Female triumph in Star Wars

How mainstream media contributes in closing the gender gap

I must happily announce that the Episode 7 of Star Wars contributes to the movement of reduction of the gender gap. Firstly, we can acknowledge a change within the Star Wars franchise, namely that the protagonist is a woman. Yuppie!!! Star Wars being traditional settled in the masculine setting, in this case a state of war between good and evil, and so finding out that the hero of the narrative is a female creates this sense of hope for lessening the gender gap at the worldwide level.

Furthermore, the theme of the main characters being Jedi is an old-school scenario in the Star Wars franchise, although it is quite refreshing to have a female Jedi. The first time on screen, in the animated TV series, Clone Wars (2008-2014), children (its primary audience) were introduced to Ahsoka Tano, “a Togruta female”, “the Padawan learner to Anakin Skywalker” and “a hero of the Clone Wars” (starwars.com, 2015). Here the term “leaner” emphasises the power-relation of Ahsoka. She is being subjected to her Jedi master, Anakin Skywalker. Thus, Ahsoka is not as free as we can see the new Jedi, Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, in the latest Episode of Star Wars. The main reason why Rey is much freer than Ahsoka is due to that her self-reliance.

According to Entrainment Weekly (2015) Ridley, describing Rey, stated that, “She is a scavenger in a ship graveyard. She’s completely self-sufficient and does everything for herself”. This quotation interlinks with the life that Rey lives. She lives a solitary life at a desert planet, Jakku, collecting metal, and through her collection she earns a portion of food to survive. This implicates that the protagonist is a survivour. This contradicts with functionalists approach towards gender, which was quite visible in the previous episodes of Star Wars. Functionalists, such as, Talcott Parsons argues that there are complementary gender, where women have ‘expressive roles’, and men have ‘industrial roles’. ‘Expressive roles’ were performed at the private area. These roles consisted in taking care of household as well as of family members, most importantly children and husband. ‘Industrial roles’ were performed in the public area, and this concept interlinks with the idea of ‘breadwinner’ (man being the person to gain money for the household). Analysing previous episodes of Star Wars the approach was very much functionalist. For instance, in the Episode 4, Princess Leia, although having a high social status, yet her role mostly consisted in taking care of emotions of Luke, or Han Solo. This view had been a major turn over in the Episode 7, where Rey is her own ‘breadwinner’ without necessary dependence on any particular man. This attitude of ‘self-reliant woman’ reflects the general rejection of the functionalist view on gender in the West. As Teri Caraway in her Assembling Women: The Feminization of Global Manufacturing (2007) argues that there is a ‘feminization’ of work, i.e. that there are more and more women which moved into the labour force. This ‘feminization’ of work clearly reflects Rey’s attitude to the world, namely that she is self-efficient.

Thus, it makes me proud that finally we have a film that gives power to women. I mean, I was devastated since bloody February of this year due to that sexually-objectified, women-slaving, patriarchal film, by the worst name of all, the Fifty shades Of grey. This movie (although I refused to watch it) made my days grey, yet the Episode 7 of Star Wars was truly uplifting! I recommend to watch the Episode 7 of Star Wars, and… LET THE FORCE (OF GENDER EQUALITY) BE WITH YOU! 🙂

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