Five Reasons Why It Doesn’t Matter Who Rey’s Parents Are In The Force Awakens

Rey is the main protagonist in the new Star Wars film, Episode VII: The Force Awakensand she is fantastic. But too many of us are fixated on where she came from instead of how amazing she is, and how well she represents women-kind the galaxy over.

Google ‘Rey, Force Awakens’ or even just ‘Rey’, and you get a truckload of results about who Rey’s parent’s are, where she came from, who else she might be related to, why she is a Jedi, and a few stories about Hasbro leaving her character out of the new Force Awakens Monopoly game (bad move, Hasbro). But what we should really be focusing on is why, as a female lead in a huge, wildly anticipated, multi-million dollar sci-fi film, she is an absolute inspiration.

I’m sure all of the Star Wars fans out there have seen The Force Awakens by now, but of course, for the sake of those who haven’t, this article contains spoilers and should be avoided at all costs if you want to keep your Force Awakens virginity intact. 

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So, a teensy bit of background info: Rey is one of the first Jedi, or at least Force sensitive characters, to come about since Kylo Ren turned on Luke Skywalker and destroyed the new Jedi Order Luke was trying to build. She was left on the desert planet of Jakku as a small child, and is desperately waiting for her family to return and find her. She is a scavenger, and scours the desert plains of the desolate planet in search of scraps to sell in exchange for food rations. She keeps to herself, in her makeshift home inside an abandoned AT-AT, and doesn’t make a fuss about it.

At least until BB-8 rolls into her life and changes all of that. And thus, Rey starts her incredible journey to find the last Jedi. And here are my five reasons why it doesn’t matter whether or not she is Luke’s, or anybody else’s, daughter, but still kicks ass all the same.

1. She looks out for herself, but still cares about others

Rey is deTeedo_Luggabeastpendant upon herself for survival. She scavenges in the dry wastelands of Jakku for scrap from the remains of abandoned Star Destroyers and Imperial Walkers, left from the Battle of Jakku, where she essentially risks her butt climbing about like a pro to find parts and trinkets for trade. Rey looks after herself, and defends herself when necessary, but she also doesn’t turn her back when others are in need, even little droids. When BB-8 gets captured by Teedo, who plans to scrap him for parts, Rey doesn’t walk away, she argues with the scavanger and frees BB-8, and then allows him to follow her and stay the night with her for safety. But her trust in the good of others, as well as her kindness, doesn’t end there, Rey also agrees to help get BB-8 back to the Resistance, in order to complete his master, Poe Dameron‘s, mission. She does this, as well as helping get Finn off Jakku, doesn’t hesistate in saving Finn when the Rathtar gets him, and helps bring down Starkiller Base as well.

2. She kicks butt, all on her own, and doesn’t whine about it

Rey is very capable of looking after herself. She even tells us this, after she and Finn meet Han Solo, and he offers her a blaster, Rey instinctively tells Han that she ‘can take care of’ herself.

And she can. She is strong, brave, and defiant, as can be seen when Unkar Plutt‘s goons try and capture BB-8 from her at the marketplace in Niima Outpost; Rey fights them off almost effortlessly, with her epic staff skills. She also masterfully convinces Stormtrooper JB-007 (Yep, a quiet nod to actor Daniel Craig, who plays this character) to release her, as she taps into her Force powers with ease. Not to mention: she totally whoops Kylo Ren’s butt in their lightsaber dual at the end of the film.

kylo renThough she doesn’t say it, Rey is, as Kylo Ren informs us, very lonely; yet she doesn’t whine about it constantly, or cry because her friends have all gone off to the academy without her (but did you really wanna attend the Imperial Academy, Luke, really?). Rey just takes it all in her stride and makes the best of the situation she’s been put in. Sure, she obviously has dreams: a family she is waiting for, a rebel pilot doll in her hideaway; but she doesn’t feel the need to vocalise it, in fact, we don’t even know about most of these issues until she is facing Ren and he is reading her innermost thoughts. She is strong, and doesn’t wear her weaknesses around like a cloak, no emotions on this girl’s sleeve, no needy damsel in distress here. She just gets on with life.

Finally, little girls the world over, who hate Barbie dolls, have a real, action role-model to look up to.

3. She can fly the Millenium Falcon

Need I really say more on this point? One of the few downfalls of Leia, as kickass as she was, was that she had to rely on the men around her to get her anywhere, and in a fantastic turn of events here, Finn needs Rey to help him get off Jakku, and she does so on the iconic ship we have all come to love so much. Rey seems to be a natural pilot, and while we’ve known a couple of Star Wars heroes to have that trait before her (*cough*AnakinandLuke*cough*), I think the lack of explanation as to why Rey is able to pilot the Falcon only adds to her complexity and pulls us in to her characters further, leaving us wanting to know more. Regardless, though, of wanting to know about her past, the scene itself leaves you immersed in the action, the suspense and the downright epic flying that Rey pulls off in this scene.

