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Things We Saw Today: Here Let Me Set This “Millennial Woman’s Guide to Star Wars” on Fire

Star Wars meme

A guide to Star Wars for women who might not know much about Star Wars is not inherently a bad idea. Cosmopolitan’s guide, however, written in a tone so flippant and condescending that it feels like an insult to readers of every stripe, is being set upon my virtual pyre.

Images of the print article, “A Millennial Woman’s Guide to Star Wars,” were put on Twitter by user @PlayWithJambo and quickly elicited reaction. It’s hard to know who to blame for the misstep that is this “explainer.” (It feels like a misstep so unbalanced that we lost our footing and pitched headfirst into Sarlacc territory.) We shouldn’t excoriate the writer; it’s quite possible that she was told to take this cutesy approach that is, in this day in age, inarguably retrograde. The article likely went through many editorial hands after her own. Graphics were made! One of those hands should have stopped it before it went all the way to print.

Star Wars millennial cosmo explainer

I’m angry that a women’s magazine, in a time when women are fighting for greater recognition and participation in spaces long unfriendly to them, would publish this (and let’s not rage at all of Cosmo, either—they are capable of excellent, incisive coverage). The explainer feeds into the false idea that by default “Millennial women” (that’s millions of women from age 23-39, ladies!) don’t know anything about Star Wars, and that once we’re told about it all we care about is “irresistible fuckboys to husband material” and whether the badass heroine has sexual chemistry with the villain. This feels like something I would write as a parody of how a certain segment of men imagines “fake fangirls” to operate.

It’s also insulting to women who don’t consider themselves geek-oriented, suggesting that all they’ll take from a deep dive into an epic space opera is which hottie makes for the best hubby. There are certainly plenty of women (just as there are plenty of men) who do not know much about Star Wars and might like to learn the basics from a friendly explainer. What they don’t need is the underlying thesis that this knowledge is here so that “in the end, you’ll be fully qualified to let Adam [Driver] have his way with you in the big finale.”

Angry dogs meme

Reading this aged me seventy-five years and made me feel as though we’d traveled back in time that far.

The responses were fantastically on the money—and were not having it.

This for me is really the kicker—the Twitter user who addressed the article writer and wrote, “didn’t think we were having a hard enough time being respected and treated like equals in the fandom , I guess.”

In an era of such ongoing cultural battles around women in Star Wars and female fans of the franchise, it would have been fantastic for the magazine to really explain this stuff in an exciting, informed way that provides for women having a broad range of interests. We could still do a “Star Wars 101”-type take, but assume that those reading are capable of doing more than lust after movie stars. Lust is just fine, but we millennial women contain multitudes. Light-hearted humor, and explaining complex things clearly, can both be done without reducing the intended audience to outdated stereotypes.

(via Twitter, fabulous header image by our own Dan Van Winkle)

What else did we see today?

  • This is lovely: “Hiking Wheelchair Opens Up Outdoor Lifestyle To People With Serious Disabilities” (via NPR)
  • Wow Republican reasons why we shouldn’t impeach the crimes-happy President just keep reaching further and further into the void

  • Inside the toxic environment at Away, makers of the fancy baggage we cannot afford (via The Verge)
  • A young black dancer has been cast as Marie, the Nutcracker’s heroine, for the first time at the New York City Ballet! (via CNN)
  • Oh, come on!

  • Via EW, the trailer for “Speed of Life,” about how David Bowie’s death upends a young woman’s life:

It’s Friday, pals! What did you see today?

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Kaila is a lifelong New Yorker. She's written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.