Tag Archives: diversity

Today in Episode VII: Concept art, Imaginarium visits, editor talk and diversity

rumors-swirl-romance
→There’s another concept art description from Making Star Wars today, perhaps one from the same sequence as the battle art we saw a few weeks ago.

→ Actor Pip Anderson was at the Imaginarium. Make of that what you will.

→ A report from a talk with editor Mary Jo Markey. She doesn’t talk about Episode VII, but you don’t really expect her to, do you?

→ New Tosche Station staffer Shoshana writes about diversity, race and Episode VII.

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What even the best blockbusters are still getting wrong about women. “When I asked [Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves] why there was so little for women to do in Dawn, he fell uncharacteristically silent. ‘It wasn’t a conscious decision. I don’t know,’ he finally admitted.” Why are we still making a big deal about this, re: Episode VII and other blockbusters? Because of answers like that.

On Star Wars fandom, feminism, diversity and anger

I never, ever, ever wanted to be a social justice blogger. I still don’t. But apparently it’s happened, so let’s talk a bit about Star Wars, diversity and feminism, shall we?

Attack Pattern Clinique: When a hostile male enters the chat room and makes himself known as such, frantic chatter re: Clinique Bonus Time ensues. The hostile is ignored, drowned out and generally retreats in defeat.

Attack Pattern Clinique: When a hostile party, generally male, enters the chat room and makes himself known as such, frantic chatter regarding Clinique Bonus Time ensues. The hostile is ignored, drowned out and generally retreats in defeat.

I have been very lucky in that I did most of my fandom growing up in spaces that were heavily female, from the early ship-war days to Club Jade to the fanfic community. That’s not to say jerks don’t happen in such spaces – the Star Ladies invented Attack Pattern Clinique back in the days of AOL chat rooms for a reason – but for the most part I ‘grew up’ in fandom areas where women and their contributions were unquestioned, where the idea that Star Wars needs more women was simply a given.

When I came back into general fandom via the StarWars.com forums, it was from a position of authority. Not big authority – moderator of a message board – but there was still a certain amount of respect expected and received. I’m sure having nicknames that tend to read masculine doesn’t hurt, either.

Still, in general fandom I have, for the most part, had a good experience in dealing with male fans. It wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t see a lot of random outright hostility due to my gender, either. Until I, oddly enough, started writing more extensively about feminist concepts. Curious, no? (Not at all, actually.) But I personally haven’t received any rape threats for criticizing Star Wars, as recently happened in comic fandom, so we have that going for us, I guess.

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Where are the rest of the women in Episode VII? Just “be patient!”

Today’s casting announcement was indeed very welcome. Finally, we have a confirmed cast, or at least the biggest part of one. We have a group of familiar faces and new actors who come with glowing recommendations, and they’re not all white guys. (Just mostly.)

But there was one bit of fallout that we have mixed feelings about.

Where are the women?

Daisy Ridley

Daisy Ridley

We have Carrie Fisher, of course. But of the seven new cast members there’s only one other woman joining her. Granted, Daisy Ridley could very well be playing Episode VII’s main character. She could be the axis the entire film revolves around. Or, she may not be. We don’t know, and they’re probably not going to tell us any time soon. And there could be other women in the cast but again: We’re not seeing them today. In any case, this is the core cast. The leads will be drawn out of this group – or so we’re led to assume.

I’m not the only one who noticed this, or remembered the casting call for two new female roles. And may still be? Though two out of eight isn’t much better, depending on the size of both roles. Three female characters is still only hitting the bare minimum. In addition to the virtual stream of comments on Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr, we have pieces from Annalee Newitz, Amy Ratcliffe, Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, Devin Faraci, Eliza Thompson, Julie Hammerle, Bonnie Burton, Rainbow Rowell and Tricia Barr. And, from back in February, Laura Hudson’s Leia is not enough.

But, you know, “be patient.”

We’ve had two trilogies with exactly one woman each taking the lead. We had the prequel trilogy, where, finally, there were enough women that they actually talked to each other sometimes. When their scenes weren’t cut, anyway. (Sorry, Padme’s mom and sister. Sorry, Mon Mothma.) Still, Padme talked to her handmaidens, to Shmi Skywalker, to Queen Jamillia, to Beru Whitesun. And remember: The Bechdal test is (again) the bare minimum, not any sort of ultimate measure.

Outside of the movies, we’ve embraced the addition of characters like Mara Jade, Jaina Solo, Ahsoka Tano and even newcomers Hera Syndulla and Sabine Wren, whose show hasn’t even aired yet. Two women in the Rebels cast? We were enthusiastic, even if there are still some bumps in the road.

“Be patient,” they say.

They don’t seem to realize that we have been patient. We’re here. We’re fans. We’re ready. We’ve been patient for 30 years. It’s just that now, there’s enough of us visible that you can’t ignore us when we speak up.

“Be patient?”

No.

Here’s a real question for you: Why do we keep asking? It’s not because we enjoy this outrage, I’ll tell you that much. It’s because of decades of being ignored, disrespected, and of our contributions being constantly downplayed, our concerns brushed to the side. And if we don’t ask, if we go back to being “patient?” That’ll just give them more reason to go back to the status quo, no matter how many Katnisses there are.

I’m sorry this casting announcement, this moment we’ve all been waiting nearly two years for, has been clouded by complaints. But I’m not sorry for speaking up as to why. I just wish we didn’t have to.

Yes, Wookieepedia still has that breast page

wookAlas, change does not happen overnight, at least not when you’re going up against some spectacularly stubborn fanboys. The page’s existence is still up for a vote and a complaint about Darth Culator’s behavior in light of our piece seems to be more or less ignored.

While several of us had some objections with Mike Cooper’s orignal follow-up on the piece, he does have some suggestions today on ways to ‘contribute’ to Wookieepedia’s much-touted attention to pointless detail. I’m not sure it’ll actually do any good in the long run, but it can’t exactly hurt.

In conclusion, a few points from the 2007 vote that ended in an ‘insufficient consensus’ to delete.

…Keeping this article just plays to the worst sort of fanboy stereotype and I don’t think it’s worth the hassles. – Valin Kenobi

Wookieepedia is primarily a resource for people to find out information about Star Wars, yes? If I was thinking “hmmm, who is this Baron Fel guy that everyone keeps talking about?” I could look him up on Wookieepedia. I could read the links in his article and learn all about him, what he’s associated with, and the books he appeared in. Would I ever, though, think to myself “Hmm, what are breasts? To Wookieepedia!” ? Never. – GrandAdmiralJello

As an outsider, if I came across this article, I would basically interpret this article as being evidence of this community’s lack of professionalism and um, ogling fanboyish fanwankery by some members. I can see this now popping up on Chee’s forum over at SW.com “Mr. Chee do breasts have an entry in the Holocron? Because they have an article on Wookieepedia (link).” The eyes would be rolling for the next decade or so. – Atarumaster88

Why the Wookieepedia article on breasts is a big deal

wookTo be honest, I hadn’t planned to write more about Wookieepedia’s page on breasts. I’m already on record as disapproving, twice. Outrage fatigue happens even to the outraged, and quite honestly I don’t have the temperament or patience to continue to explain Feminism 101 to this fandom.

But the page and one of the responses ended up on Tumblr – one of those areas of fandom where you do actually see female majorities in many circles – and I remembered why it’s important that we keep speaking out.

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