As I’ve said before, my daughter loves Star Wars. I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that there is a small number of female characters in the Star Wars galaxy. And at her young age, even my fledgling padawan has noticed the lack of women in the galaxy. She would rather pretend to be Luke or Anakin because they get more involved in the action of the story. (“Leia needs to be rescued and Padme dies, Mom.”) Yes, Princess, now General, Leia and Padme do get in on the action, but if we are all honest with ourselves, the boys are the ones who get to play the role of hero and save the day.
And then came Rey. Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, I am here to tell you that Rey is the feminist hero we have been waiting for all this time.
And friends, she’s not even trying.
Now, on the off chance that you have not seen The Force Awakens yet, what the heck are you waiting for?? GO. Now! Then come back and read the spoilers below!
You’ve been warned.
When we first meet Rey, on the desert planet Jakku, she’s scavenging for scrap in an old star destroyer to trade for food. We quickly learn that though she is isolated and alone, she is very much a resourceful and patient survivor. She is compassionate, fighting to save BB-8 and refusing to give him up for food rations that will feed her indefinitely.
It is when she finds, and rescues, Finn that I realized she, more than anyone, is truly the hero of our story. It is Rey who, within moments of meeting him, disarms Finn with ease and then she rescues him by hiding them both from Stormtroopers.
Rather than take Finn’s hand and let him lead their escape, she refuses to hold his hand and follow blindly. Instead, Rey leads them both to safety.
Then she pilots, and fixes, the Millennium Falcon as if she’s been doing it all her life.
She is able to use the Force on a Stormtrooper to get him to release her, without training, and quicker than Luke was ever able. In the final battle between her and Kylo Ren in the snow, it isn’t about a girl fighting a boy or physical strength. Those aren’t even considerations. It is all about good and evil. Rey is up to the task and rushes into the fight. She wields Luke’s old lightsaber deftly like it is second nature. There was no doubt that Rey, with her innate goodness, would be the victor.
At no point, in the entire movie, does it matter that Rey is a girl. Miraculously, it isn’t even mentioned by anyone. The simple fact that her femininity and emotions are not seen as detrimental is amazing. Hell, the fact that she is allowed to have emotions and they aren’t a hindrance is phenomenal. She is the hero I want my daughter to grow up wanting to emulate. She is a friend, a survivor, kind, caring, intelligent, brave, and a fierce warrior. She is everything we could want in a heroine.