We can’t believe it has been one year since we launched Project Stardust! The support and encouragement has been astounding, showing us the very best of Star Wars fandom. There have been many challenges in bringing together a diverse group of fans, and we have learned so much – and know we will learn so much more! To celebrate, the team sat own & thought about why Stardust came to be, the shape of the fandom, our favourite moments (both with Star Wars & Stardust!), and had a bit of fun thinking about our Star Wars favourites (characters, jokes, and obscure trivia). Today’s reflection is about fandom and the importance of femme voices in it.
Why is fandom important?
Lee: Reality sucks. Fandom lets us live in another world for a time, to get away from problems in our own lives, to process our issues through shared experiences (with fictional characters or fellow fans). Fandom is life and everyone should be encouraged to love what they love deeply and with no apologies.
Anna: Finding joy in something, especially in these times, is very comforting and we all should be fans in our own way.
Lisa: It’s important to find connections with people all over the world, and to find a community where you feel like you belong.
Kelly Lynn: Fandom is important because community is important. Humans are social animals, and we thrive when we are surrounded by interlocking groups of other humans who share our interests and goals.
Elena: It’s such a great outlet for expression.
Lauren: You know how there’s this pervasive problem for people in their late 20s and 30s about how to even make friends when you’re an adult. It seems impossible UNLESS you have decided to hyperfixate on something and then you find out somebody else close to your age also hyperfixates on the thing and now you both have something to talk about forever and ever. Fandom just gives you a way to connect with people you never might have known before, and it gives you an outlet to express yourself and be understood in ways the people in your life may not be able to fully appreciate.
Vicky: I think it’s really wonderful to find a community of people who love what you love. It can help you feel less isolated, and more validated in your opinion. It gives people an outlet for creativity and love of the Star Wars universe. And perhaps even more importantly, you make a lot of good friends in fandom spaces.
Emily: We all like to imagine ourselves somewhere else. Through fandom we can escape the everyday, the mundane, hell, even the mortal coil. We get to exist in and experience different bodies, lives, worlds, cultures, religions, sexual orientations. Fandom allows you to be a part of something bigger then you. For a kid from the Midwest…fandom opened so many doors to myself I didn’t know were closed.
Bryn: I think people want communities that understand them. To that end, a fandom is a place where you’re never “too much” for the other fans. While the average person may not want to hear all your thoughts on who has the best lightsaber design, in the Star Wars Fandom you’ll not only get opinions, but supporting evidence.
Stephenie: I think fandom allows us to not only build communities, but also learn something about ourselves and our interests in the process. It also challenges us to be better by expanding what we think we know.
Nessa: Fandom colors our experience, both in terms of the thing we are a fan of and our own life experience. I readily credit fandom with helping me discover myself, ranging from my creative interests all the way to my gender identity. I have been able to explore these parts of myself through fandom. Without fandom, I would not be who I am today.
Lindsay: We already have a common and deep love for something, and fandoms help to validate our beliefs and interests when others around us may not always be so invested.
Jennie: Fandom is creativity. It helps break up the monotony from our everyday lives and presents us with new, creative, spectacular worlds. It also helps bond other fans together in a way most other things can’t.
Meg: We’re all looking for a sense of community and belonging, and this is one diverse place we can find that.
Staci: Fandom is important because it can bring people together that may not ordinarily come together. Fandom unifies.
Why do you think femme voices need a place in the Star Wars fandom and universe?
Lee: Largely because so many people DON’T think it’s a need. Fans discount femme voices and femme identities and oftentimes don’t see it until it’s pointed out, and then they gaslight those femme voices, claiming the misogyny pointed out isn’t real—that it’s just whining or bad takes. Femme voices are important because femme identities are important.
Anna: I think we need a place in fandom simply because a lot of the voices we hear most are men and they are LOUD. When people talk about representation it makes me so teary–everyone needs to be represented, especially in Star Wars.
