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Discussion Star Wars and Feminism

Discussion in 'Star Wars: New Films - No Spoilers Allowed' started by QuiWanKenJin, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. Valairy Scot Backpacking One Pack a Day Mod of New Films

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    Member Since:
    Sep 16, 2005
    star 6
    I, too, remember "Leia" getting a lot of flak for not being more grateful to her male rescuers and for her tart tongue. Why, she wasn't very nice - couldn't GL write a better female lead, who would be grateful to be rescued, rather than taking charge?

    Yes, indeed, Leia was not a good example for females (probably for males as well). All would have been fine if she had toned down the spunk and tart tongue - the male characters were more real and less prickly.

    Uh huh.
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  2. TheYodaPagoda Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2002
    star 3
    I can attest to precisely this phenomenon. Girls were always welcome to play Star Wars with us...I don't know where the whole "Star Wars is for boys" trope came from, but it sure didn't originate with Lucasfilm or us kids. Girls were in the Kenner TV commercials for crying out loud! One girl that played with us had a quid-pro-quo; we had to play Strawberry Shortcake with her as well. The upside was, her mom made good sandwiches! As for the new films, Rey suffered from a bit of secrecy related to her character which delayed release of her merchandise.

    I don't believe either Rey or Jyn Erso were a plan of Lucasfilm's or Disney's "Feminist Propaganda" in any way, shape or form. They're both strong characters that just happen to be female. Why not make a web series with the other strong female characters of Star Wars?
  3. Lulu Mars Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2005
    star 4
    Well, I do feel that FoD is deliberately centered on female characters... so far.
    I don't feel that this is a problem, though. The problem is that people ask why without realizing that that is probably one of the reasons.
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  4. Strongbow Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2014
    star 4
    Most of us are steeped in a culture where the male perspective is treated as the default. When the main character is male, we don't see it as a decision, merely the obvious default. Many see the decision to tell the story from the POV of a female character as being a deliberate decision to change the default, and therefore a political (little p) decision. Sometimes, it might be. I think Forces of Destiny, for example, is a deliberate attempt to cultivate a build a young female audience excited by characters like Rey and Jyn (and reminding them, or introducing them to characters like Leia and Padme). I see that as attempting to expand the points of view considered legitimate, rather than denigrating a male perspective. After all, Luke is still the greatest Star Wars hero ever. ;)
  5. Lulu Mars Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2005
    star 4
    Nuh-uh! The greatest Star Wars hero is the lovable, resourceful, quirky, transgender garbage can known as Artoo ;)
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  6. QuiWanKenJin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2005
    star 3
    For now, I have a bad feeling that will come crashing down after The Last Jedi. That is, if they are going to do to him what I think they're going to do.
  7. anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms

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    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 9
    That's another topic altogether, but if it plays out like you seem to think (and I don't disagree), it would be pretty disgusting if anyone tried to blame feminism for it.
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  8. Jedi Master Chuck Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2013
    star 1

    The only question I have is - what can be done about those things beyond proper legal prosecution (in the case of rape; bullying or mean words aren't a crime)? It's not the majority of men. To assert the majority of men behave as you've described is to be guilty of the same generalizations you so dislike (I also dislike generalizations, so this isn't meant as a slight towards your point of view). I'm not justifying those actions in the slightest, but I don't think it's something that can be 'legislated' out of people. The only way to cease abuse of individual liberty is to do away with individual liberty. I'm not justifying threats. I've never spoken in such offensive language and find such behavior reprehensible. But I'm not for the eradication of free speech. People will always find a way to be cruel to one another through words - I don't see a resolution that doesn't involve limiting this basic freedom. It may be naive, but I think the solution is not political. It is a matter of parenting and educating people to be respectful and kind to everyone - even those who think differently. It can only be solved on an individual to individual basis, not on a national level. In that sense, I don't think there is a political response which can solve the problems you've brought up. I'm not saying they aren't valid concerns - they are. I just think the story you brought up accentuates the fact that these things can only really be resolved by good parenting and mentoring to help the next generation be more respectful and kind.

