I've written before about the sexism I've experienced as a woman who's into Star Trek. I've spoken with Kate Mulgrew, the only woman to ever star as the captain on a Star Trek series, about her experiences with sexism. I left the largest Star Trek group on Facebook because of the blatant sexism and racism present there. I was forced out of a fictional starship because I dared to speak out against the openly sexist captain. I am now the captain of my own starship, the USS Feminist Killjoy, with a whole crew of non-men and it's a beautiful place that we have built for each other.
So, let me give you a little bit of background on my knowledge of Star Trek- I've seen every episode of every series, I've seen every movie, I've read comics and continuation novels and have spent many hours theorizing and debating about and discussing the politics of Star Trek. I know my shit. I know it about as well as anyone can know it.
As long as I've been into Star Trek, though, there are men seemingly at every turn who have watched just as much Star Trek as me... but they somehow watched an entirely different Star Trek. They missed the part about acceptance and tolerance, the part about compassion, the part about Starfleet and its policies, the part where they talk about why the Federation was established, the part where women were in positions of power and men weren't threatened by that, the part where men encouraged the women around them to succeed and supported them, the part where they met aliens from different planets and learned about their cultures and about how different races of people and aliens from different places are just DIFFERENT, and not lesser than anyone else. They missed the part about celebrating infinite diversity in infinite combinations.
This isn't entirely their fault, though.
Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek. He created this whole incredible universe and he did a lot of good things in his time. But Gene Roddenberry was also a man, and despite his heart being in the right place and the stories he told being mostly wonderful, he got a lot of things wrong. He didn't know how to portray women as full people, and the series suffered because of it. But this was the 1960s and he was still doing a hell of a lot more than anyone else was.
The thing about our creations, though, is that sometimes they become bigger than us. This was certainly true with Star Trek. Gene's ideas and the stories he wanted to tell were tainted by his sexism, which is ingrained into all men by society from birth and isn't specifically his fault. It takes a lot to unlearn societal prejudices. He created these incredible female characters, like Deanna Troi and Tasha Yar, and despite their incredible strength, he did things like... not give Deanna a Starfleet uniform because he wanted to stick her in a cuter outfit, or have Tasha, a security officer, stand to the side and say, "Yes, Captain" and not be able to think for herself. He did a lot of good, but he also worked with what he knew, and he didn't know how to work with female characters.
I'm gonna get a lot of flack for saying this, but I truly feel that the franchise benefited from his death. It had grown beyond anything he could have imagined and he couldn't adjust his mindset to keep up. The ideals that he wanted to portray did not align with the stories that he told. Starfleet taught us about equality and the way he portrayed female characters was not equal to the way he portrayed the male characters.
The women and non-binary folks I know who love Star Trek like I do were able to think critically about the shows, to open our minds and to see past the sexism on screen and through to the messages the Federation was trying to teach us. We saw the potential that Starfleet had to give us what we deserve- equal and just treatment. We understand the ideals of Star Trek and embody them in our own lives in ways that are better than anything the franchise could ever give us.
But somehow, it seems like every male Star Trek fan got lost in the show and just completely missed the lessons the Federation tried to teach us. I see men harass and belittle and interrogate other non-male Trekkies, and it's honestly disgusting.
But how can I really blame them? Gene Roddenberry gave them a glimpse of what the future could be like, but he taught them an incorrect way to approach diversity. William Shatner, CAPTAIN FREAKING KIRK, is a sexist piece of shit who used Twitter to come for a friend of mine who simply called out his despicable behavior, and she had a hell of a lot more tact than I am exhibiting currently. Apparently it's just too much to ask men to actually THINK about the content they're watching and starring in, because they all quite obviously missed the whole fucking point. How can you be Captain Kirk and sit there attacking women who rightfully criticize you? Starfleet would be ashamed.
It's frustrating that today I woke up so excited about Star Trek (after having seen Star Trek Beyond), in a way I haven't been since before I realized that men will always try their best to ruin Star Trek for me, and then heard about William Shatner's latest nonsense.
What I want to say about Star Trek Beyond is this- some people feel as though Gene Roddenberry’s dream has been tampered with, but when Star Trek first came out in the 1960s, they didn’t have the technology or resources that we have today. There weren’t studios or producers who were interested in hiring a Taiwanese-American director like Justin Lin for a major movie franchise. Gene and Leonard Nimoy fought tooth and nail to get Nichelle Nichols, a Black woman, fair wages; they fought just to get her on screen at all. Gene fought against himself and his own internal prejudices, but his genuine desire to improve the world around him left us with something that is bigger and more important than the Star Trek he made in the 60s. He laid the foundation and left it for us to build upon, and I am eternally grateful for that.
In 2016, we have the resources to make the effects actually believable, we don’t have to settle for the Gorn or for non-corporeal alien entities. We have a team of people working on this film that wanted to make one of its main characters gay in honor of the gay actor, George Takei, who had to fight for his career, for his legal right to marry the person he loved, for the country he lives in to see him as a person worthy of love and compassion. We have writers like Simon Pegg who want to give the female characters like Uhura and Jaylah more to do than just stand to the side and say, “Yes, Captain.” We have actors like Idris Elba who, even as the villains, make us feel their pain and see why they’ve made the choices they’ve made. We have the tools to create glimpses, like this movie, of what our future could be like if we work toward being the best versions of ourselves. We can tell the stories of a universe better than our own, a universe that can be ours if we fight for it… all while watching starships go PEW! PEW! PEW! on the big screen.
Gene Roddenberry gave us Star Trek. He gave us The United Federation of Planets, which taught us acceptance and understanding, peace and unity. He gave us the Vulcans, who taught us to celebrate Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.
Star Trek Beyond is Gene Roddenberry’s dream fully realized, even if Gene didn't fully understand what it was that he was creating.
So, you know what? I'm sick of men coming around bullying non-male Trekkies for daring to demand to be treated the way the United Federation of Planets would treat us. I'm sick of men trotting around on their high horses as though they know what Star Trek is *supposed* to be.
Not anymore. Not on my ship.
All of these men are posers who don't even know what the Federation is about and as far as I'm concerned, we're better off without them. End transmission.