Since I watched the highly recommended “The Case Against The Jedi Order” by the magical Pop Culture Detective, I have been gathering a collection of notes on the topic of Star Wars and masculinity. We have also started to introduce our kids to the Star Wars Universe, and it’s fascinating to see how Gen Alphas perceive these narratives today.
Building on the video, this post is part of my ongoing humble exploration and questioning of my own masculinity (+ reflection on its implication in Star Wars and some personal shadow work). This critique is mainly based on the story of Anakin and how his encounter with the Jedi Order led him to the path of Vador. If you are not familiar with the SWU, I recommend you watch the video above, it will help.
The Disney-owned Star Wars franchise has made a major shift in its approach to gender roles, with more female characters occupying lead roles, and more diverse and complex stories that highlight the importance of female heroes. This has created a lot of conflict with some fans, who feel that the new Star Wars is straying too far from the original structure and that it is undermining the traditional gender roles that have been a staple of the series.
However, many fans are embracing the changes and are excited to see a more diverse, inclusive, and progressive Star Wars. The new movies have also brought a greater focus on female characters, with female heroes like Rey, Jyn Erso, and Holdo taking center stage, and villains like Captain Phasma and Doctor Aphra playing important roles.
This shift in focus has been praised by many who feel that it is a welcome change to a franchise that has traditionally been male-dominated. While the shift has created some tension among some fans, it has been generally well-received, and it is clear that the Disney-owned Star Wars is taking steps to create a more diverse, inclusive, and progressive universe.
The masculinity of the Jedis in the Star Wars universe is presented in a very traditional and rigid way. The emphasis on power, control, and violence as the primary qualities of a Jedi creates a very limited image of masculinity, one that reinforces traditional gender roles and limits the potential of male characters.
The Jedi path is one of asceticism and self-denial, which reinforces the idea that emotions and vulnerability are the antithesis of strength and power. This rigid definition of masculinity is oppressive, as it suggests that any form of emotional expression or vulnerability is a sign of weakness.
Furthermore, the Jedi path is a largely solitary one, creating an ideal of masculine autonomy and independence. This is a limiting vision of masculinity, as it ignores the potential of meaningful relationships and connection.
Finally, the Jedi path is heavily focused on the acquisition of power and control, which reinforces the idea that power is the primary quality of masculinity. This ignores the potential of compassion, empathy, and other qualities that are not necessarily tied to power and control.
The Jedi order
In the Star Wars franchise, the Jedi have become synonymous with the ideal of masculinity. Through their physical strength, their martial prowess, their adherence to a code of honour, and their willingness to sacrifice their own lives for the greater good, the Jedi are portrayed as the ultimate masculine heroes.
However, a critique of the masculinity of the Jedi order reveals problems. For one, the Jedi are presented as a monolithic entity that is almost exclusively composed entirely of men. This reinforces the notion that masculinity is an inherent quality, rather than something that can be constructed and deconstructed in a variety of ways.
Ultimately, the critique of the masculinity of the Jedi reveals that the franchise presents a limited and reductive view of masculinity. This view is based on outdated gender roles and stereotypes and fails to recognise the complexity and fluidity of gender and identity.
The concept of the Force in the Star Wars universe is a prime example of the power of discourse to shape our understanding of the world. The idea of an invisible and intangible energy that binds the universe together and gives some people special powers is not only a powerful narrative device, but it is also heavily influenced by religious and spiritual beliefs. The Force is presented as an all-encompassing power, but its implications are largely left unexplored.
The Star Wars universe is a constructed reality that relies on a simplified narrative of good and evil, in which the presence of a powerful, unknowable energy is used to explain the actions of the characters. In this way, the Force serves to reinforce the existing power dynamics in the universe, while also providing a sense of comfort and security that everything will ultimately turn out alright in the end.
The Force is also a powerful example of the way in which discourse can be used to naturalise power structures. By presenting the Force as an all-powerful energy with mysterious origins, it allows the characters to accept their place in the universe without questioning or challenging the existing power structures. In this way, the concept of the Force can be seen as a way to maintain the status quo and justify existing power dynamics without necessarily engaging with them critically.
In the Jedi teachings’ prohibition of emotional attachment to others is highly problematic, as it denies the individual of the capacity for meaningful relationships. This is especially true in regards to women, as the Jedi teachings promote a form of gender essentialism, wherein women are seen as inherently weaker, more emotional, and more likely to lead a man to the ‘dark side’.
This lack of emotional connection reinforces the symbolic order of the Jedi, which is based on an idealised notion of masculinity. By restricting emotional attachment, the Jedi risk creating a rigid and limited sense of identity that fails to recognise the importance of relationships and the associated psychological complexity.
By limiting emotional connection, the Jedi teachings deny individuals the opportunity to experience meaningful relationships. This lack of emotional connection can lead to loneliness, depression, and other mental health issues. By denying individuals the chance to form meaningful attachments, the Jedi teachings deny individuals the opportunity to experience love and intimacy, which are essential components of a healthy emotional life.
A rigidly enforced dichotomy
The Jedi teachings are therefore based on a rigidly enforced dichotomy between the light and dark side of the Force. This dichotomy is rooted in the idea that emotions are inherently dangerous and must be suppressed in order to maintain balance. This idea is particularly problematic when it comes to relationships between men and women.
The teachings deem any emotional attachment to a woman to be a sign of weakness and a potential source of the dark side’s influence. As a result, those who follow the Jedi teachings find themselves unable to develop meaningful relationships with women, leading to a sense of emptiness and isolation.
The Jedi teachings’ prohibition against emotional attachments is highly problematic, as it reinforces oppressive gender roles and denies individuals the opportunity to experience meaningful relationships.
In conclusion, is important to question the Jedi Order‘s idea of masculinity and its ideology of emotional suppression, often leading to negative consequences. Anakin Skywalker is a prime example of this; his own emotions, which were suppressed by the Jedi Order‘s idea of masculinity, ultimately led him to the dark side.