Warning! SPOILERS for episode 4 of Obi-Wan Kenobi
In Obi-Wan Kenobi, as in all Star Wars, female imperial officers are addressed as “sir”-but why? The fourth episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi contains a tense scene in which Tala (Indira Varma), a resistance operative, acts undercover as an imperial officer in the Inquisitor Fortress to ensure Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) safe passage through the base. There’s a scene in which a security officer demands to see Tala’s imperial ID, and although they initially don’t want to let her through, her convincing portrayal as their commander does the trick.
Throughout this tense conversation, the security officer calls Tala “sir”, despite the fact that she is a female commander. This is a fairly common phenomenon not only in Obi-Wan Kenobi or even in Star Wars in general, but also in other sci-fi media. Battlestar Galactica comes to mind, for example, but it also happens in other major franchises like Star Trek. There are certainly other cases, but the most important question here is why female commanders are often referred to as “sir” in the sci-fi genre and in the Star Wars universe, when in fact it is usually used as a gender term.
In Star Wars, the Empire isn’t the only organization using the term “sir” to refer to a senior female officer. It is known that both the Grand Army of the Republic and the Jedi address their female leaders in this way, and the Jedi also use the term “master” as a way of addressing those Jedi who have a high rank of master, regardless of gender. or views. The way the term “sir” is used in Star Wars suggests that it means rank without regard to gender. In the Star Wars universe, any commander of any background deserves recognition and the same courtesy—even in such a dictatorial organization as the Star Wars Empire.
The most obvious example of using the term “sir” to denote respect for a female commander in Star Wars is how clone troopers refer to Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: Clone Wars. As soon as she proved herself worthy of the rank of commander, and the clones realized that she would always work hard to ensure the safety of their brothers, they switched from “little” or “young man” to “sir” and “sir”. commander.” They respected her as their commander and therefore used the best terms to express their admiration. In the Empire, however, admiration may be an overly positive view of such respect, but it certainly shows the influence and power possessed by any imperial officer in Star Wars. Thus, admiration in the Empire is perhaps better understood as awe and fear.
Given the many different species found in Star Wars and other sci-fi narratives, “sir” may be the simplest gender-neutral and species-neutral term in the mainstream language of the universe. Biology doesn’t work the same for every species. Given that the commanders in “Star Wars” on both sides of any conflict have very different kinds in their ranks, it is not surprising that gender terms used in the real world have no place in these fictional galaxies.
Tala’s ploy to portray an imperial officer in the latest episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi is not the first time in Star Wars, nor will it be the last. It is interesting to note that the Empire, the Republic in Star Wars, and later the Uprising use similar terms of respect for officers in their organizations. Despite completely different ambitions, some practices remain universal.