Madonna, Matriarch, Whore: How Carrie Fisher Slayed Feminine Stereotypes

A confession: I’ve never been a Star Wars fan. The fantasy/sci-fi genre is less interesting to me than, say, obscure documentaries on social justice. But given that Hollywood is so starved of brazen female leaders, I took to Carrie Fisher. 

Yes, she looked damn good in a gold bikini as Leia Organa. But that was icing on the cake. She was smart and strong. She had ambition. Leia started as a beguiling princess and ended up a badass general. 

There’s something about this transformation that’s liberating to the feminine psyche. We are told, in so many ways, that our feminine function is to be beautiful. To entertain, enchant, captivate, and care for our men and children. 

But what about leading an army? Fighting for what’s right? Bending the world to your vision?

We mostly slot women into one of three roles: Madonna, Whore, or Matriarch. Madonnas are endlessly caring and gentle, whores titillate, and matriarchs rule. Rarely do we read stories depicting women as complete beings.

Leia was all of these roles at once and over time, from her evolution from Princess Leia to General Organa. She was a pacifist who fought when she had no other choice, a bikini-clad slayer, and a wife and mother. 

Fisher was much like this in real life, bravely sharing the challenges of living with bipolar disorder, admitting to an affair in her younger years, and shattering ideas of how older actresses must behave. 

2016, dubbed “the Year the Music Died” by CNN, saw the deaths of George Michael, Leonard Cohen, Muhammad Ali (a brilliant poet in his own right), and now Carrie Fisher. 

I will miss Fisher the most. May her force be with us.

x

Leila




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