The Her Universe booth at Celebration V. Photo by popculturegeek @ Flickr.
Attention male Star Wars fans around the world! I say this from the bottom of my heart because us nerd girls, we love you (I should know, I have my own nerd boy). We know that you mean well and sometimes what comes out of your mouths or through the keyboard is not necessarily what you mean to say, but rather can become a bit of a mess in translation and that’s okay. Lately, it’s not. Let me tell you why.
You’ve all heard of Ashley Eckstein (the talented voice of “Clone Wars” character Ahsoka Tano) and her now famous and easily recognizable Her Universe Star Wars clothing line for women. Female fans. Female. Fans. Did you read that correctly? Female. As in, girls. Women-folk. Not male fans—female. Have I made myself clear yet?
Without fail, Ashley’s wonderful and beautiful line continues to release new pieces with regular input from fans (male and female alike) to create t-shirts, jewelry, and even an upcoming line of sleepwear. And without fail, every single time a new item is introduced several male fans step in with a comment similar to:
“Now we need something like that for guys!”
No. You don’t. And do you know why? Because if it hasn’t already been designed, made, and sold in some form over the past 30 years (THIRTY. YEARS.), it will be designed, made, and sold over the next few months to male Star Wars fans in the following stores: JCPenny, Target, Old Navy, Kohl’s, Walmart, Hot Topic, etc…Not to mention exclusive online stores, the Mark Ecko line for men, or the most recent Star Wars line of Adidas menswear (not including the shoes).
I’m not naming names. I don’t have to. There are any number of frighteningly similar comments and opinions that pop up from various sources regularly to prove to me that some male fans just don’t get it.
On her first blog entry for the Her Universe website, Ashley explains the situation with female fans eloquently. To put it simply: it has been very hard to find Star Wars clothing for females. When something is available, it’s usually at Hot Topic and only in such garish or stereotypically “girl” colors (pink, hot pink, baby blue, purple) as to render the effort disastrous. For every 10 Star Wars t-shirts there are for men (the typical t-shirt is designed to fit the male body), there are maybe one or two for women. Those odds don’t get much better when you want to consider aesthetics or, how great/ugly the shirt looks.
As an example: I regularly shop for nerdy paraphernalia for my boyfriend to proudly display his fandom in any number of franchises because I want the world to know I am dating a nerd. I can and have walked into JC Penny, found a cool Star Wars shirt and bought it for around $9.99 for him. I can and have done this in any number of the above mentioned stores. Boxers, t-shirts, hoodies, belt buckles, wallets—you name it, male fans have access to it. It’s nearly impossible to do this for myself.
Thanks to Her Universe, female fans finally have that for themselves. We are finally being recognized. We can proudly display our nerdism as fashion and let me tell you: that is the BEST feeling. I can, with a t-shirt, like any other male fan (who have been the “normal” customer for fandom merchandising across the board), and have people know, “hey, she likes Star Wars.”
And that’s my point. It has been beyond difficult for female fans to do this for the past thirty years. It’s not fun settling for unflattering t-shirt prints or being told to “just wear a guys’ shirt” or a “little boys’ t-shirt” because there is little to no other option. I still can’t walk into any of those stores to find Star Wars underwear, pajamas (my boyfriend has a pair of Vader pajama pants. Isn’t he lucky?), or much of anything that was tailored to fit MY body because as a female I have been largely ignored as a consumer of Star Wars products for so long.
It isn’t that we are “now” getting lots of awesome and extremely well thought out designs and merchandise. It’s that now we are finally getting those to begin with. We have never really had that before.
Please do not point out Zazzle’s Star Wars eco-friendly customizable line (which are fab, btw), or Stylin’ Online. Or even, Star Wars Shop (which I love, dearly) because let’s look at it honestly. These are all online stores. Until Her Universe is sold in stores, and I am confident it will be eventually, I do feel comfortable telling those male fans who think it’s about time they got something “like that” for them: look at the following numbers and consider that these are only available to us if we want to pay $7.95+ for shipping and handling and you, as males, have these options plus many in-store extras.
T-shirts for males: 88; not counting hoodies or jerseys
T-shirts for females: 25 (mostly junior style tees)
Star Wars Shop
T-shirts for males: 40; including 3 by Mark Ecko and 3 jerseys
T-shirts for females: 14; including 3 “Family Guy” designs (that’s a grand total of 11 movie-based designs) and one baseball jersey, but a balanced selection of women and juniors styles
(this isn’t just an online store, but I included it to drive home my point)
T-shirts for males: 10
T-shirts for females: 3 — one is purple
You already have something “like that” for you and you don’t have to pay extravagant shipping fees to get it to you. With over 100 choices out there right now at this very minute, I’m sure there is bound to be something “like that” for you. And when expressed, jokingly in jealousy or otherwise, the “me too” attitude really reinforces the idea that you simply do not get it and frankly that makes me want to turn to each and every one of you even hesitating at this moment to mansplain the situation here to me and say, “BACK. OFF.”
But I am not going to do that. I am here today because I want you to understand why this line is so important for us and why you need to join us in just celebrating the milestone here, if you are not doing so already. You don’t have to look nerdy alone anymore. Because of Her Universe we can join you. And that’s the beauty of it.
We can join you now.
Do you get it yet?
Erika, unapologetic nerdgirl extraordinaire.