Some in the Star Wars fan community want a Rey and Kylo relationship. And I hate it.
I love Star Wars. It has given us an exciting mythology and iconic heroes.
But Star Wars isn’t the source of my heroes. The most important person in my life was my mother. This blog isn’t the right venue to share all the great things she did for me and our family. But one of the great things she did in her life was work with abused women in Detroit. I grew up hearing many stories of angry men threatening her or calling our house while looking for their wives. I was raised with a disdain for domestic abuse.
As such, the #ReyLo fan theory makes my blood boil.
JJ Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan gave us some great new characters in The Force Awakens. Rey is a unique hero whose story we get to follow. Kylo Ren has his own unique identity that we haven’t really seen in this type of story either. The Last Jedi shows how their paths intersect. A relationship between them is a dangerous message.
Domestic violence is one of the leading causes of death and harm to women globally. And yet in many parts of the world it is tolerated. Women are often punished for having been beaten or raped by men in their lives. Men often go unpunished. This is a pandemic that effects millions of women (and men) per year. It cannot be tolerated. It also cannot be normalized by the largest entertainment franchise in history.
In The Force Awakens (and The Last Jedi), Kylo Ren threatens to kill Rey, tortures her, kills her mentor Han Solo, and tries to kill the only person in the galaxy who cares about her – Finn. In The Last Jedi, Kylo tries to use her desire to know who her parents are to manipulate her to join him. He uses textbook emotional abuse saying to her “You come from nothing. You’re nothing. Except to me”.
And yet the fan community seems oblivious to this. There’s such an expectation that female characters *have* to somehow be romantically attached to someone, and are willing to ignore the dangerous and harmful nature between them.
There are two things that infuriate me:
- The notion that Rey should somehow be in an emotional relationship with someone who has tried to murder her (and let’s be fair – she tried to kill him too) and openly calls himself a monster is disgusting and a terrible example to young girls. I’m further uncomfortable with the notion that she believes can get Kylo to turn away from the Dark Side (The “I can change him” idea is a common and dangerous line of reasoning for women to engage in a relationship).
- This new trilogy is Rey’s heroes journey. The notion that Rey’s journey of understanding her strength and learning how to use it requires her to be in a romantic relationship is condescending and misogynistic. This isn’t what I want for Rey and it’s not an example for young girls to follow.
For me, #ReyLo shows how normalized romantic relationships are for female characters. It also shows that the romantic relationships with known abusive people have been normalized. This can’t be tolerated.
There is an opportunity to confront this topic. But I think it requires the fan community to lead it. My fear is that the fan community will want this. And I hate this.
If you’re inclined, donate to Interim House Domestic Violence Shelter in Detroit the organization my mother helped found.