20

TVTropes claims that Pon Farr, as originally designed (presumably, TOS/movies?) - before T'Pol appeared in ST:Enterprise - had a clear indication that it was restricted to only Vulcan males.

An interesting sign of increasing Flanderization as the franchise has gone on, as well. Prior to Star Trek: Enterprise, only Vulcan males were afflicted by Pon Farr. Dialog also confirmed it was strictly a male condition. Somehow this mutated until it now affects all Vulcans. The presence of Jolene Blalock may have had something to do with that....

But I haven't seen any mention of that explicit confirmation (as opposed to just guessing from the fact only male Vulcans were shown having undergone Pon Farr), in either the episodes I recall, or Memory Alpha.

What was this "Dialog also confirmed it was strictly a male condition"?

  • Side note, tentative plans for ENT's 5th season would have included the revelation that T'Pol was half Romulan, so her biology may've been a little out of whack anyway. Still, she wouldn't have known it at the time of the episode, so... – Izkata Mar 28 '13 at 12:35
  • So, if it was intended only for males, then Roddenberry was deliberately describing a world where every seven years the men become mindless beasts and rape the female half of the planet? – Broklynite Feb 8 '18 at 9:13
7

In "The Search for Spock" (Star Trek III), Saavik explains to David:

Pon farr. Vulcan males must endure it every seven years of their adult life.

See full transcript here: Scifiscripts

  • 1
    To be picky, Savvik did not say that this was not also true for Vulcan females. – Lightness Races with Monica Jan 12 '15 at 22:50
  • I think going to trouble of add the "male" is proof enough... – E.T. Jan 14 '15 at 15:30
13

At least during TOS, I don't think it was totally clear, but it can be inferred pretty easily. You can also infer the opposite, although it is a little bit harder.

Most likely, that's assumed from its introduction in TOS 2x05, Amok Time. When Spock is explaining to Kirk, he's describing the Pon farr in entirely gender-neutral terms, up until the end:

Kirk: "What kind of biology?"
Spock: "Vulcan biology."
Kirk: "You mean the biology of Vulcans? Biology, as in, reproduction? Well, Mr. Spock, it happens to the birds and the bees-"
Spock: "The birds and the bees are not Vulcans, Captain."
..
Spock: "How do Vulcans choose their mates? Haven't you wondered?"
Kirk: "I guess the rest of us assume that it's done quite logically."
Spock: "No. It is not. We shield it with ritual and customs shrouded in antiquity. You humans have no conception. It strips our mind from us, brings a madness which rips away our veneer of civilization. It is the Pon farr, the time of mating."
..
Spock: "No, nor am I a man. I'm a Vulcan. I'd hoped I would be spared this, but the ancient drives are too strong. Eventually they catch up with us. We are driven by forces we cannot control, to return home and take a wife. Or die."

I see two basic interpretations of this, going either way:

  • Spock was speaking entirely gender-neutral for most of it, only referring specifically to gender ("wife" rather than "mate") right at the end. He was speaking in generalities, but his situation weighed on him more heavily as he described it to Kirk, eventually falling to describing his own situation. This would imply that Pon farr is experienced by both males and female Vulcans.
  • Spock was trying to emphasize that this is a difference between humans and Vulcans, more than anything else, and speaking in generalities ("Vulcans" rather than "Vulcan male") came much easier to him. Especially given that this is such a personal, hidden part of Vulcan society.

Spock may call it the "time of mating", but seeing as how he was the only Vulcan showing the effects of Pon farr at the time, it doesn't seem to be any sort of mating season - it's more like a part of their personal biology, like a very, very severe puberty.

Later in the episode, Spock says this:

"By our parents arrangement. A ceremony, while we were about seven years of age. Less than a marriage, but more than a betrothal. One touches the other in order to feel each other's thoughts. In this way, our minds were locked together, so that at the proper time, we would both be drawn to koon-ut-kal-if-fee."

So they're, well, synced up at that point. It's how T'Pring knew it was time, even though she didn't experience Pon farr that we know of. But remember what Spock said earlier? "We shield it with ritual and customs shrouded in antiquity.". We don't know what all those customs are, but the koon-ut-kal-if-fee, the "marriage or challenge", is definitely one of them. One outcome is that the female can decline the male in favor of another. So it's possible that the ritual when they were children enforces this dynamic, preventing Vulcan females from experiencing the same extremes in emotion as the males.

That said, I am inclined to agree it was intended to be male-only. It feels like more of a stretch to argue the other way, like I have tried above. Occam's razor and all - I've had to usurp one of the Vulcan rituals and give it extra effects on their minds for the results to go that way.

  • We can see that T'Pring has to pick someone in the process, even if it's not her betrothed. Her reaction to her desires is logical, but the desires themself are not, and she speaks openly of desires, personal wants. – aramis Mar 30 '13 at 2:08
2

A couple of points on this. First, Saavik does say "male Vulcans" rather than just saying "Vulcans". I would think this indicates that there is a difference. Second T'Pring is still obviously thinking logically during the ceremony, which I think would indicate that at the very least there is a difference in the way that it effects male and female Vulcans. If it was the same for both, then T'Pring would have been as irrational at that time as Spock.

1

I myself think it's quite obvious. Before T'pol it was only ever suggested that vulcan males were affected by Pon Farr. Enterprise made a slight change in canon so it could affect her as well, which doesn't surprise me at all since Enterprise took any and every opportunity to sex it up. There was more skin in the pilot episode than in all the other series combined and they kept that theme going throughout.

0

I think it was meant to be male only, but since canon is as consistent as rolling waves then why not include Vulcan females as well? If T'Pol and B'Lanna who is not even Vulcan or Romulan can get it the why not the rest of us?

  • B'Elanna is kind of a special case since she experienced similar symptoms as a result of a mind-meld with a Vulcan in the midst of Pon Farr, see here. I think the question is about whether prior explanations of Pon Farr were compatible with the idea that Vulcan females would naturally experience Pon Farr as part of their biology, which is what seemed to happen to T'Pol. – Hypnosifl Jan 12 '15 at 17:03
  • @Hypnosifl - Also, T'pol had been among humans for a considerable time and had been exposed to dangerous drugs, diseases, psychic attacks, gravity waves, poisonous gases, etc etc. Any one or a combination of those things could have affected her physiology. – Valorum Jan 12 '15 at 17:52
  • @Hypnosifl and Richard - more specifically, T'Pol was affected by a microbe in that episode, that was what triggered her Pon Farr. But the dialogue, as indicated in the question, indicated that it wasn't unusual for a Vulcan female to get it, simply that the timing was wrong – Izkata Jan 13 '15 at 1:38

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