Is Star Wars: The Force Awakens The Greatest Feminist Flick Ever?

December 21, 2015

May the girl power be with you.

Three things about Princess Leia remained with me after watching the original Star Wars; her hair, her impossibly uncomfortable metal bikini and her desperate plea, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope”.

Perhaps if Little Miss Leia had spent more time doing her positive affirmations in front of the mirror rather than perfecting her hair, she might have been able to stand on her own two feet. Of course, she embodied a perplexing time when confusion ruled the galaxy of feminism and femininity, and the empires were torn between helplessness and strength. The clue to the horrifying confusion was in her bikini being made of metal.

As for Leia’s lines; really? She was pretty much the only woman who spoke in the entire movie, she was given a handful of sentences and that’s the best she could deliver on behalf of an entire gender? She was the bikini-clad embodiment of a shameful damsel-in-distress.

Star Wars' original Leia embodied feminine submisiveness.
Star Wars’ original Leia embodied feminine submission.

So, yes, I was dubious when the chatter commenced about the new Star Wars movie’s leading lady. What patronizing monstrosity had they conjured up this time?

Thankfully, we have fought our way to an era which accepts that genders can be different but still equal, and Star Wars has joined us on the journey and arrived at the destination admirably. Newcomer Daisy Ridley embodies this mindset shift in her role as force-sensitive scavenger, Rey, in the new box office smash, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

“I hope Rey will be something of a girl power figure… It just so happens she’s a woman, but she transcends gender. She’s going to speak to men and women,” Ridley said of her role in the franchise’s latest flick, which has already shattered records, taking in a whopping $517million in worldwide ticket sales.

In Rey, we are shown a confident, inspiring female heroine. Hailed as “Star Wars’s first female protagonist,” Ridley’s character takes a leaf from the gospel of other powerful ladies in entertainment like Madge, Beyonce and RiRi, and doesn’t even have a surname. Bad. Ass.

Daisy Ridley embodies bad ass.
Daisy Ridley embodies bad ass as Star Wars’s Rey.

Unsurprisingly, the media spotlight has even turned to the Bechdel test, which the new movie passes. Developed in 1985, the ‘test’ means a work of fiction has at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. Tick.

Instead of a plea to “Help me”, early on in this film Han passes Rey a blaster, to which she replies, “I think I can handle myself.”

Aha, moved with the times we have.

She’s a brave fighter and a smart, self-sufficient survivor who has no time for makeup, let alone side-buns. At one point she even snaps, “I know how to run without you holding my hand,” a line laced with so much feminism Jane Austen would be proud.

But the real reason Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the greatest feminist flick of all time is because a woman is fronting one of the biggest movie franchises in history and she didn’t have to. That was a choice, and means a victory has been claimed.

Plus, *spoiler alert* she’s not a love interest, she’s never rescued by a man, neither is her appearance ever commented on. Far from wearing a bikini, her outfit is decidedly Sporty Spice.

What gives Girl Power the last martial arts spinning kick in this debate, is that actresses are already being auditioned for Episode VIII.

In a galaxy not so far away, it seems blockbuster heroines have finally become a way of life.

Comment: What did you think of the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens


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