SF Debris – Star Trek (TOS): Elaan of Troyus

Opinionated Star Trek Episode Guide finds Kirk having to deal with a violent and rude dignitary being delivered for an important diplomatic wedding. Isn’t being an explorer grand?

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24 comments

  1. My God Kirk slapped a woman! That is the most evil thing he could have done
    He should have been a real man and stood there will she slapped, punched and stabbed him!

    And he has a penis! A functioning penis! and he has sex with more than one woman!
    Oh how evil

  2. I can’t be the only one who notices that this entire episode features a woman essentially being sold into sexual slavery. Viewed from that perspective, Elaan becomes an entirely sympathetic character-including her stabbing of the Ambassador.

    • MightyDavidson

      An arranged marriage equals sexual slavery now? Also, what exactly are they supposed to do, let the two societies engage in a war that could potentially wipe out both societies? Both societies agreed to this arranged marriage to prevent that and it’s all being endangered because Elaan is being a spoiled selfish brat who’s putting her own desires ahead of the wishes, indeed the safety, of her own people.

      Viewed from that perspectice, Elaan is perhaps one of the least sympathetic characters in Star Trek.

      • Look up the wikipedia entry on forced marriage. When one of the parties does not consent, yes, it is in fact sexual slavery. International law is fairly clear on this matter. Technically speaking, the correct term here is “forced” as opposed to “arranged”, as “arranged marriage” is now recognized as requiring the consent of both bride and groom, no matter who arranged it in the first place.

        To answer your other questions, ending a war is a fine reason to arrange a marriage. It is not at all a justifiable or legally permissible reason to set a woman up to get raped every night until she bears her rapist’s children- at least not from the perspective of the woman in question- namely, Elaan. Viewed from her perspective, why would she NOT treat the Ambassador and everyone on the Enterprise with utter contempt? After all, they are speeding her to this fate, and don’t seem to have the slightest idea why she should have a problem with it. In point of fact, under modern laws Elaan would have had an excellent case for getting away with not merely stabbing, but actually killing the Ambassador in cold blood. He is an accessory to human trafficking, and she is his victim.

        So yes, I believe she is a very sympathetic character- who was presented in a deeply unsympathetic light by a script that was more interested in aping The Taming of the Shrew than actually exploring the issues raised. Somewhere, in another dimension, an Elaan of Troyius that did explore these issues is remembered alongside The City On The Edge of Forever as one of the very best episode of Star Trek.

        Just not this version.

        • You use the term rape, well when she used the chemical effects of her tears to get lucky with Kirk wasn’t that exactly what she was doing to him? He clearly had no attraction to the woman, sexual or otherwise, prior to that point after all. That alone is enough to make her a deeply unsympathetic character.

          Then there’s the fact that the possible destruction of her people means absolutely nothing to her. Millions, possibly billions, of her people could die in the war this marriage would avert and she clearly doesn’t give a shit. That makes her deeply unsympathetic.

          • I concede that if she had wound up having sex with Kirk as a consequence of chemical induction, it would have been rape. I am glad she did not.

            You’re assuming the deaths of millions means nothing to her. That is dubious. It is much more likely that she knew enough about her own nature to know that (1) their plan was idiotic and a waste of time, or (2) would either result in her being raped repeatedly by her husband for the rest of her life or else would require her to maintain constant control over her husband through the use of those tears, which would make her the bad guy.

          • Necromancer1991

            Since you brought up the tears things, technically speaking if her tears actually caused her new husband to engage in coitus with her tears by crying at the very idea that she’ll have to spend the rest of her life with this stranger, would she be coercing him even if that was his intent to begin with?

            It’s one thing to say the victim in some way caused their own rape by wearing “The wrong outfit” or something stupid like that, but it’s another matter entirely when she can literally cause men to have an near-uncontrollable urge to have sex with her (Even if it’s unintentional).

            Also if the women have this ability couldn’t they just get some women together, collect their tears, and create some form of Aerosol Spray to use on the other guys to make them not want to hurt the women since they now love them? This is one of those episodes that introduces a ton of moral questions but than decides to just ignore them.

