By jadedsabre | June 30, 2008
Reprint of an article written by MissJedi for The Eleventh Hour. The original was posted June 1999.
I was brought up being told that the "female" role in society was changing, growing. We were no longer expected to be anything, but allowed to be anything. However, this is not the case, and that fact has never presented itself more clearly than with the much anticipated, much media-covered release of The Phantom Menace.
It began back in February, when I read an article about upcoming The Phantom Menace merchandise. In it, JC Penney's mentioned that they were going to build entire displays targeted toward little boys, displays showcasing their T-shirts and short sets and bathroom and bedroom sets. And all I could think of was "What about the girls?"
The omission did not end there. Every article I read, every news show I watched that even skimmed across the topic of the upcoming release of Episode One, seemed to feel as if it was their duty to point out that Star Wars was for "young males". The female species would not be interested. From the way they talked, the female population would not even notice the release; they would be standing at home in the kitchen, wondering dumbly where their men had run off to. Even George Lucas, the Creator behind the entire Star Wars saga, was quoted as saying in reference to the female audience and his upcoming film, "Well, it isn't Titanic."
Excuse me?? Hello!! (Waves hand in air). Did I, and the thousands -- no, millions -- of other female Star Wars fans out there somehow go completely unnoticed? Did I somehow daydream growing up playing in the yard with a blaster in one hand and a lightsaber in the other, with other female friends by my side, battling the forces of the Darkside? Did I somehow imagine that another female friend and myself spent an entire summer watching the films from the Classic Trilogy on a daily basis? Have I only been pretending when I tell my fiancé that I would prefer to have the latest Star Wars novel than eat for the rest of the week?
I was five years old in 1977 when I first saw Star Wars: A New Hope. It has been a part of my life ever since. Although I admired Princess Leia, I was never a huge fan of hers, preferring instead to be an X-Wing fighter pilot or Jedi Knight. I wanted to be in the midst of the battles, I wanted to explore the galaxy, I wanted to venture into "wretched hives of scum and villainy". As a child, whenever the topic of playing Star Wars came up, and a mixed group of children were involved, there were never any arguments or question as to how well boys and girls could play together. We all shared the same love, wanted to be a part of the same adventure. I had my Star Wars figures and ships (have them still, as a matter-of-fact) just as my male cousin had his. No one seemed to think anything of it. But now, that I have become older, it is expected by society that my fiancé should be into Star Wars and I, the delicate and misguided little female, should be into "birthin' babies" or something along those lines. Has society actually regressed in its belief of gender equality? Or am I nuts? Am I the only female Star Wars fanatic out there?
|Did I, and the thousands — no, millions — of other female Star Wars fans out there somehow go completely unnoticed?|
I decided to put that question to a test. First, I found myself scouring all of the major Star Wars fan sites on the net. (Yoda knows there are a lot of them out there!) While browsing through these, I found a female fan that shared like interests and took the chance on emailing her. She replied and since then, through our love of Star Wars, we have become close friends. Like myself, Lori was upset by the lack of mention female fans received. Together, we decided to test out the theory that Star Wars was for "young males" only. With her graphics and my web-building, we put together the StarWarsChicks website, a site meant to attract the female fan, a site that they can come to and enjoy without fear of being ridiculed or ignored. The response has been unbelievable, and has strengthened our belief that there are just as many female fans out there as there are male.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that many of those female fans are more dedicated and more rabid than their male counterparts. The amount of emails we have received thanking us for the site, agreeing with us that female fans have been left out of the media and even emails from male fans saying that they are glad to see the females take a stand has been phenomenal. Between the website, the female fans I met standing in line for The Phantom Menace, and the estimates that came out opening day stating that 41% of the viewing audience watching The Phantom Menace was female, I find myself asking "Just where are these 'young males only' groupies coming from?"
Slowly, we are beginning to make our mark. Media has begun to take notice of the amount of females attending the theatres of The Phantom Menace. Occasionally, we are beginning to see merchandise targeted toward the female fan-base, even the occasional T-shirt in the girl's section of clothing. But will it ever be enough? When Episode 2 comes around, will we once more be subjected to the all-too-sexist cry of "young males only"? Will Lucas finally see that Star Wars doesn't need to be Titanic to satisfy the female fan all too well? And if females cannot be recognized for something as simple as fans of a sci-fi/fantasy film, then how are we ever to be taken seriously in any part of society?
And one more thing: Did these people somehow miss all of the undeniable hunks (i.e, Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Ray Park) in The Phantom Menace? If you are going to hold us to one stereotype, you might as well hold us to all of them. Leo doesn't hold a candle to these guys!