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Feminism and Star Wars: What’s Next For the Fandom

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Originally created in the 1970s by George Lucas, Star Wars has long been a fixture in American pop culture. When the first movie, Star Wars: A New Hope, came out in 1977, there was only one female character: Princess Leia Organa (played by the iconic Carrie Fisher). Princess Leia quickly became a feminist role model for young girls due to her feisty and whipsmart personality. However, the character was also hypersexualized in Return of the Jedi (1983) and this led to a lot of gatekeeping of the Star Wars franchise by male Star Wars fans – something that still continues today. With all the toxic masculinity involved in the Star Wars fandom, it’s understandable why some people are reluctant to watch the new Star Wars content premiering on Disney Plus. However, after watching some of the new content myself, I am surprised at just how progressive and groundbreaking the tv shows are.

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Star Wars Rebel GIF

Let’s start with the newest Disney Plus Star Wars tv show: The Book of Boba Fett (2021 – 2022). The mini-series contains seven episodes and revolves around the return of the character Boba Fett and his adventures on the planet Tattoine. However, another character that is given just as much screen time as the infamous bounty hunter is his partner Fennec Shand. Fennec Shand is a powerful assassin that has a close personal and professional friendship with Boba Fett. What I love about Fennec is what an empowering character she is. Not only is she considered Boba’s equal in many ways (I’d argue that they are equally skilled fighters), but she is a wise political and military advisor in the context of the new show. Also, the actress who plays Fennec, Ming-Na Wen, is a 58-year-old Chinese American actress starring opposite Temura Morrison (Boba Fett), a 61-year-old actor of Māori descent. Not only is The Book of Boba Fett a pro-feminist show, but the cast diversity is like nothing I’ve ever had the opportunity to experience before.

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D Walk Up GIF By Disney+

There are also some upcoming Disney Plus Star Wars shows that I can’t wait to see. In December 2020, it was announced that the fan-favorite character Ahsoka Tano will be getting her own show (titled: Ahsoka) with production beginning early 2022. For fans who haven’t watched the Clone Wars (2008 – 2020) animated series, this character is likely unknown to you. However, I highly recommend the show since it’s the first piece of Star Wars media since Return of the Jedi to give audiences a strong female character in a starring role (and yes, this show predates the appearance of Rey from The Force Awakens). Ahsoka’s name may seem vaguely familiar, and that’s because the character made her first live-action appearance in the Disney Plus show The Mandalorian (2019 – ).

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Star Wars Disney GIF By Mashable

Just like in The Mandalorian, Ahsoka will be portrayed by Rosario Dawson in the upcoming tv show based on the character. While some fans argue that Dawson is a problematic choice to play the character, I am focusing on one positive aspect of the show: this will be the first time a female Star Wars character has an entire tv show dedicated to her. And, in my opinion, Ahsoka is such an empowering character that it’s about time! Without giving away spoilers for the Clone Wars tv series, I will say that after seeing her character’s development over the twelve years that the show was in production, she has become one of my all-time favorite Star Wars characters. Her loyalty, kindness and bravery are unparalleled. Not only that, but her character isn’t afraid to question the oftentimes narrow-minded teachings of the Jedi. Plus, I love that she’s not stereotyped as a love interest, but instead she’s a powerful force user.

Star Wars Disney Plus GIF by Nerdist.com - Find & Share on GIPHY
Star Wars Disney Plus GIF By Nerdist.com

As a long-time female fan of Star Wars, I think this representation is long overdue. Having women involved in the making of these Star Wars shows really makes a difference for us fans. And I’m not just talking about the character portrayals, but those working behind the scenes as well. Bryce Dallas Howard has now directed several Star Wars tv episodes (in both The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett), and fans are raving about her directorial skills. Seeing how far Star Wars media has come, even though there’s still much room for improvement, is very inspiring. From Senator/Queen Padme Amidala to Hera Syndulla, it was impossible to include every powerful female Star Wars character in this article, so I suggest checking out this list to learn more.

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Star Wars Rebel GIF
I'm part time yoga teacher and a full time reader. I never miss an opportunity to listen to audiobooks on a car ride, or to read ebooks during breaks in my classes. I'm a senior at Susquehanna University where my major is creative writing with a minor in women and gender studies.
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