    Anyway, I don't really think there is any such 'agenda' being pushed with Star Wars. I found Rey and Jyn to both be interesting characters and enjoyed both movies. I don't want to see Luke sidelined, but that has nothing to do with Rey's gender, and everything to do with my love for his character. So I agree - no agenda here, just good storytelling (I do have some concerns with the direction they may go with the films in the future which has nothing at all to do with the gender of the lead character).

    What I do find concerning is not 'third wave' feminism so much as intersectional 'feminism (can you even call it feminism? I think it's a misnomer). Intersectionality is a dangerous ideology which could potentially take society in a very dark direction. It is inherently rooted in Marxism and Post-Modernism. In Russia's bloody revolution, the lower class revolted against the upper class. I find it concerning that the idea of the 'oppressor' and the 'oppressed or marginalized' may be used in similar context to overturn the structure of western civilization. I've not phrased this eloquently, but the youtube series by Jordan B. Peterson (he did an outstanding interview with Joe Rogan) touches on these concepts. I just look at how it has influenced college campuses - some of the ridiculous protests of professors who say things which are not 'offensive' in the slightest.
    Last edited by Jedi Master Chuck, Jul 16, 2017
  9. anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms

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    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 9
    I don't know that the solution is political, it's more of a social ostracism. We have to move to the point where as a society we agree that the behaviors I described are so unacceptable that few, if anyone, commits them anymore.

    It's definitely not most men, in fact, I would say that most men do not engage in such behavior. But the behavior is still shrugged off far, far too often. "Boys will be boys." (What the hell is that even supposed to mean anyway? It is somehow natural for males to be creeps and they can't help themselves? How insulting towards men that is.) "If you don't want him hitting on you, don't dress that way." (This is still used in the courtroom so some legislative change, or at least a change in the way criminal defense is practiced, is in order here.). "Catcalling is a compliment." (Nope, men you know praising the way you look today is a compliment, strangers shouting creepy **** at you is not a compliment.)

    To use another example, fifty years ago it was acceptable to use the N-word. No one in polite society dares to use it now. Even when I was a kid in the 70s and 80s, some bigoted "jokes" about different races and LGBTQ people were considered acceptable that thankfully no longer are. And we still have a long way to go with race relations and combatting homophobia as well, we are by no means living in a "post racial society," my point here is about progress. We have made some in combatting sexism thanks to the first- and second-wave feminists, but we are not where we need to be.

    We have a long way to go regarding the way women are viewed and treated but we can get there, and in most cases it does not require any sort of legislation.

    I have no idea what you mean by the "structure of western civilization" and that might be a better topic for the Senate Floor than here, but as far as free speech...free speech only means freedom from being jailed for speaking out against the government, not freedom from polite society thinking that you're an ***hole for shouting a lewd comment at a woman from your car, or harassing someone online, or quoting dumb sexist (or racist or homophobic) stereotypes.

    All intersectional feminism is, is a recognition that feminism is for all women, not just the white women who were its loudest voices in the beginning. I'm not seeing the problem here.

    As far as Luke being sidelined, you are not the only one who has that concern, and I think he only appeared at the end of TFA so as not to overpower the new characters right away. I am more concerned about his character being fundamentally changed than about him being sidelined, and while I do think it is fair game for him to pass the torch to Rey, I want the torch-passing to be done with respect for his character.
    Last edited by anakinfansince1983, Jul 16, 2017
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  10. Strongbow Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2014
    star 4
    Intersectionality isn't really an ideology unto itself, Rather, it acknowledges that patterns of oppression overlap. So it recognizes that socially constructed categories like race sex, gender and economic class overlap and reinforce or cancel each other... a sort of Venn Diagram approach. It's more a recognition of reality than anything else. So yeah, anyone who is truly intersectional is feminist by definition, since they are concerned about sexual and gender equality issues. Although you will certainly hear from a radical fringe about violent revolution, or staking out radical positions. Yup... there are extremists. That does not invalidate the concerns of oppressed peoples (and yes, there ARE oppressed peoples). I am curious as to what Joe Rogan has to do with this. As far as I know, he has no expertise in the area other than being opinionated, which is fine. Opinions, we all have them!

