I went on a first date recently. As I sipped my dirty martini and made eyes at him across the dimly lit Oakland bar, I asked, as I do on almost every first date, “So, Star Trek, or Star Wars?”
It's a trick question. Just like the iocane powder in The Princess Bride. He thinks one of the two choices will sway me, but I'm a bisexual Gemini; I'm not really into picking sides. Acceptable answers include: “I'm a diehard fanboy. May the force be with you.” “Live long and prosper, Trekkie till I die.” Even, “If you put a phaser to my head I think I'd have to go with Star Trek, but it's so hard to choose.”
Some may see this as trivial, but for me, it is as important as politics and religion are for other folks.
I don't think I can date someone who's not a nerd.
I grew up with nerd culture: Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, DC, Marvel. While some kids learned about good and evil from the Bible, I took life lessons from the ethics of the Prime Directive, Peter Parker's uncle, and most especially the teachings of Master Yoda. Learning to rise above hate, not be controlled by anger, and to value family and friends above power shaped the way I saw the world.
And then there was Princess Leia.
Leia was a game changer for me.
The first time we see her, she's blasting storm troopers and barking orders. She's a senator and rebel spy who makes out with her twin brother and wins the heart of a cocky smuggler. She's hard not to fall in love with.
Her shining moment comes in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, when she disguises herself as a bounty hunter and sneaks into the den of bloated crime lord Jabba the Hutt to save her boyfriend, Han Solo, who has been frozen in carbonite. Leia deceives the sadistic slug, but is soon caught by Hutt's guards and added to his collection of scantily clad slave girls.
But Leia isn't the kind of princess who waits around for her brother or her boyfriend to come save her. When the slug lord is distracted, she hoists the chain connected to her collar around Hutt and strangles him — murdering her oppressor with the very chains he imprisoned her with.
Leia taught me I can be just as much of a badass in a pure white dress as in a slutty metal bikini with a collar around my neck. My power can't be taken away by a capitalist who objectifies me and puts me in chains; in fact, those chains may turn out to be my greatest weapon.
For sex workers and sluts like me, this fable of Princess Leia feminism is critical. Harnessing and profiting off the objectification and sexism I face as a woman subverts patriarchal capitalism in a way that is terrifying to the Jabbas of the world.
Leia's badass femininity helped shape my own femme identity, so I'm used to attracting other members of the Cult of Leia.
My fiance insists Leia is the reason he likes mouthy brunettes with long hair; I'm fairly certain that “I love you,” followed by, “I know,” will somehow be written into our wedding vows.
And my boyfriend, who chose “Sam Solo” for his porn name, identifies Leia and her sassy one-liners as one of the earlier girl-bully archetypes he remembers. Her famous quip, “Aren't you a little short to be a storm trooper?,” gives him boners to this day.
So I had already kind of pegged my date as a Star Wars fanboy even before I asked him.
But to my surprise, he said, “I'm not really into space.”
My heart sank. I shoved the olives from the martini into my mouth and chewed to mask the disappointment that was surely on my face.
But not all was lost. As the night wore on, I discovered we both share a love of the Marvel Universe, as well as an obscure comic series called Elfquest about alien elves who ride on the backs of wolves and have orgies. There is still hope, even if it's not A New Hope.