“I don’t know who you are or where you came from, but from now on you’ll do as I tell you, okay?”
So, faithful Star Wars fans, that glorious day is upon us again. May the fourth be with you!
Serendipitously, I’d been planning to write about this particular heroine for a while as she is one of my all-time favourite fictional boss ladies. I give you: Princess Leia Organa!
Leia is one princess who won’t sit and wait in a tower to be rescued. Yes, she’s willing to accept help when she needs it (and boy does she seem to need it on the regular). However, she is far from the classic damsel in distress – this damsel has no qualms about shooting you stone dead with her blaster. She even takes over her own rescue when the guys run out of ideas – you KNOW Luke and Han would never have come up with escaping via the garbage chute – and turns the tables to rescue them on several occasions.
Not just a princess, Leia is also a senator, a fearless rebel spy and a remarkably snappy dresser. Even when facing up to Darth Vader, she stays strong and admirably sassy, refusing to betray her comrades even under torture. In the books Leia even gets to become a Jedi (the fact that this doesn’t happen in the films causes me no end of sadness). Although there is admittedly a dearth of female characters in the series, in my opinion Leia’s position as a leader of the rebellion and all-round badass does mark a significant move forward for female action characters. I dread to think what the trilogy would have been like had she been written as the classic, simpering princess in need of a saviour, which would have been an all-too-easy pattern for the creator to follow. Instead, she gets to free her own knight in shining carbonite (sorry) and play a lead role in the defeat of the Empire.
I know what most of you will be thinking and yes, I am going to address the whole gold bikini debacle. I am fully aware that the entire ‘Jabba’s sexy slave’ plotline can be construed as extremely sexist and objectifying. That film was made in the early 80s, it was never going to be perfect! However, I personally take a lot of comfort from the fact that Leia gets to strangle Jabba to death with her chains. Is that beautiful vengeance or what?
I can vividly remember the first time I saw Episode IV as a child and from the very beginning I was all about Leia. I was so sick of the boys in books and films getting to do all the exciting stuff, and suddenly here was an example of a female character taking an active role. In an epic battle. IN SPACE. Needless to say, I was enchanted. Crucially, I never felt excluded, like Star Wars was something for boys. How could it be, when Leia was owning everyone from Hoth to Tatooine?