Years ago, before I could read, I laid in front of the old TV in the living room, watching Return of the Jedi. I remember seeing the shapes of letters as Jabba the Hutt spoke. I’ve been fully entrenched in the Star Wars universe for as long as I can remember. In the sixth grade, I discovered that the adventures of Han, Leia and Luke continued past the movies. Young Jedi Knights: The Lost Ones was the first EU book I read. Immediately I became enamored with the adventures of Jaina, Jacen and their friends. It didn’t take long before I was leaving the library with stacks of Star Wars novels.
Mara Jade and Jaina Solo were the two characters that I admired and invested with from the start. My parents and grandmothers instilled a sense of being able to do anything regardless of gender, economic standing or physical attributes. And while I always loved Cinderella, Bella, Aurora and the other Disney princess, Leia Organa was always the fictional female role model I had as a child.
Without Leia, Jaina and Mara, the Star Wars universe wouldn’t have captivated me nearly as much. Here were woman who weren’t defined by the men in their lives, who could make sound decisions without the approval of another person.
Unfortunately, especially with the loss of Mara, the EU lacks the necessary diversity of heroes and heroines. It’s not a numbers game. It’s a characterization game. While Leia’s character hasn’t suffered nearly as much as her daughter’s has, there’s a definite lack of their involvement.
It’s about balance. Balance between genders. Balance between characters.
Our culture is dominated with male-dominant stories with poor female support cast and horrible examples of female heroines. The only way to fix this problem is to push for change. The recent success of The Hunger Games is a strong indicator of what many parts of our culture want. Instead of sweeping capable, good female leads under the rug, it’s past time to bring them to the front and center to stand alongside the Luke Skywalkers, Harry Potters, Robin Hoods and Frodos.