Resize text+=

‘Star Wars’ Day 2024: The Femininity and Ferociousness of a Princess

When I was only three years old, a movie was released into the world that would not only change the theatrical landscape and become a massive cult hit for several generations, but also would change my life and influence my road ahead. Star Wars would do that for many, especially for young girls. We had various female icons growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, but none were quite as impactful as Princess Leia Organa.

It has long been debated as to whether Leia was an actual feminist icon or if she harmed the feminist movement. It’s easy to focus on the negative (like a gold bikini), but this young girl always saw the positive, bikini and all. There are so many impressionable girls today who could use that positive side of the character to help them in their own lives, but they will only have that if we, the ones who came before them, allow them to see her as a strong role model.

From the very beginning of the original trilogy, Leia presented as a heroic character. The opening crawl from 1977’s A New Hope introduced us to her as one who led a small group of the Rebellion to steal plans for the Death Star in order to save other Rebels. She did this without fear for capture or her life. The fact that she was a princess only added to the allure. She could have easily stayed home and watched the Rebellion from afar – something that most princesses portrayed until that time would have done – but she did the opposite. She embedded herself in the middle of the battle in order to win the war against the evil Empire. This was an enormous credit to her strength and was only the beginning of her journey.

Despite being captured, Leia remained defiant to the Empire, even when faced down by Darth Vader, who struck fear in the hearts of those under his command. After being tortured and threatened with the destruction of her home planet, she lied and gave a false location for the hidden Rebel base. Not many would do that, and the move changed her character and the value she provided to those watching the movie. She wouldn’t cave easily, and she certainly wouldn’t betray her cause.

Once rescued by Luke and Han, she immediately assumed control of the operation, dismissing the men and even saving their hides a time or two. We watched her give direction to Rebels for tactical missions and continue to fight throughout the trilogy. She also didn’t let Han get one over on her; no matter how many quips he came up with, she was quick to respond with greater force, often getting the last word. She rescued the men even more than they rescued her, putting her on equal footing and providing her with a role well above the typical “damsel in distress.”

Her strength rose above the mental and emotional aspects, too. In Return of the Jedi, while attempting to rescue Han from Jabba’s clutches, she was taken prisoner and forced to wear that gold bikini so many feminists rail against today. Regardless, as soon as the opportunity presented itself, she killed Jabba the Hutt. Consider this: It is a proven scientific and forensic fact that it requires four to five minutes of continuous pressure to strangle another person to death. That’s incredible stamina, strength, and drive. Now, apply that to Jabba the Hutt… a massive slug of a creature. Little ol’ Leia was able to strangle him with the chain he used to imprison her. Talk about a feminist icon. She literally broke her sexualized slavery chain. And she did it all while (looking stunningly, I might add) in that gold bikini. I can’t take that strength away from her, and I argue that others also should not defeminize her for the outfit she was forced to wear.

As I stated at the beginning of this article, there were so many feminist icons in the ’70s and ’80s who shaped the way we girls grew up, ones that I will always look up to and aspire to be, fictional or real. But no one, no one was more impressive from the fictional world than Princess Leia Organa. I don’t foresee any other fictional character outshining her influence on me in my lifetime. And, for that, I am most grateful.

Angie Martin, Fanbase Press Guest Contributor



Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top