You guys, this post was going to be epic. It was going to be about the inherent feminism found in young children, about their keen, unclouded observations of the societal biases of the world in which they’re growing. It was going to be about GIRL POWER, and Rosie the Riveter-type gumption, and I-am-woman-hear-me-roaaaaar.
I may have been overreaching just a little. In one way, at least.
The kids have recently watched the first two (well, fourth and fifth, you know) Star Wars movies. Cian (yes, he’s too young to watch them, and yes, we made his sisters wait until they were older, but he’s the third kid and tends to go with the family flow. Which means he might be driving a car by 12) loves them. He’s obsessed with the “miyen-yun fack-on” and pretends to be Luke Skywalker and walks around singing the movie’s theme song. Saoirse could take Star Wars or leave it–she just likes the corresponding Legos–but Quinlan, too, is all about it. AT-AT walkers are like “cute puppies” (until they start attacking the good guys, of course), and Darth Vader is the talk of the town, and why did Luke have to scream so much when Vader told him he was his father? So the other morning, out of curiosity, I asked the girls to name their favorite character so far.
“Oh,” said Quinlan. “Princess Leia.”
“Yeah,” Saoirse agreed. “Princess Leia.”
My heart sang. My pride swelled. My girls love Leia! They identify with a strong female! They view her as a role model! My brain fast-forwarded to the day they’ll see The Force Awakens, to the moment I’ll watch as they witness Rey in all her sarcastic, strong, idealistic power on the big screen. This was no My Little Pony, kids. This was FOR THE AGES.
And then I had to go and do the teacher thing–I pushed for more. “But,” I said–I was grinning Clark-Griswold-switching-on-the-Christmas-lights-style–“why do you like her so much? Why is Princess Leia your favorite?”
There was silence.
Then more silence.
I started to lose faith. The dark side beckoned.
“Um…” Quinlan said. I perked up. Maybe my feminist fantasy would live on after all!
Saoirse started picking at her fingernails, then looked away, at something–anything–more interesting than the discussion that was crashing and burning in front of me.
“Um…” (God bless Quinlan for trying)
I held my breath.
So. Never mind that she’s leading a rebellion for good and holding her own against the evil empire and refusing to be belittled by anyone coming up against her. Never mind that she doesn’t wear a tiara and doesn’t suffer fools and likes outfits she can run in. Princess Leia sure is…nice.
I supposed it’s a start. I watched as the girls bounded off with Cian, each of them with a light saber in hand to play-fight and knock over that one lamp for the billionth time. I caught David’s eyes and saw that he was trying not to laugh–he knows me well–but still.
It’s Princess Leia, man. They like Leia. I held on to that fact like it was Luke’s lightsaber in the middle of a Starkiller’s icy forest (see what I did there?). It meant that my fantasy can linger and I can hope for the future and onward we go to the next episode, never mind the violence and the scary man in the mask and the planets blowing up whee I am such a GOOD MOTHER because my kids love the strong female character! Never mind the slave bikini (HOLD ME) in Return of the Jedi and the fact that Leia’s story starts to become more about saving her boyfriend than saving the galaxy (I’m so right, aren’t I, Star Wars nerds?). Never mind that the biggest female role model these children have is actually standing right in front of them watching them play, and that they will see me as the type of woman they’re supposed to become whether I save my boyfriend or not (I would, David. I would save you).
It’s Princess Leia, man. You can’t get any better than that.