Obviously this wouldn’t solve ALL the problems in star wars but like. Imagine how much in star wars would be better if adults treated children like, dare I say it, actual children.
Like, if 9 year old baby Anakin Skywalker is brought to the Jedi Council and they say “you are practically an infant and require so much therapy for literally growing up in the worst environment in the world and regardless of what happens next we’ll make sure you end up somewhere safe”... idk what would HAPPEN but at least you wouldn’t be questioning this 9 year old’s right to like, exist outside of slavery.
Or! Obi-Wan in TPM! Granted, he’s like, 25 or something, but he’s also a dude who just became an adult in the eyes of the Jedi because his pseudo-dad died, so maybe don’t saddle him with responsibility right off the fucking bat. Maybe he’d have fewer issues? Obi-Wan’s canonical childhood is already so incredibly fucked up, he doesn’t need more of this.
The clones! Those are children in adult’s bodies! Don’t send them to WAR are you KIDDING me they’re TEN. Not to mention they have no rights, aren’t paid, are barely considered sentient, and aren’t given a choice about being cannon fodder in the eyes of the government. THEY’RE CHILDREN.
The padawans! ALSO CHILDREN. And you don’t even have the excuse that they look like adults here or that they’ve been trained for war since ever (again, what the fuck). Ahsoka was FOURTEEN when people said “yeah we can send this kid into an active war zone” and DID. And initiates can become padawans as young as ten years old! Somewhere in the clone wars there are FIFTH GRADERS running around getting shot at and some of them have probably died because they’re IN A WAR ZONE. If the Jedi pressured the senate a little and was like “no, actually, you can’t put CHILDREN in BATTLE there are LAWS against that”... well, they might not be successful, but the fact that they were just like, “I mean, lesser of two evils, its our duty to the republic, must be done I suppose” about the ENTIRE ORDER being-- what? conscripted? into the GAR is just... idk. How can you possibly justify putting kids in war zones when they’re literally there as students who aren’t fully qualified, and then REPEATEDLY left to deal with things like this on their own. I can understand it if the galaxy was a little chiller and it was more of “yes padawan mine sort out this trade disagreement I’ll be monitoring but it’s your show” that’s fine. That’s a good learning experience. But you can’t leave the equivalent of a high school freshman in the middle of hostile territory and be shocked when something goes wrong.
Also, just in general, the idea of children being capable soldiers at all is awful! And, I would think, something that the Jedi Council would disapprove of! Oh, you look out for the interests of other people? Hm, why do you, General Jedi #6, have a middle schooler with you? HOW DO YOU RECONCILE THIS
More specifically... Ahsoka was the age of a high school sophmore/young junior when she was ARRESTED AND TRIED FOR TERRORISM as the Jedi Council tried to make a point about not being soft on their own members during war. How callous do you have to be to not show compassion to a, again, LITERAL NON-ADULT who must have so much PTSD already and then just go “in fact, we’re going to arrest you for MURDER” as if her life couldn’t get any worse, only to then not give her ANY support after leaving. That’s not an adult, there! That is a TALL CHILD with laser swords and a lifetime voucher for therapy!
And looping back around to between TPM and AOTC, people let Palpatine talk to a ten year old? Repeatedly? Like, the amount of interest that this elderly man is showing in a middle schooler should definitely raise some eyebrows, regardless of sithy dramatic irony. Anakin is a CHILD and, if I recall correctly, Palpatine, like, threatens the Jedi order in order to speak with him alone? No one said, “no actually we’re calling the police because this REEKS of come into my white panel van child I have toffee energy”? No one wondered why on earth this guy who runs the galaxy wants to speak to this random snot nosed kid? For crying out loud, no one says “hey mr. Chancellor, I think you probably have like 5 million better things to do than chat up an infant”? hell on earth, no one even does THAT much, which isn’t so much looking out for Anakin as it is wondering why the chancellor isn’t doing his job! TAKE CARE OF YOUR FUCKING CHILDREN, STAR WARS UNIVERSE, BEDAMNED HYPERFIXATION
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𝐄𝐒𝐌𝐄𝐑𝐀𝐋𝐃𝐀 𝐀𝐍𝐃 𝐏𝐑𝐄𝐆𝐍𝐀𝐍𝐂𝐘.
