Lattes with Leia and Women in the Church

Podcasts are far from new to the Star Wars universe. In fact, they abound. Every nook and cranny of the fandom seems to have a podcast to match: collectors, original trilogy purists, fans of the expanded universe and legends. Each of these has its own following.

When I found a podcast entitled Coffee with Kenobi—Discussion, Analysis, and Rhetoric, I thought I’d discovered my little corner of the fandom. After listening for a while, though, I knew that this was a podcast I could only enjoy from afar, as it was hosted by and mostly catered to the typical Star Wars demographic: white men. As a young girl who grew up with Luke, Han, and Leia, I wasn’t unused to finding camaraderie with male Star Wars fans. But a girl who liked Star Wars was still considered a little weird. So when I discovered that Coffee with Kenobi would be helping to produce a sister podcast hosted by two women—Lattes with Leia—I felt like I’d found a place where I belonged.

Hosted by Amy Ratcliffe and Andrea Letamendi, Lattes with Leia does something a bit different from what I initially expected: it subverts the stereotypes surrounding Star Wars fans by welcoming all, regardless of gender, without ever explicitly saying so. Wonderfully, Lattes with Leia is a podcast for any Star Wars fan, one governed by an inclusive, deep love for the groundbreaking films. It just so happens to be hosted by two women. Instead of playing up its female perspective, Lattes with Leia normalizes female fans. Its hosts discuss issues that are similar in depth and geekiness to those discussed on Coffee with Kenobi, but also includes subjects like gender stereotypes and the psychology of Star Wars. Because Ratcliffe is a longtime writer for StarWars.com and publications like Nerdist, and because Letamendi is a licensed clinical psychologist and Ph.D., these two women are more than equipped to bring a fresh, yet informed perspective to the Star Wars world. When listening to their podcast, I don’t feel like I’m in a girls’ club (or a boys’ club for that matter). Instead, I feel as though I’m part of something greater: a universal fandom that appreciates a variety of perspectives.

I hope that this is what the Star Wars fandom has always intended to do. Breaking through false, socially constructed boundaries, Star Wars teaches us that we all have value, from the smallest and most inexperienced of us to the greatest and the wisest. Which means, beautifully, that the Star Wars fandom mirrors God’s intentions for his kingdom. Whether the producers of Lattes with Leia know it or not, they are giving us a picture of Christian community. You do not need to fit some preconceived and fabricated notion in order to be welcomed into the kingdom of God. You do not need to be a white man, or a person of color, or a young woman, or a child. No, all are welcome.

Once welcomed in, we all have roles to play in God’s kingdom, and gender should not restrict those opportunities. Katelyn Beaty, TC contributor and author of A Woman’s Place, says that women often feel as though their ability to participate in the church is limited (just as I felt limited within the Star Wars fandom) because of socially embedded gender roles. “Calling is such a mysterious and often internal experience, and even women whose gifts and leadership abilities have been confirmed by others—whether verbally or via accolades, such as promotions and awards—can suffer from the 'imposter syndrome.'” Beaty has said. “Women are generally more likely than men to attribute their skills and position to ‘the right timing’ or ‘gracious supervisors’ rather than an internalized confidence in their own gifts and intelligence.”

Women bring skillsets and spiritual gifts to the table that are fundamentally equal to those of our male counterparts, our brothers in the body of Christ. In fact, as described in 1 Corinthians 12, the body of Christ encompasses both unity and diversity. Though members may have varying roles, each of our roles is equally valuable. And when we work together, exemplifying our strengths and relying on our brothers and sisters in the body for a boost where we are weak, a singular, unified beauty emerges.

Lattes with Leia has helped me to understand the inherent value of women in Star Wars simply because it does not seek to prove itself as a place only for girls. Instead, it is an inviting space for community, whether you are a brand new Star Wars fan or one of those who has been at every premiere since the 1970s. Like the body of Christ, this community is welcoming, diverse, and unified—not in spite of differences, but because of them. Come and break bread with us.

Christy Chichester is an instructor at Penn State University, where she teaches Composition and Rhetoric, Writing in the Social Sciences, and Sci-Fi Literature. When she isn't teaching, writing, or grading, Christy can be found watching Star Wars, quoting Tolkien, or snuggling with her two pit bulls. Follow her on Twitter @CLChichester.

More articles from Christy Chichester »

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