Doctor Who’s a woman! Or is she?

November 23, 2018 at 7:44 pm | Posted in tv & film | Leave a comment

I’m SO excited about the new Doctor Who. She’s great, isn’t she? Real, believable, relatable, funny, brilliant, alien-yet-so-human. You can see the links back through previous generations; the wit, the sagacity, the heaviness of a heart that knows so much, the relentless, unstoppable hope of someone who’ll outlive anyone else in the galaxy.

And I utterly love that she’s a woman. Not just because it sticks two fingers up at the old guard, but because this representation is so important, and so overdue. I think about all the girls, watching her and thinking, ‘I’m going to be a Time Lord when I grow up.’ I think about all the budding scientists and historians and psychologists and sociologists and anthropologists and naturalists, with one more role model saying to them, ‘Women do this stuff too, and we’re brilliant at it.’

I loved that conversation in the first episode, where she asks the police officer why she’s calling her ‘madam,’ and the officer says, ‘Because you’re a woman,’ and the Doctor says, ‘Am I?!’ And then she gets on with the job anyway. I love that she strides around like she owns the place, never questions her right to be somewhere, never thinks twice before taking control of a situation and telling everyone what to do. I love that she’s the Doctor before she’s anything else. She’s a person, a character, a brilliant mind, a skilled and talented individual, not in any way defined by her physical form. Because this is how it feels in my head. This is what women are, whatever claptrap society wants us to believe; we are our minds, our skills, our talents, our histories, our hopes, our fears. It can be a bit of a shock remembering that you’ve got a body, and that people respond to you in a particular way because of it.

And this is the one problem with it all. The new, marvellous, brilliant Doctor reminds me of lots of terrific women I know: forthright, uncompromising, funny, clever, taking no crap from anyone. But her world is different from theirs. The Doctor’s world is perfectly aligned with her reality. She stomps into tense situations and demands attention, and gets it. She’s listened to, respected for her knowledge and her expertise. She moves through the world without hesitation, unquestioning and fearless, and the world budges up to let her pass. In short, it treats her like a man.


Doctor Who: not taking any crap from anybody since 1963

I wonder what’s in store for her. Will the scripts carry on reflecting this utopia, this brilliant possible future where nobody cares what you look like, what body you’re in, as long as you can do the job? Or will she start to bump up against the realities of being a woman? I’m kind of hoping for the latter, however much I’d like those impressionable girl fans to believe in that incredible future for themselves. I’m waiting for the episode where the tiny evil mouse-like things ignore her and talk to Graham, assuming he’s in charge. Or the one where the horrible shapeshifting slime keeps interrupting her, like she’s not actually talking. Or the one where she has a brilliant idea at the very last minute, and Ryan gets the credit for it. I’m waiting for the one where she’s got such excruciating period pain, she needs to land the Tardis in Meadowhall and send Yaz out for cocodamol and gin, then carries on and saves three planets anyway. I’m waiting for the one where passing cyborgs leer at her and yell, ‘Smile, darlin’, it might never ‘appen!’, or the one where the glacial hypermonarch mocks her for insisting on being called ‘Doctor’: ‘You insecure, or something?’ I’m waiting for the one where the genocidal mastermind gets right up in her face and puts his hand on her arse and makes it clear that if she wants his cooperation, she’ll have to sleep with him.

That’ll do for starters. When we’ve seen how she deals with all that, we can consider getting her pregnant.


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