Trexegesis July 22, 2015

I’ve had my attention drawn to the Anomaly podcast about hermeneutics and Star Trek. It emphasizes why “It was the 60s” is not a sufficient justification for things like sexism on Star Trek: The Original Series. Here’s a sample:

I tend to think there’s also extra pressure on Star Trek because it has a reputation for being progressive. For the time it was made it, it often was. But not always. And it’s worth noting that, in Letters to Star Trek (compiled by Susan Sackett), you can find several instances of women fans writing in and objecting to the portrayal of women of TOS. In the ’60s. (Some examples can be found here.) So, saying “it was the 60s” obscures and dismisses that history.

Click through for more. The relevance to the hermeneutics of Biblical interpretation should be obvious. “That was the 60s” is no more of an excuse in the original 60s CE than in the 1960s. And in both cases, recognizing that a work is neither wholly progressive nor wholly antiquated and sexist is challenging.


"Good point. Have you read this book:"Jesus Have I Loved, But Paul?""

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  • arcseconds

    I always think the notion of ‘justification’ in these circumstances is a bit problematic.

    We complain about the sexism (or whatever) of some work and say it’s not justified by saying ‘it reflects the context in which it was written’. But what would be justified, then? Sounding like it was written by a 21st century feminist? Surely that’s a silly and impossible expectation for most works.

    I suppose it’s just possible chronologically for something in the 60s to get a tick for feminism, but sociologically we’d surely not expect a TV show produced by a large TV production company in the 60s to ever produce such a work.

  • arcseconds

    Also, someone told me once that Nichelle Nichols thought at the time the miniskirts of the female Star Fleet uniforms were cool, and thought it was liberating to be able to dress like that onscreen. Or something.

    Can anyone confirm or deny this?

    I don’t say this to give Trek a pass. The sexism in the original series is pretty blatant, and the miniskirts are just a part of it (and the sexism in the later series is just as present, just subtler and in some ways more disturbing) I’m just saying that, if this or anything like it is true, it’s evidence that what seems from this distance as sexism may have seemed revolutionary at the time.

    • Gary

      I have no idea what Nichelle Nichol thought. However, having gone through high school in the 60’s, I can still remember appreciating all the mini-skirts in our classes. There was no shortage (no pun intended) of gals wearing them. But at the same time, there were women’s lib groups also out burning bras. The net result, short skirts, no bras; enough to make a 16 year old boy very happy. However, a smart boy just keeps his mouth shut and enjoys it. More to do with the gals not wanting to be told what to do, than meeting the expectation of boys. Just don’t stare, or you’ll get stomped on. Perhaps that was Paul’s problem. He got caught looking at women, so instead of controlling his own eyeballs while in synagogue, he wanted to control women’s head coverings instead. 🙂