Rey’s Mother is… Luke Skywalker

The big question from Star Wars the Force Awakens is the identity of Rey’s parents. It seems that the only available character in the story with a womb is Leia Organa.

Asexual reproduction seems to be the norm in the Star Wars Universe. On our universe, male and female mammals get together and, using a process called sex, recombine their genetics to produce offspring who are genetically distinct their parents. The female carries the developing fetus during gestation. With other animals, such as among seahorses, the male carries the developing fetus during gestation. Still other species reproduce without recombining DNA at all. This type of reproduction is called parthenogenesis. When it’s done artificially it’s called cloning.

Anakin was produced by parthenogenesis. The midi-chlorians caused his one parent to reproduce asexually. Within the Star Wars universe, cloning is used as a means of procreation. Given the low number of married couples in Star Wars, it appears that asexual procreation may be the norm.

Luke, Leah, and Kylo Ren appear to be the only individuals in the Star Wars Universe produced through sexual reproduction. That Luke and Leah’s mother died during childbirth suggests the Star Wars medical community has little experience with obstetrics. A lack of knowledge of child birth is consistent with asexual reproduction as the norm. In the past I’ve attributed the weird handling of procreation to squeamishness on the part of George Lucus. He’s has been willing to portray prostitution, slavery, torture, mass death, and patricide. For some strange, possibly puritanical, reason he can’t deal with sexual procreation?

Maybe he can. If only one parent is essential to reproduction, Luke might be Rey’s one parent. His lack of a womb isn’t a problem. The midi-chlorians caused Shmi Skywalker to become pregnant without a father. Surely they can implant a developing fetus in Luke’s abdominal cavity with or without a womb.

Such a birth would be consistent with Greek mythology. Zeus gave birth to Athena through his head. He gestated Ares in his thigh. It’s also consistent with the Wizard of OZ series by Frank Baum. The look of Star Wars has owes considerable debt to the John R. Neill’s illustrations in this series. BB-8 for example resembles Tik-Toc, a clockwork man. C3-PO looks a lot like the Tin Man. The costumes and hairstyles of Leah and Padme resemble drawing of Ozma, a transgender character. As a child, Ozma was a boy named Tip. When she left her foster mother, she discovered that she was actually a girl who’d been enchanted.

If The OZ series is taken as a model, then Luke could be female. He and Leah might be identical twins. Through the mechanism of the force, Luke developed as a male. Some people use the word “female” to refer to those with wombs, others use it for those view themselves as female. If Luke considers himself male or female is irrelevant to how he reproduces. He might still have a womb. In a universe where a deaths star can be thrown together in a few years, surely a man can get pregnant.

I doubt the producers will go with such a twist. Giving the politics of gestation, gender, and sexuality, a male character giving birth would surely be highly controversial. But why not?