this got wayyyy longer than I meant it to but I just wanted to write something comprehensive going through the factors of why Esme feels so weird about pregnancy and what all’s at stake for her by making that decision. partners in the past have been sort of thrown off by just how angsty and emotional Esmeralda can get with the subject and her reactions can be quite extreme depending on the circumstances. this isn’t to try to scare you off from writing it, but it’s usually not something that’s an uncomplicated, fluffy, suburban family bonding experience. so this is as much to explore my own thoughts and the themes that will be sort of lingering in angsty replies as much as it is like, a long-winded explanation of what you’re getting into with her.
so, this is by far one of the most complicated and difficult things for me to write for various reasons but chiefly because Esmeralda has extremely mixed feelings about it, both across periods of her life, with different partners, and even within verses her opinion can change drastically with time. she does not hate kids: she’s actually extremely fond of children and does very well playing with Marie’s children, for example, and she just dotes on and assumes a motherly role with any young-ish children that find themselves aboard her ship as cabin boys/girls/etc. ( although this is different from the active process of raising children, she does have a sort of motherly instinct and tends to look after those younger than her, particularly the very young ) Nor does she hate the concept of having a family and she’s not necessarily opposed to having one; certain verses she would be more opposed to that than others, but generally speaking love/a family is one of her primary needs, and it’s just typically that her crew fills that role for her rather than domesticity.
In many verses –– other than those very few where she is actively trying for and wants a baby herself –– the idea of motherhood and an unintentional pregnancy terrifies her significantly. This fear comes from several different places, but the chief factors are: loss of freedom / bodily autonomy / identity, the lack of a mother figure to turn to / uncertainty about what a healthy mother / child relationship looks like, and uncertainty in/an unreliable father to the child (or co-parent, but this one I will apply mostly if not exclusively to her male partners since it all but presumes an accidental pregnancy. For her to be in a space where she wants to adopt, or to have a baby with a woman in a modern setting, everything is an intentional and active choice which is the first factor in her being comfortable, and they are already in a space where they are fully committed to each other)
The first subset is by far the most significant so I’ll focus on that one. Bodily autonomy is something that is extremely important to Esmeralda, I cannot overstate just how seriously she takes it; even with romantic partners that she loves like Jack in TPOF, she does not let him put his arms around her until she feels comfortable, and she does not let him look at her nude the morning after when she rises from bed. Being in control of her own body is number one priority at all times –– in bed with partners ( which is why she tends to top, but even when bottoming, she is actively giving her body to you temporarily but you don’t own her, you aren’t taking it, and she doesn’t obey/serve/degrade herself ) and in her work position as a captain (making decisions like charting courses and entering battles, in terms of literally, physically putting her body in harm’s way). It means freedom, and independence, both physical and ideological to be control of her own body –– when it comes to who shares it, and what she herself wants to do with it.
To really understand this emphasis you have to look at what the other option was had she stayed behind at the convent: which would have been, essentially, wedded off to the highest bidder who was legally in control of everything after the marriage, including her body as his property, and her chief function would have been to produce his children. Before she would have been human or woman, she would have been a passive vessel for producing heirs. She thus associates (land-based, “settled down”) marriage and children tremendously with the historical, societal connotation at the time, NOT our modern ideals, and it takes a lot of time, work, and love for her child for her to break that association and see it as something valuable that is fulfilling to her. ( which it absolutely can be: but again, it takes work and trust to get there ) To sort of reference Jack & Anne, there’s a big difference between performing the role of a wife and being a committed, dedicated, and equal partner to the person she loves.
