Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Blame Game

All relationships have their ups and downs and Han and Leia's should be no exception, right?  We all love to think about their 'happily ever after' but without a few bumps along the way, it would probably get a little boring.  But why is it that in the EU and most fanfic, I believe, that Leia is the one to cause the most trouble?  She is the one with old suitors crawling out of the woodwork, or Princes wanting to form 'unions', or random men just generally falling in love with her out of the sky. 

Hello?  Wouldn't Han Solo garner some of his own attention/trouble?  Sure, maybe no Princess would be looking to 'combine assets' with him in the monetary sense, but - uh, there are other reasons for attraction and Han has most of them.  And he is older and has more of a past.  Wouldn't he have some girl friends crawling out of the woodwork?  He also has looks and personality, wouldn't he have women falling out of the sky in love with him?  (Author raises her hands and volunteers for this role wholeheartedly.)

So, why do we (most of us) feel compelled to put the blame on poor old Leia?  I mean, Han nearly becomes eligible to be canonized by the time he becomes interested in her.  He swears off sex for three years while he waits patiently for her to come to her senses.  He sticks around her Rebellion just because he is worried about her and likes her.  He gives up his career later on so she can become the New Republic what-have-you and doesn't say a thing in protest.  Really?  (These are all just generalizations and I realize that there are differing stories out there - don't shoot me)

I wondered if it was because we are all writing our perfect man via Han Solo.  I mean what else is fanfic if it is not fantasy?  Who wants to write about a husband/boy friend who is a complete jerk?  I find it much more relaxing to write about a man who somehow understands and listens to Leia than a man who treats her like dirt and doesn't appreciate her.   

But then I thought of something else.  I think most of us are women (as far as we know) and it is always easier to see the faults in ourselves than in someone else, so is it easier to write about 'misguided' Leia than it is to write about a 'cheating' Han?  IDK. 

I really don't try to write Han as some perfect guy.  But, really, even when I make him make mistakes, they really aren't all that bad and the man is damn near a saint compared to my real life husband!  (Not that I fantasize that Han is my pretend husband or that my real life husband isn't wonderful in his own way).

Or is it all perfectly justified?  Leia is that Type A personality.  Strong-willed.  Stubborn.  Ambitious.  Tightly-wound.  Workaholic.  Those are recipes for relationship trouble.  And Han is the Type B.  Relaxed.  Easy going.  Patient.  And he is older and more mature.  I'm sure he understands a whole lot more about Leia's feelings before she herself realizes them.  I guess the answer is somewhere in the middle, huh?

Again, I know this is all just generalization and I'm sure most of you could find a story that shows a different side of this.  But OVERALL, I do think Leia is written as the one who:  First, resists the relationship (of course that comes straight out of the movies) and Second: who then causes more problems for the relationship down the line, whether it be her job, or another suitor or whatever.  Anyway...  Does anyone else have any thoughts about this?? 


  1. Oh, good topic. I can think of several possible reasons for this, but I find it hard to put the blame on one by itself. First I guess is that we are all basing our thoughts on their relationship on what we see in the movies and for some of us what we read in the books. Almost right from the beginning Han is all in, no hiding anything, knows that he wants Leia and does what he can to get her to admit his feelings for her. It doesn't seem like he wants a fling. She's the reluctant one, so maybe we see her as the one holding back later, too.

    Same thing coming from the books. I don't really recall a time where Han wasn't doing things that were in her best interest. He follows her around while she forges her political career. He does what she asks and she works way too much and often ignores him and their kids. I think a lot of us would think that based on the Leia we see by the end of the movies, this probably wouldn't happen. Or at least it wouldn't happen for long because I don't think Han would sit back and let her walk all over him. But for any of us who have been reading these books, this version of Leia has been drilled into our heads. I've been reading these books for 16 years, that is a lot of this Leia to be reading about. I even found myself falling into this trap with one of my stories. I wanted Leia to be a little bit caught up in other things, but I didn't want to indicate that she didn't care at all or was totally blinded by work and life that she didn't pay attention to Han. But I got some comments that I had done just that, and I always hated it when other people did that and was upset I had let it happen myself!

