Kelsea Stahler writes a piece at Bustle entitled, ‘The Last Jedi’ Makes Treating Women As Equals Seem Easy — Because It Is.
In it, Kelsea mindlessly parrots the fantasy-based “threatened by women” meme:
Well, probably at least for as long as the franchise is still alive.
What data are you basing this determination on?
And that thrill will continue once audiences get a look at Star Wars’ latest offering, Dec. 15’s The Last Jedi, in which women are treated not just as equals, but as leaders, adventurers, and even saviors. No caveats. No sexualization. Nothing but pure power, cunning, and might.
Indeed, the women are more equal than others. Hooray!
And this is huge, because for many female fans, the existence and rank of female heroes is no longer enough. We’ve seen proof of what we always knew — that female heroes are just as profitable as male ones (hello, Hunger Gamestrilogy and The Force Awakens) — and now we demand something more than just a woman at the center of the poster or in the final, gut-wrenching shot in a trailer. We want a woman who truly feels like a hero — with no caveats or concessions made due to her gender. Pretty simple ask, right?
You demand? Who’s writing these stories anyway? Why don’t you go write your own story? Oh, that’s right, without the patriarchy invented Star Wars logo slapped onto your feminist garbage, no one would be even remotely interested in any of it. Maybe you’d find writing laws in Belgium more rewarding than writing insipid articles.
Well, as it turns out, not so simple. Even when we’ve seen some of our favorite heroines get high billing, like Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow in the Marvel movies, and especially Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman in November’s Justice League (in which disgusting up-skirt shots are apparently considered acceptable),
Disgusting to whom?
Our female heroes are often subjected to doubt or derision from other characters based on their gender, with male characters often expressing disbelief or shock when a woman takes up a leadership mantle or manages to best one of her foes (this even happens in 2017’s very empowering Wonder Woman, unfortunately).
Or based on the fact that few of them can bench press more than 25 lbs.
No one doubts Rey’s abilities or marvels that she can somehow be powerful even though she’s “just a girl.” Every single character in this film immediately recognizes and respects the strength and innate ability that she’s tapped into since discovering her abilities in The Force Awakens.
That’s what Mary Sues are made of.
No one questions General Leia’s credentials or decisions, or worries that she’s being too emotional. And even when one male character questions the authority of one of the (numerous) female leaders in the film, it’s made clear that his squabble is based purely on strategy, not anything as trivial as gender.
It wouldn’t appear that gender is trivial to you.
Hell, there’s even a badass Resistance squadron leader who drives her team of fighter pilots into battle without a peep or bit of pushback from her male direct reports — which shouldn’t feel remarkable, and yet, it does when held up against our persistent reality in 2017.
Well, of course, it should feel remarkable given that there just aren’t many female fighter pilots.
Add to all this the fact that, while the new Star Wars films are certainly not devoid of sexual tension (seriously, ask the fans building ‘ships on reddit and Tumblr right now about how many characters they’re hoping to see smooch in The Last Jedi), there’s not a single frame of this film, a single costume, or even a single line, that reduces any of the powerful women — Leia, Captain Phasma, Admiral Holdo, Rose Tico, Maz Kanata, or Rey — to their gender. Not a single moment that puts anyone in danger of becoming a sexual object.
Do I honestly have to explain the proper context of Leia’s gold bikini to yet another feminist?
Or is this particular feminist also confusing the Star Wars films with Star Wars Burlesque?
Anything can happen when it’s written that way.
According to your female empowerment fantasies?
This galaxy is a utopia far, far away from a realm where sexual harassment, while finally under a microscope in media and entertainment, is still so prevalent that some women have become desensitized to it, and accepted it as just another daily issue we all deal with.
There’s war in that far, far away galaxy. Do you understand either the words war or Utopia?
A place where actual world leaders have openly questioned a professional woman’s abilities based on her gender; where women still hold fewer leadership roles (only 6.4 percent of the top 500 U.S. companies are led by women, and women still comprise less than 20 percent of the representatives in Congress); and where equal pay isn’t projected to be even a possibility until 2059.
So this really isn’t about Star Wars, this is just about your own uneducated political gripes. Got it.
Unless fans make demands. Then the storytellers be damned.
Utopia is dreadfully boring. Even in fantasy worlds.
And while The Last Jediis a fantastic example of how films can offer this much-needed world to women everywhere, it’s not as if Lucasfilm and director Rian Johnson just pulled off some impossible, miraculous feat. Far from it.
The film comes from a company that is quite literally run by women. Yes, parent company Disney is still a male-dominated landscape, but over at Lucasfilm, the company started by George Lucas and sold to Disney, the leadership team is largely female. Lucas’ right-hand woman since the ’70s, Kathleen Kennedy, runs the entire company. And when it comes to what stories make it into the Star Wars canon, head of development and the Lucasfilm Story Group, Kiri Hart, is the one calling the shots. She’s also filled out her team with a diverse array of contributors, including (you guessed it), more women. When women contribute to the creation of the fantasy worlds we immerse ourselves in, shocker, those worlds start to feel startlingly equal.
So equal that we’re now getting stories about Han Solo’s high adventures in babysitting.
It’s no secret that pop culture consistently affects perception of and understanding of various elements of our actual culture, from violence, to the court system, to even general intelligence levels.
For some, perhaps. For the rest of us who have functional relationships with actual reality, we look at pop culture like this, roll our eyes, and chuckle derisively.
So when the fantasy worlds we all wish we could live in start to show startlingly equal gender dynamics, doesn’t it stand to reason that they could set an example for the kind of future our real world might one day achieve?
No. It doesn’t. You can depict Superman shooting red lasers out of his eyes all you want. It’s not going to make anyone in reality start doing the same.
Better representation for women is just that easy, folks. It’s almost mind-numbingly easy. Give women a seat at the damn table. That’s it. And maybe then, this world we all want doesn’t have feel so far, far away.
Great. Start signing up for Selective Service, and be equally represented in the armed forces.