Star Wars and Female Role Models
Happy Star Wars Day!! To celebrate today, and because I am a huge fan, I want to share my thoughts about Star Wars from watching it when I was growing up, to the experiences my girls will have of it.
Star Wars: A New Hope is the film that I remember watching more than any other when I was young. I can’t remember any films that I saw before it. It had everything you could possibly want from a kids film: heroes, robots, a princess, an awesome baddy with amazing super powers and fighting! Princess Leia was a heroine for my generation of girls. We wanted to be like her, and have hair like her. Not only was she a princess, she was a strong female who stands up for herself and what she believes in. She may need rescuing a few times in the first three films, but she never goes down without a fight and she is pretty damn good with a blaster!
I used to “play” Star Wars a lot when I was young, but despite Leia being one of the main characters, I would never choose to be her. It was always about being either Luke or Darth Vader, and it was always about lightsaber fights, using garden canes or big sticks as makeshift weapons. Yes, Leia could fight, but with a gun. What was so special about that? Lightsabers and The Force, were special. Yet they were wielded by male characters.
I introduced my girls to Star Wars just over a year ago, and like I did, they loved the first three films for the same reasons I did, and I was great to watch them experience the films for the first time. I took this picture of Freyja, watching in disbelief as Vader tells Luke that he is his father. The first thing that she said to Rich when he arrived back from work that day was telling him all about this amazing piece of news.
Like I did when I was their age, they want to play lightsaber fights but times have changed in the last 35 years or so when I was their age, in that they now can have their own (plastic) lightsabers. That’s not to say they won’t play with garden canes, and I have been on walks with Emily where she has picked up a big stick and started singing the Imperial March from Star Wars, but now they can use the coloured plastic to determine who is Luke and who is Vader. Never Leia.
But now there really is A New Hope. Now there is Rey. Rey is the strong female role that I wish I had had in Star Wars when I grew up. She is a survivor, she can fly the Falcon, she can fight and most importantly, she can use The Force and wield a lightsaber. Rey has been criticised for being “too good” at too many things – almost like women aren’t allowed to be like this when so many other male fantasy characters are. Regardless, Freyja – or (F)Rey(ja) as she is sometimes called, now wants to be like her. In lightsaber battles it is now Rey vs Darth Vader. Rey is the female role model I want for my girls. Not only does she possess the force, but she is a force to be reckoned with, and that is my hope for Freyja and Emily.