    • I’d say it’s part of her royal duty. If she wants the privileges that go with her position, which seem considerable, then she can put a paper bag over her husband’s head and do it for Troyius. Otherwise, she can give up the Royal Purple Panties of Power and get a job at Space McDonalds, and they rulers of Troyius can pick someone willing.

      • Woops — she’s Elasian, not Troyiun.

      • Was she given the option of abdicating? ‘Cause I kind of get the feeling that she wasn’t.

        • I don’t think there’s enough in the episode to go by either way, to be honest. It might have been something she was forced into with no way out, in which case she has my sympathies. Of course, all she has to do is flick tears on her new husband to have him under her thumb.

          • Which the episode makes clear she’s not the least bit adverse to doing. I might actually feel sorry for her, if the episode hadn’t made it clear just how unpleasant she is.

      • Also, since a war between the two societies could result in them destroying each other her duty to her people should be an issue too. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

  3. You can’t call a young black male “boy”, what? Damn American hypersensitivity…

    • thespecialneedsgroup

      You can call him a boy, it’s just terribly rude to refer to him as “boy” as though it were his name. It also has racial implications that are so obvious that you can’t possibly claim that you’re not aware of them.

      And before you claim that it’s hypersensitivity, it’s no different form the normal standards of polite behavior that you should use when talking to anybody. If you address a stranger by calling him something that implies that you view him as somehow inferior to you, that person has the right to assume that you’re a jackass. If it’s something you do regularly, they’re probably right.

      • On this issue… I also never heard about this, since I am no american. But please don’t take a racial implication out of thise, since I am happy that I know, now to avoid saying that. I am also sensitive to this subject, but just didn’t know.
        In german there is this terrible insult: ‘Bimbo’, refering to a black man being a savage, coming out of the jungle. It’s just something you shouldn’t say. But I also head to learn that this notion has a completely different meaning in english. Made me turn my head in a ‘come-again’ manner, the first time I heard it.

        • In American usage, “Bimbo” is an insult which roughly means “a stereotypically stupid woman”, or “a woman who has to rely on attractiveness to get by because she has no actual intelligence”. It is highly gender-specific.

          It is a school-yard level insult- not a nice thing to say, but no one will kill you for it. It sounds very much like the German version of “Bimbo” is equivalent to our word “nigger”. That is a mortal insult nowadays, and is highly race-specific.

      • “It also has racial implications that are so obvious that you can’t possibly claim that you’re not aware of them.”
        I can actually claim that, since we didn’t have slaves in my country, we WERE slaves to the Ottoman Empire (Turkey). To a non-American it sounds kind of like calling a female dog a bitch. It’s exactly what the word means, but it’s considered an insult in some other context.

  4. MightyDavidson

    “I concede that if she had wound up having sex with Kirk as a consequence of chemical induction, it would have been rape. I am glad she did not.

    You’re assuming the deaths of millions means nothing to her. That is dubious. It is much more likely that she knew enough about her own nature to know that (1) their plan was idiotic and a waste of time, or (2) would either result in her being raped repeatedly by her husband for the rest of her life or else would require her to maintain constant control over her husband through the use of those tears, which would make her the bad guy.”

    To bad the episode made it quite clear that that’s EXACTLY what she did. I’ve seen the entire episode, that’s exactly what happens. On top of that, she later tries to influence Kirk to use the Enterprise to commit genocide on the Troyian people. Not sure why SF Debris didn’t bring that up in the review but having seen the episode in question, I know that it happened.

    So exactly how is she sympathetic again?

  5. I’d have stabbed a guy with a hairdo like that too. What the hell is going on with that?

  6. The thing about the slap is that Star Trek is beyond the old sensitivities that went along with the old behaviors regarding gender, race, and religion. Take Uhura not being insulted by Lincoln referring to her as a Negress. In the TNG era, we have a female security chief. There was recently a DS9 review showing Worf being fairly rough in training with Jadzia. Do you think he didn’t punch her?

    If you accept that the society has truly achieved equality, then responding in kind to actions should be considered to be done from that standpoint, not from ours. It wasn’t about a man striking a woman. It was one person striking someone who struck him first.

    As for Kirk’s somewhat rude behavior early on, we’ve seen him be condescending to self important male characters in the past. Look at his attitudes toward Nilz Baris, Ambassador Fox, and to a lesser degree, commodore Stocker. None of them ever struck him.

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