Editorial: Representation isn’t a women’s issue in Star Wars fandom.

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Representation isn’t a women’s issue in Star Wars fandom. It concerns us all. At least it should, especially if everyone understands why. Star Wars doesn’t have to be a film with men and a token woman.

Women need to let the “powers that be” know they want to be represented in the franchise they are spending their time and money on. By the same measure, women cannot take men as token support in the cause for equal representation in Star Wars fandom. A unified approach to the issue will logically yield the greatest results. It is important Lucasfilm, Disney, Bad Robot, and their licensees understand that both men and women want to see woman in the galaxy far, far away. Seeing this as a women’s issue exclusively will only mean failure, both sexes are required for improvement on representation.

My problem with the current discussion on equality, gender, and race this week in Star Wars fandom has been the finger pointing that’s gone on. I have seen more negative finger pointing than dialectical conversations that might strengthen the cause, if you will. Once you call someone sexist or racist, you’ve shut the conversation down. As a believer in gender and racial equality, you’ve now ceased to be an educator and have become the accuser. The accused then becomes angry at being vilified and we simply tread water, at best. Maybe I’m wrong, but I have to say, that’s not the Jedi way.

If you intend to enter a public arena and have that discussion, a valid discussion, you are living in a fantasy world steeper than Star Wars if you think you’re not going to have to articulate your points. Our ideas about gender are social constructs. For better or worse, there is very little that is “natural” about them. Most people do not understand this. If we want change, it is important we make this clear to the best of our ability.

Some people get passionate and behave in a childish way that makes their very valid desire for equal representation fall upon deaf ears. Throwing a fit will only get you ignored. You’ll seem extreme. If the new listener has no idea what you’re talking about and why you’re angry, your vocal stance to be heard appears to be stubborn and childish to them. Getting angry isn’t necessarily wise. Keeping our cool is the best way to articulate the problems many are having with the male-centric cast of Star Wars: Episode VII, for instance. I think most men would agree with the points being made about the lack of female characters and cast members in the new film.  

Not everyone in the fandom was privileged enough to go to college. Sometimes those people are treated like buffoons and that isn’t right. I’ve seen a lot of classist behavior which is honestly as bad as sexist behavior. Sometimes the fans are young and sometimes they are not educated. Just getting angry at them once again shuts down the conversation. Star Wars is not just for the privileged, it is for everyone. That is the great thing about our fandom, we meet so many people we would never have met otherwise and we are afforded the opportunity to share our ideas with them. There is a chance we can enlighten one another on many things.

There are a lot of female Star Wars fans. But there aren’t enough to make this change happen without the support from men who care about equality. If men don’t care, why don’t they care? Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I can’t imagine anyone thinking about this issue and just shrugging it off in a “sucks to be you” kind of fashion.

I sincerely care about this issue. But I have been treated like the enemy by some women in the fandom, which is well misguided on their part. I think that is probably more of a testament to how white hot this issue is for some.

Female Star Wars fans need to convince men that it isn’t fair they are underrepresented, not in their fandom, but in our fandom. When a male says something dumb (innocently not in a trolling way), they should be engaged (when possible) instead of attacked and made to sound like they skipped the class on feminism in their cultural studies course.

Some men I have talked to have observed the attempts as taking a strong stance as throwing a fit. I’ve done my best to engage these guys and incite some empathy. It is sad how often men have no idea what “feminism” is. I tell them being a feminist simply means you believe in equality between the sexes. Most men do. Believing in equality of the sexes means showing men and women together on screen and none have denied that is fair, at least to my face.

We want new female Star Wars heroes alongside new male Star Wars heroes because that’s fair. That’s right and equal. It is also going to be compelling. Growing the fandom with the inclusion of women fans means more Star Wars, not less. The more profitable Star Wars is as a franchise, the more we’ll get of it. From that angle alone, men should want inclusion.

As I’ve said before, excluding women from Star Wars is excluding women from the social and cultural imagination. It is important we dream of both men and women in the galaxy far, far away. Both sexes need to engage the issue. If women want to see both men and women in their Star Wars films, women cannot exclude men from that discussion and effort.

I probably have come off too preachy here. I apologize for that. I understand the anger, but that leads to hate. Hate leads to… you know the rest.

 

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