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Princess Leia: A Figure Of Female Empowerment

1301 words - 6 pages

Often, in action films, females play a secondary role. The main female characters are often present just as "token chicks" so that women do not feel underrepresented, or they are present as a romantic interest. It is rare to see a female lead take charge and exercise her intelligence instead of utilizing her gender as the main tool to avoid or get out of tricky situations. In Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope, directed by George Lucas (1977), Princess Leia can be seen as a female symbol of empowerment through her image, personality, and her actions. Princess Leia’s representation in the Star Wars universe establishes her as a figure of feminism because she is one of the few females in the entire movie. Not only that, but she is extremely capable and has genuine leadership qualities amongst other good qualities. She is also the only female lead, and there are no supporting female characters. The stormtroopers are all male and even the robots (droids) are portrayed as male.
The portrayal of women in this film gives the impression that women are fighters and not just people who need saving, Princess Leia’s image is not defined by the other men in her party (Hans Solo and Luke Skywalker), but by her own merit. In relation the image portrayed by the men in this film, Princess Leia also possess’ some of their qualities. The governance system in the Star Wars universe, called the Empire, can easily be seen as a dominant patriarchal figure in the movie, with a predominantly male presence especially in the higher rungs (people in higher command). More women are represented in the Rebel Alliance and it is in this population that Princess Leia’s image as a feminist icon really stands out and has meaning. Not only is she a prominent figure of the Rebel Alliance, she is also seated at one of the highest political positions of power. Princess Leia held the plans for the destruction of the Death Star. When her ship was ambushed by Darth Vader, Princess Leia was smart enough to stow the plan away in the droid R2D2. This act was what saved the rebellion and helped the rebels conquer the Imperial Senate. This representation of Princess Leia is a reflection of her headstrong and driven personality. To be able to reach the top tier of the Rebel Alliance, it requires drive and intelligence, just like any other important position of leadership. Her image as a resilient and resourceful leader of the rebels shows that women can be just like men. They can be influential, brave, heroic and powerful. Her position in the Rebel Alliance also implies that she has respect and that people listen to her; these are necessities for leaders.
A typical female character has many more “feminine” characteristics in the sense that they are more passive and weak. Princess Leia’s personality is anything but. In Star Wars: Episode IV, Darth Vader threatens Princess Leia in order to find out the location of the hidden rebel base, but Princess Leia keeps the secret of the rebel base...

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