A Single Lady's Hero's Journey

NOTE: The Force Awakens was released Friday, December 18, 2015, which at the time of this publication was 60 days ago, so the statute of limitations for the rigorously observed No Spoilers policy should be considered expired. If you haven't seen Episode VII of this multi-generational science fiction saga yet, why are you reading this article? You've been missing out on an awesome cinematic experience for two whole months already.

 

Another Valentine's Day has come and gone. And that means an entire weekend of marriage proposals, weddings, sex both spontaneous and obligatory, flowers, and chocolate of varying quality. Whatever this day of romance named after a Christian martyr that was originally co-opted from the Roman holiday Lupercalia actually means, Star Wars fans are still discovering their love of the characters introduced in The Force Awakens.


Some of us are nursing a crush on Kylo Ren (helmet optional), but most of us have made a place in our hearts for Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron, particularly the way in which these three characters interact.

Their interaction has aroused a lot of speculation about the relationships between and among them, especially between Finn and Poe, whose instantaneous affinity crackles with bisexual energy. Contrariwise, after he had taken her by the hand several times during their escape from the First Order on Jakku, Rey told Finn in no uncertain terms: "Stop taking my hand!"

Nowhere in the narrative is there even a hint that Rey is interested in Finn — or any man who isn't a Jedi Master — in a romantic or sexual way. The familial manner of their hug later in the story only reinforces the platonic nature of their friendship.

Nonetheless, Star Wars fandom has been gushing with speculation about who is related to whom, and who might end up romancing whom. There's a lot of shipping of Finn and Poe, but some of that same shipping includes Rey. Some shippers imagine Rey as Finn's inevitable love interest, and some envision her as making a smooth transition from a life of solitude to an interplanetary polyamorous relationship.


Shipping Finn and Poe Dameron might not be that far off from canon (only time will tell, but let's be honest, their on-screen chemistry is palpable). Shipping two male characters in an internationally beloved film series is queer-positive and a fun way to celebrate a new generation of Star Wars characters. But relegating Rey to being somebody's girlfriend — assuming that a girl needs a boyfriend in the first place, or that every woman will eventually commit to a man — is predictable, unimaginative, and as heteronormative as it gets.

A woman needs a man like a droid needs a popsicle. Just because Padmé married Anakin and Leia married Han (and way before that, Bastila Shan married Revan), does not mean that Rey needs to find a male partner and devote herself to him anytime soon. She's got this. She's an inspiring character, and we want her to be happy, but let's not slow her down with the notion that to be fulfilled as woman, she needs to pair off with a man — or even another woman, for those shippers among us who might like to see that happen (of whom, I might personally be one). And this is in no way a disadvantage to her.


Rey's singlehood is heroic and purposeful. She lives a life of determination and desire. But at this point in her life, that desire might not be romantic or sexual in nature. And that is absolutely righteous.

While entering the atmosphere of Takodana, Rey says: "I didn't think there was this much green in the whole galaxy." She had never left Jakku before. She still has a lot of life to live. And she doesn't necessarily need romantic or sexual attachments.

Because as a single lady, she can find comfort in meditative acts, whether walking across desert sands at sundown, or cooking simple meals for one. She can follow her passions. She can find intimacy in unexpected places, from the deep gaze of Maz Kanata in their transformative moment, to the welcoming embrace of Leia in her time of grief. As a single lady, Rey can develop and perfect new skills. We see her hold a light saber for the fist time, and not long after that, and with no training, stave off an aspiring Dark Force user in her first duel.

Like Nausicaä and Imperator Furiosa before her, Rey can fend for herself. Throughout The Force Awakens, we see her assert herself, and defend herself, and discover herself, all without a significant other. She's focused, almost to the point of being fixated. But that doesn't mean she's a heartless workaholic. In fact, the more her character is developed, the more we see that she has intense feelings that run deeper than even she can understand.


She needs to find herself, get to know herself, before she needs to find someone to pair off with. Finn is cute, but Rey has a lot else to think about right now — and a lot more to do, now that she has finally discovered her latent Force-sensitivity. Her story is only beginning, and a partner by her side might complicate her plot more than she needs. 

As a single lady, Rey can be her own best friend, and follow the will of the Force wherever it might lead her, in Episode VIII and beyond. It's a big galaxy, and a long saga, and there's plenty of time for her to figure it out.

We still don't even know if her last name is Solo, Skywalker, Amidala, or Binks.

 

Aria Baci's picture
on February 16, 2016

EDITOR IN CHIEF