“The Enemy Within” and attempted rape

For my review of “The Enemy Within,” click here. Note I’m not a fan.

From These Are The Voyages: Star Trek TOS, Season 1 by Marc Cushman with Susan Osborn (TW for discussion of sexual assault):

It was important to [writer Richard] Matheson that the attempted rape be included. It wasn’t part of his story outline merely for exploitation purposes. It wasn’t part of his story outline merely for exploitation purposes, but to enable Kirk’s bad side to take the place of the obligatory science fiction monster. He said, 
What else could we show about this side of the Captain that would be more frightening?”

Attacking and beating a human being, which Kirk’s bad side certainly does, was not enough. A grizzly bear will do that out of instinct. But molestation goes beyond mere survival. It is calculated, even perversely hedonistic. It is the dark side of humanity.

Ugh, you guys. I feel so gross reading this defense of the attempted assault in this episode by both Matheson and Cushman (this kind of editorializing by Cushman irked me a few times in the first book). I still don’t get why this context makes it better or different than “mere exploitation.” If it’s there to shock us more at the extent of Kirk’s dark side’s evil, it should be even more disturbing that the end message is that Kirk’s dark side is something he needs. The urge to rape is apparently something necessary to underpin masculine leadership. 


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