Three days ago, director Colin Hanks posted the following note on his Instagram account:
So, the other night, on May the 4th to be exact, I sat down with my 4 year old daughter and showed her Star Wars: A New Hope. It was her first time watching it. She loved it. Her favorite character was Princess Leia. She kept asking “Where is Princess Leia? Where is Princes Leia?” A few nights later, I show her Empire Strikes Back (or as she called it “The Emperor stripes back) and within four minutes of watching the movie she says, “It’s so tiring watching these movies. It’s always boys, boys, boys and there’s only one girl.” I could not of been more proud of her. So today I take her to Toys “R” Us to buy her a light saber and a Princess Leia toy. After being told that light sabers were “in the boys section”, she picks out the light saber of her choosing and asks about the Princess Leia toy. One problem: they only had the “slave Leia”. As you can see, sad depressing, “slave Leia”. So wrong. The only good to come from this is that, once again, my daughter makes me look at the world in a new light. #HelpusJJyoureouronlyhope
Hanks’ post has garnered a lot of attention, rightfully so, and joins the increased media attention for the severe lack of female merchandise. After the release of The Guardians of the Galaxy the hashtag #WheresGamora was started and since Age of Ultron came out there has been justified outrage over the lack of Black Widow merchandise. With The Force Awakens film coming out this year, Star Wars will be bringing out new merchandise as well and this is an issue that Disney should be very aware of. Before going into it more, I want to share a personal experience.
I am a twenty-one year old, female Star Wars-fan. Star Wars, like the Force, is strong in my family and I have been watching the films from the tender age of two. However, when I was seven I had an experience in a toystore which left me feeling marginalized and excluded without even knowing what those words meant. I walked in, looking for either a knight or a storm trooper. As I was looking up and down the walls covered in amazing toys, I was incredibly excited. Shortly afterwards, a male cashier came up to me and asked me whether I was looking for something. When I responded with an enthusiastic ‘yes’ he continued to guide me away from all the toys I wanted to the “girls”-section which was full of barbies and everything pink. Not only did I not like pink, but the male cashier made it very clear that this was where I belonged and that the other section was for boys, no matter what I liked. I was crushed and when I told my father, he was furious. If it hadn’t been for him, I might have accepted what I had been told rather than continue to love Star Wars. Instead, I got the toys I wanted and continued to be a raging Star Wars fan.