Before I start, let me just say this. I appreciate what Ashley Eckstein is doing. It's obvious she really cares about and is enthusiastic about her line, and she's using her position to make our days(and wardrobes, apparently) a little more cheerful. However, I don't think Her Universe is the huge movement she expects it to be. The website talks about how female SW fans have a hard time finding merchandise designed "just for us" and the trials of having to wear either "very girly stuff" or "men's stuff in small sizes."
This post from Club Jade clearly favors and is enthusiastic of Her Universe.
Vivenne's comment,(the 6th) says everything more eloquently than I ever could.
"However, it’s NOT our turn. We’re NOT getting what they’ve got.
I STILL don’t wear Star Wars franchise stuff because there is no way I can afford Her Universe. $30 for a TEE SHIRT? No. No no no. I’ll keep buying the $9.99 shirts for guys and sewing them to a better size, thanks.
Also, I do feel pretty alienated by the Her Universe stuff. You criticize the “girliness” of other Star Wars merch, yet Her Universe is ostensibly feminized above and beyond most anything else I’ve seen."
Exactly. I always think more clothes are needed in the market(I'm a girl, after all) but alone, they won't accomplish what Ashley obviously thinks is needed-the recognition that Star Wars "is not just a boy thing."
Why does Ashley feel the need for those on her site? Is it because she thinks female Star Wars fans(fangirls, she brands us, more on that later) will thrive together? Or is it because she wants to keep her "fangirl" movement alive during the months in between new releases. Are they because she doesn't want her creation to die?
There’s one problem that keep Her Universe Forums from being the next big thing. The fan base. The key to a happy, successful, forum community is a large fan base. Well, just the name of Ashley's project(HER Universe), she is willingly splitting her fan base in two. Ashley is associated with Barbies and The Clone Wars, dividing the fan base further. Who’s left? Apparently the people who will begin Ashley’s revolution.
Who are these people? Well, according to Ashley’s Stat page, there are 244. Impressive, for a couple of months. They are remarkably similar to each other, with similar interests and backgrounds(one difference is their fangirl-targets of affection.)
I’ll compare HU with one of the leading forums, the TFN forums. TFN is populated by members of both genders. (out of which, 251 out of 253,381 have been on in the last 60 minutes). There are plenty of Old Republic fans, Clone Wars fans, Original Trilogy fans, Expanded Universe fans, and Legacy fans. You’ll find Leia fan clubs, Yuuzhan Vong fan clubs, even an Obscure Star Wars Character fan club. Compare that to HU, which is remarkably TCW focused. (Number of posts/topics in the TCW section: 36 Topics, 1132 Posts. Number of posts/topics in ANH section: 4 topics, and 82 posts. There isn’t even an EU section.) Besides the era/character focused topics, what else is there? On TFN, there are so many diverse posts its impossible to describe. I got my “Things Star Wars Characters Would Never Say” there, along with “Ways to Know You’re an EU fan.” Off-topic topics in Ashley’s world? Gems like Clone Wars Silly Bandz! *squee* , Your Star Wars man ;) , and Yoda or Chewbacca Pajamas!
By the way- I am not a member of either forum. So you can be sure about getting a (mostly) unbiased opinion. I want to clear something up first. These forums actually promote the myth that girls have to be girly. I can only wonder what our male counterparts think when they visit the site. They would assume two things. Girls are “girly” whether or not they like My Little Pony or Star Wars. Also, that Star Wars guys are only good for squealing and writing mushy fanfic over. I am a very hardcore female Star Wars fan. I am not interested in Clone Wars Silly Bandz. I do not gush over or dream about any Star Wars guy. I don’t care whether or not I wear Yoda or Chewbacca pjs. I am not saying that it is wrong for girls to do these things and be girly. I am just pointing out that Ashley’s forums seem to be contradicting their purpose.
My last rant: Ashley seems to enjoy labeling us “fangirls” or “geek girls”. I don’t enjoy labels. I rarely label myself a geek, nerd, and never a fangirl. (Fangirl isn’t even a real word.) These labels also contradict Ashley’s idea that SW for girls should be just as normal as it is for boys. Can I be a Star Wars fan while also being a normal person? Can’t I like Star Wars without being labeled a geek or fangirl? The idea behind these labels seems to be that liking SW is so rare, female fans are super-exceptional and need a special label.
As for Ashley’s revolution, I’m not sure if it’s worth pursuing. The female fan base is large enough that females can be comfortable with liking Star Wars. Club Jade, one of the leading fansites, is older than TFN and just as reputable, and female led. Authors obviously recognize the female fanbase, with all the leading females in TCW and novels that are more than just pieces of meat.
Besides, people outside our wonderful fanbase are just as clueless to female fans as they always are. Even male SW fans are ignorant of Ashley’s latest enterprise. (cough: Alex) It could be that the only people which Her Universe has deep meaning to are the the 244 which populate her kingdom.
Otherwise, Her Universe is an online store. A clothes store. Her merchandise is pretty, though a bit overpriced. I love every one of the pieces in the store, (though I can count them on my fingers), and if it isn’t more than 25$(though it probably will be) I’ll be first in line for that Mara Jade tee coming next year.
There’s my rant. It’s long. It’s controversial. Feel free to tear me apart in the comments. One thing’s for sure-if the female fan base gets more mainstream, it has less to do with HU than with Ashley, Dunc and all other female fans that are quietly, slowly, melting away the misconception that Star Wars is just for the boys.
PS. Your funny post is coming soon. It's coming.
PPS. My normal posts are not like this. Don't hate me!