Star Wars is a universe dominated by men. In literal terms within the films, in the case of the Imperialist regime – white men fill the boardrooms and lead the fleet to their ultimate demise. In the real world, the fanbase, in the past, has also been at least perceived to be dominated by men, with much of the advertising and merchandise aimed towards boys who grew up wanting to be Han Solo or Luke Skywalker.
But what about the girls who grew up wanting to be Princess Leia?
I was introduced to the Star Wars franchise at the same time as my younger brother and was immediately captivated by Leia and her sassy quips, her skill with a blaster and her take-no-shit attitude towards being rescued by Luke, Han and Chewbacca. Without her blasting into the garbage chute, the rescue would have been very short lived. Her courage throughout A New Hope, in the face of torture and the destruction of her own planet, is something to be admired.
That being said, she is one of two female characters throughout the whole of this film. The other, Aunt Beru, is given but a few short lines before she is murdered by Stormtroopers. The film, therefore, does not pass the Bechdel Test – which is not necessarily the be all and end all. I would have less of a problem if there were more female characters, even if they did not necessarily speak to each other, who were as strong and characterised as Leia.
I think that the film is definitely a product of its time, as is Empire Strikes Back and the golden bikini situation, which I will be discussing in great detail in the next part of the feature. However, for all his mistakes, let the record state that George Lucas (in collaboration with Carrie Fisher, of course) gave us a fully fledge feminist icon in the form of Princess Leia. May her memory live on.