Fighting Sexism with Lightsabers

Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?

“This Jedi is female, so she’s not as smart.” The young man, Max, chortled this to his scene partner as our improvised Star Wars play came racing towards its climax. I stood backstage, suddenly feeling jarred. My character throughout the play had been a hero, a rebel, strong and intelligent. All of this suddenly was erased because she was a woman. I felt stung and invalidated, but most of all I wanted revenge.

The problem was this: I couldn’t launch into my regular rhetoric, explaining how comments like this one were obviously unnecessary, untrue, and hurtful, because we weren’t two teenagers in the real world in this moment. We were Jedi, evil bounty hunters, and aliens. My retaliation had to be in character, something to bring the evil bounty hunter Max to his final defeat. I knew what I had to do. I slew him with my purple lightsaber. Our improvised play came to its close and, as the finale music began, sensations assailed me from opposing sides of my brain. The good improviser knew that it had been the right time to end the scene, and a classic image of good trumping evil just made sense. The woman in me, the stronger side, was hurt, angry, and just tired. This sort of sexism is everyday in the life of a woman, any woman,...

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