It’s definitely one of my favourite scenes from the movie, I sit and smile like a 10 year old every time I watch it. But I love that Rey isn’t perfect, she doesn’t take off without a hitch, and she doesn’t act like she knows exactly what she’s doing; she’s a little unsure of herself, but brave enough to do what needs to be done.

4. She doesn’t need a man to guide her (or even hold her hand)

And being able to fly herself around, leads817104a68b82fc166ab93ea72fb5c255.jpg to another of Rey’s great traits, as previously mentioned, she doesn’t rely on the male characters for much at all. In fact, she tells Finn more than once to let go of her hand because she is more than capable of looking after herself. She can fight, she can fly, she can escape capture – all without the help of her male counterparts, the traditional ‘heroes’ of the universe. Even when Finn, Han and Chewie do show up to rescue her from Starkiller Base, she has already managed to get herself out of their clutches using her new-found mind-control powers, and they bump into her rounding a corner in a corridor, not even really needing their help. Even when faced with Kylo Ren in the final battle, as he tells her she needs a teacher and he can train her in the ways of the force, Rey still looks inside herself for the answers, for the strength to defeat him.

There really isn’t any strong point in the film, where Rey shows a need to be helped, saved, protected or guided by one of her male counterparts. I’m not saying that she’s an uber-feminist who looks down on men, or anything of the sort, but rather that The Force Awakens puts forward three new protagonists and holds them all in equal stead. And this is fantastic; while Leia was an amazing step forward, for female characters in sci-fi and fantasy, and for women in Hollywood at the time, it’s high-time a female lead could hold her own in a huge sci-fi blockbuster.

5. She can fill Han Solo’s boots, or Luke’s perhaps, whether or not she is related to either of them

Chewie isn’t always the easiest of characters to get along with, beat him at chess and he may very well rip your arms out of their sockets, but for reasons we aren’t necessarily aware of, he likes Rey. And at the end of the film we see them become co-pilots as they head off into uncharted space to find Luke. And she does. This is where we leave our protagonist, atop a cliff, in the wind, surrounded by ocean, facing the only known surviving Jedi Master, and not saying a word. Here, again, her defiance shows, and Luke can see it in her, he sees the good in her, the fight, much like he once saw in Han. She knows the Force, even if she does have a lot of training ahead of her, and she knows the good in the universe and is willing to fight for it. She IS the Heroine of our generation, and I’m certainly glad that Disney went with a strong female lead for this film.

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As far as main characters go, Rey is definitely one of my new favourites, and as heartbroken as I am over losing Han; I feel comfortable knowing we have such strong new characters to carry us forward. While I know that Finn is a more likely stand-in for a Han type character moving forward, Rey is now the captain of the Millenium Falcon, and that must mean something! If nothing else, it just means she is pretty damn awesome.


FORCE-AWAKENS-POSTER-final-low-resSo yes, Rey’s past is a mystery, for now. We know that we wont be getting any of these answers until at least December 2017 when Episode VIII is released, and that Disney and the films creators wanted it this way, as even Rey herself refers to her past as a ‘big secret’. But these are just a few of the reasons I think that Rey is still a complete, intriguing, kickass character, who is a brilliant role model for young girls, and a pleasure to watch on screen. Regardless of where she came from, I’m am super excited to see where Rey goes next.

Images via: here, here, here, here, herehere, here

 

My Stance on Feminism

It was really only a matter of time before I wrote this piece. Feminism is a very current, and very important trending topic in society and the world today. And it is just as important now as ever.

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But seriously, Feminism is something I believe very firmly in, and am very passionate about. It’s not something I lecture people on or get into debates about, although I love a good intellectual conversation every now and again. For me, keeping it simple is key. Feminism is NOT about man hating, it is not about women being better than anyone, or being crazy, angry, hippie bitches. Feminism is simply about equality, and giving a voice to those who don’t necessarily have one.

While a lot of what we see in our media (that being Western media) is about equal pay for women and a call to stop street harassment, what we need to remember first and foremost, is that this is not a ‘first world problem’, it is not solely, nor is it primarily a developed world issue. There are so many women around the world who still face oppression every single day. Sure, women are starting to get paid more, and most jobs, in Australia anyway, pay genders pretty much equally, based on talent, qualifications and duties. (I am aware that this may still not be the case in America, but I am writing from my point of view, and in my country that is not an issue at the forefront of feminism. I am not discounting it as an issue, but I am simply looking at the bigger picture here.) We need to remember that this is about much more than just money. This is about equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women (wiki). This is about women’s basic human rights as people. Rights over their minds, over their bodies and over their lives.

