Whovian Feminism

The Feminist's Guide to Doctor Who

This blog aims to answer one simple question: Is Doctor Who a feminist television show? Focusing predominately on New Who, I will examine the women of Doctor Who, their stories, the fandom, and the potential for a Female Doctor.
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Earlier today I shared with you the news that we were going to get a new companion of color in a Titan Comics tie-in featuring the Tenth Doctor. After a little bit more poking around at the new comic series I found out that we’re going to be getting another companion of color in a second comic book series featuring the Eleventh Doctor, Alice Obiefune!

From the summary of the first issue, which also comes out July 23rd:

Alice Obiefune has just lost her mother when the Doctor explodes into her life.

But what does this grieving young woman have to do with the career of a 70s musician, an amnesiac alien, and a terrifying cosmic threat?

In the wake of the second Big Bang, find out what the Doctor gets up to when Amy and Rory aren’t around!

This comic book series will be running at the same time as the one featuring Gabby and the Tenth Doctor. Again, I was already excited for this series because of Alice X. Zhang's fantastic cover art, but now I'm really excited to see where both of these series will be going. Maybe I'll do reviews of each issue as they come out? Let me know if you all would be interested in that!

(via DoctorWho.tv)

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Titan Comics’ new tie-in Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor will give the Tenth Doctor a new companion, a Hispanic New Yorker! From the summary of the first issue, which comes out July 23rd:

Gabriella Gonzalez is stuck in a dead-end job in her family’s New York Laundromat, dreaming of college and bigger, better and brighter things.

So when a strange man with an even stranger big blue box barges into her life on the eve of the Day of the Dead celebrations – talking about an infestation of psychic aliens – she seizes her chance for adventure with both hands.

After Donna’s tragic exit, the Doctor thought he was done with new companions. But Gabby Gonzalez is going to prove him wrong… if she survives the night!

Guys, I was already really excited for this comic. I was totally judging this comic by its cover, which was designed by the amazing Alice X. Zhang, but now I’m ridiculously excited. Gabby will become one of the few companions of color and few Americans to join the Doctor. Maybe it’s a little insensitive to use a Donna Noble gif here, considering the timing of this comic, but I think I speak for all of us when I say:

(Via The Mary Sue and The Hollywood Reporter)

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Ugh that's the problem with feminazi's, they attack all men out of nowhere, im a girl you ass hats
whovianfeminism whovianfeminism Said:

Congratulations, you are an ignorant, misogynistic jerk who contributes to rape culture AND a girl! Nothing I said to you indicated that I thought you were a man. Though if you want, I can give you an extra gold star.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Jaime didn't rape her, she was kissing him just as hard. Stop being such a pussy and watch the damn show
whovianfeminism whovianfeminism Said:

People like you are the reason rape culture is a thing. Kissing is not consenting to sex. Saying “No” and trying to push someone away clearly shows that that person is not consenting to sex. Pinning someone down and forcing yourself on them while saying “I don’t care” clearly indicates that you don’t care about their consent. I literally don’t know how to make it clearer to people like you that a person is not consenting to sex and is being raped unless the person who is committing the rape says “I’m going to rape this person now.” And even then you’d probably try to excuse their actions by saying, “Well she kissed him first.”

Jaime raped Cersei. Stop being such an ignorant, misogynistic jerk and watch the damn show. 

Thank you for making that post about the distressing change made in last night's GoT but I just wanted to ask you a question. I still see Dany as getting raped in the books. Here is a traumitised and lost 14-year old girl who is sold into a marriage she openly says she doesn't want with full knowledge that sex is what is expected of her. After a bloody and death-filled marriage by her new husband's culture, he (a massive man himself) asks a question she feels she can't say no to. Thoughts?
whovianfeminism whovianfeminism Said:

I had completely forgotten about how young she was because of how much older she appears when portrayed by Emilia Clarke, and I agree with your assessment.

