History · Sci-Fi · TV & Movies

Star Trek Miniskirts: Feminist or Nah?

This month’s Star Trek column is all about the miniskirt!

Comparative Geeks

Aesthetics carry messages about values. Star Trek, while frequently written about in historical, literary, and technological terms, was also a visual experience with a distinctive aesthetic, and there’s a lot there to talk about! I just wrote a term paper on the topic, and it’s my pleasure to bring you some highlights related to Star Trek’s costumes —  specifically, the infamous miniskirts.

A variety of Star Trek uniforms StarTrek.com

William “Bill” Ware Theiss, a gay costume designer at the beginning of his career, developed the costumes for the full run of the show. The iconic uniforms were the third version developed over the course of several pilots, and their final form was a combination of practicality and aesthetics. The two earlier styles made use of velour tunics, chosen for their futuristic sheen under stage lights. Velour shrinks with every wash, though, and since television costumes are laundered every day, the tunics had to be…

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4 thoughts on “Star Trek Miniskirts: Feminist or Nah?

  1. Unless I’m mistaken, the Enterprise is technically a military ship, even if it’s use for exploring more than it is fighting. In the case of an evacuation, I would imagine it’s much easier to run in a miniskirt than a full dress. And like you said, Kirk goes shirtless a lot – it’s equal opportunity sexiness.

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  2. I’ll vote “Nah.” They’re neutral or incidental at best. They certainly don’t seem racy by today’s standards, and they were in keeping with a fashion trend for that time. If more than that was implied, then my comment is that I’ve always been skeptical and unimpressed whenever overt or aggressive sexuality has been praised as a trait of feminism. After all, it looks bad when men do it, too. Just the perspective of a man with a wife, three daughters, and one granddaughter.

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    1. There’s certainly room for discussion about male sexuality on Star Trek as well — Kirk’s persistent shirtlessness, for instance, or Chekov’s styling as a character designed for sex appeal. It’s a subjective thing as to whether any of that is exploitative, empowering, neutral as you mentioned, or all of the above!

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