Growing up my mother always told me that I could fall in love with a rich man just as easily as I could fall in love with a poor man. Funny thing for a hippie feminist to say but it was a different time. I know she just wanted me to have a good life. But it pissed me off. Every time she said it I remember thinking to myself that I would make tons of my own money when I was older and marry the freaking gas station attendant if that’s what I felt like doing.
The seventies and eighties were a very schizophrenic time for women. Nowhere was that more evident than in the movies and on TV. On the one hand I grew up watching Princess Leia and Wonder Woman kick ass and keep up with the boys but on the other hand there were countless movies where the male lead would be fighting the bad guy while his love interest crouched in a corner looking on fearfully. I remember thinking to myself, “jump on his back, scratch his eyes out, hit him over the head, do something!”
I knew which type of woman I wanted to be—truly, what type of person I already was. When I grew up I knew that I wanted to be the hero of my own movie. I didn’t want to need a man to care for me and to depend on completely. I wanted a laser gun and a golden lasso. I wanted to be Sigourney Weaver facing down aliens and saving her daughter. I wanted to be Linda Hamilton taking on the Terminator and saving her son. In my braver moments I even wanted to be Heather Langenkamp destroying Freddy Krueger (but that nightmare thing was a little too close to home so I reserved that fantasy for my truly fearless moments—a girl’s got to sleep).
But just like most have fond memories of our first crush, I have always been deeply connected to my first heroine: Princess Leia. In childhood she was the warrior princess who I idolized. But as I grew into adulthood I grew to deeply admire and model the woman who was the princess, Carrie Fischer. I wanted to be irreverent and bold like her. I wanted to write like her. From a personal place. Terrifyingly honest. Postcards from the Edge slayed me. Growing up in a family with our own share of addiction issues and having a mother who I both loved and at times wanted to kill (to be fair I wasn’t any bed of roses either) spoke directly to me.
And her wit, her wit, her wit. How could you not love a woman as knife’s edge sharp as she was? Her brilliant response to those who made note of the fact she had appeared to age in The Force Awakens was perfection: “Please stop debating about whether or not I’ve aged well. Unfortunately it hurts all three of my feelings. My body hasn’t aged as well as I have. Blow us.” And scene.
To the bitter end she showed me what a real warrior princes is. The mind matters. The body betrays us. And real women save themselves.