Malala Yousafzai discusses feminist issues on a global scale, particularly women’s education, something we very much take for granted in our western societies. Gunned down by the Taliban, Malala survived, and is now a strong female voice and advocate for the education of women in her home country of Pakistan, where women have actually been banned from receiving any kind if education. You can see her story over at the NY Times.

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Emma Watson has been doing some great work with the UN in global feminism awareness, but her speech and some of her views, have been labelled as ‘First-world Feminism’. That’s not to say that the issues she has discussed are not important, but that the fight needs to be for all women, not just women in America, or the UK or Australia. On a global scale, there are people who have everything and people who have nothing, and a bunch of people in between; while we are never going to get everyone on financially equal footing, when it comes to rights, there is a huge gap. ‘First-world Feminism’ is one thing, but sometimes the bigger picture really needs to be looked at and addressed. Maisie Williams has stood up against ‘first-world feminism’ and stated that there are women out there that have a lot less than any of us, as we sit here reading this on our computer, or phone or tablet. While the western front of feminism should not be ignored, the global fight should also be highlighted. You can read more about Maisie’s views at hello gigles.

Bringing it back to basics for a moment, for me, one of the most basic, yet key issues within feminism is that we should be working together and supporting each other as women instead of hating each other. This is something that I personally struggle with due to low self esteem and simply preferring male company. Most of my friends are male, and my boyfriend is my best friend. I would love to blame the fact that I went to an all girls high school and say that the cattiness and bitchiness put me off women forever, but that’s simply not true. Bitchiness and cattiness are two of the things I hate most about women, it’s true, but I don’t think that has anything to do with my small amount of female friends, I think that is simply just a personality thing. I love women, and men alike, thats pretty much the definition of a bisexual, which is how I identify sexually. But I have learnt that as a woman, I really need to be less judgemental. It’s something I’m really working to be better at, and I still have a long way to go.

“Women – Love each other, support each other, defend each other. It comes at a greater cost to you to attack the women around you than it does to empower them.”
– Caitlin Stasey

 I’ve been reading a lot about feminism lately, reacquainting myself with it’s foundations and it’s horde of supporters. Last year, ELLE magazine dedicated their entire December issue to feminism, and I devoured all the articles written by strong feminist and female voices, about great and inspirational women (I don’t care much for the fashion side of these magazines.) With a gorgeous Emma Watson on the cover, sporting her new position of UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, I couldn’t go past it (let’s face it’ I’m still the biggest Harry Potter fan I know).

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You can read more about Emma Watson and her interview with ELLE UK HERE

Emma has helped society take several huge steps toward equality, launching the HeForShe campaign in September 2014, which has been taken up in support by a large number of other celebrities, who you can see talking about feminism and HeForShe here, and hundreds of thousands of everyday men, as a promise to fight for equal rights. We really need men onboard with Feminism too. Without men onboard we are fighting a losing battle, we will never have true equality unless everyone agrees to it. Unless men see women as their equals, we never will be. Which is why I love that the majority of my favourite male actors are in fact feminists. Daniel Radcliffe, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt for a start. See a list of a handful of famous male feminists over at huffpost.

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt talks about his support of feminism brilliantly in this youtube clip.

I can’t help but be unashamedly proud of our generation, and the change that it is instigating. Emma Watson is a hugely intelligent young woman with huge inspirational pull, who is using her fame and her voice to spread goodness and change in the world, I just wish there were more out there like her. Having said that, there are actually a huge number of female celerities out there fighting the good fight alongside Emma, such as Lena Dunham, Ellen Page, Taylor Swift – a huge range of voices and inspirations, find out more over at popsugar.

One if my idols, and my favourite musician, Taylor Swift, is a known and very outspoken feminist, and I agree with much of what she has to say, as biased as I may be. But again, with a voice as powerful and as listened to, literally, as hers, it is so brilliant to see young girls and women alike have such strong, feminist role models to aspire to. Taylor has made some great points about feminism, one of my favourites being:

“So many girls out there say ‘I’m not a feminist’ because they think it means something angry or disgruntled or complaining. They picture like rioting and picketing, it is not that at all, it just simply means that you believe that women and men should have equal rights and opportunities.”
– Taylor Swift

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You can read more about Taylor swift as a feminist at MTV and mic.com.

Surprisingly, there are even female celebrities on the feminist wagon that I didn’t even particularly like, but who have some really interesting things to say, and who have gained a new respect from me, such as Kristen Stewart, who has been bashed by internet trolls and people in general after her role of Bella in the Twilight series. Having been harassed online and in person, she has a pretty strong skin to let it all run off, and some very strong points on why women should be feminists. You can read what she had to say at huffpost.

