Why Princess Leia Is The Archetypal Strong Woman Female Leads Can’t Replicate

Why Princess Leia Is The Archetypal Strong Woman Female Leads Can’t Replicate

Princess Leia displayed her strength as a woman, whereas most of the lead action females today are simply trying to imitate the strength of men.
Eric Sammons
By

Carrie Fisher recently passed away, and a million middle-aged hearts broke. Her iconic character Princess Leia was the first movie crush for many men my age, and no character has been able to replace her.

Forty years after her introduction, she is still my favorite female movie character. Unlike today, when female action stars abound, Princess Leia was an anomaly: a strong female lead in a shoot-em-up movie. Ever since Fisher put her hair in a bun, many movie makers have attempted to duplicate her success, but none have been able to do so.

Why is that? Because Princess Leia displayed her strength as a woman, whereas most of the lead action females today are simply trying to imitate the strength of men.

Imitating the Strength of Men

Depicting feminine strength has always been a struggle for Hollywood. It’s so much simpler to project typical male strength on the big screen. Just show someone kicking the crap out of someone else, or doing some heroic physical deed. But, despite what the Left’s culture warriors want to indoctrinate in us, women have always been at a disadvantage to men in physical strength, although they take no back seat when it comes to emotional strength.

The strength it takes to hold a family together, to raise a child from infancy to adulthood, to endure suffering beyond measure without being vengeful: these are the great strengths endowed to women. But these are difficult to translate well in cinema. So, most movie makers take a short cut: show a woman beating up a man in a bar-fight, and voila! You have a “strong woman.”

Take the most obvious example: Marvel’s Black Widow. She has no superpowers, and her physique makes it doubtful she could bench-press more than 50 pounds. But Natasha Romanov routinely bests even the strongest, best-trained men in the world in physical combat. This tells us she is “strong.” Likewise for Katniss Everdeen of “The Hunger Games.” Like the Widow, she is a great warrior and can overcome any physical obstacle put in her path. Her abilities with a bow are superhuman, and are meant to show her strength and toughness.

But both Black Widow and Katniss lack a feminine aspect to their strength. You could easily interchange a male for either character and not have to make any significant changes to the script other than the love interests. Even “The Force Awakens” female lead, the mysterious Rey, could easily be a male character without any changes to her character.

Like I said, this is a lazy shortcut for movie directors, but it also ties into leftists’ views on gender differences; i.e. that none exist. They want to tell little girls that there is no difference between men and women and that a woman can literally do whatever a man can do.

But this is a fantasy: men can do things a woman can’t (such as bench-press more than 300 pounds), just like women can do things a man can’t (like give birth or go to the bathroom in groups). Yet the culture warriors on the Left will happily depict women as masculine in movies to continue to ingrain their fantasy into young heads.

The Feminine Strength of Princess Leia

This brings us to the beautiful strength of Princess Leia. She was feminine enough to be rescued by the guys and wooed by Han, but badass enough to lead the Rebellion that brought down the friggin’ Galactic Empire. Although she could mix it up when she had to—just ask Jabba the Hut—she usually stayed back and let the men do the direct fighting.

Yet there was never any question about who was the emotional center of the Rebellion—and the trio of Han, Leia, and Luke. While Han was vacillating between being a rebel or a rogue, and Luke was impetuously disobeying his Jedi master, Leia was always the rock. She had a mission to overthrow the Empire, and nothing could keep her from that.

Yet Leia was always pure woman. It wasn’t she who aggressively pursued Han. Instead she allowed herself to be pursued. In most movies today, the female character is the one who initiates the first kiss (think Ginny in “Harry Potter,” for example), supposedly showing that “she’s in control,” but Leia allowed Han to be the lead in their romantic relationship. All the while she remained the leader of the Rebellion that Han was a part of. Likewise, she was the “damsel in distress,” having to be rescued by the guys in “A New Hope” (although she then had to help them actually escape!).

Most likely, Hollywood wouldn’t allow a Princess Leia again. They surely wouldn’t want to have a female lead rescued by men, or stay behind during major battles. Nor would they want a woman who allowed herself to be wooed by a male lead. Yet in refusing to depict such a woman they denigrate the beautiful and unique strengths of women, strengths found in Princess Leia.

I am the father of six daughters, and it is my wife’s and my hope that they grow into strong women. Not strong women aping the strengths of men, but strong women with all the unique strengths that are part of the feminine mystique. Princess Leia was one of the few Hollywood examples of that type of woman, and Carrie Fisher should always be remembered for playing the iconic princess so well.

Eric Sammons is a freelance writer, editor, and the author of several books. He holds a degree in Systems Analysis with a concentration in Economics from Miami University in Ohio, and earned a Master of Theology degree from Franciscan University. Eric and his wife Suzan have seven children and are serious baseball fans. He can be followed on Twitter @EricRSammons.

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