Photo source: William Beem | Flickr
Male dominance, political shenanigans, females who are just seen but not heard – no, I am not describing the usual office setting. I am in fact, describing a galaxy far, far away. . .
Yes, even in outer space, the imagination doesn’t stray too far from male dominance and heroism. Amidst all that testosterone or whatever drives male-aliens and planet-destroying weapons, there is one shining beacon that bears the torch for women – Princess Leia Organa.
No white knights and glass shoes in this universe, even for a Princess Leia who still comes out as a brave, feisty leader of the Rebellion.
In many instances, she is the coolest head amid heated battles. So much so, that in the latest episode of the series, the ‘Princess’ has given way to ‘General’ Leia Organa, Commander of the Rebel Alliance. And you don’t become the commander of brave warriors with just a pretty face.
Leadership isn’t a gender-specific attribute, hence trying to list down leadership attributes based on her gender would be a disservice to the character. What we actually see (or rather study) on screen is her:
1. Pragmatism – pushing Han Solo and Luke Skywalker down a rubbish chute to escape possible capture
2. Empathy – holding an Ewok when they seemed distressed by the presence of the Rebels
3. Decisiveness and bravery – having realised the true intention of Senator Palpatine in wanting to establish a totalitarian regime, she uses her diplomatic ties to channel information to the Rebels.
In the midst of all that, Leia saves Luke after he gets his hand cut off, defrosts Han Solo from his captors, and now, leads the Rebellion as their General.
As we adopt more progressive attitudes that embraces skills and qualities rather gender as a marker for leadership, it’s also important for pop-culture to embrace and evolve along. It doesn’t get much bigger than Star Wars to prove that point.