Who runs the world? Star Wars girls.
The fight for unbiased Star Wars products is almost won
~First published in the Burlington Times-News, section A10
In a well know galaxy far, far away, there have always been strong female characters, starting with everyone’s favorite rebel princess, and most recently gaining the addition of a young baton wielding warrior.
But have these “superheroes” been as well represented off screen as their male counter parts? In our galaxy girls love Star Wars as much as guys go do, but in the past it’s been harder for us to find our favorite female leads off screen then it was to find Han Solo or Darth Vader.
When Disney bought Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion in 2012, they promised to highlight female characters in their new products. However, according to indiewire.com, a full two years later the only Leia-themed product was an XXL t-shirt. After pressure from Star Wars fans taking to Earth’s Holo Net with the hashtag “#WeWantLeia”, Disney promised in early 2014 they would produce “several items that will feature Princess Leia,” claiming that the current assortment of Star Wars products were simply the beginning of “what [was] to come.”
Girls are now showing up in advertisements and other propaganda, toys, games, and costumes, and are taking on lead roles in the first two Star Wars films to be made in over a decade, The Force Awakens and Rogue One. But is this enough?
At a White House summit on gender bias this past April, Senior Vice President for Communications at Disney Consumer Products Tasia Filippatos shared what the company is doing to highlight their leading ladies in their upcoming films. Filippatos showed photos of Rey from TFA and hinted at a female lead for Rogue One, who we now know is Jyn Eros.
She also said that fans had started using the hashtag #wheresrey when the popular character’s products started selling “phenomenally well,” and used Rey’s popularity to defend Disney’s lack of her toys is stores.
The topic of Star Wars women and gender bias has sprouted up all over modern media, including both the New York and Los Angeles Times. One good example is a TED talk by Dr. Christopher Bell about female superheroes, illustrating why it is so hard to find female superhero merchandise and explains what it means about how we teach our kids. Dr. Bell is the father of a “Star Wars-obsessed daughter.”
Today, walking through the isles of Target and other big box stores, you will see Zam Wesell and Ashoka Tano action figures, Sabine Wren helmets, and Hera Syndulla Lego mini figures. No, not as many as could be, but they are there. So it would seem that when Obi-Wan said “That boy is our last hope,” Yoda was right in correcting him. “No. There is another.” He was right, and she’s a girl.