Defeating the Empire of inequality


Rae Updike, Reporter

I can’t claim to have been a die-hard Star Wars fan my whole life. It was when episode VII, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” came out that I found my new love.

Star Wars is the billion-dollar movie franchise that has been turning heads and hearts since 1977. Luke and Anakin Skywalker have captivated the attention of millions with their heroic deeds for generations. All the previous Star Wars movies, episodes I through VI, have had the men leading the way, and while Princess Leia is brave as well as beautiful, she’s not considered a lead.

The newest movie coming out this year, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” unexpectedly has a female lead, Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones). The audience was taken back by the female lead in “The Force Awakens,” Rey (played by Daisy Ridley), but another female lead has caused quite a stir. An Australian website ( found a tweet complaining about the female leads.

“Is literally every new star wars going to be some feminist propaganda? Jesus, this looks terrible,” tweeted Mac Tire on April 7.

Star Wars can be classified as an action movie or science fiction, so having a female lead is considered relatively rare, and many people online are expressing their irritation on the subject. The film industry has to cater to its audience to make money. If the people complain or don’t respond well to the female leads, then the trend may end, which would be a tragedy. Hollywood is doing its part to change people’s views on how movies should be, but now it’s time for the audience to accept the way things are changing in the film industry.

Upcoming generations of boys and girls need to know that females and males can both be equally great role models and that women and men can equally do the saving of one another. Rey in “The Force Awakens” is amazing because not only does she prove herself as an independent, strong warrior, but she shows that she needs to be taken seriously. She isn’t there to just help. She’s there to lead and do what needs to be done, even if it means doing it without help.

The past Star Wars movies historically aren’t terribly sexist, but “The Force Awakens” is unexpectedly progressive for a much-anticipated science action film. This progression is happening because the film industry decided to make a point to include females in the lead roles. There was even a female stormtrooper (Captain Phasma) who was the leader of other male stormtroopers.

Women comprised of less than a third of speaking parts and only 15 percent of protagonists in films released in 2013, according to Jocelyn Nichole Murphy in “The Role of Women in Film.” Of the women in these films, most of them are portrayed as over-emotional and dependent on other characters. “The Force Awakens” changed that by creating a fierce and independent female lead.

Now, I’m not saying that all lead characters should be females. However, it should be accepted and normal for the main character in a famous franchise, or any movie or TV show for that matter, to be a girl. People should be excited about the movie coming out, not worried about what gender a character is.

A Hasbro Monopoly set included the characters Kylo Ren, Darth Vader, Finn and Luke Skywalker, all male, and no Rey. Another Hasbro playset, “Battle Action Millenium Falcon” includes Star Wars characters Fin, Chewbacca and BB-8, and no Rey, meaning no pilot to the Millennium Falcon. The reason the toymakers were directed to exclude Rey from the playsets is an example on how movie sexism is affecting our generations. Not adding Rey to the set raises young boys and girls to think that females leads aren’t as important as male leads.