But even when in a healthy marriage/relationship and with a partner that respects her tremendously as a person, she is terrified of the possibility of losing that personhood to only her capacity to bear children, which is an ideological conversion as much as it is a physical demand that limits her movement, affects her diet, makes her sick, prevents her from going to sea/from fencing/from drinking etc. etc. Even if she only has one child and it’s not a cyclical experience of multiple pregnancies, she forfeits quite a bit of her time, her body, and her lifestyle in the process –– at the end of which, there is a strong likelihood she could die giving birth –– which reorients it from pregnancy being a process of mutual creation and love to a body that is sacrificed to create a product, and that goes against every instinct she has about her own freedoms and bodily autonomy. As much as she would love the idea having a child of her own, as an actual person themselves to love and be loved by and not just a thing she is producing and carrying, these are strong demands made of her and the anxieties often outweigh any desire to have one and obscures any forward-looking vision to what actually loving a child would look like. ( and while there’s less demand on her body physically when it comes to adopting, the ideological demands/constraints are still in play, which I sort of go into below)
When it comes to her main verse, I think it’s important to remember that whatever impulses she might have or care for children she enacts, the ship as a lifestyle is the way of life that she actively chose (over marriage/domesticity/court). Men can leave pregnant wives and babies to nurse at home, but Esmeralda cannot do that, purely physically by the burden of carrying them to term, then nursing them for an extended period, to say nothing of the raising that comes from being involved in their lives. Thus motherhood and captaincy are distinct options for her, at least while the child is very young, but there is no guarantee of her resuming her role as a captain after a >9 month maternal leave. In the basest possible terms the story she has written and the character she has crafted is a sexual, hot-tempered Spaniard –– men follow her for that, not for wise and motherly instincts. In her mind (and I imagine, not entirely falsely) she would become more similar to the women they left at home and less of an authority figure by association to them. Not a Captain™, but a Woman™ and Mother™ –– a submissive role that is defined by feminine convention and NOT the distinct “Doña Pirata” identity on which she has built her personhood and authority.
( this presumes underlying layers of misogyny at play and I am not at all suggesting this is the correct worldview or the idea women and mothers should have of themselves, but there is a distinct difference in the way society treats libertine men leaving children behind in every port vs a libertine woman getting “knocked up.” one is a mark of sexual prowess, the other is treated as a sign of moral failure and rational lacking, and while Esmeralda may not agree with this, she is aware of it and is extremely conscious of how she exercises authority and how she is able to keep it, as a woman in a predominantly male society. I don’t want to sound too Girllbossism™ here but her captaincy and career is the culmination of everything she has worked for, her learning, her skillset, her desires; it’s very difficult to get herself to a place where she is respected and listened to by men rather than constantly fight their desire to subject her, and that’s not an achievement she gives up easily ––– to fall, essentially, back into what was and is expected of her, to carry one of their children, and it comes with a bit of dissonance even if she wants the child personally because it’s always going to feel a bit like submission to defeat )
I think the other two reasons I mentioned are much more straightforward, but just to explain my thinking here a bit. Esmeralda did have an extremely loving mother for five years, and her parents had a marriage that was built on love, which lead to a healthy childhood but only up until their murder. This did two things: firstly, it deprived her of her mother past the age of five, which means that her memory of her is extremely poor and mostly anecdote based, and her strongest memories of her mother are of the attack and her death –– implicitly connecting love and maternal love with violence. In the convent, although, ironically, surrounded by mothers, she still lacked a mother that could give her that sort of emotional intimacy that she needed after experiencing that trauma and being cut off from her other family, Don Rafael –– and their love always came with the violence of punishment as well. (I think, also, that having the idea that she always belonged to a man –– either to God, or to her future hypothetical husband they were molding her for –– pressed into her constantly by them impacted her very negatively, more than any kindness and love the nuns could have individually given her.) And while I don’t want to disparage Don Rafael at all, because he’s clearly just as loving as Weatherby Swann is to Elizabeth and he does everything in his power to keep Esmeralda safe, their relationship exists because of her parents’ deaths and it is so central in their interactions with each other. Their purpose on that ship is Vengeance for their deaths and for Don Rafael’s and Esmeralda’s hurts, always; they don’t heal, partially, because they are always reopening the wound, and that is their foundation for everything else. (and this is how she learns to live and orient her life, also, after he dies –– seeking vengeance, not healing, or growth from the violence, but to perpetuate the cycle). And although it came from a good place, he was extremely protective over her; in the book, she’s 26, but he won’t let her walk without an escort, and essentially treats her like a little girl (which, again, even though it comes with so much love, goes back to that fear of male ownership and loss of control). All this to say that she did not experience her childhood “normally,” or her adolescence, or her young adulthood (and all in very, very different ways); she does not even see other adult women (that aren’t prostitutes) very often, so she really has no idea what actually raising her child would look like, done in a healthy way, that does not repeat her hurts to them.
