She's the heroine of the Star Wars universe, so why was she erased from this children's shirt?

"Star Wars" is not just a film series, it's a cultural touchstone.

People know the canon inside and out. Fans dissect every intimate detail, and pass the nostalgia and wonder down to their children like a prized heirloom.


Fans celebrating the release of new "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" merchandise. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

So when anyone messes with the canon, it's not going to go unnoticed.

And someone really should've told that to Target. Because the megastore is now the target (pardon the pun) of some serious, and completely justified, nerdrage.

GIF from "30 Rock."

It all started when Target released a T-shirt in its boys' department featuring a scene from the first "Star Wars" film.

The tee has a still from the iconic scene in "Star Wars: A New Hope" in which Darth Vader points an accusatory finger at Princess Leia while aboard her ship. It's one of the few scenes the pair have together, and this scene in particular has been meme'd beyond recognition. Everybody knows it.

So imagine everyone's surprise when Princess Leia was replaced Luke Skywalker on the T-shirt.



In case your memory is fuzzy, Luke Skywalker wasn't in that scene at all. Neither were the storm troopers, but the original guy behind Vader kind of steals focus, so that swap makes sense. But to completely erase Princess Leia's existence in favor of a male character who wasn't even there? C'mon, Target. What were you even thinking?

Naturally, the Internet got wind of the unnecessary edit and gave Target a piece of its collective mind.

Fans, nerds, parents, and anyone sick and tired of the way women are often erased in the media fired back at Target for the glaring misstep.



Aaaaand Target offered a tepid response.


But as of this writing, the shirt is still available for purchase on their site.

This story is bigger than a child's T-shirt. The issue of "female erasure" is all too common.

Contributions from women are overlooked or ignored altogether, and sadly, it often happens in toys and media targeted to children. Especially when the toys are considered "boy toys" because of a weird assumption that boys won't wear or play with things featuring female characters.

Earlier in 2015, two different "Avengers: Age of Ultron" toy sets made headlines for replacing Black Widow with Captain America on the motorcycle that she rides in the movie. Poof! Gone! She wasn't even invited to the party!

Merchandise for "Guardians of the Galaxy," another Marvel property, was also widely criticized for purposefully removing the sole female Guardian, Gamora, from the team.

Photo by iStock.

It's also a little disheartening to see Target, who abandoned gender-based signage in the toy area in favor of an all-inclusive shopping experience, erase Princess Leia from her own story. It bears repeating: C'mon Target!

It benefits all kids to see dynamic, active, adventurous female characters in their stories.

For example, one study found that, across 333 speaking characters shown in professional roles in G-rated films, 80.5% were men and 19.5% were female. The fact that merchandise would then erase those roles when it comes time to make the toy set or T-shirt is just insulting — not to mention it sets a harmful example for what it means to be a woman on a team.

Parents are begging for alternatives to Barbie and princesses for their daughters. What will it take to get Hollywood and retailers to listen?

Photo by iStock.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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If you listened to traditional news media (and sometimes social media), you'd begin to think the Internet and technology are bad for kids. Or kids are bad for technology. Here's a fascinating alternative idea.

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This article originally appeared on 03.31.15

Kids can innovate, create, and imagine in ways that are fresh and inspiring — when we "allow" them to do so, anyway. Despite the tendency for parents to freak out because their kids are spending more and more time with technology in schools, and the tendency for schools themselves to set extremely restrictive limits on the usage of such technology, there's a solid argument for letting them be free to imagine and then make it happen.

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