“The force is strong with this one”: A material feminist approach to Star Wars

Ağın B.

in: Ecofeminist Science Fiction: International Perspectives on Gender, Ecology, and Literature, , Editor, Routledge, London/New York , New York, pp.113-126, 2022

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Publisher: Routledge, London/New York 
  • City: New York
  • Page Numbers: pp.113-126
  • Editors: , Editor
  • TED University Affiliated: No


Since ecofeminism has evolved into a more matter-oriented form in its latest formulations, so has the Star Wars universe, as more voice is now given to female characters. From strong female leaders such as Princess Leia/General Organa and Senator/Queen Amidala, or force-sensitive female heroes like Ahsoka Tano and Asajj Ventress, to new female figures such as Jyn Erso, Rey, Maz Kanata, Vice Admiral Holdo, and Captain Phasma, the Star Wars universe is seemingly “awaken[ing] to a [material-ecocritical] feminist world” (Roddy n.p.). As such, the aim of this chapter is to build alliances between the concept of “the force” in Star Wars and the concept of matter as a living force that brings all living and nonliving forms together through its narrative potentials as foregrounded by Serpil Oppermann and Serenella Iovino. Indeed, the definition of matter in recent material feminist approaches in ecocriticism resonates with the Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi’s definition of the force: “Well, the Force is what gives a Jedi his[/her] power, " he says. “It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” In the material feminist sense, too, everything is in an interconnection with everything else, and all matter, including rocks, garbage dumps, and spools of thread is alive, as Jane Bennett also argues in Vibrant Matter (2010). In her chapter “The Force of Things, " Bennett insists that objects have “thing-power, " the intriguing capability of the inanimate to produce significant effects in all bodies that interact with them. Likewise, for Karen Barad, “we are a part of that nature that we seek to understand” (26; emphasis in the original). This being the case, perhaps one can argue that the Star Wars universe has finally been able to portray a posthuman embodiment where “the force” (as a meaning-making apparatus) is distributed evenly among humans and nonhumans, the white and the non-white, and the male and the female. As material feminists Stacy Alaimo and Susan Hekman noted, “environmental feminists have long insisted that feminism needs to take the materiality of the more-than-human world seriously” (4), and this is what seems to be achieved by the Star Wars example.