    Full disclosure: My wife is a university professor in literature, and she advocates an intersectional approach to literary theory (which means social theory in general, as do I). She is one of the smartest people I know and she's a Star Wars fan, so be nice. :)
  11. Jedi Master Chuck Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2013
    star 1


    Ah, indeed Joe Rogan isn't an expert - he just conducted the two interviews. Jordan Peterson is a psychology professor from University of Toronto who taught at Harvard in the 90's. I've enjoyed some of his maps of meaning lecture series posted on youtube. I think the concern arises from the fact that these 'radical' members of the ideology seem less fringe than in years past. Not to get too political, but look at the insanity that recently overtook Evergreen College over nothing, Yale professors forced to resign, protests forcing speakers away from UC Berkley, etc. I consider myself a political moderate - I don't believe in political parties. I think they are inherently flawed by nature, and manipulate people. They make people feel like they're heroes, morally superior to the other side, the villains, the enemies, the moral reprobates on the other side of the aisle. The binary in politics is an entirely false divide. I think it has more to do with the patterns of thought and behavior that arise from intersectionality that are disconcerting, not in the present form, but the manner in which they may evolve. As I said, I'm no expert. I'm not able to express these ideas eloquently as I'm not a psychologist by trade or study.I just don't see anything constructive or productive about identity politics, emphasizing group identity over individual identity, and focusing on group power hierarchies within society. I believe western civilization, particularly the United States, is founded on an idea of rugged individualism. Society and socialization are mechanisms which help us to survive and live together. I think a lot of studies which focus on intersection of group identity treat society as if it is an entity unto itself which evolved independent of the people from which it is comprised. In any case, Dr. Peterson's work reminds me very much of George Orwell's writings (indeed he references Orwell frequently). Perhaps I find his reasoning so sound because I had just read 1984 a couple months before stumbling upon his interviews.
  12. Strongbow Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2014
    star 4

    Dang... I had a really long reply to this and lost it. So I'll boil it down.

    Point One. Humans like to think in models. We create models both explicitly and implicitly (in our heads) to understand the world. Models are, by their nature abstractions and simplifications of the real world.

    Point Two. Individualism is a model for understanding people and societies and their interactions. Individualism emerged in the Enlightenment as an alternative to feudal social models of the middle ages which began to be explicitly critiqued during the renaissance.

    Point Three. Despite the prevalence of individualism among many of the founding fathers, Western culture has consistently classified and marginalized groups of people. A whole class of people were classified as property. Women could not vote (among other things). Native Americans had their lands seized and were subject to genocidal policies.

    Point Four. Critiques of Individualism emerged in the 19th century, but did not take any significant root in the USA until the adoption of the New Deal during the Great depression. However, such policies tended to undermine existing existing power and economic structures, and those policies were cast as being "anti-liberty." The new ways of viewing social structures are also models.

    Point Five. Systematic classification and marginalization of people within an "individualist" culture has continued right up to this day. The best known example would be Jim Crow laws, but there have also been continued systematic marginalization of women, and LGBT people (among others). The rejection of "identity politics" quite often comes from the same people who perpetuate policies focused on identity, such as "sanctity of marriage" or "religious freedom" type laws. The rejection of group identities tends to be focused on groups who threaten the dominance of some group which people self-identify with, or, as is often the case, from a sense that accusations of racism or sexism are unfairly directed at individuals, though those who reject radical individualism tend to focus on social structures.

    Point Six (last one!) When our reaction to intersectionalism or the increased prevalence of an historically marginalized group is to feel threatened, I think it's wise to keep in mind these points and try to understand the foundational reason for feeling threatened. Most people don't look much deeper than simply feeling threatened.

    None of what I wrote is to suggest there is never a case of someone of someone going "too far" or some such. But extremism doesn't invalidate the base complaint, though those who dominate existing social structures often suggest they do.
    Last edited by Strongbow, Jul 21, 2017 at 12:00 PM
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