It’s been months since I’ve seen Star Wars, Episode VII, and I’m still not done being amazed by how brilliant it was. The special effects were superb, the character development made sense. (Even if some of it made me cry like a fool in the theater.) There were several moments that just made me nerd out in the worst way, like when Han Solo walked onto the Millennium Falcon for the first time in years, and said, “Chewie, we’re home.” Ugh, I’m tearing up right now.
As much as I love science fiction, fantasy, comic books and just about all of geekdome, it doesn’t always love me back. Sometimes it’s really hard to be a geek and a feminist. You know what I’m talking about. The half-naked female leads. The shitty female characters tossed in to ‘placate’ feminists like me that are nothing more than one dimensional eye candy there to make boys hoot. The very short list of movies that actually pass the bechdel test. It all makes loving the things I love hard.
Then Episode VII happened, and I couldn’t be happier with Rhea.
Rhea isn’t what anyone would call girly. She’s tough, breaking every single stereotype that could possibly exist. She wasn’t overly emotional, but also wasn’t a stoic robot like Alice from Resident Evil. (One of the best examples of failures, in my opinion.) I think, for some reason, Hollywood thinks that women who aren’t emotionally driven cry machines are psychopaths.
It was also nice to see a female character that A. Didn’t have sex, B. Didn’t have a love interest. C. Didn’t have to fight off a love interest to prove how ‘uninterested’ she was.
Also, it was nice to see that her role model was not Lea, but Han. Not that there’s anything, at all, wrong with Lea as a role model. Carrie Fisher is actually one of my real life role models, especially in seeing how she’s dealt with aging. But a girl doesn’t need girl role models all the time. It was nice to see that, for a change.
Finally, not a single man around Rhea talked down to her. No one thought she couldn’t do something because she was a girl. She wasn’t fighting against that stigma. And that is something that I, as a writer, fall into myself that I’ve got to stop doing. It doesn’t always have to be a struggle because we’re girls! Sometimes people will, surprisingly enough, doubt a female character because they’re young, or inexperienced, or poor, or from a country that isn’t usually good at this one thing. In short, a female character might just have to prove herself against all of the things that a male character might. Shocking.
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