One of the biggest shames I can think of is how many women and girls have never seen Star Wars. I personally believe that movies are culturally significant, if not outright works of art. Movies, in their own way, can inform people as much as the very best books. Because of this, I feel like women and girls are missing out on something extraordinary and important if they never see Star Wars.
I've heard girls complain about the popularity of Star Wars, I've heard them scoff at it, I've seen them roll their eyes. They treat it like it's the most juvenile and ridiculous thing ever. Like it's an embarrassing thing their man-child husband likes. Now, when their dislike for Star Wars is a matter of taste, that's fine. People are, of course, entitled to their likes and dislikes. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the time, these women and girls have never seen the movies at all (or it was so long ago they don't even remember them).
But you know, I don't really blame them. Star Wars was relegated to a movie for boys and men who grew up watching it as boys. The Star Wars "Dark Ages" of the late 80's and 90's pretty much removed Star Wars from the collective consciousness. There were no toys in stores, no movies had been made for years and years, no video games had been released for a very long time, etc. Even boys weren't allowed by their peers to be open Star Wars fans. It just wasn't cool, and it wasn't accepted. I myself was bullied throughout elementary and middle school for being a fan of Star Wars.
With the Prequel Trilogy's release starting in 1999, the public suddenly remembered, "Oh yeah, Star Wars was awesome, and it changed everything about movies, and it kind of helped shape me into who I am today." Everyone smacked their heads at having forgotten such an important piece of their childhoods and culture at large. Star Wars started to be cool again (I recently spent two solid hours playing with my nephews and their Star Wars figures). It's been a Star Wars Renaissance since then, with the new Trilogy and Anthology movies being worked on, LEGOs and videogames releasing, toys and collectibles everywhere, and I'm thrilled beyond belief.
But we still have those women and girls who haven't seen it, and don't want to. Now, I will make it clear right now that I'm not putting them down, I am not saying it's their fault. Star Wars wasn't allowed to be a part of a normal girl's life. It wasn't given the respect it deserved by the people who raised these girls. And that's a shame.
Still, that was in the past, and these women and girls continue to show disdain for Star Wars. Trying to get them to watch it is tantamount to shoving rotten pears down their throats. But something they might not realize is that Star Wars was a phenomenon for boys AND girls, men AND women. When it came out, it didn't matter what your gender was, everyone loved it! Look up old photos of fans from 1977 and on, you'll see a crap ton of grown women and girls wearing Star Wars shirts, lining up to see the movie, etc. It was a gender-spanning movie! It's only since the 90's that we've made it a movie for boys. Hell, look up Comic Con cosplay and you'll see more women in Star Wars costumes than you can count.
There’s been a lot of talk about the lack of female roles in Star Wars. And for good reason. We should always have those kinds of discussions. Star Wars IS a mythology for everyone, and everyone should feel a part of it. There are definitely things that could be done better. That being said, Star Wars did some incredible things for feminism. It featured a tough female protagonist who didn’t take shit from anyone: Leia had her own blaster and shot dozens of Stormtroopers with it, she figured things out and saved everyone’s butts multiple times, and she was one of the head honchoes of the entire Rebellion throughout. By the end of the third film in the Original Trilogy, we find that Leia even has the Force, putting her right in line with Darth Vader and Luke! Girls, these movies are for you! They could have done better with gender equality, but man, for their time, they were revolutionary. Girls, whether you like it or not, Star Wars is a part of your history! Give it a chance!
I’m just gonna end on this: the feminist movement is about women bringing change, it’s about men bringing change. It’s about people ensuring equality for each other. I’m asking women and girls everywhere to give Star Wars a chance. Take back the fandom of these movies females used to have. Don’t let marketers sell it to boys and leave you out. Watch the movies, give them a chance. Look deeper into the themes and significance of the stories these movies weave. I promise, if you give them a serious chance, you’ll find you’ve been missing out on something meaningful. Better late than never. Let’s show everyone that women and girls love good stories and characters, love action and romance, love drama and humor. Don’t let people define what you should or shouldn’t like.
As the new movies are made and come out, let’s tell the brass of Disney and Lucasfilm we want more awesome female characters! We want more toys and merchandise to fit the desires of both boys AND girls! This is our chance to make a difference, to carry Star Wars into the rest of our lives, the lives of our children, and help give them the awe and wonder we all felt ourselves.