Liv: So many of us have felt voiceless and repressed in fan culture, discouraged by the toxic elements in the fandom to participate. That sort of experience of perhaps viewing a community slightly from the sidelines means we have had front row seats to issues in fan culture that might be harder to recognize for people whose places in the fandom have never been questioned in the first place. We know how important inclusion is, because we have experienced exclusion. Having felt underrepresented, we know the gravity of representation. Furthermore, diversity in the voices that are heard in fan spaces as well as in the writers’ room helps make sure that neither Star Wars nor the community stagnates. We can all help push the galaxy forward, while we uplift each other and make sure no one is left voiceless on the sidelines again.
Lisa: More representation is super important in any kind of nerd culture because for so long men have felt like this was a thing that they alone claimed, so every time one of us shares our excitement with the world a little girl/non-binary child sees that they are able to like this thing too!
Kelly Lynn: The most basic answer is that women and femmes have been Star Wars fans since May 25, 1977, and yet so often Star Wars was seen as something mostly for boys. The more complex answer is that women like Marcia Lucas and Carrie Fisher were an integral part of making Star Wars what it is, but their contributions were often hidden or went unknown for decades. The franchise deals with universal themes that appeal to humans everywhere, regardless of background. Star Wars is for everyone, and everyone deserves a voice in the fandom!
Elena: We need to get rid of the toxic masculinity and make the fandom more open and safe for everyone to enjoy!!
Lauren: Too many times, I’ve been turned off to fan spaces because I see femme creators or just femmes who would like to engage with fandom get sort of run over by the male voices that dominate these online communities. It could be passive, like how people sometimes ignore Mollie’s contributions in the Star Wars Explained YouTube channel or it could be completely toxic where you see a bunch of SW bros jumping on a femme fans comment just to tell her she’s not a real fan. It’s all coming from the same place and it’s very frustrating to see so many women getting pushed out of online fandom spaces just to protect their mental health. It’s a shame because I see a lot of great analysis coming from femme corners of fandom and our perspective are important and deserve a platform. I love that we created something away from the noise of other online platforms where the content is really for us and by us and that we’ve left it open so that other femme fans can have that freedom to say what’s on their mind.
Staci: The male perspective is not our perspective.
Vicky: Femme fans make up a significant portion of the fandom. Thus, we need a place for out voices. And despite criticism we’ve gotten, femme voices are too often dismissed or ignored. We need this space.
Stephenie: Femme – and non-binary – voices are important because they bring different viewpoints, often beyond the traditional, into the mix. As long as female characters are used to bring down other female characters, we need femme and female voices in the fandom reminding us to be better. Bringing in voices does not mean that people are being pushed out of the fandom; rather, by bringing in more voices we make this fandom a better place.
Emily: Because our voices are still marginalized. So many of the big characters are male, and representation MATTERS. We need more femme, non-binary, POC, trans, LGBTQ+ people in fandom, and represented in the media we consume.
Bryn: I think that traditionally, sci-fi and, by extension, Star Wars, has been viewed as a boy’s club. In the OT especially, the perspective was heavy on Luke’s POV, and someone like Leia was at first an afterthought and then a supporting protagonist. And while I love Luke and Han, I wished I could have seen more women; Leia had to stand in as the model for how ALL women in Star Wars should act, and it really limited storytelling possibilities. By adding more femme voices, we see different perspectives in storytelling as well as giving viewers new characters to love.
Nessa: This is so hard to put a fine point on, but I’ll try. Femme voices, including my voice, bring new colors to the Star Wars fandom and the Star Wars universe. We are just as integral to the growth of the fandom and to the expansion of the universe. Uplifting these voices and expanding inclusivity in the fandom will just make the stories we share and tell that much richer and that much more dynamic and beautiful. There are perspectives that some of us can’t fathom and we should make room for them for the betterment of our fan community.
Lindsay: I think everyone just wants to be heard and seen, and that doesn’t often happen in traditional spaces. It’s important for everyone, including femme voices, to have a community to lift them up and make their voices heard.
Jennie: In a culture where we’re spoken over and thought less of still by so many, people need to hear our thoughts, values, and opinions. Hopefully it encourages others to speak up and speak out as well.
Meg: Our voices still so often aren’t heard or given the same value in this space. We like Star Wars too! We want the ideas and things we share to be included in the larger discourse in a positive way.
The Star Wars fandom needs femme voices to bring balance. – Staci