Episode 4: ‘Wolf in the Fold’

The whole crew takes a look at one of Star Trek: The Original Series’ worst episodes for women: “Wolf in the Fold.”

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Hosts: Andi, Sue, Grace & Jarrah

Editor: Jarrah

Transcription: Lydia – @moon_babes_facebook.com/moonbabesart

Download Transcript: PDF or Word

Theme Music: Sounds and music from the trailer for “Wolf in the Fold”

Notes and References:

    • In this episode we discuss the concept of Orientalism. Just to be clear – this is not the same as using the term “Oriental” to refer to people from Asia, because that would be seriously uncool. “Orientalism” is an academic term popularized by literary theorist Edward W. Said. It refers to a Western imperialist way of viewing Asia, especially the Middle East, in an exoticized, stereotyped way. The Orientalist images and themes identified by Said, such as the harem bellydancer, are have worked their way into the Western collective imagination through art, literature, film, architecture and more, going back to the 19th century. A contrast is thus created between these Eastern cultures as “backward” and sensual, associated with the feminine, while Western cultures are associated with technological and scientific advancement, rationality and masculinity.
    • We also referred to the “Yellow Peril” a way of portraying Asian people in Western (particularly American) culture starting in the 19th century. For more on the race and gender dynamics of the “Yellow Peril” in movies, Jarrah recommends Romance and The Yellow Peril: Race, Sex and Discursive Strategies in Hollywood Fiction by Gina Marchetti.
    • “Give Kirk a Break – Spock’s the One Putting Women Back in the Kitchen” by Emily Asher-Perrin at Tor.com.



  8 comments for “Episode 4: ‘Wolf in the Fold’

  1. Just found your podcast and started at the beginning. I’m hooked. This podcast is a great balance to Mission Log, another podcast all things Trekkie.

    My only comment is related to a so-small-yet-very-important nit-picky thing but it’s grading season here in academia and I’m in full assessment mode and have to report points off on … the math quiz. True, Spock could have tried harder to stump the computer by some paradox rather than asking it to calculate to the last digit of pi. However, pi is indeed a transcendental number. Yes, it’s a constant but it’s also a value which will never be a solution to an algebraic equation with rational coefficients, you know, like 2x – 3 = 0 so it falls into the class of transcendentals. The number e is another number in this class, as is phi (the golden ratio).

    Maybe the writers were going for something that fit with the hippie vibe of of the late 60s thanks to that Maharishi fellow doing all that transcendental meditation. Maybe they did a quick definition search of pi to make Spock sound smarter than the average viewer. Either way, Spock wasn’t wrong when he said it.

  2. You mention a memo from Gene Roddenberry in this episode which was frankly shockingly misogynist, and really helps to dispel myths about his godliness status in the secular humanist progressive community. I’ve not been able to find a copy, weak Google-fu. Do you have a link?

  3. I think you are misstating when you assert that Jack the Ripper has been identified. Many possible men have been identified as the “real” Jack the Ripper, but there is really not enough evidence to truly state that he has been identified. And certainly, in 1967, it was all theory and no fact.

  4. Women in general do have a heightened flight response to danger, just as most men have a heightened fight response. It’s a leftover impulse from hunter-gatherer days when faced with danger the males would stand and fight while the females escaped to safety with the children. It’s not so much sexism as genetics.
    Redjac targets women because their ability to sense danger and go into flight mode is higher.

    • Hi Katie. Thanks for the comment but I think it’s a bit of an oversimplification. The science on gender differences i neurobiological response to fear has shown mixed results. For example, in “Sex differences in the neurobiology of fear conditioning and extinction: a preliminary fMRI study of shared sex differences with stress-arousal circuitry” by LeBron-Milad et al. (2012), the study authors note “some studies have reported no sex differences [19,20], others have reported that in humans and rodents, males tend to exhibit higher conditioning responses relative to females [21,22]. As for fear extinction, we recently reported data showing that estradiol significantly enhances extinction recall in female rats and in women [23].”