    Another possible reason is that maybe we find it easier to believe Han forgiving Leia for some serious missteps than Leia forgiving Han. And maybe this just comes from gender roles rather than the fact that it's "Han and Leia." As in, once again, based on the fact that we're women, we'd like to think that the man we loved would forgive us if we did something bad. But we'd like to think that if our man did something wrong, we wouldn't tolerate that kind of behavior. We like to think that Han sees his love for Leia above all else and will put up with almost anything, but as women, we want to see Leia as strong enough to hold per principals as the most important thing. This is totally just a theory, but one of the things I've thought about.

  2. Two-parter!

    Push mentions thinking of Han as a pretend husband (wait, you DON'T do that?-jk) Maybe we like to imagine Leia treating Han badly because if he were OURS, we would never do that to him.

    Maybe we can see Han forgiving Leia for almost anything, so it's easier to make her make the mistakes, again because we want him to be perfect and just so drop-dead in love with her that he would never leave her. But if Han were to do something pretty bad we don't think he'd deserve to be forgiven? Or we don't see Leia forgiving him or NEEDING him in the same way we seem to portray him NEEDING her?

    Just some thoughts and possibilities. I guess personally I don't like to write about them cosciously doing something that would hurt the other, although everyone makes mistakes. And this really goes for either of them. I think that once Leia commits to Han she wouldn't be so unconcerned with his feelings. She's not some aloof, self-centered person, so it baffles me as to why she is often portrayed that way. She is loyal and affectionate and selfless, and that you can see right from the movies. So why do so many people see her otherwise?

  3. Well, I've written all of one Han/Leia story, and a few scenes between them in my longer WIP, so I'm mainly commenting as a reader...but it does seem like Leia is portrayed as a less than ideal wife and mother sometimes. I don't really think she would be, though. Sure, she's a workaholic and that probably won't change, but I don't see her leaving Han and the kids to their own devices while she focuses only on her career...more like doing everything all at once and running herself ragged in the process?

    As far as Han being so perfect...Han (as he is in the movies) actually reminds me a LOT of my husband. He's not the type (IMO) to devote all of his time, money, and energy to Making Leia Happy. That's certainly IMPORTANT to him, but so are his friendships with Luke, Chewie, and Lando, and of course his beloved Falcon. I think those things would still be important to him after marriage, and yeah, he might spend too much of the family budget on parts for his ship, or go out with one of his buddies and (really, seriously) forget to tell Leia he's going to be late. Again, I might just be assigning my own husband's qualities to Han...but that seems pretty realistic to me.

    That doesn't mean I don't like reading stories about the Perfect Husband Han though. We all know at least one of THOSE couples... he exists to make her happy. He'll either sacrifice his career to be a house husband, or work three jobs so she never has to lift a finger. I know a few couples like that, and they seem happy...but when I think about it realistically, I don't WANT to be treated like a princess. No matter how tired or sick or pregnant I happen to be at the time, I want him to treat me like an equal, not as a child or a queen. BUT...looking at those couples where her wish is his command...sometimes, when I'm not really thinking about the day to day implications, I do get a little jealous. So it's a nice escape to read something like that once in awhile. Even if I personally don't think it's very realistic, based on what we see in the movies.

  4. I can see them still fighting, although I can't see them being nearly as volatile towards each other as they are in ESB after they are married. Fighting occasionally? Sure, everyone does that. But I don't necessarily love it when people write them as fighting constantly, either. Who wants to live like that? But like you say, him forgetting sometimes, yeah, I can see that. I've actually discussed with Push at some point that I think both of them actually might have some trouble adjusting to living together initially. Not that they don't totally love each other, but it's tough to adjust sometimes when you've been independent for so long and suddenly you're with someone who wants to know where you're going, what you're doing, and when you'll be back at all times.

    I don't know if that's really even on topic anymore or not, but at least the source of small instances of being less than perfect. I don't really see either of them making these larger mistakes, though that are going to jeopardize the relationship. They may stray off course every once in a while, maybe just taking certain things for granted, but I never think of it as anything but a totally committed relationship.

    And yeah, some of us probably like to make Han perfect because we want OUR husbands to be perfect (I don't have one yet, I might still find one of those...) and it's just nicer to think of him that way. But honestly, if you have flaws and make mistakes it would get pretty annoying to be with someone who was always perfect!