When I started the Influential Ladies of Science Fiction series, I stated that the series was inspired by the release of author and fellow blogger Natacha Guyot’s new book, A Galaxy of Possibilities: Representation and Storytelling in Star Wars. Please join me in welcoming Natacha to my little corner of the galaxy.
A Feminist Star Wars Fangirl
I am a Star Wars fangirl and a feminist. Star Wars has been part of my life since I was a kid and a strong influence for me to develop an interest in Science Fiction. Even before I reached Master level at university, I had already written pieces about the long-lasting franchise. I still remember all these hours spent reading books from the Expanded Universe. I didn’t even think that I would live to enjoy the excitement of two new trilogies, especially as I was born one year after Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
Star Wars has also played a part in why I consider myself a feminist and why I often write, fiction
or nonfiction, about female characters. Leia Organa still remains one of my all time favorite female characters. The expanded universe also provided so many compelling women, like Mara Jade, Ahsoka Tano, Hera Syndulla, Jaina Solo, Tenel Ka, Satele Shan, Asajj Ventress, Sabine Wren, Jan Ors. The Prequel Trilogy – which I like even when I don’t like every single aspect of it – brought new female faces like Padme Amidala, Shmi Skywalker and the Naboo royal handmaidens.
There is always room for more inclusiveness in representation, including in terms of compelling female presence, but Star Wars gave me fictional women to look up to and this is one of the reasons this franchise is so dear to me. They aren’t defined by their romantic life, starting by Leia Organa, even when their relationships have important roles in them. The question of agency often comes up, but the women I admire in Star Wars don’t feel robbed of theirs in their storylines. Even in Padme Amidala’s case in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, I see her downfall and death but until the end, she fights for what she believes in, whether the Republic and the people she swore to protect or even her own family and friends.
Being a fangirl can be empowering. I am not blindly sitting here and liking everything that has happened in the franchise. Being a fangirl means that I will always remind people, that Star Wars isn’t just a “boy thing” as some marketing executives are so adamant to make us believe. I will continue to speak up for more female
characters, like when the first casting news for Episode VII: The Force Awakens were released. I will not consider that merchandises with so few female characters being included is acceptable. #WeWantLeia was a necessary campaign and I am still hoping for more Hera Syndulla and Sabine Wren merchandising to be released in the months and years to come, especially since Star Wars Rebels was already confirmed for a second season.
I am a fangirl and a scholar. Both make me discuss and question things. There is a dialogue to be had with what we like and what we don’t. This is why one of my most recent publications was A Galaxy of Possibilities: Representation and Storytelling in Star Wars. This collection of essays approaches different characters in the franchise, many of them women. Star Wars is such a vast universe and has thus an influence on people of different generations, both with newly released material but also with the older ones.
Fangirls speaking up for what they want can help change representations of women, not only in the media but also how we are considered in society. By bringing more complex female characters in blockbuster franchises such as Star Wars, mentalities may evolve. Supporting what we love and respectfully speaking up about what isn’t right, there can be discussion and changes down the road.
Natacha Guyot is a French author, researcher, and public speaker. She works on Science Fiction, transmedia, gender studies, and fan communities and practices. She is also a vidder, bookworm, fangirl and feminist. Besides her nonfiction work, she is currently working on a Fantasy short story series.
Join me next week as I begin my month-long tribute to National Poetry Month with a feature on Award-winning poet Kevin Young.
“This fictional universe participated to my thirst to read, wathc, write and study Science Fiction and I can safely say I wouldn’t be were I am today if Star Wars hadn’t had such a profound impact on me.” Natacha Guyot