*spoilers maybe, but probably not*
I love Star Wars. Like, a lot. Like, too much. Bioware’s Knights of the Old Republic I and II on the original xbox are, to this day, my favorite games. As a child, my primary form of entertainment was pretending to force choke my teacher under the my desk, and lightsaber-fighting my brother and father on our front lawn. Having geeky parents, we received fabulous geeky lightsabers for birthdays and Christmases annually. My mother always explained to me that, after the movies, Princess Leia learned that she had the force. She told me her lightsaber was white, and that she was just as powerful as Luke. This meant the world to me.
Then the second trilogy came out. I saw every one of them, the day they came out, in the theater (not at midnight, though, because I was a wee soybean). While Padmae was a diplomacy boss with the most imaginative hair I’d ever seen (and I watched Yu-Gi-Oh!, too, people), I was itching to see her chop a bro’s head off with a lightsaber. She never did. Sure, there was Aayla Secura, but there were never any major female Jedi in the films.
Eventually, I got over my childhood disappointment and frustration. It still drives me insane.
Recently, however, I learned that Return of the Jedi DID have more bamfy women! George Lucas cut several female X-Wing pilots, of varying ages, from the film. One of them, even had a full page and a half of dialogue (played by Vivienne Chandler, seen below)! They didn’t even tell the actor that all her scenes had been cut. Women are scattered in the background of the briefing scene, before the battle. One of the women had the line “Got it!”, which was replaced by a male voice in post-production. Thanks, guys. Really.
Below are more pictures of the female pilots, and a deleted scene (gasp!):
But, wait! There’s hope! MAYBE The Force Awakens will usher in a brighter day for geeky women and minorities! The trailers look promising, repeatedly featuring Daisy Ridley (playing Rey, although she was theorized by many to be playing Leia and Solo’s daughter, who is force-sensitive), John Boyega (an playing Finn), and funky lightsabers. AND PRINCESS LEIA FINALLY GETS A LIGHTSABER, OH MY GOD!!!!! Game of Thrones‘s Gwendoline Christie, Lupita Nyong’o, Maisie Richardon-Sellers (playing Korr Sella), Jessica Henwick, Christina Chong, Crystal Clarke, Billie Lourd (playing “Young Leia”), Amybeth Hargreaves, and Carrie Fisher (playing Leia, of course) are all also confirmed to be playing female roles in the film.
Will Episode VII be everything we geeky women and girls dreamed about? Will thousands of little girls get more Sci-Fi female role models? Will this film be more racially diverse? Will I get to buy a Princess Leia lightsaber? FINALLY? We’ll have to see… Sci-fi is often subversive, diverse, empowering, and progressive. Why were these women deleted from Episode VI? I think we can all guess. Seeing those female pilots would have meant the world to me, as a little girl. Girls seeing women in strong, independent, and brave roles is immensley important. We cannot be what we cannot see.