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- George Lucas
People often talk about how Han influenced Luke, but we should also look at how Leia influenced Luke.
I’ve always really liked this idea—that they’re the exact same age, but their different lives have given them very different levels of maturity, and Luke is envious, but fascinated, and idolizes her a bit.
It’s kind of weird to think of Han as being a big influence compared to Leia. I mean, yes, they were close. But it’s made reasonably obvious that close male friends aren’t something Luke’s ever lacked. If anything, I’d say they’re mutually influential. Han’s experience and training help temper Luke’s youth and inexperience, and his cynicism demands that Luke account for his own faith. Luke, in turn, cracks Han’s shell with hope and faith, and his earnest belief that Han can be better than what he’s let himself become won’t let him crawl back into the hole he’s dug for himself.
I mean, come on. Luke’s got these vague intentions to run away and do…something. He’s dissatisfied with his home life, he’s dissatisfied with the future he sees for himself, and he resents, in an equally vague way, the expectations of his family. He thinks of joining the rebellion because he’s romanticized it. He thinks of going to the academy because it’s anywhere but where he’s at. All of his ambitions amount to this sort of nebulous, Anything But What I Have aspiration. He goes running after Kenobi on the strength of a shitty, recorded hologram because it seems exciting. He has no real idea about what this sort of mission would entail, or cost, or achieve. It’s an Adventure, and he’s bored.
Then he meets Leia, and she’s literally everything he ever had some mindless daydream about being. Only instead of being a cardboard cut-out hero in some story he’s using to distract himself from a shitty frontier subsistence-farmer life, she’s a real person who’s actually fucking doing it. She’s a leader. She’s a fighter. She’s risking life and limb for a cause she completely and utterly understands and absolutely believes in. This isn’t some thing she ran away to do because she got sick of being a princess and a senator. People look up to her, and follow her, and obey her, because she’s spent her life earning it.
He’s looking around and going “Empire bad? We blow up ships?” and she’s going “Here’s ten political treatises on why the Empire needs to go, here are the details of troop movements and expected reinforcements and supply lines for the upcoming battle, and here are the family photos of everybody in the next ten systems that are going to get stomped into bloody paste in retaliation if we fail here.” He finds her, and within five minutes she’s gone from the princess he’s rescuing because that’s what action heroes do to the person he needs to emulate if he’s ever going to make something of himself.
So that grumpypost I made about aromanticism and asexuality kind of ran away on me, which got me the usual rounds of acephobia and anti-aro nonsense but also a lot of interesting and upsetting insights into things my fellow ace and aro people have had to deal with. There are a bunch I want to talk about sooner or later, but there was one that stuck out to me that had never occurred to me before. This issue most acutely affects aro ace people so my post will be addressed towards us, but it’s something I’ve seen from other ace- and aro-spectrum people as well.
Most of the aro ace people I’ve read stuff from or talked to say they always felt out of place or broken because of the ideas of what “normal” or even “human” is that they couldn’t match up to, and found a huge sense of relief when they discovered the ace and/or aro communities and realized that they weren’t broken after all.
This was my experience, and that of many others, but then there’s almost the opposite—people who were raised in environments that weren’t as compulsory-sex-driven* as others and didn’t teach that your worth hinged on your sexual activity in any way. Coupled with the lack of education about asexuality and aromanticism, this led them to just assume that people in general were more like them instead of feeling like they were the one that was broken—for example, assuming romantic attraction is just a movie thing that doesn’t really work that way in real life, or that sexual attraction may be out there somewhere but it’s exaggerated to hell and back because of “sex sells,” and so on.
But then they hit fandom culture and that’s when they started to feel broken.
I can’t emphasize the significance enough of this enough. Fandom is often framed as corrective, as normal people taking stories belonging to corporations and making them more applicable to ourselves, and sometimes it works that way—in a heteronormative world characters can be reinterpreted as LGBT+, etc. Female sexuality and the female gaze, all but ignored by the mainstream, get a place. These things are great! But fandom also has a lot of problems, and one I’ve hardly heard addressed at all is its acephobia, amatonormativity (i.e. that “normal” people experience romantic attraction), and compulsory sexuality.
This is the other side of the particular brand of sex positivity that fandom seems to embrace. The more sex, the better! That couple was cute on screen but let’s improve it by adding more sex! Those characters had a strong relationship, but it’d be better if it were romantic! No one could care about each other that much and be just friends!** Between the “it’s not worth reading if it’s not M rated” and the “if you’re not attracted to [celebrity] you’re wrong” and “why include that character if you can’t romance them” and “there’s no such thing as tension without sexual tension” and everything in between, the same message gets told over and over: sexual and romantic attraction are automatically superior and more valid than anything else—and those who don’t experience them are wrong.
I’ve addressed this in half a dozen other posts so I don’t need to go in-depth about it here, but the important thing is this is the place where a lot of aro ace people start feeling broken. It could be said that they’re comparatively lucky to not have developed that self-loathing earlier in life, but that doesn’t change the fact that fandom circles need to take responsibility for actually being the source of it in their lives. This is a thing that I’ve seen people I used to respect participate in, and people I’ve followed support, and I find it discouraging beyond all words.
This is something I feel that everyone in fandom needs to start taking personal responsibility for and take a moment to think about how they talk about what they enjoy. ”THIS IS SO WONDERFUL I LOVE THIS” is a far cry from “If you don’t love [sexual/romantic thing] you’re wrong/lying”—why say the second if you don’t need to? Go nuts with your shipping and your M-rated fics and anything you want, just when you get the urge to talk about how that’s all that matters and anyone who doesn’t enjoy it as much as you do is abnormal, do everyone a favor and shut the fuck up.
If your way of “fixing” something only contributes to the exclusion of stigmatized and marginalized groups even more I don’t want anything to do with your corrections.
*this does not include “purity culture” and things like that, as compulsory heterosexuality is central to these circles, and young girls are taught to believe they owe sex to their imaginary future husband whether they like it or not.
**note: From my experience this generally applies to white m/f and m/m ships. If you see someone shipping f/f or pairings that involve PoC, suddenly “friendship is important” will come out of the woodwork from every direction, essentially appropriating important elements of aromantic activism to shut down ships they don’t like.