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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danieleharper:

hermionegranger:

whovianfeminism:

whovianfeminism:

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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. 



————————

* 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:

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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.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
hello! I rewatched season 2 and I thought a bit about the 'don't you think she looka tired', and wondered if you could tell me why it's sexist. I thought it to be against her as a person, not against her as a woman. Could you please explain it (or link me to an explanation) to me?
whovianfeminism whovianfeminism Said:

haroldz:

whovianfeminism:

haroldz:

whovianfeminism:

If viewed entirely in isolation, that comment doesn’t appear to be sexist. However, when we view it in the broader context of how women in politics are treated, it definitely has sexist overtones. Harriet Jones was deposed primarily on the basis of her appearance (“Don’t you think she looks tired”), and viewers are watching this scene from a context where female politicians are consistently judged more harshly for their appearance then their male colleagues and presumed to be unfit for office the moment they don’t appear perfectly prim and proper. I discussed this at greater length here, and I’ll reblog that post in a moment for convenience’s sake.

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I’m absolutely not disputing this point (and that wasn’t my intention), but the narrative of Tony Blair’s decline in popularity was expressed in exactly this terminology. “Tony Blair’s stressful week dominates the Sunday papers - with much comment on his exhausted appearance”: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/825563.stm. The air date of the episode, from memory, was somewhere in the culmination of this narrative, when his resignation was beginning to appear inevitable, and his heart condition had been major news.

It was safer to dismiss Blair as ‘tired’ or damaged from the stresses of the job than, say, criticise his role in Iraq or his failure to deliver the left-wing renewal some of us expected after so long under Conservative rule. Blair’s downfall in the media wasn’t due to his actions, but instead his visible exhaustion. A lot of his strength was perceived as his youth and dynamism, and this was a way to attack it without tackling substance.

Given its timing and its almost identical phrasing, I never saw the line as anything other than a reference to this narrative.

Fair enough. Though I think this actually exposes the danger of the reference.

My recollection of Tony Blair’s departure is that it was basically assured for some time before he actually resigned. Comments on his exhaustion, as I believe you are suggesting, are media spin. The actual reason as I recall was growing discontent about the UK’s participation in the Iraq War and the War on Terror. So in this case, suggestions that he is tired are media spin, when voters actually want him out due to his policies. With Harriet Jones, the narrative is flipped. She faced a vote of no confidence engineered by the Doctor over concerns she looked too tired to properly govern, not over her actual policies. Since the context is different, the implications change. Harriet Jones is actually being removed due to concerns over her appearance, which has very sexist overtones.

I’m inclined to agree with you that it was probably just intended to be a reference to an ongoing political drama in the UK. Something I discovered while Googling “Harriet Jones Tony Blair” is that the Prime Minister who was killed in “Aliens of London” was supposed to have been Blair. Like, they actually hired a Blair impersonator to play his dead body. They didn’t think the guy looked enough like Blair though, so they never showed his face.

So I think the lesson to be learned here is that Russell T. Davies really didn’t like Tony Blair.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
hello! I rewatched season 2 and I thought a bit about the 'don't you think she looka tired', and wondered if you could tell me why it's sexist. I thought it to be against her as a person, not against her as a woman. Could you please explain it (or link me to an explanation) to me?
whovianfeminism whovianfeminism Said:

haroldz:

whovianfeminism:

If viewed entirely in isolation, that comment doesn’t appear to be sexist. However, when we view it in the broader context of how women in politics are treated, it definitely has sexist overtones. Harriet Jones was deposed primarily on the basis of her appearance (“Don’t you think she looks tired”), and viewers are watching this scene from a context where female politicians are consistently judged more harshly for their appearance then their male colleagues and presumed to be unfit for office the moment they don’t appear perfectly prim and proper. I discussed this at greater length here, and I’ll reblog that post in a moment for convenience’s sake.

But it was a blatant reference to the closing days of Tony Blair’s tenure as PM

I have had several people suggest alternatively that it was a “blatant reference” to either Margret Thatcher or Tony Blair. People have suggested that the events of the rest of that episode are a reference to either Prime Minister, though personally, given what I thought was a “blatant reference” to President George Bush earlier in the episode, I felt a major part of Harriet Jones’ narrative was a reference to the Bush Doctrine and preemptive action. 

I think this just underscores the fact that narratives are up for interpretation, that viewers understand narratives differently depending on their personal context, and that one interpretation isn’t any more valid than the other. In a context where female politicians face more intense scrutiny for their appearance and face judgements about their ability to hold positions of power based on how they look, I find the way that Harriet Jones was deposed to be sexist.

I’m not suggesting that the sexism was intentional. Maybe, as you suggest, it was just supposed to be a reference to Tony Blair (or Margaret Thatcher, etc.). But in the surrounding societal context, it reinforces the narrative that women can be removed from office the moment they start looking the least bit worn, tired, or old. 

One of the things I’ve learned from my studies of women in politics is that this narrative can be more powerful than actual acts of sexism themselves. Women haven’t reached political parity in the United States in part because they don’t run for office; they raise as much money and earn as many votes as male candidates do, but they fear they’ll face this kind of sexism. One of the ironies of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for President in 2008 is that the high-profile acts of sexism directed at her actually discouraged many women from running for office because they feared they would face the same treatment if they ran for office. 

