I’ve been lied to, bamboozled, and cheated for decades! I admit it, before December I had never seen Star Wars. I may have passed a clip while my sister watched it, or sat through a few minutes with an ex before wandering off, but I had never actually seen this (or these) films. I am more of a fantasy fan, so starships and laser guns didn’t interest me that much. However, with all of the buzz of the new movie coming out, my husband insisted that I watch with him. I watched with moderate interest as the plot unfolded, and heard Leia give her trademark “you’re my only hope” line, classic of damsel’s in distress everywhere. Imagine my surprise, my disdain, my shock and awe to discover that Leia was not the damsel in distress that she is made out to be. She isn’t a damsel in distress at all!
Star Wars fandom, I am disappointed in you! When you have a real, bonafide, badass like Leia on your roster, you tell the world. You scream her greatness from the mountaintops. What you don’t do is let her be misrepresented for GENERATIONS of girls who saw nothing of her but a slave and weak girl needing rescue. I mean seriously, those are the only clips of Leia ever represented. What’s worse, is after watching the film, I realize that “slave Leia” is akin to a sex slave. This is her most celebrated look? Really? Is sex slavery sexy to us now? This is what we, as women, emulate?
I mean, I am not mad that slave Leia exists, that was a part of the characters narrative, you cannot get rid of slave Leia’s story. It is a good story. She gets captured rescuing her man (not the other way around, because she is dope), and then single-handedly murders her captor, the most dangerous mobster in the solar system, and she does it with the chain he used to bind her! But come on people, she was in that costume for all of 4 minutes of screen time (I’m guessing here). She was a slave for minutes, she was a hero for the rest of the film.
Here is the thing, and this is where I will lose most people, my problem is not that slave Leia exists, my problem with it is that women (yes, us) perpetuate the concept that slave Leia is sexy or desirable. Sex slavery. I am a regular con attendee. I have never before batted an eye at the million man march of slave Leia’s that I see. It is always uber popular. And before you start revving up your “slut-shamer” responses, I have no issue with sexy cosplay. My problem is when you start taking perfectly unrelated characters and slave-Leia-ing them (yes, I just made that word up. I hope it sticks)!
Stop taking Leia’s four minutes of weakness, of being someone’s property, and slathering all over every other character you can think of. I’ve seen everyone from Princess Ariel to Wonder Woman and now Slave Leia’ed. At first, I thought it was nothing more than cross playing characters. Which is cool, but I think differently. I mean, I’ve even seen Mulan, the only princess even close to as dope as Leia actually is, Slave Leia-ed. What? What! How dare you. Do not put Mulan in a slave outfit! She is freaking Mulan, the hero of China! The only character who should ever be Slave-Leia-ed is maybe Deadpool because…Deadpool. Irreverence is a part of the cosplay.
After having finally seen the films, seeing the scene, watching the character and falling in love with her, I am left wondering if the Slave Leia’s and Slave Leia crossplayers out there are actually fans of the character. It seems so disingenuous as to who Leia really is. Leia is a general, a sister, a wife, a warrior, a princess…so why do we always represent her as a slave?
Vanee is an author, reader, writer and teacher that lives at the corner of coffee shop intellect and text book geek! She loves cons, comics and camaraderie, as well as fantasy, fiction, and fandoms. Vanee is a Black Girl Nerd!