It’s Star Wars Day and over the last few years I’ve noticed that there are a lot of stories posted about what it’s like to be a ‘Star Wars’ fan. The media too has been particularly interested in this topic as well.
The stories are across the spectrum from good to bad, but lately, it seems the media and social media want to leverage the angle that women weren’t allowed to be fans until the Disney sequel trilogy.
The following is my personal take on being a “fan”
Of course my story isn’t the same as everyone else’s, but I’ve been around long enough to have talked to other female fans, and those women, for the most part, had similar experiences.
My story (this is long so buckle up)
I’m older, so I remember ‘Star Wars’, and more so “Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” as being the big thing. I remember the Sears Christmas Catalog with the pictures of the playsets and toys.
Getting the Sears Wishbook in the mail was an event for 80’s kids!
I loved Ewoks and really wanted a plush one.
I remember boys and girls playing with the toys. I remember both boys and girls talking about the movies, going to the movies, being obsessed with the movies. However I do admit it’s always been predominantly boys, girls and women have been fans since day one!
When Star Wars Returned
We were fans through all the classic films and then it was quiet until May 1, 1991 when we got the start of the Expanded Universe with Timothy Zahn’s ‘Heir to the Empire.” “Dark Force Rising” came out a year later and then “The Last Command” was released 11 months after that.
I was hooked! It was amazing and I loved it. That’s when I threw myself in all the way with Star Wars. I bought up toys, books, posters, and whatever else I could get my hands on. My dad took me to flea markets to find Star Wars pieces for my collection.
Whenever a new book came out I was at Waldenbooks buying it the first day and I spend many nights, staying up all night long, to read the whole thing. There were a lot of gals like me doing the same things.
A few years after the books started I was dealing in Star Wars toys to help pay for college! I was there ready with money in hand for the 1995 figures. We were finally getting figures again. That Princess Leia figure though, not a good look.
I was buying all the figures just like the guys. I was selling figures to other collectors all the time, and they were mostly men, but women were still buying and loving it too.
In 1997 they reissued the films with the Special Editions.
When the films were re-released in 1997, I got in line early with my female friend Kim and we were the first ones or second ones in line every time. You couldn’t get the tickets ahead so we waited in line for hours, in PA, when it was cold. We weren’t the only ones, there were a bunch of fans that lined up for hours with us and some of them were….yes women!
During our wait we chatted with other fans, a lot of them male, and never once were were quizzed or questioned. No one thought anything of it, if anything they were excited there were women in line with them. I never felt excluded or judged in any way.
Remember I mentioned loving the EU books?
When I would read the books I would write fan letters to the authors. It wasn’t like today where you can just follow them on social media. I had to send them to the publisher and hope they got my letters, which they did. I wanted them to know they did a great job and how much their books meant to me.
I loved that series!!! https://t.co/aywMTCdKh8
— ‘Sorry Mom’ GEEKY Sparkles (@desert_starr_57) August 25, 2019
Which led to a character actually being named after me. They embraced fans so much that Kevin Anderson named a character after me. I mean, my name being highly unusual had something to do with it too. He wrote me back, actually all the authors did, and he told me he liked my name and was putting into a list of names he might use and he did.
During all this time I still had not faced any push back, negativity, or bad behavior for being a female fan.
Same thing when the Prequels came out. Went to see them, the last two with my husband, and there were women and men there. No issues.
Cosplaying started to take off more and more and men and women would show up at events dresses as Star Wars characters and there were no issues. Everyone I talked to or say (because I was there) embraced it.
Fast forward to the Disney Sequel trilogy and current day media.
Now here’s where my story changes. I never faced backlash, belittlement, gate keeping, etc. until the Disney sequel trilogy. Now, this was not Disney’s fault, but some of the people they had working for them definitely stirred up division.
I was so excited when “The Force Awakens” came out. We were not well off then. Thom was laid off and I was working as a substitute teacher here and there. I scraped together all the money I could to buy us tickets to go. This would be the first time our kids went to see a Star Wars movie in the theater.
We went to the theater and there were tons of men and women both waiting.
After the movie, I was disappointed because I felt I had just watched “A New Hope” all over again. I also felt Rey was too perfect and was able to overcome with little or no effort. We did NOT get Han, Luke and Leia together at all and now Han was gone.
It felt off to me. When I said so, that’s the first time I got gate kept, questioned, grilled, etc. by the “fandom.”
Then came time for The Last Jedi. I was really willing to give it a chance. I thought “well I understand why they went the nostalgia route with the first one, so now it will be different!”
It was. Just not in a good way. I watched my hero Luke Skywalker get destroyed. I watched new characters show up, that happened to be women, who weren’t that great. I was honestly starting to get insulted that the female representation was so bad.
When I left and stated my opinion, I was called names. I had men telling me that I was a “misogynist” because I didn’t like the film. I was told I wasn’t a “real fan” and I “didn’t fundamentally understand Luke Skywalker.” Terms like “racist” were thrown at me, even though I had zero issue with characters like Finn or Rose, I just thought they were done poorly. (Also the leads were white and straight, but I was the -ist and -phobe for not loving them.)
Then I started seeing these headlines on blogs calling out “Toxic fans” and “Man Babies” for not liking the latest ‘Star Wars’ film. People started saying that women were finally allowed to be fans, yet they always were.
Journalists and social media stans started going on about how finally we had women in ‘Star Wars.’ We did. We always did. The games and books added even more fantastic, female characters that were well developed. They weren’t just suddenly there and you were supposed to love them or else.
Of course, if you pointed that out you were “toxic” and “alt.”
I’m happy that women are becoming fans, but it seems like, for a large group of them, they are there to gatekeep and control the fandom. Women had been there the whole time, but now you aren’t allowed to be a “fan” unless you like the characters they do, or liked the ships they had.
The media started perpetuating this division and the bullying of older fans. I sincerely believe the division of the Star Wars fandom had more to do with the media and social media than it did with the second film.
I’ve talked to many long term fans, both male and female, and they ran into similar issues. The “inclusive” new Star Wars fandom have been some of the biggest bullies I’ve ever seen. For years if you disagreed or didn’t like something it wasn’t a big deal. Now you were not allowed to not like the films.
Disney and Lucasfilm decided to reverse course on the direction and try to win back the fans with “Rise of Skywalker” but that just alienated and enraged the “new fans” and shippers and they became more combatitive.
Many fans checked out.
Then came ‘The Mandalorian’ and we again had something that felt like true ‘Star Wars’ and many fans were coming back. We had strong, female characters that felt authentic again. We got Luke Skywalker back, and then the media came again to cause division and strife.
Now I’m just jaded. I wasn’t. I spent almost my whole life being a big fan and now I just give up.
The truth is, that for many of us gals, the fandom was inclusive and accepting. We weren’t kept out. Until the ones screaming about “inclusivity” became fans and they just pushed everyone else out. I’m sick and tired of the media pushing this idea that women weren’t fans until now.
It’s not true.
Oh and I did get my classic Ewok!
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If you read it this far thank you. If you disagree you are allowed to. If you want to call me names, kindly screw off. It’s my blog and my opinion.
Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.