Feminism And What Really Begets It: A Personal Tribute to Carrie Fisher
probably wasn’t even fully 9 years old, when my Star Wars crazy mother meticulously produced VCDs from a dingy
video library and made me watch Episode I, II and III, thereby effectively ruining
the greatest cinematic plot twist of all time. In those days, the only summer
problems I had, were questions about how and why Palpatine managed to turn
Anakin rogue.Episode IV, V and VI followed and I remember being enamored by Han Solo and Luke Skywalker but
most distinctly, I was in awe of the unapologetic and indomitable spirit of
Princess Leia. Oh, I wanted to be her,
and how! All with some developments of course, since I also wanted to be a Jedi
Master, but those are just minor details.
you can imagine my shock, denial, and the
consequent pained acceptance, upon waking up that morning to bold headlines
that declared, “ACTRESS CARRIE FISHER DIES AT 60” and a seemingly morose,
unhappy mother who barked across the hall that I was to mix my own milk. In a
first, both mother and daughter shared a common sorrow for a non-familial loss
of someone that neither of us knew personally.
be honest, post Star Wars, I’ve only ever seen/heard of Carrie Fisher in a
smattering of other movies and so perhaps it is fair to say that for several million across the globe including myself, she
went down as Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan, who bravely fought off Vader’s
forces, called out Han for being a “stuck
up, half-witted, scruffy looking nerf herder“, wielded a gun better than
Luke and was subjected to watch her planet and foster parents be decimated by
the Death Star. To me, the star struck 9 year
old, if this was not ceaseless bravery, then what was really?
grew up in a women-only household, comprising of a fairly badass working mom
with a Leia-esque temper and tongue, a
reasonably competent (and I will always deny I said this) sister, an orthodox
and determined grandmother and a decrepit yet surprisingly loud, perennially
ill great-grandmother, who – as she reiterates
– is three years older than the Queen herself! At this juncture, it is probably safe to
say that a character like Leia, boded well in our lifestyle.
don’t really know how to describe the way I am, at 20. What I do know is that I
stubbornly don’t understand the difference between a man’s job and a woman’s
job. I didn’t want a doll or a car, but books and being occasionally treated to
a film with an already ruined plot twist. I didn’t dress in pink or blue, but
clothes that I thought were comfortable. I did all the things I wanted to do,
much against the behest of the mother-and-above
units. I played tennis,swam and got tanned, ran, scraped my knees, roasted in
the sunlight, picked up defunct pistols (licensed, I assure you) and rolled in
the mud. As a happy consequence of my activities and much to their chagrin, the
women in the house gave up on me, concluding that the dog and I were kindred
of this came easy, of course. When you’re
like that in a world that isn’t quite
like that, you tend to get picked on. Everyone tried all possible avenues to
dissuade me from being so socially contemptible. I’ve pretty much had it all in
various permutations- cousins nagging me for keeping my hair too long and too
boring, friends who’ve teased me for being “too much like a boy”,
family that still goes on about how I need to dress better and the most
prevalent and prominent one of them all – being a prude. Except, to this day, I
absolutely do not understand what it is about my myriad of actions that is
termed too un-ladylike for me. I’m not supposed to sweat and stink, nor wear
shorts for tennis or wear comfortable clothes at a party instead of the oft
chosen LBDs and am meant to keep my locks braided instead of choosing to flip
them around in a layered cut, because of exactly what again? I’ve never known
and I’m not sure that I ever will. That being said, I don’t think I’d actually
blame anyone, given social conditioning en generale.
to the point of why Carrie Fisher’s passing has begun this conversation in my
head. In the 13 years since I first watched Return
Of The Jedi, I’ve subconsciously strived to model myself into a personal
interpretation of Leia. To me, Carrie Fisher did not just play Leia, she was
Leia. I’ve watched her repeatedly in
endless interviews and found that she really was the embodiment of fierce
independence, unfailing feminism and
undiluted wit. She never once hesitated to call out the blatant misogyny or
unfairness of anything and wasn’t afraid to apologize or accept her mistake
whilst challenging the very archetype that catapulted her to fame. She had such
a strong sense of right and wrong which, to me, was everything that Leia
depicted on screen. She showed us,by example, how important it was that as
women- and more generally as human beings – we take our position seriously and
that cowing down to rampant patriarchy is
not something any of us were born to do.
never been one who was very ostentatious about her opinions on the happenings
of the world since, as a matter of principle, I think that everyone has the
right to reserve their own relative thoughts and opinions of the same – unless
of course, it is an actual travesty like the election of Donald Trump. In the
same maverick fashion, I don’t believe in having to be loud about things that
you do for the sake of humanity’s betterment. Much like I did in my childhood,
I prefer the quiet, strong way of being a feminist – you stubbornly refuse to
accept the patriarchal norm and keep going about while doing your own thing.
don’t sit quiet when you see or hear
something that is fundamentally wrong and you aren’t behoved into being nonchalant about it. I think that the most
raucous, resounding way that you can assert your identity as a feminist is to
act more than you speak. Fight for your worth, whoever you are – male, female,
both, neither – and never forget to be gracious about it. Let nobody tell you
what to do and what not to do since I can assure you that there are no diktats
about what you “should” be doing because of how and where luck
decided to place you. Nobody is any less or any more because of their sex,
orientation, race, or anything of theirs, really -because, at the end of the day, all of us are humans.
is why we need more people who are as proud and brutally honest as Carrie was.
She was an unending source of inspiration, in and out of her role as Leia and
in the same breath, a beautiful human being. It is really purveyors of the
cause like her, who should make us ask questions like that in the title (which
I’m clearly very proud of).
is a profound moment in my adult life because I’d like to think that I’ve
succeeded in growing up to be my own version of Carrie/Leia. There’s a long way
to go, but I’m fairly certain I’ll get there – to the mild distaste of a few
generations of progenitors, I’m sure.
This one is for Carrie. The Force was strong with that one.
Spandana Durga is a third year Mathematics
Honors student at Miranda House, University Of Delhi. She is deeply interested
in art history and public policy development (as utterly unrelated as they
are), is a staunch feminist and is a devoted Federer fan.