The changing stereotypes of a galaxy far, far away…
In many forms of media, women are either depicted as the weak, submissive party that’s only looking for love (as in many romantic comedies), or tough and resilient fighter who takes charge and gets things done, and doesn’t put up with anything from anyone (as seen in many action movies). While this depiction is fine and has its place, there should be more than these two types of women that are relegated to either end of the stereotypical spectrum.
In real life, there are just as many types of women as there are men…
Even without necessarily knowing how to fight, women can be just as tough and resilient as their male counterparts. Take Rogue One’s Mon Mothma for example. She is the person depicted as the leading the forces of the Rebellion. Not Bail Organa, not Admiral Raddus, but her. While both males have made sacrifices and great contributions to the cause, it is most refreshing to have a woman acting as custodian of the Rebellion’s considerable resources.
As nice as it was to witness Princess Leia wielding a blaster and saving the boys, as opposed the other way around like they planned, it was also cool to see the smart and brave Mon Mothma (even for just a short period of time). In this era and up until quite recently, women were mainly being depicted as physically strong and not much else. While this is cool to see, in real life, there is more than one type of strong woman. As such, why shouldn’t the movies reflect this? We are just as intellectually smart as our male counterparts. For Mon Mothma, this came in the form of gathering people together, then coordinating them in a galaxy wide Rebellion for several years, if not longer. In order to keep everything running as smoothly as possible over the course of many years without conceding too much, one has to be indefinitely smart and intellectually strong.
More than this, it also gives everyone from little kids, to adults of all ages, someone to look at and possibly even identify with. In this woman of immense intelligence and quiet strength, they can look to her and say, ‘I want to be just like her.’ In today’s world where women hold leading roles in everything from medicine, to firefighting to major corporations, they can. Now more than ever, it is possible for them to grow up and eventually rise to the same status as Mon Mothma, when it comes to the role of leadership. Sure it likely won’t be leading a Rebellion, but they will still be blazing their own trail all the same.
Stepping back from the fact that she’s obviously a woman, in order to perform the required duties as leader of a Rebellion with any degree of success, one has to have a vast array of skillsets. Not only do they have to be able to work with a diverse array of humans, humanoids and all creatures in between, but also understand the intricacies of military strategy and diplomatic politics. As a result, these abilities allow a person to almost innately understand how to inspire the very best from every member of their crew. Something one would not want used against them under any circumstances.
While I’m on that topic, who would like to see an anthology movie about Mon Mothma, possibly about how she covertly facilitated the formation of the Rebellion? Yes, we see the beginnings of its formation in The Clone Wars, Rebels and Rogue One, but what did it take to get to that point? With how powerful the Emperor is revealed to be, with his many spies and informants one would think he would have the foresight to unearth the seeds of Rebellion in their infancy.
Did she ever come close to being discovered, only to endure and continue to struggle against the Empire’s tyranny? If so, it seems like it would be a fun story to explore, along with giving girls and women alike, another type of character to look up to and aspire to be. A strong minded female, championing a cause, both intellectually resolute and determined to succeed at all costs.
Moving on to the exciting news that came out of the Star Wars Celebration event in Orlando, and there’s a new character being introduced in The Last Jedi, named Rose, who is revealed as a maintenance worker that finds herself at the heart of the conflict between The First Order and the forces of the Resistance. Even without knowing much about her, my interest is piqued. Not just because she’s a new character, but also because her ability to fight is not what defines her.
In fact, what I took from this part of the panel is that the trait which defines her best, is her ability to be intellectually smart and fix mechanical objects that likely include droids, machines, various transports and the like. This in turn gives young girls and women, a different type of strong female to look up to and admire. It shows them that it’s not all about being physically strong. A woman can be intellectual and also, demonstrate abilities just as tough and rugged as their male counterparts.
As strong female roles in the Star Wars universe expand, they get ever closer to mirroring the various and diverse types of girls and women in real life. For example, look at female emergency room doctors and nurses. While some may not necessarily be able to stand alongside their male colleagues when it comes to a physical confrontation with a uncontrollable patient, they can take charge of a chaotic situation and compartmentalize everything so it all gets done in a logical order. In situations such as these, they are the ones you want on your side, due to their ability to keep a level head no matter what is going on around them.
In order to do their jobs, they not only have to be able to put with a lot, but they also have to do so in some of the most challenging of conditions. These can include, but of course are not limited to: after a natural or man made disaster, or in an emergency room in the aftermath of such a devastating event. Following a disaster of these proportions, those rooms can be just as chaotic, if not more so, than the maelstrom outside.
This of course can also extend to female firefighters, forestry workers and paramedics as well. Even though they fail to wield any mythological power, that should not be the main characteristic that describes them. Rather, they should be characterized more for their heroic ability to dive into situations most people would flee from. Despite any potential chaos going on around them, they too are able to keep level heads and save lives, which in my book is just as intimidating as wielding the military might of the Empire.
In summary, as nice as it is to see women slowly moving away from being depicted as the weak submissive party that require rescue, and emerging as the strong heroine capable of fending for herself, it is also nice being able to see women depicted as intellectually smart as well. As is the case with our modern day culture, there are many different types of female characters other than those simply in need of saving.
We are all individuals with our strengths and weaknesses that include being able to take care of ourselves or not, and those that are intellectually smart verses streetwise or strategically smart. We are all unique and diverse from those around us, and seeing that depicted in one of the most popular franchises of all time is long overdue.
Until next time…
May The Force Be With You…Always!