When I was ten, I had a black velvet jumpsuit. Catching my reflection in the dressing room mirror, I said “I look like Seven of Nine!”. Seven of Nine, the liberated Borg drone who pledged herself to the crew of Star Trek: Voyager, was the peak of womanly beauty to me. I’ve never stopped to consider why until recently. But breaking free from non-identity’s claim to sanctuary, sucked into the mantra ‘resistance is futile’ – this was the struggle I’d never faced. Because I was afraid to face myself.
I felt like Seven. Her cybernetic implants, anchors to a robo-Darwinist perfection and yet an irremovable part of her identity, were a constant source of anxiety as she fought the preconceptions they instilled in others. She wanted rid of them as much as she clung to the power, order and oneness they represented. I only knew it felt safer to be nothing. Until the blankness of being diminished through someone I wanted to mean something to.
Even when the unknowing eyes that saw her were suspicious, I adored her because I knew her difficulty every day. My avoidance of any “irrelevant” connection was interpreted by others as arrogance. When I found someone I wanted to be real with, I’d unload on them until they couldn’t bear the pressure. Once my closest friend, one of my first loves would be stunned into silence by the selfishness of my feelings for her. My eventual confession would come to nothing, and shortly after we started to grow apart. I’ve been reluctant to act on my attraction to any woman ever since.
I’ve only ever loved one girl, kissed two on drunken dares, and crushed on a cyberwoman stranded somewhere between the collective and individual since I was seven-ish. And that’s only because they gave me no choice but to feel. That was me, Seven-ish Nine, hyperromantic willing to cling to anyone if they made me feel more human. Sheltered little blip in the system, latching onto external hard drives for my own fears and desires.
Even in her fantasies, dating a holographic Commander Chakotay in the episode ‘Human Error’, she can’t break from her comfortable numbness. She plays piano accompanied by a tutting metronome; a crutch, as holo-Chakotay knows, because she’s scared to feel. It’s a hindrance I know well. When I didn’t want to deal with negative emotions I would go blank, shut down, revert to factory settings. If not, I’d cry and make a fool of myself. It was powerful, and powerfully erotic, to me when she’d let go for a moment, be sensual, creative, even a little sentimental. After all, like me she had a weakness for romance. At least, the human fascination with the idyll of romance. Like me, she’s sex obsessed but in denial of her own potential for sexuality.
When she did lay down her barriers and admit her curiosity for ‘copulation’, there was nobody who could compete with sending a surge through my imagination. She even dared turn outwards and sexualise her own rejection of individuality, ordering Ensign Harry Kim as she pushed him up against the wall, “Resistance is futile”. I saw Seven’s struggle to let herself want more, more pleasure, more happiness, more humanity out of fear that she was now too strange for the life she’d begun to long for.