Today is May the 4th, and what better way to celebrate the galactic institution that is Star Wars than to take a look at how they’ve taken steps toward a more inclusive universe?
When you think about the first six episodes, you think of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo's adventures and attempts to save the day. You may have identified with the lead female characters, Princess Leia and Padme Amidala, who for all their strengths and capabilities were not given as many world-saving opportunities as their male counterparts. You may have wondered why Padme's promising storyline devolved into a doomed romance, and what the heck they were thinking with "Slave Leia."
And then you take a look at the two new movies, Episode VII: The Force Awakens and the standalone Rogue One. Heroines finally front and center, rebelling against the Empire and the First Order and the patriarchy. Rey is a hardworking scavenger who rises to the challenge when she crosses paths with the Resistance, while Jyn Erso's difficult childhood has made her hard and cynical but not indifferent to the call of the rebel force.
They can take care of themselves. They're dressed in functional, adventuring-appropriate clothes. And they don't need any handholding, romantic or otherwise, thank you very much. They are complex characters whose storylines don't revolve around a love interest, although some romance is still in the picture.
They can take care of themselves. They're dressed in functional, adventuring-appropriate clothes. And they don't need any handholding, romantic or otherwise, thank you very much.
Jyn, Rey, and a handful of other female characters like Maz Kanata and Princess-turned-General Leia, give us hope for the future of the saga and the generations of girls and boys who will be watching. Young girls who will identify with them, and be inspired to be as brave and kind and smart as them. Grown girls who will relate to their struggles and celebrate their wins. Boys of all ages who will look up to them as much as they idolize Luke and Han.
While we've got a long road ahead in terms of female representation—yes to women of color taking the lead, and more women fighting the good fight—in this galaxy and beyond, the presence of these heroines indicate that we are on the right path. May the force be even stronger, with more equal opportunities onscreen and off!