I might have given the writers the benefit of the doubt early on and suggested that they interpreted the scene the way they did to make those problems more obvious, but after the last few seasons, I’m more inclined to say that their interpretation was intended to exploit sexual violence and rape for entertainment and shock value. 

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Yes, I know this is supposed to be a Feminism+Doctor Who blog. But my feminism cannot be contained to one fandom, and Game of Thrones royally pissed me off last night. So below the jump is a brief discussion of last night’s episode of GoT and the show’s history of gratuitous violence against women. Trigger warnings for rape, incest, and violence all apply.

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Happy Easter everyone!

For those at you at AwesomeCon, sorry I couldn’t be there, I got slammed with work. I’m spending my Easter Sunday sadly eating Cadbury Creme Eggs while working on papers. Have fun and wave to Billie Piper for me!

(via thesarahjanesmith)

danieleharper:

hermionegranger:

whovianfeminism:

whovianfeminism:

[cut for length]

Honestly, that isn’t how I interpreted that line at all. I agree about the sexism in politics, especially when it comes to looks and age, but when the doctor said that, I don’t think it actually had anything…

I agree completely with the idea that Jones’s decision is justifiable to some degree, even if the Doctor (and we as the viewers) are expected to disagree. I think this moment is meant to be viewed very much as a reaction to the politics of the time: in 2005, the Iraq War was still a very recent and controversial decision, and warmongering Presidents and Prime Ministers were all over the news. Davies and others have noted that Jones is meant to be a parallel of sorts to Margaret Thatcher, herself a deeply divisive figure in British politics. 

Viewed in that light, I have a hard time seeing the line as specifically anti-feminist, given that politicians of both genders are eyed for their physical fitness to do the job. In the US at the time, the continuing heart problems of Dick Cheney led many to speculate about his fitness to continue in office, generally based more on recent photographs than any particular health concern. 

In short: would I rather Davies et al have found another way to phrase the line? Yes. But I suspect in Britain the Thatcherite parallel was much more explicit than on this side of the pond, and in general I think it’s referring more to the way politicians are viewed in general than to a particular anti-woman or anti-feminist perspective. 

Then again: white guy, privilege, et al, so I’ll go back to lurking now. 

Interesting, but I just wanted to add a quick comment on how politicians of both genders are eyed for their physical fitness.

Hillary Clinton: “Did you see how haggard/tired/worn she looked?”

Dick Cheney: “Did you know that he’s had multiple heart attacks and has literally had to receive a heart transplant because his heart was so badly damaged?”

With female politicians, the focus is more often than not on their appearance, rather than any actual health problem. With male politicians, when their appearance comes up, it is more likely to be tied to actual health problems (John McCain in the 2008 Presidential election comes to mind). Of course, male politicians do get media coverage about their appearance, but I would argue that it is much less prevalent and that they are generally given more of a pass.

Or the coverage is feminizing. John Edwards got a lot of flack for his $400 haircut, especially when video of him playing with his hair was set to “I Feel Pretty.” The implication: it’s feminine to be concerned with your appearance, and masculine to be completely unperturbed by your appearance. The video was perceived to be demeaning because it seemed to show an effeminate man overly concerned with his appearance. 

thesilverdevastation:

whovianfeminism:

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If I ever meet Russel T. Davies, the first thing I will say to him is “Thank you, so much, for Harriet Jones.”

As a college student currently focusing my studies on women in politics, nothing made me happier than when Harriet Jones strode on screen in Series One,…

This is a fantastic article. 

I still wonder whether RTD used that line mainly so that the S2 plot about the Master becoming Prime Minister could go ahead. He might have wanted to get rid of Harriet Jones in a way that kept her personal integrity intact. This way, she can be a victim instead of a villain? (Not that it’s very productive to shove yet another woman into the role of a victim.*) If Ten hadn’t said that line, her whole character arc might have been different—the audience would have had to seriously consider the moral dilemma of her giving orders to destroy the retreating Sycorax ship.

