Kirk Spock TMP

This scene from Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) has been pointed to as supporting a homoerotic interpretation of Kirk and Spock's relationship.[1]

Kirk/Spock, also commonly referred to as "K/S" and referring to James T. Kirk and Spock from Star Trek, is a pairing popular in slash fiction, possibly the first slash pairing according to Henry Jenkins.[2] Early on, a few fan writers started speculating about the possibility of a sexual relationship between Kirk and Spock,[1] adding a "sexual element" to the friendship between the men.[3] As of 1998, "most" academic studies on slash focused on Kirk/Spock, as Star Trek was one of the most accessible titles for academics and their audience,[4] and as the first slash pairing, K/S was developed independently from the influence of other slash fiction.[1]

Origins and creators' responsesEdit

Homosocial scenes between Kirk and Spock have been interpreted by fans as being homoerotic. For example, in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Spock realizes that emotions "play an important part in the richness of life". In a particular scene from the film, Spock is lying down in the sickbay, clasps Kirk's hand and says that he understands "this simple feeling". Woledge points out that both the gesture and the words are "ambiguous", and can be interpreted as homoerotic. Eye contact and gestures throughout the series have also been cited as being part of a homoerotic subtext in their relationship.[1] Another key scene which can be interpreted as homoerotic is in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, when Spock dies, and tells Kirk "I have been and always shall be your friend."[5] It has also been noted that although Kirk has had many female companions throughout the series, he always leaves them behind, citing his duties to the Enterprise, but he frequently risks the Enterprise to keep Spock safe.[2] Roddenberry commented on love between Kirk and Spock that:

Yes, there's certainly some of that -- certainly with love overtones. Deep love. The only difference being, the Greek ideal-- we never suggested in the series-- physical love between the two. But it's the-- we certainly had the feeling that the affection was sufficient for that, if that were the particular style of the 23rd century.[6]

The first Kirk/Spock fan fiction story was "A Fragment Out Of Time" by Diane Marchant, published in the fanzine Grup #3 (September 1974). It contained a sex scene but was written to not identify its participants or their sexes; Marchant stated in the next issue, however, that they were Kirk and Spock.[7]:281[8][9][10]:18,19,24 Although many early Star Trek fans were fans of science fiction in general, an increasing number were not; they

saw it as a "buddy" show, or as a heroic/romantic saga, in which Kirk and Spock were the focus. When these Star Trek fans wrote stories, they wrote about what they thought was most important about Star Trek: Kirk and Spock's friendship[10]:23

Such "relationship" stories (K&S) were distinct from homerotic ones (K/S), but both often removed Kirk and Spock from the Enterprise to avoid science fiction "distractions" like the starship and the Federation.[10]:23 In June 1976, the first Kirk/Spock dedicated fanzine appeared,[8] but as the number of non-science fiction fans grew, within several years "relationship" stories became the dominant form of Star Trek fan fiction outside the K/S genre.[10]:23 By 1987, 30 K/S fanzines existed to 47 non-K/S.[10]:77


Pon farr, a situation introduced in "Amok Time" where Vulcans "must have sex or die", is a device used in some stories such as "The Ring of Soshern", a pre-1976 fan fiction where Kirk and Spock are marooned on an uncharted planet.[11] Penley believes pon farr stories' popularity rests in the idea of men being subject to a hormonal cycle, observing that in slash fiction, the symptoms of pon farr are "wickedly and humorously made to parallel those of PMS and menstruation, in a playful and transgressive levelling of the biological playing field".[12] Other plot elements include the plak tow "blood fever"; the fact that Kirk, because of his empathic bond with Spock, can sense when Spock is about to go into pon farr, and even suffers some of its symptoms himself; and "lingering death", the fate of a Vulcan male in pon farr who is unable to claim a mate.[11][12][10]:29 Although pon farr stories are explicit, Kirk/Spock fiction runs the gamut of ratings from G to NC-17, as rated by the authors.[3]

Although there is no consensus on how homosexuality is depicted in Star Trek, Woledge suggests that as K/S stories draw on many particular events from the canon of Star Trek, that the text itself is homoerotic.[1] Henry Jenkins also notes that particular scenes are singled out by vidders and used in multiple fanvids.[2] Due to many of his character traits appearing in the female character Number One in the pilot episode, in a Kirk/Spock relationship Spock can be "read" as being a female stand-in.[13]

