Five months after Carrie Fisher's passing, Star Wars fans are celebrating May the Fourth. Though it's normally a day where fans can focus on the joy of the memes and the power of the Force, this year, many are focused on Fisher's Princess Leia, who was herself a force to be reckoned with. As one of the few women leading the rebellion, Leia has become a powerful influence on women in the wake of the election of President Donald Trump and all of the horrific policies that have subsequently been passed. The world is without Fisher, true, but, in her absence, Star Wars fans can find inspiration in the warrior spirit that Leia, and the actor who played her, were known for. In fact, whether you're a Star Wars fan or not, now is the time to follow in their footsteps.
On this particular May the Fourth, the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), a Trump healthcare bill that could leave those who need coverage the most the most vulnerable if it passes in the Senate and becomes law. In light of that, the holiday feels at once sadder and more political than the ones of years past. But the fact that this event coincides with Star Wars Day is one more reason to take a cue from Fisher and from Leia, both of whom taught us the importance of resistance even before we really needed the lesson.
When Leia was first introduced to the world 40 years ago, there weren't many characters like her. She was a princess who redefined how we thought of the word. She wasn't a damsel in distress like some of the iconic royals who came before her (think Disney's Snow White). Instead, she took power into her own hands to fend off those who represented the dark side as a member of the Rebel Alliance and the Resistance. In fact, the first time Leia appeared onscreen in A New Hope, it was with a blaster in hand, ready to take down a stormtrooper.
But Leia didn't need a space gun to take down her enemies. She also had her intelligence — hence her eventual upgrade from princess to general in Stars Wars: The Force Awakens. Leia was a rebel filled with conviction and passion for the rights of all. She never played by anyone else's rules, but made her own. She taught young women that they don't have to follow the crowd. They can lead it.
That's an important message in the Age of Trump, when his rhetoric and eventual policies often act against the best interests of women. It wasn't surprising, then, to see Leia's image on signs at Women's Marches around the world. Fisher's character had once again become a powerful symbol for those who weren't going to go down without a fight. Despite the fact that Fisher couldn't be there marching with them, her contributions to the resistance both onscreen and off would never be forgotten.
The actor was a rebel with a cause, whose most powerful weapon was her voice. She was an outspoken feminist, who never stopped talking about issues she thought were important even if there were some who wished she would. Fisher was unafraid to speak about her own struggles with bipolar disorder and addiction, knowing it would help others know that they were not alone. In her book, Wishful Drinking, released in 2008, she even wrote, "Living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls... it's something to be proud of, not ashamed of.”
Fisher's powerful personality was why so many couldn't help but turn to her iconic character as their only hope in the days after Trump was elected. It probably didn't hurt that the actor was an outspoken critic of Trump before her death, tweeting that he was an "entitled, elitist, racist misogynist-dangerous, unkind & w/o empathy." Honestly, that's not very far from what Leia would likely have to say on the subject as well.
Both women would never stop fighting for those who need their help, even if it was an uphill battle — and, for both Fisher and Leia, it always was. They knew a woman's place was always in the resistance, because complacency just wasn't an option. Fighting for what is right isn't always easy, but they showed us that it must be done. On today of all days, it's worth remembering that.