Female Star Wars Characters: The Importance of a Lady X-Wing Pilot

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Female Star Wars Characters: The Importance of a Lady X-Wing Pilot

Here’s a game for you. Try and find a female pilot in the original Star Wars trilogy. Is there one in Star Wars? Nope. The Empire Strikes Back. Nope. Return of the Jedi? Yes! Well, kind of.

There’s apparently a female pilot in this scene.
(click link above for images)
Full marks if you can spot her (click image for a larger version).

In fact three female Rebel pilots were filmed. However, two of them were relegated to the cutting room floor, and while one made it into the final cut in a speaking role – she was dubbed by a man. *sigh

Many aspects of gender representation in Star Wars only became apparent to me as I indoctrinated introduced our daughter to the ways of the force. Leia – a strong leader who doesn’t take any shit from smugglers, gangsters, or Grand Moffs – is a brilliant character. But it’s sad that the world (galaxy) she exists in is almost entirely male, especially amongst the rebels fighters.

The Rebel pilots who attack the Death Star? Male. The ones she addresses in The Empire Strikes Back? Male. Strike team in Return of the Jedi? Male.
My daughter has never really taken to the prequels. I’ve tried not to communicate my own lack of enthusiasm for them, but whenever I’ve suggested we watch one, she has insisted on an original trilogy movie instead. It was the downfall of attempting the Machete Order prior to seeing The Force Awakens.

While I broadly approve, all credit to that much maligned trilogy, which featured female pilots throughout the series – beginning with very first scene. The Clone Wars cartoon also frequently had female characters piloting ships that it stopped being noticed, similarly the currently airing Star Wars Rebels. Which is how it should be.

But for my daughter, Star Wars is really about the original trilogy, the continuity that begins with Star Wars (1977). And given the lack of women in these movies, and that when Leia is removed you have 63 SECONDS of women speaking, spotting a female X-Wing pilot in a Star Wars comic – who also speaks – was significant.

Female Star Wars Characters: A New Hope

The latest comics, from Disney owned Marvel under the supervision of Disney owned Lucasfilm, are filling in many of the blanks between the movies. The panel pictured is from the Princess Leia miniseries, set between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, and features Leia dealing with the aftermath of the destruction of her home planet Alderaan. The ‘lady X-Wing pilot’ is Evaan, a fellow Alderaanian (?). My daughter was very taken with this image, and we put together our own LEGO version – reflecting this inclusivity in our toys.

I am impressed that this and other comics are retroactively adding female characters to the Star Wars canon. Another comic, Shattered Empire, sees Poe Dameron’s mother Shara as one of the most important fighter pilots in the attack on the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi. Later in the story the memorable female trio of Shara, Princess Leia, and the Queen of Naboo take flight in starfighters to defend the planet from the ‘shattered empire’ attack on the planet.

This new gender inclusivity is reflected in the latest movie instalment. Away from Rey, Captain Phasma, and Maz Kanata, The Force Awakens has multiple times more women than the entire original trilogy. When I asked J.J. Abrams about this, he said: “We have wonderful cast of good guys, bad guys, pilots, stormtroopers, that happen to be female.”

Seeing so many female characters in these worlds ultimately prevents girls (and boys) questioning their right to exist in them, and helps me justify the passing on of my enthusiasm for the galaxy far, far away to my daughter.
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Thoughts? For the men, have you thought about this issue much? I can say, in the female Jedi group on facebook there was a lot of excitement over the many women in all roles in the new Star Wars movie. Representation matters immensely, especially for kids.
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David (Phoenix) replied the topic: Female Star Wars Characters: The Importance of a Lady X-Wing Pilot

To be honest, growing up a white male, you don't think about any of this stuff. The ignorance is more based out of the fact that you are represented in almost every main stream media outlet, so being "excluded" is not something on your radar.

I'd have to be honest and say this wasn't a focus of mine until late high school when I was talking about it with my best friend (black female). She made all sorts of points about how women are ignored in movies, how black people are stereotyped, etc. This opened my eyes a lot to how people are represented in media, and makes me question what is accurate, what is fabricated, etc.

My ignorance only melted away further when I came out as gay, and realized how few movies, etc represented the LGBT community. In fact, Star Wars has even gone so far as to have two gay characters in the new books being written and apparently a rumor of a third one somewhere in the movie.

Bottom line, its inspiring to see such inclusion, and its just even more reason for me to have a love for and share my love for Star Wars.

"...who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. " ~ Theodore Roosevelt
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Jax replied the topic: Female Star Wars Characters: The Importance of a Lady X-Wing Pilot

I have found that any time you can step out of the majority view point, more awareness comes. Being white, I'm still learning about the non-white experience, but being queer, non-gender conforming, female, all that helps me step into other people's shoes. But I also hadn't thought of representation until a few years ago when discussing it with my Australian friend who is Indian. She never sees herself represented in what she watches. Definitely something that opened my eyes to this more.
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Connor replied the topic: Female Star Wars Characters: The Importance of a Lady X-Wing Pilot

I really enjoyed that book we were going to work on, Jax. growing up white or something.. It really showed HOW we move from a majority perspective to a non-majority perspective.

I really feel that being red-headed and overweight have shown me the power of being a majority member. It may not be obvious, but I have felt the effects of being overweight in social situations. People don't want to hang out with you. They are put off or point out your hair color like it's not something to be proud of. These are all minor things, but they have given me the perspective to be able to look outside my white privilege and my male privilege easier.

I was also very much impressed with the female representation in the new movie. But, also there were females in the PT too, I think. It's just stepping stones. Coming off from thousands of years of male insecurity... I mean patriarchy. ;)

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