Trekkie Feminist’s log, Stardate 11909.30. This week I signed up for the Smithsonian/edX course Star Trek: Inspiring Culture and Technology and part of the class is weekly “Starlog” blogging assignments. Assignment one is just to introduce myself and explain what brought me to this course. So here goes!
My name is Jarrah and I live in Ottawa, Canada, with my two cats, Odo and Sandwiches.
In addition to running this blog (which originated on Tumblr), I’m also one of the hosts of the feminist Star Trek podcast Women at Warp: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast and I’ve spoken on representations of women in Star Trek on several other podcasts, as well as panels at Star Trek Las Vegas, Geek Girl Con and AwesomeCon.
I signed up for this course as a way to further my Star Trek education and talk with others about how Trek has influenced culture and vice versa!
The first episode of Star Trek I remember watching was “The Best of Both Worlds, Part I.” I was not quite five years old but I wanted to watch whatever my older siblings were watching. I sat on my sister’s lap in the living room and could not take my eyes off the TV screen.
When the away team beamed to the Borg cube and found Picard’s uniform in a drawer, it scared the pants off me.
I had nightmares for weeks, but I was also hooked. Over the next couple of decades I would watch many classic episodes, every Star Trek movie and every episode of TNG, DS9 and Voyager, some repeatedly.
The women characters were my role models. I wanted to have the compassion of Troi, the strength of Kira, and the smarts of Captain Janeway.
In addition to being a huge Star Trek nerd, I am a feminist activist. For clarity and transparency, the definition of feminism I operate on is from bell hooks: “Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression.” I believe this is intrinsically interconnected with intersectional struggles to end racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism and classism.
I’d always felt many of the principles manifested in Star Trek complement feminist principles, but could the Star Trek universe we see on screen be called a feminist utopia? What lessons do we learn from Star Trek and how do those relate to how we think of women, people of colour, LGBTQ+ people, and other marginalized groups?
These are the kinds of question we explore on our podcast, that I look at on the blog, and that I’m looking forward to discussing with the other participants in this class!