The internet has been abuzz since learning of Disney’s supposed plans to axe all ‘Slave Leia’ merchandise.
Marvel artist J. Scott Campbell stated that sexy depictions of Leia in comics are being discouraged, writing on Facebook that “Disney is already well on its way to wiping out the ‘slave’ outfit from any future products period. You will NOT see any future merchandising featuring the slave outfit ever again. Trust me.” Many posit that the removal of depictions of Carrie Fisher clad in a gold bikini is overdue, as the costume is ‘sexist,’ and ‘objectifies’ Leia because her ‘agency’ was ‘removed.’ Yada Yada Jabba Jabba.
While understanding words prior to using them has become taboo with the growth of modern radical feminism, for the sake of my own amusement I’m going to condescendingly remind everyone of what ‘sexism’ and ‘objectification’ actually mean. Sexism is the stereotyping of, or prejudice against, a person based on their gender. Objectification is a premise central to feminist theory and, in essence, describes a person who has been reduced to the status of an object.
Now let’s set the scene: In The Empire Strikes Back, Han Solo is kidnapped, tortured, frozen in carbonite, and then handed over to Jabba the Hutt. This story resumes in Return of the Jedi when Princess Leia, Rebellion leader and fierce political figure, disguises herself as a bounty hunter and talks her way into Jabba’s court. She later frees Han, but both end up captured. Han is imprisoned, and Leia is thrown into a gold bikini and chained to Jabba.
You know that Leia is pissed about that costume when she’s wearing it. You also know that Leia is pissed about being chained to a giant slug. She was forced into a sexualized outfit and a choker chain, which means it was obviously a sexist depiction designed exclusively for the excitement of boys and men, right? Wrong. That is wrong because of what happens next. Leia takes the chain binding her to her captor, and she snuffs out the Tony Montana of Tattooine with it.
Leia doesn’t let her clothes get in her way. She plots, she waits for the perfect moment, and then she chokes one of the biggest crime lords in the galaxy to death with the very chain he enslaved her with. His death was not swift — this was not a lightsaber chop. He wasn’t shot. Jabba the Hutt struggled and flailed. You looked in his eyes while he was dying, and Leia held on until the end. This was an extremely intimate, personal, and dark death, arguably one of the darkest in the entirety of the Star Wars franchise. Then she helped Luke blow up his ship, and looked damn good doing it.
Do you want to know what that gold bikini says to me? That gold bikini says, “If you f*ck with me, I will end you.”
That gold bikini says “Don’t underestimate women.”
That gold bikini says “Hell hath no fury…”
Slave Leia, AKA Jabba-Killing-Leia, was one of the earliest examples of a TRUE feminist icon represented in media. That scene quite seriously warned against underestimating women whilst simultaneously showing that sexuality can be a power as well as a commodity. Jabba fatally underestimated his prisoner, who managed to take him down with nothing but a chain and a will to survive.
Feminists want to erase that. They want to erase the character’s importance to the outcome of the film because they are uncomfortable with what she was wearing. Was Leia sexy? She sure as hell was. Did that drive her story arc? Did that even drive the Jabba the Hutt story arc? Only in the mind of a person who is so sex negative that they cannot fathom the successful merger of strength and sexuality.
If Slave Leia is considered ‘sexist,’ then that means that ‘sexism’ is the act of viewing women as strong and capable regardless of what they are wearing. If Leia is being ‘objectified’ in that scene, then that means that ‘objectification’ is the belief that women who defend and rescue themselves are little more than window dressing. If we are using an accurate definition of objectification, like “the act of treating a person as a commodity or an object without regard to their dignity or personal agency,” then no one can truly claim that any Leia, least of all this Leia, was in the least bit objectified.
The fascination feminists hold with attire is not exclusive to ‘Slave Leia.’ Feminists were annoyed following the release of Nintendo’s Bayonetta 2, because the game’s titular hero was sexy and thus clearly incapable of also being a strong female protagonist. Meanwhile, in the real world, feminists everywhere reaffirmed assumptions that women care more about clothes than science by blasting Matt Taylor, a scientist from the Rosetta mission that landed the Philae space probe on a comet, for wearing a shirt they didn’t like.
The very people outraged over Leia’s slave costume, Bayonetta’s appearance, Matt Taylor’s shirt, and a fitness model’s fit physique being used in advertising for a nutritional supplement, are likely also praising their fellow feminists for walking around naked and lying about a rape epidemic. These people don’t want Slave Leia censored in order to protect women from some brutal sexist slight. They want it censored because Slave Leia directly contradicts their narrative about damsels in distress, oppressed women, and sexual objectification in the media.
Either that, or because they know they’ll never rock that bikini the way Carrie Fisher did. I mean, wow.