**As long as you've seen the TRAILERS for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, this post will contain NO SPOILERS. If you have not watched the trailers, I admire your will power; this is not the post you're looking for. Move along.**
As you might expect, I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Thursday. A full review will come later. I have a LOT of critical opinions, but don't want to spoil anyone while we're still in opening weekend.
I do want to share a personal moment. During one scene, totally unexpectedly, I cried.
I didn't cry over an emotional plot point, a touching character relationship, or a dark turn. The Force Awakens has all of these, but they didn't bring me to tears. I cried during this scene, which was seen even in the earliest trailers:
It's a high-energy sequence at the Resistance Base. A lot is going on here. X-Wing pilots dash about as the good guys prepare for battle. Several major characters interact. I didn't cry over any of that, though. I cried happy, surprised tears because I saw so many women.
My own emotions took me off-guard. I always knew female representation in Star Wars was poor. This video proves it. I didn't truly feel the depth of the problem, though, until I saw it getting solved.
Girls are everywhere in The Force Awakens. Rey is a joy to watch, but there are also ladies in the Resistance and the First Order. In the above scene, girls are X-Wing pilots, logistics personnel, mechanics... and they wear the same costumes as the men.
We don't see a "sexy" X-Wing pilot. There is no "sexy" droid builder. I've been so numb- so used to society sexualizing women in all occupations- that I just wept.
Friday, as I was driving to work, I took a moment to look at the people on the street. The split between folks identifying as male and female was pretty equal. This is real life. Episode VII's Resistance Base looks like real life, and that's beautiful.
I love Princess Leia. As a child playing Star Wars on the playground, though, there was only room for one Leia. Now, I only have to be the princess (or princess-like Senator) if I want to. There's room for me AND all of my girlfriends.
I've talked to a few of my male friends about this. They are supportive, but it's interesting how they didn't notice a problem. I've had to tell them that Episode VII is different. There are suddenly Star Wars shirts made for women's bodies in major department stores. The Battlefront video game has enough options that I can actually make a Rebel that looks like me. All of this is new.
Over and over, I've watched dudes' faces contort. "Really?" several of my guy friends have asked. Lucky them; they grew up feeling pleased and represented by the franchise at all times. Thankfully, these conversations always end with "I believe you."
So, ladies, share your gladness with the people around you. Let them know that change IS occurring, that you appreciate it, and that we aren't done. We still have Ghostbusters to conquer. Ha!
I have a lot of issues with The Force Awakens- mostly in terms of storytelling. I'll share all of that some other time. For now, let's just celebrate. Equal representation for women took a huge, HUGE step in the right direction. Thank you, Star Wars. Thank you, J. J. Abrams. Thank you for telling me that I do belong in the world I've loved my whole life.