“I am a 20-year old Chinese Trekkie from Singapore who often goes online to find out the latest Star Trek news and to interact with other fans. One site which I visit frequently is the official page on Facebook. However, I feel that the environment there is most unwelcoming and thus is in urgent need of some form of moderation. Star Trek’s vision of the future is an inspiring one, depicting equality among the sexes and all ethnicities, and where the appearances of women are not critiqued by society. Yet, I feel that this message has been lost on many Trekkies who actively participate on the page’s discussions.
“As a young woman, it is disheartening to see many fans having backward views of the many female characters. Female characters who are assertive are slammed as being b*tchy and annoying; some even go so far as to state that these characters should die – how can future Kathryn Janeways or Kira Neryses be born if such character traits are demonized?
“Several of these fans also have strong negative reactions when others call them out. Because of the large amounts of sexism and hate-speech, I do not feel safe when wanting to interact with the Star Trek community on Facebook because I think that my opinions will not be taken seriously, and as there seems to be a consensus that to fans, only the hot and sexy characters are of significance. While I realize that it is impossible to change the mindsets of these fans,I strongly encourage the page’s administrators to bring in moderators. Yes, people have a right to express their own opinions but this has caused the women and people of colour of Star Trek to not be seen as equals; as well as to be seen as objects to be either hated or to be fetishized. I hope that with moderators and perhaps some guidelines on what can be said, the page can become more safe for Trekkies of all genders, ethnicities and sexual orientations to interact with one another.” – Fan, 20, Singapore
“I’m an eighteen year old girl and I Liked the page on facebook to get updates on the Star Trek franchise (which is one of my favorite things). I do feel alienated pretty consistently by offensive comments, especially the rampant misogyny that pervades comments on posts like the one that went up today.
“I’m pretty pissed that the moderators of the page haven’t cracked down more on this sort of behavior, and also it’s pretty ironic that it is happening on posts about Star Trek, which is all about… well… not this. It takes too much energy to engage in these discussions, and the awful community on that page is really off-putting to me.”
“I’m Ariel, a 31 year old lesbian and trans woman from Argentina. I’ve been a fan of Star Trek for over 20 years and it’s informed my life in so many ways. It churns my stomach the homophobia, racism and misogyny that are allowed on the official Star Trek page’s comments. Either moderate it or close comments, because it’s currently a breeding ground for bigoted, horrid views. It’s not worthy of Star Trek and it’s not worthy of all the people who have worked so hard on the franchise.” – Ariel, 31, Argentina
“I unliked the StarTrek.com page on Facebook because of all the racist, sexist, homophobic comments that people post on there. I originally ‘liked’ the page because I wanted to socialise with other Star Trek fans and see Trek-related stuff on my news feed, but I just can’t accept the bigotry going on. I understand it’s probably just a few bad apples ruining it for everyone, so I think it wouldn’t be that hard to fix the problem. I would appreciate if you were able to implement and enforce a comment policy to make the page a safe space for all fans.” – Inari, 29, Finland.
“To be honest I don’t comment on most Facebook posts anymore or bother to read the comments, because I know it’ll go quickly downhill with stupid sexist and/or racist garbage. It has no place anywhere, but in a fandom based on a series that has long held visions of powerful, strong women equaling what men can do, this is particularly worrisome.” – Fan, 30s, United States.
“I grew up watching Star Trek and I have been actively engaged in Star Trek fan activity for over twenty years. Star Trek is a huge and really important part of my life, and it’s comforted me through some tough times. I am also a bisexual woman.”
“I love Star Trek so much that I do a podcast about it every week, and I used to get really excited whenever Startrek.com posted a Facebook update. Now I get apprehensive, especially if the post’s image portrays a female character. It’s become a foregone conclusion now that the comments will contain cringeworthy misogyny, up to and including rape or death threats. As a male Star Trek fan, I am embarrassed and angered by these comments, but also feel powerless to do anything about them. Any comments I make only encourage the bad actors to post more hateful garbage.
“These comments are often homophobic as well, and in some cases blatantly racist. Star Trek deserves a better legacy than this, and I cannot in good conscience continue interacting with Startrek.com on Facebook unless something is done.” – Oren Ashkenazi; 27, white, straight male, Seattle, Washington.
“I don’t feel welcome on the Star Trek Facebook page. I started following it because I thought a little bit of Star Trek on my feed every day would make me smile. It’s sadly more likely to make me angry and upset because of the number of sexist, racist and homophobic comments that get made on almost every single post, often stifling genuine discussion. I am very close to unfollowing the page because of this. The Star Trek Facebook page is a very visible part of the franchise’s online presence and I wish that it was better moderated so that all fans could enjoy it.” – Fan, 28, UK
I’ve been following facebook.com/startrek for some time now and I’m trying to understand the mentality of those administrating it. I’m aware that internet culture has created this idea that people are generally horrible when they hide behind a keyboard, but it doesn’t explain why StarTrek on Facebook supports it. I’m talking about the rampant sexism that can be found in the comments of your posts on an alarmingly regular basis.
I have two theories as to why this persists:
1) You have no idea what you’re doing.
2) You know EXACTLY what you’re doing.
The first theory is pretty simple. You have a team of folks posting content on Facebook, and then you walk away and forget about it, letting the masses do with it what they will. A deist view of social media publishing.
The second theory is a little more complex (but not much), and much more disturbing. This theory purports that content is selected specifically to elicit a very distinct sort of response from the fan base. Comments that are so offensive that they encourage a heated exchange from those who would call out misogyny for what it is. The genius here, on your part, is that every person who comments, creates a new story in their news feed, thus giving the posted content more visibility.
Both of these are extremely irresponsible and disheartening, and neither of them give any indication that you care about fostering a safe and healthy place for people to interact online about Star Trek. What we’re dealing with here are adults who never learned respect, and think that this kind of behaviour is okay. Star Trek shows us a future for humankind that is better than this. YOU are supposed to represent these ideals, and currently you’re failing miserably.
Conversations for which the topic consists of something along the lines of “I’d fuck the shit out of her” should not be ignored. If someone wants badly enough to express such an opinion, they’re welcome to exercise their freedom of speech on their own wall; an online community administered by people representing Star Trek is not the place for it.
Please… help make your community a safe and welcoming place for everyone.