14

On the Roman planet in "Bread and Circuses", Captain Kirk is given a a slave woman for a night, who even goes so far as to say that Kirk "owns" her for the night. While he is initially hesitant because he thinks it is a trap, he eventually responds to her advances, the camera pans up from his bed, and the scene fades to morning with Kirk alone.

Are we to believe that Kirk had intimate sexual relations with a woman that considered herself his slave? I have trouble believing this, since it would make Kirk look like a hypocrite, as in the very same episode he emphatically defended both the Prime Directive and the Federation's lack of slavery.

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    pretty much all analysis of the topic usually agrees that he did. For related, see scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/32051/… – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 7 '13 at 14:28
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    "When in Rome," and all that. – Xantec Jun 7 '13 at 14:51
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    Half-seriously, Kirk's personality is such that he was 100% certain that she'd have slept with him even if she had not been a slave. Or married. Or a nun. – John O Jun 7 '13 at 14:55
22

It depends on how you define "take advantage of". If you judge Kirk by the moral standards that many people claim to follow, then you would have to consider him to be a highly immoral person. I would not find him to be so, by my standards, nor do I think that he would judge himself to be so, and here is why:

  1. Some religions claim that sex outside of marriage is flat out immoral. Kirk obviously disagrees.

  2. Many of the rules by which society operates are somewhat arbitrary. Others are based on specific circumstances that vary. Why, for example, does the fork go on the left? When operating in another society that has different rules, trying to go by the rules of your native society can create problems without providing any benefit.

  3. Kirk is a practical and down to Earth guy (metaphorically speaking) rather than an ivory-towered theorist. This is very much part and parcel of being a starship captain. "Is this against the rules?" is a very different question from "Does this do any good/harm?" and Kirk has a long history of ignoring the rules in the pursuit of his definition of good.

So, was there any harm in Kirk sleeping with Drusilla? First of all, Drusilla is an adult, and therefore capable of giving consent. It may be argued that if she defined herself as a slave, that her ability to give consent was compromised. On the other hand, Kirk is a reasonably good judge of people and it seems likely that if he felt that Drusilla was unwilling then he would not have slept with her. I think we have to give Kirk the benefit of the doubt here.

Was there any benefit in Kirk sleeping with Drusilla? I think there was. Keep in mind that Kirk was operating in patriarchal society that was very harsh and demanding. This act helped reinforce his claim to being a "man's man" and entitled to a certain amount of respect as a result.

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    +1 | Good answer. It takes multiple perspectives into account and denotes Kirk as not a complete cad but a crafty diplomat. – Thaddeus Howze Jun 7 '13 at 19:48
  • I don't think anyone who thinks that they are "owned" for the night could really consent. Even if they claimed to, how could you tell they were not simply lying in order to "do a good job" on fear of punishment and retribution? – user Aug 7 '18 at 16:01
11

There is, in the episode, no proof that Kirk did anything more than some making out and drinking.

It is likely, given the character, that the innuendo following is accurate in it's implications... but it's not clear.

[Chamber]

(Kirk is alone in the room, and is startled when a curtain is pulled back and the blonde girl appears, wearing very little.)
DRUSILLA: I was told to wait for you and provide wine, food, whatever you wish. I am Proconsul's slave Drusilla. Although for this evening. (pause) For this evening I was told I am your slave. Command me.
KIRK: It won't work.
DRUSILLA: What will not work?
KIRK: Whatever he has in mind, whatever tricks. You hear that, Proconsul? It won't work. I'm not co-operating. I may die, but you won't get any entertainment out of it.
DRUSILLA: We're alone. Please believe me. I've never lied to one who owns me.

and after a scene with Kirk and Spock...

(The wine is being poured.)
KIRK: Very good. (he tries a grape) Excellent.
DRUSILLA: I was concerned. I am ordered to please you.
KIRK: I've been in some strange worlds with strange customs. Perhaps this is considered torture here.
DRUSILLA: Torture? I do not understand. I do not wish to see you tortured in any way. (she kisses him) At the first sign of pain, you will tell me?
KIRK: You'll be the first to know.
(Later, when the oil lamp has burnt out, and Kirk is asleep)
CLAUDIUS: Captain. (Kirk wakes with a start) I'm sorry I was detained. Should we have our little talk now? So far on this planet we've kept you rather busy. I don't wonder you slept through the afternoon. By the way, one of the communicators we took from you is missing. Was it my pretty Drusilla by any chance?
(Merik enters. There are guards in the room now too.)
CLAUDIUS: See if he has it. Not that I would have punished her. I would have blamed you. You're a Roman, Kirk, or you should have been. It's not on his person?
MERIK: No, Proconsul.
CLAUDIUS: I am sorry I was detained. I trust there was nothing further you required?
KIRK: Nothing except perhaps an explanation.
CLAUDIUS: Because you're a man, I owe you that. You must die shortly, and because you are a man (pauses) Would you leave us, Merik? The thoughts of one man to another cannot possibly interest you.
(Merik leaves.)
CLAUDIUS: Because you are a man, I gave you some last hours as a man.

Claudius is implying, not stating, that Kirk had relations, proving his Roman Maleness. Note that Roman concepts of Maleness involve being the penetrator - either sexually or martially, a Roman "Man" is one who does the penetrating. So, with a bit of historical knowledge, Claudius at least thinks Kirk has had sexual congress of some kind with her.

But we also do not see her confirm it, nor do we see her nor Kirk en deshabile... So if the did the deed, he got dressed after. Also, note that Drusilla's outfit is extremely easy access. Kirk's isn't so easy.

Claudius also implies that he thinks Kirk used her to steal a communicator; we later find out it's with Merik...

This, coupled with Drusilla's statement, very nearly confirms that Claudius didn't monitor them. So Kirk might not have gone all the way, but he certainly would have enjoyed her physical presence once he realized she wasn't a trap. But it's far from clear that he actually did anything besides kiss her.

It's also clear he's letting her "lead"... So if anything, he's avoiding "Taking advantage" by letting her be the active partner.

References:

-1

Drusilla is not a consenting adult. She is a slave. She does not know what free will is. But Kirk does. He should not take advantage of a woman forced into slavery, however cheerful she may act about it. Even the kiss we are shown is immoral. As for the fact that there's no PROOF that they coupled, that's because the show's creators were already pushing the 1960s censorship standards as far as they could possibly be pushed. But they make it as clear as they could what happened.

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    You imply that she's not capable of giving consent. Yes, she's a slave (who, as far as we can tell, does not object to that status). That doesn't imply she's a child. I'm not necessarily saying you're wrong, merely that your answer is unproven. – Keith Thompson Mar 24 '14 at 22:35
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    Slavery keeps you from refusing 'consent', not from granting it. Plenty of slave relationships with non slaves had affection behind them. People are people. – Oldcat Jan 16 '15 at 21:32

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