a probe and reappears in her own quarters completely naked. That’s not so bad and neither is Captain Kirk’s (William Shatner) chivalrous decision to use the console by the sonic shower she’s in to program some clothes for her. What a nice man!
Except he chooses the most ludicrous outfit possible: an extraordinarily tiny robe and a pair of high heels. So practical! So comfortable! Worse still, the character is then forced to wear this outfit for the rest of the movie.
2. A female planetary leader is threatened with a spanking
In the original series, Elaan of Troyius rocks up to the ship with a bad attitude in tow. Turns out big man Captain Kirk is ready to teach her a lesson she’ll never forget via “an ancient Earth custom called a spanking.” We couldn’t make this up if we tried.
Worse still, once Elaan chills a little and starts crying, the chemicals in her tears get Kirk all hot and horny and he (predictably) falls in love with her, causing Elaan to seductively purr, “Captain, that ancient Earth custom called spanking, what is it?” In space, no one can hear you barf.
1. Spock implies that evil, rapey Kirk was even sexier than normal Kirk
In the episode “The Enemy Within” in which Captain Kirk is split into a good version of himself and an evil one, the evil one attempts to rape Yeoman Janice Rand. It’s a galling ordeal and one that no crew member seems to understand the full weight of. Particularly Spock (Leonard Nimoy), who quizzically raises an eyebrow and asks, “The imposter had some interesting qualities, wouldn’t you say, Yeoman?” No, Spock, she wouldn’t!