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Second Look – Senseless Sexism in the Galactic Empire

Part of being what I’ve called a “wonk-friendly” Star Wars fansite is being willing to dive into even the most granular political messages embedded within the story, and trusting readers not just to keep up, but to care.

Those of us who have gotten to know ETE staff writer Jay Shah over at the Jedi Council Forums know him as “Grand Admiral Jello”, a died-in-the-wool Palpatine loyalist who wouldn’t spit on Mon Mothma if she were on fire. Don’t tell him I said this, but in truth, Jay’s as big-hearted as the old Chandrilan herself, and the Grand Admiral shtick is a means to both indulge in his genuine love of imperial pageantry and, I suspect, force people to reconsider a lot of their assumptions about just what the Empire would’ve been like (see: Running on Time, Trains), and what kind of people would’ve been operating within it.

One long-held pet peeve of Jay’s is the Expanded Universe’s hasty assumption, chiefly in the form of Admiral Daala, that since the Empire was a bunch of white guys who discriminate against aliens, they must naturally have discriminated against women, too. In Senseless Sexism in the Galactic Empire, Jay argues that misogyny “never made much sense as being one of those defining traits of the Galactic Empire.” He continued:

“Sexism in fiction generally has two authorial justifications: first, as a reflection of actual historical sexism in the setting of the story and second, as an attempt to engage and criticize contemporary sexism through the lens of a fictional story. Since Star Wars is an invented universe, the first justification is a bit of a reach despite the historical inspirations for the Galactic Empire, and the second justification is unconvincing because of the EU’s failure to adequately address in-universe sexism in a constructive fashion.”

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