I am the woman in my relationship.
All of the things that are “a woman’s job” mostly fall onto my shoulders. I cook, clean, and iron. But I also walk the dog, take out the trash, and kill bugs. So while I do the “women’s work,” I also do the “manly work” (although don’t ask me to fix your car because it will end up worse than the Millenium Falcon).
At the same time, my girlfriend does more than her fair share in her relationship. She is in dental school now so that she can provide for our family. She is a greater emotional support than I could ever have asked for; she makes me laugh when I should cry and smile when I want to die. She fills my gaps in a far greater manner than I could ever fill hers.
I say all that to say this: gender roles are a fallacy, and one that Star Wars has been speaking out against for some time now. Star Wars, in fact, made me a feminist.
There is not a time that I can recall wherein Star Wars was not a part of my life. I vividly remember the day that I got the Star Wars THX “one last time” release on VHS, yet every inch of my being knows that I had seen and knew Star Wars prior to that. Being that I had a very unstable childhood, Star Wars become one of my rocks, seeing me through the tough times in the sandbox of imagination it allowed. At some point, its realities became as real, and at times even more real than my own true reality. So to me it always made sense that women were strong, powerful, and independent.
Of course Princess, now General, Leia established this from the start. Throw a dart at a script of the original trilogy and you are bound to be within an inch of a statement that prove Leia does not need a caretaker. Moreover, seeing leaders of the Rebellion, such as Mon Mothma, stand up and break through the glass ceiling, which I did not even realize to be present, ingrained in me a feminist attitude.
Then, of course, life happens. My parents went through a messy divorce, and I began to see myself as the “Man of the House.” I felt I had to stand up for my mother and sister as their defender, completely ignoring the fact that doing so was going against what Star Wars had taught me. Fortunately for my personal growth, and my ever growing ego, the prequels came out at this time.
In them we can see more strong women than even the first three Star Wars films provided. Shakk Ti, Shmi, Zam Wesell proved women could stand on their own. Padme, of course, lead the way in this. Once again we had a female blasting the bad guys and standing up for herself and her people. Oh, how this humbled my poor ego. I began to look at women, my sister in particular, in a different light. My sister was around 7 when Attack of the Clones came out, which I would argue shows Padme in her prime role as a model feminist. Instead of considering how I could protect my sister from the harms of the world, I began to consider how I could influence her to pick up her own metaphorical blaster and fight for herself. I will not take all the credit, for in fact this attitude probably shaped me more than it shaped her, but she now is a strong and independent young woman who is already blazing a trail towards greatness as a person and a teacher.
I refuse to take credit for this, as it was far more her doing than mine. Still the same, I think the fact that a pop culture mythology that we all, whether fan or not, are affected by had women as great leaders, helped establish a culture where women could thrive. Consider that about 100 years ago women could not vote, and just recently we had a women running for the highest office in the nation. Political opinions aside, this shows that the feminist movement is strong, and I don’t believe it is any coincidence that Star Wars has existed in this particular time period.
Fast forward from my childhood to present day, and I am in a phenomenal relationship with a woman who is far beyond what I deserve. In her own right she is blazing a trail for the women to come in that she is a woman in the historically male field of dentistry. Years of watching Leia, Padme, Ahsoka, and now Rey (along with so many others) has helped me better our relationship by not trying to be the “man of the house,” but instead to realize that gender roles are a delusion of our society, and heed the lessons that the galaxy far, far away has tattooed on my heart. Quite simply, our world’s stereotypes of gender roles are flawed because….
“That’s not how the Force works.”- Han Solo