In a world of internet memes, the image to the left could very easily go unnoticed among the hundreds of Star Wars memes alone. As a Star Wars fan and a woman, I found this particular image a disturbing demonstration of rape culture in the geek community. Now, I know people will say “it’s not meant that way” or “you’re reading too much into it,” but to those people I say, if we don’t acknowledge a problem, images that promote mistreatment of women will proliferate, even if they aren’t “meant that way.”
So what about this image promotes rape culture? Here we have five images of a woman kissing men and/or male creatures (implied male gender anyway), and one image of that same woman resisting a man’s advances. Put this in the context of a woman who has kissed five men then is captured and forced to kiss a complete stranger. Then that woman is forced into sexually provocative clothing, chained as entertainment, and forced against his body. This image says that because Princess Leia had kissed other men, it was ok for Jabba the Hutt (a complete stranger) to forcefully kiss her. As this meme is making its way around the internet, others who are retweeting, sharing, posting, etc. are agreeing with this assessment. Most will think it’s just amusing or silly, but at the core, it’s pointing out that what Jabba the Hutt did was right.
While we’re talking about Star Wars and Princess Leia, it would be good to point out that Princess Leia is one of three speaking female characters in the original Star Wars trilogy. Not that it makes a difference, but if there’s only one main female character in the series, then there’s only one main female character to be kissing. However, that does not mean we can condone Jabba the Hutt for attempting to force Princess Leia into a sexual activity she did not want to participate in.
Author: Carolyn Noe
Carolyn is the Founder & Executive Director of Super Heroines, Etc. She is a recent transplant to Cincinnati and lives with her husband and her dog. She regularly nerds out about Parks & Rec, Firefly, and Pride & Prejudice.