The second thing that the murder of her parents did, and just as importantly if not more so, was show her at a VERY young age that society does not tolerate love as the foundation. Moreover, that love is unstable, temporary, and untrustworthy; if it does not fall apart on its own, society will take it from you. Permanence is not really something in her vocabulary in her main verse, she’s learned to live for the moment and not expect there to be a tomorrow –– rather than make those lasting commitments that marriage and children ask of you. Not because she doesn’t want to be loved permanently, and safely, and not have doubts about being loved or her future with her partner –– I cannot express how very badly she does want that, and she is SUBLIMELY happy when she does have it –– but she doesn’t expect that is something she can realistically achieve, and if she did, it wouldn’t last. (again, either because the love itself was unstable or that society would not tolerate something built on love rather than money) So for her to even be in an environment where she feels safe, and comfortable enough, and secure enough in her future and her future with her partner to want to have kids and to be confident that those children would also be safe and secure in being loved, is extremely rare. And this perception of love being unstable has been constantly reinforced by the men around her, both by her men/other pirates abandoning their wives and families at home, and by her own inconstant romantic affairs that don’t lead to anything lasting. Again, I’m not calling anyone out here because Jack never did anything to hurt her and they mutually consent to the type of relationship they have, but it’s that type of uncertainty that is specific to Jack but really generalized to any man she could have a child with –– not knowing when or if she’ll see him again, not knowing what he would do (and really, suspecting he would just bolt) if she were to get pregnant, knowing that to have any type of long-term commitment (including a child) is really antithetical to the freedom that they both signed up for –– that stops her from actively wanting to pursue it because she knows that it’s unsafe and uncertain.
There’s a disparity between that, and what she would want, if things were different –– you can see in her conversation with Amenirdis that she has thought about marrying Jack, and settling down, and while she doesn’t mention having a child with him I think it’s implicit that a family would go along with “hearth and home.” But Jack’s not that type, and she herself doesn’t know anything about homemaking, or what it would take to make a viable existence away from the sea and base it on love, not survival. A child is also extremely binding, and while I wouldn’t say she’s scared of commitment because she grows so attached to her partners, she knows that the odds are high that either 1. Her partner will be unfaithful to her or 2. They will be separated from each other through other, uncontrollable factors. ( “ah love, a dreadful bond. And yet so easily severed.” and all that ) Commitment is the ideal, but it has never been the reality.
A baby is not just a thing to have that she wants like any other thing, that could easily fit into her life as is and make it better and brighter through its mere presence –– it would come with an entire reorientation of her life from being around vengeance and violence to being about love and care, it would significantly change her role in life and the identity that she has crafted. It is not impossible for her to get to a state where a child and motherhood is something she wants –– like I said, she is so, so happy when she’s in that state –– but it involves a lot of work to get her to a place of trust, where she is looking to the future and not worrying about it all dissolving tomorrow, where she feels loved and valued as a person beyond her ability to carry a child and doesn’t even suspect that they would be abandoned. When she doesn’t have those things, she feels incredibly violated and betrayed by someone getting her pregnant, but when she does, it is often ( not by default, but often ) a desire that will arise naturally out of love, trust, and commitment.
And I guess what I’m leaving unsaid here and why it comes with all this change and work and angst and processing is that because Esmeralda is so full of love, she will love her baby despite her fears in an unplanned pregnancy and she will adore them in a planned pregnancy, and this means that she wants to be the best possible mother to them. Which means, a mother that is not putting them in danger on a pirate ship, a mother that can give to them a stable life with two parents that they will know, and a mother that is not passing on her learned hurts, trauma, and violence.
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