Real talk, y’all. It’s no secret that I love me some Star Trek. Love it. LOVE. IT.
And do you know why I love it?
Because of the message. Star Trek shows us a world where humanity is at our objective best, a world where after much petty squabbling, we realized what a massive cluster-eff it was to be picking fights amongst ourselves or putting stock in outdated notions of eugenics (show started in the 60s, so this was still a Big Thing), and we instead decided we were going to stop messing around, quit our petty squabbles, get our shit together, and join a Federation for good.
Differences in Star Trek are not shamed, nor pitied, nor even completely ignored: they are celebrated and welcomed as our future fictional selves seem to have figured out that it is our differences, our diverse backgrounds that actually make us more effective in a group and more able to see beyond ourselves to solve larger, more important problems.
And for members of a federation of planets dedicated to the peaceful exploration of the galaxy with a strict policy of noninterference in the lives of other sentient beings, I’m guessing they have exactly ZERO time to be bigoted shitheads, considering the nature of their work.
So if that is what I love about the world of Star Trek, you can imagine how disappointed I was to see this pop up on my news feed this morning:
In case you can’t read that, that is a picture of Commander Troi (she might still have been Lt. Cmdr. in that picture) with the caption asking all of the fans who like the OFFICIAL Star Trek page (I double checked on the OFFICIAL part before deciding to rant) one simple, innocuous question:
“Which Star Trek female was the most stylish?”
Oh. No. You. Did. Not.
Let’s take a moment and unpack this, shall we?
Point the first: I’m not sure you can read what I wrote in response here, but I have a very simple theory regarding the use of the word “female” on the Internet. If I see the word “female” appear in a non-medical context or in a way that isn’t related to clothing sizes, it is 99 times out of 100 guaranteed to be as part of a statement that is inherently sexist in one way or another. For someone to talk about women as if they’re biological entities rather than fellow human beings in common parlance suggests to me a fundamental disconnect between a person’s thoughts on women and actual reality.
So when whoever is running the Star Trek fanpage starts asking which “Star Trek female” is ANYTHING, let alone “stylish” (which we’re coming back to later, don’t worry), it instantly gives me pause.
Point the second: Star Trek is a show (well, several shows…and movies) normally centered around officers in a pseudo-militaristic galactic federation of planets. I don’t know if the person behind this post realized this, but that means that pretty much all of their main characters wear UNIFORMS. Uniforms, last I checked, are about the perfect antithesis to any form of personal style, at least when they are adhering to regulations (and not when the show runners need to identify the “sexy lady” on the crew by giving her a radically different uniform. **kaffkaff**7of9andDeannaTroi**kaffkaff**)
TL;DR version: to ask a question about any kind of personal style regarding characters in a show centered around uniformed officials shows a fundamental disconnect with the show’s source material. I mean, obviously. Would you ask whether Starbuck was more “stylish” than Apollo? Or which Stormtrooper wore it best? NO. They’re all dressed the same, you nimrods.
Point the third, but with a quick detour: I don’t like to stir shit on Facebook. For me, Facebook isn’t the place to get into an ideological discussion on the nature of sexism. So to keep it light, this was my response to this bullshit question:
“Pro-tip: using the word “female” to describe a woman in a non-medical context is normally a big tip-off that the sentence or question that contains the word is going to irritate a lot of ladies. So in my mind, I have changed the word “female” to “character” and I maintain that Q had that style thing LOCKED. DOWN.”
I got a couple of “likes” on this (and a couple of strangely vehement white dudes who were offended that I was offended, but they’ve clearly lost the plot), and that was fine. And honestly, if the question HAD been “Which Star Trek character is the most stylish?” I wouldn’t have been peeved at all. There are LOADS of interesting sartorial choices in the land of Star Trek, mostly by non-Starfleet officials (but not always–looking at you, Chakotay), and I would have loved to see the Q vs. Quark vs. Guinan style showdown play out.
But that wasn’t the question. The question used the word “female” and asks about style choices. This question was specifically directed at women characters on a show characterized by uniformity in dress and in which sartorial choices are completely irrelevant. AND that takes place in a world that is supposed to be centuries beyond this sort of demarcating bullshit. This question reduced all the women of Star Trek, whether military officials, diplomats, or bartenders, whether Terran, Vulcan, Betazoid, or part-Borg, down to who managed to look the sexiest in their non-regulation uniforms. If that’s not objectification, I don’t know what is.
TL;DR version: ladies have to deal with enough pointless personal reduction based on stylistic choices in the real world. (See “Marked Women, Unmarked Men” for more info.) Every day we are told that we are more, or more often less, because of the way we dress. Female politicians are asked about their favored designers rather than their politics. Women and girls are told they “deserve” to be harassed for wearing the “wrong” thing. Our clothes MEAN something about us in a way that will nearly never be the case for men (especially white men). So maybe, just maybe, can we PLEASE just leave that ish the hell out of Star Trek? Please? For real.
Here’s the thing: whoever posted this probably WASN’T thinking about Star Trek or its message of peace and equality. They probably weren’t thinking at all. I work with social media a lot in my current job, and I know when the content is running dry, sometimes you just brainstorm and post whatever you can think of to keep engagement up.
And that’s exactly why this rankles me so much. Nothing grinds my gears like unexamined privilege. They reached into their subconscious for a bullshit poll question to toss out at their audience, and their subconscious decided that they wanted to talk about which Star Trek “female” had the hottest non-regulation uniform like that’s an acceptable thing to ask in the 21st century.
So here’s an open question to whoever is running the Star Trek fanpage on Facebook right now: What the hell, man?