THE PREQUEL TRILOGY IN THE 2000s -- A WOMAN-RUN STAR WARS FANDOM

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Title: THE PREQUEL TRILOGY IN THE 2000s -- A WOMAN-RUN STAR WARS FANDOM
Creator: rhodanum
Date(s): January 9, 2019
Medium: online (Twitter/pillowfort)
Fandom: Star Wars
Topic: Fandom history, Star Wars
External Links: THE PREQUEL TRILOGY IN THE 2000s -- A WOMAN-RUN STAR WARS FANDOM
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THE PREQUEL TRILOGY IN THE 2000s -- A WOMAN-RUN STAR WARS FANDOM is a 2019 essay by rhodanum.

It was originally posted as a Twitter thread, then transcripted and copied over to Pillowfort.

Topics Discussed

Excerpts from the Essay

One thing that gets lost when discussing the history of Star Wars is how heavily female-dominated the fandom for the Prequel Trilogy was, particularly in the 2000s. Fan-site after fan-site, fan-shrine after fan-shrine, the userbases of which were overwhelmingly girls and women.
Women and girls who'd fallen in love with SW through TPM congregated on female-run fan-sites such as The Moons of Iego and the Royal Handmaiden Society. There were entire sites dedicated to cataloguing every single costume in the films, along with every scrap of information about fabrics and creation methods, religiously followed by both fashionistas and cosplayers. Women also made whole forums, sites and Yahoo Groups solely dedicated to the shipping of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn. My baby queer self first came into contact with other queer women in such spaces. TheForce.net's fanfiction archive was dominated by girls and women who were fans of the Prequels and who wrote about everything from Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan to predictions about how ROTS would go, well before the film hit theaters, to fix-it!AUs.
"The fanfic side of fandom has ALWAYS been woman-dominated," you'll say to me and that's correct. But Prequels fandom in the early 2000s was unique in that it wasn't just the transformative corners of fandom where women made up most of the participants. As I pointed out above, the curative side of fandom (the one responsible for gathering, curating and cataloguing canon info), which is usually male-dominated, was primarily the domain of women as well, as far as the Prequels were concerned.
As you can see from the lack of links / the archive links, we lost MUCH of this to time and, ultimately, to toxicity. Many girls and women left the fandom when they couldn't put up anymore with the constant belittling of their opinions and tastes and un-maintained sites went dark. The Royal Handmaiden Society set up a presence on Tumblr, its original fan-shrine having gone dark somewhere in 2017. We lost many other sites much earlier than this.
It's a bittersweet thing. On the one hand, more and more people from the generation that came of age with these films is speaking out about their affection for them and that can only be a good thing, in the pit of negativity that is SW fandom even on a relatively good day. On the other, I feel that we lost almost an entire generation of passionate female content creators and curators, in the time between the launch of ROTS and the premiere of TFA. There are so many places I want to visit, but they're only available as truncated web archives.

Some Comments

[threephasebird]: This is so interesting! -- thanks for sharing this, it's the first time I heard about this side of the prequel era fandom. I only got into SW much later and all I knew about its history was the massively toxic side of it.
[saaga]: This is so interesting because I fell in love with Star Wars as a a teenaged girl after seeing the prequels, but I never was active in the fandom until way later. I tried, but I didn’t know how to deal with the endless bashing of the story and characters I love, and just the awfully toxic atmosphere in general. I didn’t even know about these female-dominated spaces because I gave up on the SW fandom pretty quickly after being exposed to the angry toxic corner of it. Sadly, I don’t think I’m alone in that experience either.
[dynamicsymmetry]: There's a lot I deeply dislike about the prequels, but something hugely unfair and arguably pretty sexist that I think they get both implicitly and explicitly faulted for is being way heavier on emotions and romance than the first trilogy was, and one of the key elements of formulaic (not in a bad way) romance is way more emphasis on female characters and more prominence for them in the story. Which... Yeah. Again, I take issue with a lot of how that was done in the films themselves but the fact remains that it was done, and they deserve so much credit for that, and what it earns them is derision.
[atamascolily]: Padme and the handmaidens were one of my favorite parts of the PT, and I'd totally watch a series about them any day!

Is there any chance of some of these old fandom/fic spaces ever being uploaded to A03 via Open Doors? I am saddened every time I see a fansite from the '90s or '00s that's no longer with us; hopefully that will happen less in the future now that A03 and the OTW are available for fan archivists to back up their work.

A03 does great things with fic, but I am increasingly excited about its capacity to store meta, analysis, and other fandom creations that don't fall into that category, too!