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Andrea K Höst

Australian writer of science fiction and fantasy.
To Write Like a Woman: Essays in Feminism and Science Fiction - Joanna Russ The strongest essays are those discussing the battle of the sexes in SF, and the recent feminist utopias. The battle of the sexes essay made me particularly glad I had never read the original stories Russ was discussing.At the same time, the essay which is going to stand out most for me is Russ' discussion of how "Star Wars" is sugary junk food SF which is entirely bad bad bad (and might as well have had only one woman in it), while "Star Trek" is superior in every way (especially with the large number of women). Not only did it amuse me to picture Russ as a Trekkie fangirl annoyed at the rising popularity of "Star Wars" (the essay was written after the release of A New Hope), but it got me thinking about which story (old series Trek or the first Star Wars) displays women to better advantage.Trek has by far the superior _ideals_ with putative equality in gender and race. But the women are generally used by the plots as switchboard operator, nurse, and this episode's sexy alien for Kirk to seduce. "Star Wars" is definitely a more unidealistic and 'blokey' universe, and the story is definitely primarily a zero-to-hero boy's story. Leia could be dismissed as your standard "princess in distress waiting for rescue" if the reason she needed rescue wasn't because she'd just pulled off some major-league espionage and been overtaken by an enormous spaceship - and yet still managed to get the vital data out of the Empire's hands. She survives torture, is not slow to take up a gun and start fighting once the opportunity arises, and after her rescue doesn't merely return to adorn a castle, but continues to contribute to the rebellion - and to be taken seriously as something beyond this week's object of seduction.And then there's the clothes - right up until the sad advent of slave girl Leia in the third movie, Leia is one of the most sensibly dressed female characters I've ever seen in SF. Full coverage and no high heels on those boots! A far cry from Trek's mini-dresses and impractical shoes in military uniform.TOS Trek had high ideals, but I find I prefer "Star Wars"' one woman who does stuff to the vast array of women Kirk got to seduce. [Yes, I'm overstating that, but seriously, Leia's contribution to SW is not one I would dismiss out of hand.]