Which might have been a good thing, in a way, as Harriet Jones could have been judged by her actions and not her appearance. But her arc would invariably be changed. And since the plot needed for her to be deposed, the only other outcome would have been the Doctor claiming unambiguous moral superiority, with her possibly being deemed trigger-happy and dangerous. Could she still be the same BAMF then? Probably not.

Instead of going this way, then, RTD piled another moral dilemma on top: he turned the Doctor into a sexist dick. He foreshadowed Ten’s self-righteous streak and the ruthlessness of the Time Lord Victorious. And if the Doctor is a sexist dick, Harriet Jones is able to maintain a moral high ground. She has been wronged. And through being wronged, she can turn into a hero.

Of course these speculations about authorial intent don’t change anything about the fact that the sexism of “Don’t you think she looks tired” remains unchallenged within the text. That’s a clear failure on the writer’s part. But it could be argued that the BAMF Harriet Jones we love so much is in part created through Ten’s sexism. 

Conversely, if Ten hadn’t said that particular line, we’d have to confront a different Harriet Jones: more ambiguous and willing to kill to protect Earth. The text would be richer for it. But it would also be different. 



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* I’ve read somewhere that within Doctor Who RTD has a tendency to “demote” women who wield a lot of power. This is true for Harriet Jones, and, similarly, both Rose and Donna’s mental and physical survival is threatened by taking on Time Lord powers. On the other hand, Jack Harkness is also called “wrong” by Ten due to being a fixed point in time.

#I guess I am asking about how people are turned into heroes through facing adversity? #and our willingness to concede moral ambiguity to prominent female characters? #none of this changes any of the OPs points about the sexism female politicians face #which are all excellent#I just love Harriet Jones

This comment is BLOWING MY MIND. I’m not even going to be able to respond to that tonight, I’m gonna have to step away and contemplate that for awhile.

hermionegranger:

whovianfeminism:

whovianfeminism:

[cut for length]

Honestly, that isn’t how I interpreted that line at all. I agree about the sexism in politics, especially when it comes to looks and age, but when the doctor said that, I don’t think it actually had anything to do with how she physically looks. The Doctor said that right after she killed every alien on that spaceship, a ship that was retreating. He said she looked tired as a reference to her decision making. As prime minister, she’s had to make many major decisions with a ridiculous amount of stress. In this episode, she has reached a point where she’s taking the easy way out by killing. When people get tired, they get lazy. He was referencing her taking the easy way out, the lazy thing to do, if you will, not how she actually physically looked. She took the easy way out and killed a mass of aliens. The doctor knows better than anyone that when one gets wary, when one gets tired of traveling and making huge decisions, sometimes it would just be easiest to kill (A Town Called Mercy & The Runaway Bride, for example), which is why he needs companions, because when he gets tired, he considered making bad decisions. He’s seeing that happen in Harriet Jones. The doctor was referencing her decision making and lack of ethics within that decision making, not her physical appearance. 

Actually, I didn’t say that the Doctor said it because he actually thought she looked tired. He said it deliberately to depose her. That’s what I object to. He relied on people making sexist judgements about her appearance to remove her from power.

Furthermore, I object to the argument that she was so stressed or lazy that she took the “easy” way out. She struggled with the decision, and forced herself to think it through and justify it to herself. She didn’t do what she did because that was the easiest thing to do; she did what she did because she knew they were hopelessly outmatched by the aliens that invaded them and only barely survived because the Doctor was there to help. And, as she said time and time again, the Doctor isn’t always there to help. She didn’t enjoy killing the Sycorax, and she certainly didn’t do it out of vengeance. She did it because she feared they would return, or that they would tell other others about the Earth and encourage others to invade the Earth.

I am by no means defending her decision. I think there are a lot of complex issues and questions involved in that episode, which is why it remains one of my favorites. But I think describing her actions as the product of laziness because she’s too tired and stressed by her duties as prime minister does a real disservice to Harriet Jones’ character. She faced a complicated set of choices with limited resources and did what she thought was right.