The feminism is strong with this one: Female empowerment in The Last Jedi


In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, women move to the forefront, exerting power, making choices and having agency. Here’s a feminist breakdown.

Anyone following the recent additions to the Star Wars saga will have noticed the films are headed in an increasingly progressive direction. Most notably, the newer installments present fans with a powerful cast of women, a cast regrettably absent in earlier films, and The Last Jedi is the biggest advancement yet.

Women with agency

The Force Awakens and Rogue One introduce tough female leads to the Star Wars universe, but The Last Jedi achieves new heights in terms of female roles. Strong women don’t just exist in The Last Jedi. They’re the ones calling the shots.

As Buckie Wells points out in her article, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the evolution of Rey,” Rey’s character undergoes tremendous growth between The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. In The Force Awakens, she reluctantly finds herself mixed up with the Resistance. She balks at her confusing connection to the Force.

In The Last Jedi, Rey’s tepid indifference transforms into a fiery determination. She chooses to master her powers and accepts her part in the fight against the First Order. Instead of being moved by outside events, Rey takes control of her own destiny.

But Rey isn’t the only female force taking matters into her own hands. The Last Jedi introduces Rose Tico, a rebel recruit who begins the movie with reverence for the legendary rebel heroes she’s heard so much about.

By the end of the film, Rose is actively working toward becoming one of these “great heroes.” She refuses to sit back while Poe and Finn save the day. And by acting on her own instincts, instead of their orders, she manages to save a life or two.

Ladies leading the way

The women of The Last Jedi don’t only display agency when it comes to personal choices. Characters like General Leia and Amilyn Holdo make decisions on a larger scale. They hold positions of power within the Resistance, positions most movies reserve for men.

Not only are the authoritative roles reversed in The Last Jedi, but the women in command teach their male counterparts what it means to lead. This is something Laura Stanley unravels in “The Last Jedi: Why Amilyn Holdo is important.”

More specifically, Stanley cites the example of Leia reprimanding Poe for his reckless behavior in battle. Later, Amilyn echoes this sentiment. While we’re initially tempted to side with Poe, it turns out Amilyn has a plan. And it’s far more sensible than anything Poe concocts.

A future forged by females

The final scenes of the movie drive home the most feminist message: that women will be the ones to pave the way to a better galaxy. In his final words to Kylo Ren, Luke passes the future of the Resistance and the Jedi Order on to Leia and Rey.

Next: Is Kylo Ren really a double agent in Star Wars?

The film closes with the camera focused on these two capable women. The message this image conveys is clear. The fate of the Resistance, and ultimately the galaxy, is in their hands. That the audience is meant to view this with optimism speaks volumes.