Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Emergence of men as the second sex

*Major spoilers ahead* to Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Finn abandon their imposed responsibilities as men and flee. They are not protectors of “their” women anymore. They find it difficult to protect themselves and are often stranded and beleaguered. The movie starts with Finn wanting to flee the coup, unable to take the slaughter of innocents. Clearly insufficiently armed for a fight against the regime, Finn chooses to run. He also turns to a childlike charade of heroism when he is posed with the challenge of protecting his woman the first time. This is how he is represented, and it is a sign of things to come. The traditionally feminine characteristics of unyielding, stoic behaviour under imposed morally contradicting choices has been assigned to men. Finn chooses to flee again later, leaving behind his woman, as he finds his role in protecting himself more essential than protecting any other.
The women settle into the role of protectors, guardians and authority figures with ease. There are no real dilemmas as to where their loyalties are, but the men seem confused, and because of the childlike representation, attention seeking. This goes with the traditionally female argument that “all men are children”. The onus is still on men, but it is one of ridicule. Han Solo is represented as an older Finn, pursuing crazy endeavours, often self-sabotaging. Luke Skywalker is simply absent, for whatever higher purpose or for want of courage in facing the consequences of his actions. Rey, Maz and Leia build their fortresses and fight for all who will take their help. The enormous pressure of fighting against fellow men and the weight of being identified with the same gender as the oppressors seem to deeply unsettle every man.
The men in Star Wars: A Force Awakens are taking responsibilities for men previously represented in movies, not as individual characters. These are the sins of their forefathers and contemporaries who are represented as chauvinistic, heroic or anti-heroic because they are men. Their representation is not merely an apologetic caricature,  but a sign of gender oppression turning on itself. Either men are represented as reckless in their guilt-ridden escapes, or as simply evil oppressors. There is no action that seems redemptive for men; the women emerge as leaders with poise. The transition of men as the second sex with roles supporting women in their fight against tyranny and evil is strained, but it does happen.
While the men are abandoning their posts at the first sign of existential crisis, women are not over compensating, or even compensating. This is a role women have played for centuries. They are battle-hardened and self-assured about their ideas and skills. Their only doubts are regarding which course of action to take. Whereas the men are frozen in the face of action; undermined by their history of oppressive behaviour, doubtful of their stained identity as men genderally. They are pushed into possibly thinking that the only course of action is fleeing because they want to protect the women from themselves. This is just the beginning. The women are motherly, nourishing, supportive of this freezing and fleeing. This is natural for women, to accommodate for the men and fight the war.
Luke Skywalker is offered the lightsaber at the end of the movie. Will he overcome his existential crisis and second “his” women in the fight? The force has awakened,  we will find out how it transforms and endures.

Associated Links:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars:_The_Force_Awakens
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bytDctZ2g6o

Image link:
http://cdn.slashgear.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/starwarstheforceawakens_teaser_trailer2_12.jpg

Contribution by: H. Prasanna
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3 thoughts on “Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Emergence of men as the second sex

  1. Here is another article: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/12/star-wars-the-feminism-awakens/420843/

    “Rey, however, is a character for a time that is coming to a new peace with feminism. A time that is replacing feminism-as-a-movement with feminism-as-a-way-of-life. Rey’s feminism does not protest too much. It is not insistent; it is not obvious. It is, instead, that most powerful of things: simply there. Rey, tellingly, is not an archetype, but rather a fully realized character, subtle and nuanced and human. She, as a character, luxuriates in her own subjectivity.”

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      1. There were several ‘sore points’ of feminist female protagonists that I thought stood out: Rey constantly had to remind Finn of her ability to protect herself (and him!); Rey had to ‘prove herself’ so to speak, with Han Solo to fly his ship (this may have not been linked with her gender), these things reminded me of Wyldstlye from The Lego Movie, who constantly needed to reaffirm her control over situations, prove her worth, as a non-male member of the team.

        It was just a little bit confusing, that they were making this great feminist protagonist, who was clearly kick-ass, but had to re-establish herself every few minutes. What do you think?

        Thanks for stopping by!

        Like

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