You know that it’s bad sign about a series when the answer to the question ‘you know that really rapey episode’ is: ‘which one?’ We’ve discussed Star Trek: Voyager on this site before, and have basically come to the conclusion that yes, they did some things right, but booooy did they get stuff horribly wrong sometimes.
On occasion though, in the middle of all that grossness, some messages did get across. One of the most rapacious episodes in the entire series was “Blood Fever”, in which B’Elanna Torres is assaulted by Vorik the Vulcan, catches Pon Farr off of him and then proceeds to assault Tom Paris. I was a child when I saw this episode, together with my three brothers and my father, dinner on our laps, it was great. I was about 12 or 13, my brothers ranging from 11 to 16. When Torres is sexually assaulting Paris in the cave one of my brothers asks: “Why doesn’t he just go for it?” Because that’s like a guy’s dream right? A hot chick who really wants to have sex with you? Isn’t that what TV keeps telling us?
My dad gave the following answer: “Because he can’t tell if she really wants to.”
My brothers didn’t understand, Torres was clearly telling him, showing him, doing everything possible basically to tell Paris that she wanted them to have sex! So that’s when we had a talk about consent and what that meant (and yes, that consent goes both ways too.)
If you were ever to ask me (or my brothers) if we ever had a talking to about consent, we will most probably tell you no, we haven’t. If we even remember having seen this Voyager episode, even if we remember what we talked about while watching, that doesn’t count as a Talk, right?
But I remember feeling the relief when they finally got it. I hadn’t been watching a sexy woman seducing a reluctant guy, I saw a woman who had all agency removed acting against her own will and a guy observant enough to note that and protect her from that.