And of course, there are gender roles. I’m not going to delve into all the ways gender roles are pushing back feminism and ruining society (don’t get me wrong, I love baking, I just can’t handle cooking), but I am going to touch on two points that I believe the views on need to change: Abortion and Motherhood.

I am very pro-choice. I believe that a woman’s body is hers, first and foremost, and she decides what happens to it and when and how. You can never truly know another persons innermost thoughts, nor can you presume to understand their reasons for their choice. But it is THEIR choice, end of story.
When it comes to motherhood, I hate that it is still expected and I am laughed at, questioned and ridiculed when I say that I don’t think motherhood is for me. I have multiple reasons for not wanting kids, now or in the future. Health reasons and mental reasons and financial reasons and completely selfish reasons. But I believe the better choice for me is not to have kids, and while the idea has been discussed and thrown around between my partner and I, right now we sit on the same page, I am not depriving him of something he wants either. My reasons are mine, and they should be respected, but the fact that people still scoff at the fact that I don’t have children at thirty or tell meI’ll change my mind when I’m a bit older really bothers me. Another of my favourite ladies has some interesting points on this issue as well, you can read what Jennifer Aniston thinks about motherhood expectations at Hello Giggles.

IMG_0047Coming back to women’s bodies and and how they are our own property and no one else’s, Caitlin Stasey, an Australian actress has started my new favourite website, herself.com, an amazing space for women, run by women, to simply express themselves in any way they like and be candid and truthful about themselves and their sexuality. This is a place that brings women together, in a place away from male judgement and expectation. It is about empowerment and free-speech. This is a project that I fully support and relish in, something I may one day have the guts to participate in. You can read more about Caitlin and the #herselfdotcom initiative over at Oyster Mag.

I think one of the points Caitlin makes that really resonated with me, is that this is as much about women’s rights as it is about gender equality and sexual acceptance. And not just the acceptance of others sexuality, but also of our own. We should be the only person with control over our body and our sexuality, and while we are entitled to share our body and our sexuality with whomever we like, it is still ours to control and ours to determine and categorise. Many people identify with sexuality differently, and these differences are part of what makes us unique, every sexuality and choice should be accepted, that is part of the belief system of equality – you can’t neglect any one gender, race, religion or sexual preference because you don’t agree with it.

Having said that, I think rape culture needs to be addressed momentarily here: equality means that no one, male or female, should be afraid to walk down the street at night, or to wear a cute skirt because some sleaze will take it as an invitation. Rape is about the objectification of women and it is dehumanising. Rape culture is not just about rape itself, the whole culture is against everything feminism stands for. Rape culture includes:

Victim blaming (“She asked for it!”)
Trivializing sexual assault (“Boys will be boys!”)
Sexually explicit jokes
Tolerance of sexual harassment
Inflating false rape report statistics
Publicly scrutinizing a victim’s dress, mental state, motives, and history
Gratuitous gendered violence in movies and television
Defining “manhood” as dominant and sexually aggressive
Defining “womanhood” as submissive and sexually passive
Regarding gender diverse roles as aberration
Pressure on men to “score”
Pressure on women to not appear “cold”
Assuming only promiscuous women get raped
Assuming that men don’t get raped or that only “weak” men get raped
Refusing to take rape accusations seriously
Teaching women to avoid getting raped instead of teaching men not to rape
Slut shaming

A complex set of beliefs that encourage male sexual aggression and supports violence against women. It is a society where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent. In a rape culture, women perceive a continuum of threatened violence that ranges from sexual remarks to sexual touching to rape itself. A rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as the norm . . . In a rape culture both men and women assume that sexual violence is a fact of life, inevitable . . . However . . . much of what we accept as inevitable is in fact the expression of values and attitudes that can change.
– wavaw.ca

Rape and rape culture need to stop. As does all forms of bullying, harassment and violence against anyone of any gender or sexual preference. If you agree with that, you are a feminist.

As a feminist, I am very much a huge supporter of the LGBTQIA community. I have many friends who are gay, lesbian or bisexual, and I hate knowing that some of the best couples I know don’t have the same rights or recognition as some straight couples I know who are crap. Equality knows no boundaries, that is it’s point. We are all human, we are all equal, period.

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At the end of the day, I think why a lot of people are against feminism, or don’t identify as a feminist is because they are confused about what feminism actually is. Which is the fight for equality. It’s that simple. This article at Hello Giggles sheds some more light on why feminism is sometimes misunderstood, but at the end of the day, we all need feminism, because we should all be treated equally within society.

And lastly – just once more for the record – these are my views and ideas, plain and simple. This is not an academic essay, it simply an expression of my thoughts and views on feminism.
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