This page contains information regarding Star Trek: Lower Decks, and thus may contain spoilers.
Orion slave girls and Orion animal women were terms used for Orion women who were apparent victims of enslavement by criminal organizations such as the Orion Syndicate. (TOS: "The Cage", ENT: "Borderland")
External perception and stereotypes
Enslaved Orion women were subjected to many degrading stereotypes. From the 2150s to the 2250s, it was a common for slave traders, smugglers, criminals, and traffickers of women to stereotype Orion women as being "animalistic" in nature, characterizing them as having "extreme" carnal appetites and "certain innate skills." It was claimed that Human men could rarely resist the "alluring dance" of an "Orion slave girl." (ENT: "Borderland", TOS: "The Menagerie, Part II")
Early observations by United Earth officers
In 2152, Zoumas recalled to United Earth Starfleet Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker of Enterprise, while they were on an Enolian transport together, that he had once spent two hours with an "Orion slave girl." This story was among many Zoumas told Tucker, to the point of irritating him. (ENT: "Canamar")
The next year, Tellarite bounty hunter Skalaar commented to Captain Jonathan Archer that if rival bounty hunter Kago-Darr managed to collect a reward the Klingons were offering for the capture of Archer, Kago-Darr would probably spend it on Orion slave girls, an expenditure Skalaar considered a "waste." (ENT: "Bounty")
In 2154, several Enterprise crew members were abducted by Orion pirates and brought to a processing station on Verex III. When Captain Archer expressed surprise that the Orions would sell their own kind, Arik Soong perpetuated the objectifying stereotypes of Orion women. It was remarked that the Verex III market's Orion slaver had even sold his last wife. (ENT: "Borderland")
Later that year, the Enterprise crew learned that at least some Orion women were capable of emitting highly potent pheromones that could impact the physiology of other species. In heterosexual males of many species, including Humans, the pheromones accelerated metabolisms, raising adrenaline production to dangerous levels. This could cause aggression and, after cumulative exposure, levels of delusion and suggestibility. Three Orion sisters, Navaar, D'Nesh, and Maras, had been presented to Captain Archer by an Orion man named Harrad-Sar as a supposed "gift" as part of a plot to use their pheromones to manipulate the Enterprise command crew. They were thwarted by Commanders T'Pol and Tucker. (ENT: "Bound")
Harrad-Sar claimed that in Orion society, men were slaves to women as a result of these pheromones. (ENT: "Bound") Female members of the Orion Syndicate sometimes posed as enslaved persons in order to use their pheromones to manipulate or even control hapless would-be male slavers from other species. As a means of perpetuating this deception, female leaders of the Syndicate would sometimes allow themselves to be "sold" on Orion slave markets. As a result, at least some apparent victims of enslavement were known to actually be slavers themselves. (ENT: "Borderland", "Bound")
The effects of Orion pheromones were not universal. Human females reacted negatively to those same pheromones, experiencing headaches, while Denobulan males found their sleep cycles interrupted by them. Vulcans were immune to effects of the pheromones; this immunity could be shared by those who experienced a telepathic mating bond with a Vulcan. In 2154, Dr. Phlox of Enterprise hypothesized that the pheromone acted as a defense mechanism against competition. (ENT: "Bound")
Not all Orion women emitted or utilized such pheromones. In 2380, an Orion woman named D'Vana Tendi served aboard the USS Cerritos alongside men from species including Humans, Bajorans, Andorians, and Bolians without pheromones having any noticeable effect. (LD: "Second Contact") In the 2150s of the mirror universe, Orion women served in the Starfleet alongside men from many subject species of the Terran Empire without incident. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly") In 2258 in the alternate reality, Orion women commonly served in the Federation Starfleet alongside men of many species without exerting any undue influence over them. Orion women were also capable of entering into sexual relationships without their pheromones exerting control over their partners. (Star Trek)
In the 2250s, Captain Pike had some personal experience of Orion culture to weigh against Starfleet's 23rd century scientific insights. In 2254, his fantasy of doing business on the Orion colony at one point came to include Vina in the form of an "animal woman". (TOS: "The Cage", "The Menagerie, Part II") One of his fantasized guests perpetuated degrading stereotypes and casually embraced sexual violence by remarking that the natives of the colony "actually like being taken advantage of." (TOS: "The Cage")
During the fictitious court martial of Commander Spock for hijacking the USS Enterprise, sexually objectifying stereotypes about Orion women were common enough that the illusory version of Commodore José I. Mendez was made to remark, without objection from other officers, "they're like animals: vicious, seductive. They say no Human male can resist them." (TOS: "The Menagerie, Part II")
In 2380, When performing a hologram movie known as "Crisis Point", Ensign Beckett Mariner attempted to cast Ensign D'Vana Tendi to play as an Orion slave girl. Tendi was insulted, telling her her people stopped doing that five years ago. (LD: "Crisis Point (Episode)")
The Orion slave girls were first conceived in the story outline for "The Cage", as "sinuous green dancing girls" of Protos VI, who danced barefoot along with Vina, though she herself was not technically said to be one of them. (The Making of Star Trek, p. 58)
In the second revised final draft script of "The Cage" (which contained Captain James Winter rather than Captain Pike), the appearance of Vina as an Orion slave girl was described thus; "Wild! Green skin, glistening as if oiled. Her fingertips are long gleaming razor-edged scimitars, her hair not unattractive but suggesting a wild animal mane." After her eyes were also stated to be "wild," the script continued, "We feel she's larger than before, immensely strong [...] Now dancing wildly, animal beautiful […] The green, animal Vina […] seeming taller than Winter, perhaps even stronger."
Manny Coto once admitted that, prior to becoming largely responsible for the appearance of Orion slave girls in ENT Season 4, he had "always been fascinated with […] the Orion slave girls." ("Before Her Time: Decommissioning Enterprise, Part Two: Memorable Voyages", ENT Season 4 Blu-ray special features)
In the final draft script of "Bound", the Orion slave girls in that installment were described as "stunningly beautiful."
Commenting on the existence of Orions on Earth in the alternate reality, Roberto Orci suggested that there might be "an underground railroad and some of the [Orion Slave Girls] got out and they were sold to freedom…"