ByJane F, writer at

For years men have dominated the stage in the world of cinematic heroes. With only a handful of sci-fi and fantasy heroines playing lead roles, it’s slim-pickings when it comes to strong female characters who are worth looking up to. That’s why when Rey stole the show in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I was enthusiastically surprised. Here are some of the reasons why I think her presence is a game-changer in pop culture. (If you haven't seen The Force Awakens, this post contains spoilers.)

She’s no damsel in distress

Star Wars fans have only had one other female lead to look up to until now. Sure, Princess Leia is a fighter and a leader, but there have been times when even she needed to be bailed out of a bad situation. By contrast, Rey holds her own in practically every situation she’s thrown into. Even the moments when Finn attempts to rescue her, he finds that Rey is already handling things.

She’s good at everything

It’s not often that you see a female character lead who is naturally good at everything. At the beginning of the film, she’s shown scavenging for parts and easily takes what she needs with her mechanical skills. Later, she reveals her fighting skills, which are clearly above par as she fights off thugs working for Unkar Plutt who attempt to abduct her robot companion, BB-8. She even pilots the Millennium Falcon and outmaneuvers her enemies despite her lack of experience. Towards the end of the film, she seems to easily master the Force, having only seen it in action for a brief moment. It just goes to show, anything Luke can do, Rey can do better.

She has a heart

Though life hasn’t been very kind to her, she hasn’t turned completely cold. At the beginning of the movie, she clearly prefers to keep to herself. However, after a run-in with a distressed BB-8, she is unable to brush off its plea for help and accepts the role of its guardian. Furthermore, she exercises plenty of patience when dealing with Finn. Though he appears to be a bit clumsy at times, she is always willing to lend a hand.

She doesn’t need to be sexy

Unlike many female superheroes that are drawn or portrayed in a hypersexual manner, almost fetishized, Rey doesn’t need to be sexy to command the stage. I find it extremely admirable that she does not rely on her feminine wiles to get things done. Even when Finn expresses an attraction to her, she does not use her power to control him. Don’t get me wrong - she’s clearly an attractive woman, but in a world where beauty is held at such a high priority, it’s refreshing to see a female character that relies on her mental and physical strength rather than her looks.

Having a prominent female figure in one of the world’s largest movie franchises is such an empowering message. Whether the creators did this consciously or not, the effect is sure to leave a lasting imprint on pop culture and society. With continual newsfeeds of the Kardashians and Miley Cyrus incessantly bombarding every media outlet, I’m glad there’s a strong female character that will help define this decade.

What do you love about Rey?
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