Hey look, another idiotic corporation in charge of a popular geek franchise is excluding 50% of their potential audience by marketing it only to boys and ignoring every obvious opportunity to capitalize on both its female audience and its female characters! It must be a Tuesday!
So what's corporate America doing to promote antiquated gender stereotypes this time? Well, it's more what they're not doing. According to a story making the rounds on the net, Disney has "no plans for Leia products at the Disney store" despite Leia being one of the main characters in the original Star Wars trilogy and one of the most recognizable fictional characters in the world, period. Oh yeah, and she's also a princess. At Disney. Pretty much Disney's whole fucking shtick is princesses. They make billions of dollars selling Princess stuff. This is pretty much a no brainer.
@nataliewreyford Currently, there are no plans for Leia products at Disney Store, Natalie. Have a wonderful day!— Disney Store (@DisneyStore) May 20, 2014
Except it isn't, as far as Disney is concerned. The Disney Store has, in fact, 98 products in the Star Wars category on their website. If you narrow the search facets down to "women," you'll see four neutral products like shot glasses and cell phone covers, and one t-shirt. There is a "boys" category, but no "girls" one. It's pretty dumb. It's insulting to women. It's business as usual.
The Daily Dot has a comprehensive write-up on this story, if you want to know more, but honestly, we're all perfectly familiar with how this works by now. Corporation owns geeky property. Corporation thinks only people with penises like geeky property. Corporation creates self-fulfilling prophecy by marketing property only to boys and making girls feel unwelcome. And if you're anything like me (a father of two girls who love both geeky stuff AND girly stuff), you're probably pretty tired of it by now.
So why is Disney being so stupid about this? Do they honestly not see the blatantly obvious potential for cross-branding marketing synergy, the lifeblood of all modern corporate strategies? Well, The Mary Sue has a theory:
The omission makes it seem as though princess-oriented Disney, of all people, are worried that they will lose the boy market for Star Wars if they allow any hint of the idea that it might be “girl stuff” escape.
Jezebel has another:
It's sadly easy to imagine strategy meetings where polished, suit-wearing Wharton grads triumphantly inform their bosses that, "We've got Frozen and the princesses for the girls, and now with Marvel and Star Wars, we'll soon have the boys on lock." Synergy! Market penetration! Visions of PowerPoint presentations with slides color-coded by gender!
Whatever the case, it just seems like a huge missed opportunity, in addition to, you know, being really insulting to girls who like Star Wars and women in general. Oh, and to guys who like Leia! I bet you didn't even think of that one, did you, Disney suits?
So what can you do about it? Well, you're a debt peon in a the global free market capitalist system and Disney is a humongous corporation that has more rights than you do as a human being under American law, so honestly, not very much short of rising up, overthrowing the government, killing the rich, redistributing their wealth, and rebuilding a fairer society from the ground up that values equality. But there's also a hashtag trending on Twitter if you don't want to go to all that trouble: #WeWantLeia.
So if not the Disney Store, where can you find Princess Leia merchandise? Well, I tried typing Princess Leia into a Google Shopping search and it returned lots and lots of sexy slave girl costumes. I'm not sure if that's representative of the general availability of fetish wear, or what Google thinks I want based on my personal browsing history (it's all for research, dammit!). In any case, a search for "Princess Leia Toys" yields better results, though much of it is "vintage" stuff. So for now, eBay may be your best bet if you want to get your Star Wars Disney Princess on.
UPDATE: Disney has announced that they DO have plans to sell Princess Leia toys after all. Funny how a little bit of backlash can change a company's tune.