Camille Bacon-Smith speculates that K/S is a way for women to "openly discuss sexuality in a non-judgmental manner."[14]:323 Kirk and Spock's depiction in K/S zines has been described as "two equal individuals who complement each other", and a key theme has been that they can continue working and still be a couple, their relationship enhancing their ability to perform competently in their jobs.[15] A fan has said of the pairing: "K/S has it all: friendship, relationship drama that gets resolved, enormous expressions of devotion through sacrifice, trust and commitment over a period of decades. It's really hard to find another fictional couple that did all that, and did it as well."[3]

Henry Jenkins expresses the opinion that in the 2009 film, Uhura's character is largely there to be the "love object" in "some kind of still to be explored romantic triangle" between Kirk and Spock, and to "discourage" slashers. He says that in the original series, Uhura was largely defined by her contributions to the Enterprise, although there were hints of a Kirk/Uhura romance.[16]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Woledge, Elizabeth (August 2005) "Decoding Desire: From Kirk and Spock to K/S1" Social Semiotics, Volume 15, Issue 2 August 2005 , pages 235 - 250 Template:Doi
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2
  4. Henry Jenkins, with Cynthia Jenkins and Shoshanna Green,"'The Normal Female Interest in Men Bonking': Selections from Terra Nostra Underground and Strange Bedfellows,"in Cheryl Harris and Alison Alexander (eds.) Theorizing Fandom: Fans, Subculture, and Identity (Hampton Press, 1998).
  6. Shatner, William, et al. Where No Man... The Authorized Biography of William Shatner (ISBN 0-441-88975-1), Ace Books, 1979, pp. 147-8)
  7. Reid, Robin Anne (2009). Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy, vol. 1. ABC-CLIO. pp. 91,280–281. ISBN 0-313-33591-5. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Boyd, Kelly (2001) "One index finger on the mouse scroll bar and the other on my clit": slash writers' views on pornography, censorship, feminism and risk
  9. Jenna Sinclair, Short History of Kirk/Spock Slash, retrieved 2008-06-30; Wayback Machine link, retrieved October 20, 2012.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 Verba, Joan Marie. Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan & Zine History, 1967-1987 (2 ed.). FTL Publications. ISBN 978-0-9653575-4-8. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Norman Bryson, Michael Ann Holly, and Keith P. F. Moxey (1994). "Feminism, Psychoanalysis, and Popular Culture". Visual Culture: Images and Interpretations. Wesleyan University Press. pp. 311–312. ISBN 0-8195-6267-X. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 Constance Penley (1997). NASA/Trek: Popular Science and Sex in America. Verso. p. 130. ISBN 0-86091-617-0. 
  13. "This gloss of Number One's character—"highly intelligent," "seems to lack emotion"—marks her as the original of Spock. " ... "This otherness has made Spock a stand-in for many minority groups, but also, as I have argued above, a significant figure of identification for women. As a stand-in for Number One, and as the inheritor of her gendered problems as a strong, highly ranked woman in a male hierarchy, it can be argued that Spock sees "from both sides" of the gender divide. As Melissa Dickinson (2006:170) notes, "there are some clear reasons why women science fiction fans of the '60s and early '70s—many of whom held advanced science and engineering degrees—might have connected powerfully with Star Trek (and specifically with Spock) as an expression of their own alienation among peers.""
  14. Bacon-Smith, Camille (1992). Enterprising Women. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0-8122-1379-3. 
  15. Suzuki, Kazuko. 1999. "Pornography or Therapy? Japanese Girls Creating the Yaoi Phenomenon". In Sherrie Inness, ed., Millennium Girls: Today's Girls Around the World. London: Rowman & Littlefield, pp.261-263 ISBN 0-8476-9136-5, ISBN 0-8476-9137-3.


Template:More footnotes

  • Alexander, A., & Harris, C. (Eds.). (1998). Theorizing Fandom: Fans, Subculture and Identity. Hampton: Hampton Press.
  • Bacon-Smith, C. (1992). Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth. Pittsburg: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Byrd, Patricia. "Star Trek Lives: Trekker Slang." American Speech, Vol. 53, No. 1 (Spring, 1978), pp. 52–58.
  • Cherny, L., & Weise, E. R. (Eds.). (1996). Wired women : gender and new realities in cyberspace. Seattle: Seal press.
  • Curtin, Mary Ellen. A Bibliography of Early K/S. Foresmutters Project. Copyright 2000. Bp
  • Falzone, P.J. (2005) The Final Frontier Is Queer: Aberrancy, Archetype and Audience Generated Folklore in K/S Slashfiction Western Folklore 64 3/4 pp. 243–261.
  • Jenkins, Henry. Textual Poachers Television Fans & Participatory Culture. New York: Routledge, 1992.
  • Russ, J. (n.d.). Another Addict Raves About K/S. Nome, 8.

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