Moonstruck Madness vs. The Monkeywrench Gang

I’ve had a long struggle with the romance genre which started when I reading my first romance novel, Moonstruck Madness by Laurie McBain. At age thirteen, I loved the premise; 18th century British gentlewoman becomes a highway robber and meets her beloved while swiping his watch. I detested the ending. She gives up crime and becomes a proper wife. What a wuss! I’d have her arrested and transported to Tasmania. Her beloved would follow her and together they’d become South Seas pirates. Now there’s a good ending.
Romance is too conventional for my taste. Maybe this explains my entire difficulty with the genre. About ten years ago my writing to a turn toward love stoies, so I joined RWA(Romance Writers of America), but I don’t fit in. Critique partners and reviewers dislike my writing. They tell me that it doesn’t count as romance. I’m faced with numerous arcane rules and conventions of the genre which I don’t understand. I’ve tried to make sense of them by making lists and making comparisons to other genres. When I’ve share my attempt at comprehension, I’ve been met by denial that these rules even exist. It’s madding, moonstruck or otherwise. It seems that writers and readers either get romance or they don’t. I don’t.
My struggle may represent a cultural gulf. My mother inherited my great grandmother’s library along with her love of 19th century literature. As a child, I watched very few movies. Our black-and-white TV received only two channels. Only one of them had good reception. We would carefully position tinfoil bunny ears to improve the reception of Star Trek re-runs. I never knew the color of shirts. I went on take university creative writing and literature courses, so my vocabulary for talking about novels is formed by academia. This might be the cause of confusion. For example I understand “narrative” to mean story. Within the romance community, “narrative” means the part of the story which isn’t the dialogue. This creates difficulty in talking about “narrative structure,” which is how a story is put together.
But the biggest cultural difference may be the milieu of my childhood. My home town of Snowmass Village in Pitkin County Colorado is worlds away from Louisiana. I understand that romance readers are concentrated in the southern US, a region as strange to me as England or Australia. The difference can be seen in a May New York Times article, “How Your Hometown Affects Your Chances of Marriage” which included a map of the US showing the likelihood of being married by age 26 by county. In a sea of purple martial likelihood, my home, Pitkin County, shows up as burnt orange, an anomaly. In terms of romance and marriage, Pitkin County more closely resembles New England and San Francisco than the south or the rest of the west.
Pitkin County is known for its principle town, Aspen, where the word “gonzo” first came into popular usage. “Gonzo” means gutsy, crazy, eccentric and was applied to journalism by Hunter S Thompson. When I was five years old, he ran a political campaign for mayor of Aspen and then ran for sheriff of Pitkin County. The silkscreened posters from the infamous election campaigns existed in the backdrop of my childhood. The posters were numbered prints signed by the artist. At the time of these elections known as the “Battle of Aspen,” I lived about two miles from the tavern frequented by Thompson. I recall my dad in snow putting tire chains on the family pickup truck while parked in front of the Woody Creek Tavern.
Aspen is also the origin of Doc Sarvis, a character in Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang. The character is loosely based on Aspen medical doctor, Bugsy Barnard, who took to cutting down billboards and so started the monkeywrench movement. As a child I thought of myself and my family as conservative, but this was only in comparison to our neighbors.
I read The Monkey Wrench Gang at about age thirteen, possibly back-to-back with Moonstruck Madness. This may explain my disappointment with the ending of McBain’s romance. My parents were a bit concerned about my reading habits when I took on The Monkey Wrench Gang, but it didn’t lead me into environmental terrorism, nor did Moonstruck Madness led me to highway robbery. I can’t say that I love Abbey’s writing. In my opinion, he was mostly showing off and offending people, same as Thompson. Sorry, I know that these two writers are highly admired, but I’m skeptical of the social and literary value of their work.
So now I’m a writer myself. My first book out Sappho’s Agency fits the niche of feminist-erotic-science-fiction. Gonzo? Maybe I’m attempting to find some middle ground between The Monkey Wrench Gang and Moonstruck Madness.

Writing Sappho’s Agency

Sapphos agency poster (482x640)Sappho’s Agency is what-if story about sexuality in a society with three girls for every boy. Years ago, the Beach Boys song “Surf City” got me thinking that such a ratio might not be a picnic on the beach. I wrote three books about such a world before my writing took an abrupt shift toward the graphic and erotic.

 

At the time, I was searching for a publisher for my science fiction novel Princess Politkofsky of Fenria, but I was having readers repeatedly mistake it for YA and asking for it to be rewritten to appeal to a younger audience. I was loth to do this since I don’t see this story as a YA adventure.

 

While I was in the midst of preparing a query packet, the moderator of an online critique group announced that no R-rated material would be allowed for submission. I was puzzled since this group was purportedly devoted to science fiction romance. I don’t see how we can write romance or science fiction without including sex and violence. The moderator wasn’t forthcoming with any guidelines other than to say PG-13 only.

 

I set about doing research and discovered that the film ratings are inconsistent as well as secretive and arbitrary. I watched the documentary, This Film not Yet Rated, about the Motion Picture Association of America’s rating system. I also read up the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. This is the list of books once banned by the Roman Catholic Church.

 

Title page of Index Librorum Prohibitorum, or ...

Title page of Index Librorum Prohibitorum, or List of Prohibited Books, (Venice 1564). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Inspired, I set forth to write a story which I found to be both erotic and interesting. I faced up to my own sexuality. In my defense of my kinky taste, it’s largely in response to caring for my husband who lived in chronic and excruciating pain before he died. I’m turned on by relieving pain, not by causing pain. I do not intend to promote wild promiscuity or irresponsible behavior or to objectify either women or men. My own sexual orientation and preference is monogamy.

 

I later backed off on my use of graphic language. According to publishers of erotica, the sex in Sappho’s Agency isn’t spicy enough, so I went the other direction and removed crude language while keeping most of the scenes unaltered. I also removed all sex scenes which were unnecessary to the plot.

 

I soon met up with more instances of censorship. After I read from Sappho’s Agency at a writers’ conference, I was approached by a woman who thought my story inappropriate since there were teenage girls in the audience. I spoke with her about what exactly she found objectionable. It turns out she didn’t like the word “pussy.” I later removed this word as part of fine-tuning the language of the story. Possibly she actually objected to a portrayal of women enjoying sex. This seems to be the major no-no of the film ratings board.

 

She spoke to the organizers of a conference who instituted a policy that all readings at the conference must be appropriate for those under eighteen. I’m hoping the conference will change their policy by having an adult only reading time. I feel sex and sexuality are important issues which need a hearing before an adult audience. I also think erotic literature should be respected as serious literature.