In this episode, Janine Engelbrecht talks about the infamous Borg Queen from Star Trek. Janine explores how the Queen is empowering for women, how she is problematic, how she embodies the idea of monstrous femininity, and how she embraces disembodiment.
What’s in Episode 16, “The Borg Queen and Female Monstrosity”
Janine welcomes everyone back and introduces the topic for this week’s episode – the Borg Queen. She also thanks listeners for their continued support.
Janine’s first contact with the Queen
Janine gives an account of the first time she came across the Borg, which was not in Star Trek! She explains why and how she became fascinated by the Borg.
Background of the Borg
Janine moves on to explain who the Borg are and how they assimilate victims. She explains how the assimilation process freaks her out. Janine further explains how the hive structure of the Borg works and what this reveals about American society.
Here Janine also briefly gives an account of other Captains’ descriptions of the Borg.
What makes the Borg Queen different
Janine goes on to recount when the Borg Queen was first introduced. She also explains what makes the Borg Queen different from other Borg drones.
The Borg Queen as a feminist
Janine provides a few reasons why the Borg Queen is an empowered female character. This includes the fact that a woman rules over billions of drones.
Janine also recaps what aspects of the Borg Queen as a female cyborg makes her empowering. This includes the fact that she synthesises technology and biology.
Problems with the Borg Queen
There are also a few problematic aspects of the Borg Queen, Janine explains. The first issue Janine talks about is the Borg Queen’s sexual behavior in Star Trek First Contact. Janine briefly also considers how third wave feminists might see this as empowering.
Unfortunately, Janine concludes, the Borg Queen is eventually punished for her sexuality.
The monstrous feminine
Another problematic aspect of the Borg Queen, Janine explains, is her portrayal as the monstrous feminine. Janine elaborates on this by comparing the Borg Queen to the xenomorph queen in Aliens.
In this discussion Janine also refers to the adoptive versus biological connection between Janeway and Seven.
Janine finally briefly touches on embodiment versus disembodiment for the Borg Queen. She explains how the Borg Queen embraces the idea that bodies aren’t important. Here Janine briefly recaps the classic Voyager episode, The Omega Directive.
Are there two Borg Queens?
Janine mulls over the issue that both Janeway and Picard kill the Borg Queen. She wonders if this is an inconsistency in writing or if there are maybe two Borg Queens. She wonders if the Borg Queen is a female consciousness that rules the Collective in a new body each time.
Janine wraps up by thanking listeners and inviting comments and requests. She also gives a brief preview of next week’s episode.
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