Men and women are equal, but not the same. To me continually forcing women into the role of a female Rambo, and calling it feminism or female empowerment is wrong. Men and women are different, and we should celebrate this gender diversity. To me Leia is a much better representation of female strength, and empowerment than most of what the current batch of movies have given us. It should not just be about beating up people, and being in places of power. It should be about having a moral compass, showing resilience, and being an inspirational leader. That’s what Leia was to me, more so than any of the other classic characters, or the new ones. Leia stood up to Darth Vader, despite the fact that he could break her in half. That is true strength.
Ehhhhhh men and women have biological differences that set them apart, sure… but I think these are often overstated, as the majority of the differences between the two genders are caused simply by cultural norms and mindsets.
Are women, on the whole, physically weaker than men? Sure! Do I think that Daisy Ridley could right now beat up literally any dude on this site? Not a doubt in my mind. Point being, it depends.
I can’t speak to “female Rambo” because I must have missed that reboot (or otherwise can’t seem to think of any characters that fit that description… except maybe Sarah Connor but I thought guys were cool with her). Even if the argument is that women should be less represented in the military ranks because of biological shortcomings or whatever, in terms of SW background roles we’re mostly talking about people in leadership roles or people sitting at desks. I can’t really think of a single good reason why there shouldn’t be a roughly equal amount of women in those roles in a fantasy film that is supposed to be divorced from the deep-rooted historical Earthly ideas of gender roles.
The issue here to me is, that Star Wars mostly represented just that even before Disney took over. In the OT women were at the top in the Rebel Alliance. There were also plenty of women in desk jobs. The PT featured female pilots, and Jedi Masters. Padme was both a queen and a senator. Then there’s Ahsoka Tano, and Asajj Ventress in Cloen Wars, who both became fan favourites. Of course there’s always room for improvement, but the idea that Star Wars was excluding women , or sexist before Disney took over is just foreign to me.
In my mind Rey perfectly embodies the idea of an empowering female character. Her character is not defined by her physical strength at all. What makes her strong is her inner strength: her resilience, her independence, her determination, her ability to strive to do the right thing even if she’s not always sure the best way to get there, her compassion for her friends, and her struggle to grow to believe in herself when all her life she’s been told she’s nothing. Those who focus on her “overpowered” abilities are, of course, looking at the wrong thing entirely.
I think her being overpowered is exactly what stands in the way of her being empowering. The creators were so obsessed with creating a female role model, that they made her too perfect. As such she doesn’t earn her great powers, but just recieves them apparently just because she’s a female protagonist. She had to be better at everything than anybody. God forbid, if she actually needed anyone’s help, or failed. Luke survived the Death Star run, and the cold weather of Hoth, because he was rescued by Han Solo, twice. Not so for Rey, she can rescue herself, and I’m sure if Finn, Han and Chewie didn’t come to her rescue, she would have found a way to get of SKB herself. In fact she was already on her way out, when they got there. She doesn’t need Luke’s guidance in TLJ. She will train herself, and become the greatest Jedi ever, despite the fact that Luke teaches her nothing but failure. TLJ’s throne room sequence is a powerful moment for both Rey and Ben, but in the case of Rey it is undermined by much that preceeded it. Like Luke in ROTJ Ben Solo went through an emotional struggle, and a humiliating defeat to get to that place, to deserve that moment in the spot light, to become the main villain. What’s Rey’s reason for being there, aside from her innate goodness, and awesomeness? Real empowerment comes from the struggle, from starting at the bottom, and coming out on top against the odds, through failure, pain, and suffering. That’s what most of the protagonists, and antagonists in Star Wars represent. Rey is the exception in my view.