If you’re wondering just how much of a male-dominated world that the Star Wars universe has been, I refer you to this video, titled “Every Line Spoken by a Woman Not Named Leia in the Original Star Wars Trilogy”. It’s 63 seconds long. The original trilogy is 23,160 seconds long.
Flash forward to 2017 and we finally have a Star Wars movie that has female characters that steal the show (other than those damn adorable porgs). This movie may focus on the last of the jedi, but hopefully it won’t be the last movie to center the story around strong and diverse women.
Warning: spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi ahead. If you haven’t seen it, this is not the blog post you’re looking for (unless you don’t mind spoilers, then godspeed, rebels).
GENERAL LEIA ORGANA
Ok, let’s start with some basics. No longer is she a damsel-in-distress and princess; she has grown to be a general and THE badass leader of the Resistance.
And yet with Leia, you see the complications of being a hero. Yes, it’s important to make things explode and defeat the bad guy (says Poe Dameron [Oscar Isaac]), but it’s also important to save as many lives as possible. In a world filled with cocky and reckless men such as Han Solo, Anakin Skywalker, and now Poe Dameron, it’s refreshing to see a leadership style that places a calm, collected, and yet concerned woman at the helm of it all.
RIP Carrie Fisher and thank you for evolving with the movies and feminism.
She’s the hero that’s scrappy, fearless, and holds more power than she knows; but she’s also the perfect example that individuals, even heroes, are more than just “good”. We see this in her first lesson with Luke, where he notes that Rey is drawn to the Dark Side, and moreso when she tries to see the best in the bad guy, Kylo Ren/Ben Solo (Adam Driver).
She’s also a character that comes from nothing. With Rey only seeing herself in the mirror of the Force cave and the revelation from Kylo Ren/Ben Solo that Rey’s parents are no one significant who sold her for drinking money. She’s not a Skywalker or connected to some sort of Jedi lineage (unless Kylo Ren was lying), and yet she uses her powers to install hope into the Resistance.
VICE ADMIRAL HOLDO
Any woman in a powerful position will tell you it’s difficult because you must constantly prove yourself and explain your actions. Vice Admiral Holdo is the perfect illustration of steadfast leadership and commitment to the cause in the face of mistrust and uncertainty.
As a foil to fan favorite and best pilot in the Resistance, Poe Dameron, Holdo presents a conflict among the good guys. Poe is a man that wants a plan and to blow things up when he can, while Vice Admiral Holdo represents a more multidimensional leader. We don’t know much about her other than her past connection with Princess Leia; Poe immediately dismisses her saying “That’sAdmiral Holdo? Not what I was expecting.” But I guess that’s just it– women don’t need to fit a certain image or standard to be a leader. Leia trusted her– and really, that’s all we should need to know about her to trust her. Why wouldn’t we trust Leia’s judgment? While we initially see her as a bitchy, unworthy replacement for Leia, our minds (and Poe’s) are changed when we find out she had a plan to save the Resistance all along.
Could she have just told Poe the plan all along? Sure. But Poe could have also trusted a woman in leadership. Only when Poe sees the decimation of the Resistance fleet that he sees the consequences of mistrusting a woman’s leadership. As Leia says when Poe has his revelation that the Resistance had a plan all along, “She was more interested in protecting the light than seeming like a hero.”
And when she turned the Resistance ship around and rammed the ship at lightspeed right into the First Order’s ship? CHILLS.
(Kelly Marie Tran)
She’s not a general, a jedi, or even a vice admiral– but she (and others like her) is integral to the movement. Armed with her wits and the strong belief in equality, she demonstrates that anyone is capable of rising to the occasion and contribute to a cause in her own way, without the use of a lightsaber or The Force. While she may see Finn (John Boyega) as a Resistance Hero, she levels the playing ground by stunning him before he attempts to escape the Resistance and throughout the movie becomes a hero in her own right.
She sees the issues past the shiny elegance of Canto Bight, fights for animals (the Fathiers) to be freed and not used for entertainment, and gives children hope by telling them they are part of the Resistance. She experiences loss of a loved one from the very first scene in the movie. She embodies the part we can all play in creating a more equal society for everyone.
Also, can I just say how refreshing it is to see a woman of color play an important role in a Star Wars movie? Not only does she play a prominent role in The Last Jedi, but Kelly Marie Tran is also the first Asian woman to appear on the cover of Vogue. Powerful women and diverse representation? I’M HERE FOR IT.
While there are definitely some plot holes in The Last Jedi, the film gets full marks from me as a feminist. Not only are there prominent female characters, but these women affect the choices and actions of other character. I honestly feel like that kid at the end of the movie who looks up at the stars with hope in the Resistance– I look up at this movie with hope for more diverse representation of intelligent and badass women.
May the feminist agenda be with you always, Star Wars fans.
Maddie is a recent graduate of Loyola University Chicago with degrees in Psychology and Advertising/Public Relations. She works as the marketing assistant for the Catharsis Productions Marketing Department.