Clueless in Star WarsMay 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Posted in Commentary | 5 Comments
Synlah: You know, it’s something of an irony that a story that brought us the first truly modern, well-rounded, strong female who could hold her own with males has spawned a dismissive, sexist and clueless segment in the Star Wars fandom. Whether it’s right or wrong on my part, I expect a degree of that from young male fans (in my defense, I’ve raised three sons so I’ve got something of an insider view of young male teenagers’ thought processes). But when it comes from an adult, supposedly mature male, there’s no other word for it besides offensive. What makes it even more offensive is the utter cluelessness demonstrated.
Why is the cluelessness so offensive? Because, once again, it reduces females to less-than-fully-human objects. Not to mention that we’re being told what to think and how to feel. Because, you know, our poor little female brains aren’t capable of deciding for ourselves what we want and how we want it presented to us. The presumption is preposterous. As a white, heterosexual female I’m not going to presume to tell a minority person that their desire for equality and fair and equal treatment is invalid because I say it is.
Yesterday an article (not on this blog) posited that we all “stop thinking about gender”. Trust me, I’d love to not ever think about gender, race or sexual orientation again. I’d love it if things were so equal not even a wisp of a thought had to enter our brains in regards to it. But we’re not there yet. There are constant reminders of how much we’re not there yet. Tyler Clementi. Rush Limbaugh. Tayvon Martin.
Skuldren: To highlight some of the issues, take a look at this line.
“You know what I never see? Guys discussing the need for Star Wars stories that focus on strong male characters. Because if we did, it’d be sexist. And it would be sexist. So why do women readers cry out for stories that focus on strong female characters?”
First off, the statement doesn’t make much sense unless we assume most Star Wars stories do not star male characters. However, that is not the case of the SWEU. The author goes on later to mention a few examples of leading female characters, but overall, the majority of Star Wars stories focus on male characters. This is most evident in the stand alone novels and trilogies. Books like Riptide, Scourge, Revan, Darth Plagueis, and even Shadow Games, all have male characters in the lead. Female characters do show up in novels, especially novels that star a cast of characters, but most often the females are supporting characters and not the leads. However the author ignores these obvious facts in order to present a controversial statement, one that provokes emotions and reaction, but possesses little to no substance. One could easily sum up the entire article as that.
In my opinion, the real conclusion to be made in the greater argument at hand is that the SWEU is a huge landscape and there is plenty of room for novels starring leading, female characters. Furthermore, there is a deficit on the number of books that meet that qualification, and there are definitely fans out there who would like to see those novels. To denounce those fans as perpetuating gender division is a deflection of the issue and a perversion of reality. Female fans have the right to ask for more books starring females. By the author’s own opinion, it doesn’t hurt the story if a character is a male or a female, so why is it a problem when female fans clamor for more representation?
Synlah: Female representation as in Mara not dead, Leia not marginalized and Jaina not pathetic (yay for that finally being rectified), and I wish I could dismiss the article and it’s writer as simple silliness. But while this article might seem like small potatoes, it is part and parcel of the bigger problem — an attitude that is still all too pervasive in society. It’s an attitude that pats us on the head, allows us some gains, but dismisses us from from any real ownership of ourselves and the world we live in. When you reduce the humanity of anyone to any degree because of gender, race or sexual orientation, you reduce all humanity. And that’s the message that isn’t getting received by people who perpetuate this attitude. Not only is it not being received, it isn’t even on their radar, and that is the ultimate cluelessness.