Why are there so few women in the galaxy far, far away? One (batshit) in-universe theory.
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?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.
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.
Alas, 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
To 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.
Although Brian at Tosche Station has already written a great response to the statement, and I agree with him wholeheartedly, I still feel I should address it personally.
It may have gotten lost in the flood of Adam Driver news yesterday, but Amy Ratcliffe wrote about the Rebels reveals, toys and being a woman in fandom for The Mary Sue.
We saw Sabine’s official reveal this morning, and although we’re still waiting for Hera’s, Hasbro confirmed with Newsarama’s Lucas Siegel that action figures of both Rebels ladies are coming, and will be unveiled at SDCC.
There’s been some blowback to the concerns over the lack of women showed in the first wave of Hasbro Rebels toys. But together with the ‘for boys’ nature of Disney XD and the apparent ‘ladies last’ spacing of the character reveals, it’s really felt like the female characters – and thus female fans – are there as an afterthought. (Is it really still not a given that women and girls like action?)
Yes, we know ‘this is how it is.’ Yes, we know that ‘it’s all here to sell toys.’ Yes, we know that’s ‘what advertisers want.’ And that’s exactly why we’re fighting so hard over this. This is our first major rollout since Disney took the wheel, and this is an uphill battle.
With Thor: The Dark Work on the horizon, Marvel and star Natalie Portman are launching the Ultimate Mentor Adventure to inspire more girls to explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. Girls 14 and up are eligible to apply. UL (Underwriters Laboratories), Dolby Laboratories, National Academy of Sciences and Girl Scouts USA are also sponsoring the effort.
Portman, who reprises her role as astrophysicist Jane Foster in the film, also had some interesting things to say about female characters:
“I want them to be allowed to be weak and strong and happy and sad – human, basically. The fallacy in Hollywood is that if you’re making a ‘feminist’ story, the woman kicks ass and wins. That’s not feminist, that’s macho. A movie about a weak, vulnerable woman can be feminist if it shows a real person that we can empathize with.”
Vlogger Nye Armstrong demonstrates how to turn a hijab into the always-fashionable Princess Leia buns!