Star Wars Made Me Into A Feminist

Princess Leia in Star Wars. Today is the 30th anniversary of the US release of Star Wars, a fact that no doubt has millions of Generation Xers such as myself feeling rather old.

Naturally this has started me musing about the impact Star Wars had on my life, especially as I became quite obsessed with it when I was 10. And I do credit it as being a reason why I became a feminist.

The story goes like this. It was October 1977 and Star Wars had finally been released in Australia. I was 4, and like all the other kids, I knew it was something special because everybody had been talking about it. I really wanted to see it.


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My cousins were visiting at the time, and a trip to the cinema was organised, but I was devastated to discover that only the boys were going to see it. I remember seeing them getting into the car and watching them go, standing there, silently wishing I was going with them.

The girls were taken on a picnic down the river. And it rained.

Now, I suspect the real reason I didn’t get to see Star Wars in 1977 was because I was only 4 years old and the boys were older. But one should never let facts get in the way of a good memory. As far as I’m concerned it was because I was a girl, and I still feel pretty damned indignant about that.

The other childhood memory of Star Wars was that my brother and his male friends would play at being Luke Skywalker and Han Solo in the back yard. I wanted to join in, so they made me be Princess Leia. And I didn’t actually get to do anything. I had to sit around and wait to be rescued, which was bollocks, really. If I’d seen the film, I’d have known that I could have been running around shooting stormtroopers just like them.

And that’s the other reason why Star Wars played a role in my developing feminism. Princess Leia is one helluva woman, and I always wanted to be her. She’s a rebel leader who isn’t afraid of a fight, she has the potential to become a Jedi and she also looks very fetching in a gold bikini.

She was a good role model for a young girl to have, I think.

I’m trying to think of her equivalent in today’s movies. I think I’ll nominate Elizabeth Swann from the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie, because she’s pretty good with a sword and she does end up as a leader. Here’s hoping she’ll inspire the first inklings of feminism in today’s girls.