      In their own research, LeBron-Milad et al. found sex differences in fear responses, but nothing that could be simply defined as women being “more easily and deeply terrified,” as Spock states. No differences were found in skin conditioning response to fear between men and women, and BOLD [blood-oxygen-level-dependent] changes were higher for women in some parts of their brains, but “The behavioral data showed lack of sex differences in fear responses. Thus brain activity differences in neural responses may be contributing to producing similar behavioral responses suggesting that men and women use different neural strategies to produce homeostasis in the brain in response to fear.”

      In another fMRI study, men and women were shown pictures of fear or disgust-inducing images. Women did self-report stronger reactions than men. But the study authors found in the fMRIs: “While viewing the fear pictures, which depicted attacks by humans or animals, men exhibited greater activation in the bilateral amygdala and the left fusiform gyrus than women. This response pattern may reflect greater attention from males to cues of aggression in their environment. Further, the lateralization of brain activation was comparable in the two genders during both aversive picture conditions.”

      Taylor’s 2000 theory that women “tend and befriend” instead of “fight or flight” also doesn’t state that women fear more, but that women’s stress responses tend to occur in areas of the brain more associated with emotions.

      There very well may be general differences in fear responses between males and females. However, this cannot all be conclusively linked to evolutionary needs. Sex-role conditioning and socialized gender have also been shown to play a role. Heinrichs and von Dawans found (2012) social “tending and befriending” behaviour in an experiment involving men, rather than the automatic aggression you would predict from evolutionary theory.

      I’m not sure where the scientific research was on fear responses in 1967, when “Wolf in the Fold” aired, but if scientists in 2015 still haven’t arrived at conclusive explanations of how genes, hormones, and gender-based socialization interact to affect fear responses, they certainly couldn’t state unequivocally in the 1960s that women are “more easily and more deeply terrified” than men.

  5. in regards to the ‘feeding on fear’ thing.. if we ignore spock’s stupid claims about women, it actually makes more sense that Redjac is feeding off the fear of the rest of the society.. that he commits the murders to establish that there IS something to be feared, and he feeds off the fear of being the next victim felt by others. in that regard, the targeting of women just becomes a fixation like any other serial killer..

    actually, the fact the episode is basically about a supernatural serial killer explains a bit about how they figure out it was redjac.. the concept of the serial killer would not be developed for nearly a decade after the episode aired (the episode was 1967, the first recognition of serial killers was in 1974) and the public recognition that serial killers were not some rare weird oddity wasn’t until the 1980’s
    so at the time the episode was written, the idea of one person committing a string of similar murders WAS believed to be so unique that the computer search approach in the episode really was believable to viewers of the time. it’s still stupid, but the viewers back then would have found the idea of a computer search of records more notable than anything else (computers being a fairly new thing and still fairly large and limited.. that the enterprise had a computer able to do tons of different things was impressive. this also explains the lie detector bit.. lie detectors had been around for awhile in small numbers, but in the 60’s they were getting a lot of attention because they got more common, and police started to use them in investigations. the was a lot of debates going on as to whether the polygraph was accurate, and whether interviews and confessions made with the device were valid in court.)

  6. Two quick things: admittedly it’s a long while since I watched this episode, so I’ve never really seen it with my web-educated feminist hat on, but your analysis makes me aware of how one can consider oneself an ally and yet still be some way behind in perception of the whole slew of problems surrounding an issue! So, thanks for that. I’m now tempted to watch the episode, and also inclined not to…

    And – this may be so obvious to you that it’s not worth saying – it struck me that McCoy’s ‘Just like the other one’ is a (probably unconscious/unintentional) lumping together of all women; it’s less important that this second murdered woman is a member of the Enterprise crew than it is that she’s a woman – the ‘other’, the not-men. (Of course, he could just be saying ‘like the other victim’, which is fair enough, but I wonder if, in the case of a man being murdered first, the victim’s name might not have been given?)

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