The Debt Women Owe Carrie Fisher

Today Carrie Fisher passed away, and I lost my childhood hero. I rarely blog twice in one day, and I never blog about celebrity deaths, but Carrie’s effect on my life and the lives of countless women needs to be honored and discussed.

My parents took me to the theater to see Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back when it first opened. I was four. All I remember was watching Darth Vader Force-choking Captain Needa to death and the other characters dragging his body offstage. By the time I was six, however, I was begging my babysitter to let me watch Star Wars (my generation’s official name for “A New Hope”) on our new, high-tech VCR. I grew up watching and rewatching Han, Luke, and Leia save the galaxy, and Star Wars became my favorite movie series.

I never truly realized how Carrie Fisher’s portrayal of Princess Leia shaped my generation’s view of women. I grew up thinking it was normal to watch a woman not only fighting in a rebellion, but actually leading it. I watched Princess Leia wield both a blaster and authority. For me, this was how the world worked. I never thought twice about how my gender might affect my carreer. I was going to go to college and become a lawyer and then maybe even the Attorney General. It never occurred to me that my gender would get in my way, and Princess Leia’s character developed part of that belief. (I ended up choosing writing as a career instead of law and politics. I got to keep my soul, and that worked out well.) The Force was strong in Luke and strong in Leia, and I never thought that odd. I wonder how many young girls of my generation grew up, as I did, believing in themselves without worrying about their gender because of the way Carrie Fisher played her role. I’m sure many boys my age grew up watching Star Wars and figured a woman in leadership was normal as well.

While I give most of the credit to George Lucas for creating the character and the storyline, I must also give Carrie Fisher credit for her portrayal of Leia. She made Leia feel real. She made Leia’s accomplishments seem normal. She yelled things like “Into the garbage chute, flyboy!” and “Will someone get this big, walking carpet out of my way?” and made us all think she was awesome. Very few actresses could have pulled that off, yet she did it with grace, dignity, and a blaster that fired red killer lasers.

I honestly believe none of my writing, especially my character Gabriella, would anything like it is now without Star Wars or Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia. I also believe that the way she gave Leia’s character legitimacy helped pave the way for my generation of women. 

We are indebted to Carrie. The best way to repay that debt is for each of us to finish Leia’s work and become whatever we want to be without a thought of our gender. I for one, and going to wipe away my tears and finish Book 3. What about you?

May the Force be with you, your highness.

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About M. B. Weston

Award-winning author M. B. Weston is one of the fantasy genre’s new, emerging voices. The Elysian Chronicles, her flagship fantasy series about guardian angel warfare and treason, has been referred to as, “…filling a big part of the void that will be left by the final Harry Potter,” by award-winning author, Vincent O’Neil. Weston’s writing attracts both fantasy and non-fantasy readers, and her audience ranges from upper-elementary students to adults. The Elysian Chronicles is being adapted into a graphic novel, and her newest book, The Sword of the Vanir (working title), is due out in Spring 2013. A gifted orator, Weston has been invited as a guest speaker to numerous writing and science fiction/fantasy panels at conventions across the US, including DragonCon, BabelCon, NecronomiCon, and ImagiCon. She has served on panels with such authors as Sherrilyn Kenyon, J. F. Lewis, Todd McCaffrey, and Jonathan Maberry. Weston has spoken to thousands of students and adults about the craft of writing and has been invited as the keynote speaker at youth camps and at several schools throughout the US.
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7 Responses to The Debt Women Owe Carrie Fisher

  1. I’m actually writing a story about a woman whose career was inspired by the premiere of the first Star Wars movie which, by the way, I was at. I was eleven years old, and it changed my life forever. Time to get back to work.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tracy says:

    Excellent blog. I saw Star Wars at age 13 and it really did change my thinking on my life. It made me yearn to be a part of something bigger. I never thought of my gender as stopping me in anyway. I realize now that Carrie Fisher was a big part of that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rick Abercrombie says:

    Well said my dear….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. kmcorby says:

    I’m a little older than you, and I feel the same way about Nichelle Nichols and Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek. It never occurred to be that women couldn’t do any job, or work as an equal alongside men, because I’d been watching Lt. Uhura do that since I was practically in my cradle.

    Liked by 1 person

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