This narrative also pressures all women, not just politicians, to go to extensive lengths maintain an image of youth and beauty. Go into the beauty aisle sometime and look at the sheer quantity of hair dye and anti-aging creams being hawked to women. “Be young and beautiful forever,” advertising tells us, “because you’re not worth anything once you start showing your age.”

"Don’t you think she looks tired," implicitly invites us to look at Harriet Jones, judge her appearance, and determine whether we think the Doctor’s argument that she looks "too tired" to be fit for office would convince the public; in a later scene we see her futilely trying to turn the media’s focus away from her appearance and judgements about whether or not she looks "too tired" and refocus them on actual policy matters.

We often think of sexism as one individual act that can be singled out, but oftentimes it’s a subtle part of a broader narrative. In one context “Don’t you think she looks tired” can be read as a reference to British politics. In another context, it can contribute to a longstanding narrative about the way we scrutinize the appearance of female politicians. Neither is more valid than the other, and one interpretation doesn’t negate or invalidate the other.

Asker ayari10 Asks:
You know, I read the "Don't you think she looks tired?" scene as more of a criticism of how women politicians are treated. I'm not saying it wasn't sexist, because there is a high possibility that it was, but I think Ten knew that it would work because he knew and understood and exploited the sexism in English politics. That can be sexist as well, I guess? I don't know, I'm still trying to make sense of that scene.
whovianfeminism whovianfeminism Said:

I think it’s entirely possible to read it that way, the problem is that I don’t see any commentary on that either during or after that scene. It’s presented as a necessary and “good” action in that scene, a way to punish someone who contradicted the Doctor’s moral code. Even when Harriet Jones returns in Series 4, there’s no criticism of the way that she was deposed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled she stuck to her guns and refused to concede that the Doctor was justified in deposing her, but I think if the way she was deposed was intended as a commentary on the sexist treatment of women politicians, there should’ve been even a small line making that commentary.

For example:

Sarah Jane Smith: “If you’re looking for the Doctor…didn’t he depose you?”

Harriet Jones: “He did, and I’ve wondered about that for a long time, whether I was wrong. I didn’t much appreciate the way he did it either, playing to people’s biases like that. But I stand by my actions to this day.”

I understand why that scene was included; it shows the Doctor’s power and his comfort, in this new body, of wielding that power. Still, why couldn’t he have gone after her for the real reason he wanted to depose her? Why not make it about what he saw as her serious ethical lapse, as opposed to her appearance? That’s my fundamental objection to the comment.

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, flashing her badge and telling anyone who would listen that she was “Harriet Jones, MP from Flydale North.” Aliens just crash landed in the Thames? Forget that, she’s got a policy agenda that needs fulfilling. The Prime Minister and most of the cabinet has been killed? Well, looks like its up to her to stand up and take charge of the situation. The country is in chaos? Better form a new coalition and lead Britain into the Golden Age.

Harriet Jones was not only a compelling character with a fascinating story arc, she also defied many conventional stereotypes about female politicians. She was caring and compassionate, taking the time to learn the names of everyone working for her and willing to sacrifice herself to save Rose, but she could be equally ruthless, especially when it came to her decision to destroy the fleeing Sycorax ship. She is interested in issues that are traditionally assumed to be “women’s” issues, such as healthcare and education, but she was equally capable of handling complex negotiations and making military decisions. Best of all, even after being deposed by the Doctor, she stands by her opinions and beliefs, not because she is obstinate or stubborn but because she has thought deeply about the issue and analyzed the situation at hand and come to her own conclusion. There was no magical thought transformation to make her opinions align with the Doctor’s, and she didn’t worship the Doctor so thoroughly that she was willing to put aside her own beliefs for him. I can’t thank Davies enough for creating a character which defies conventions without becoming a cliché, and remains consistent in her characterization, even if this puts her in opposition to the Doctor.

Of course, as soon as I’m finished hugging Davies for creating Harriet Jones, I’m going to slap him across the face for the manner in which she was deposed by the Doctor. We’ll leave aside the issues of state sovereignty, pre-emptive strikes, and self-determination that factor into Harriet Jones’ decision to destroy the Sycorax ship (and believe me, I could write an entire blog dedicated to that one clip), but whether it was right or wrong, the Doctor decides that he has to depose Harriet Jones for her actions, and brings down her government with six words:

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His six words bring about a wave of criticism on Harriet Jones, not on the basis of how she reacted to the Sycorax invasion of London, or even on the basis of all the reforms she brought about during her term (referred to even by the Doctor as ‘The Golden Age’ of Britain), but on the basis of her appearance. Presumably in the show this is meant to inspire a sort of “Health Crisis” where she is suddenly considered to be unfit for the job, but let’s be clear, she’s being judged on the basis of her appearance. Her physical state did not change during the course of the episode, and a physician’s check up would’ve proven that. And the Doctor deliberately targets her appearance:

Don’t you think she looks tired?

Politicians are questioned about their health constantly, especially older ones, but there is no denying that women face this criticism on an especially sexist level that focuses primarily on their appearance.

A real world counterpart for Harriet Jones would be Hillary Clinton (to be honest, I have a headcannon that if they existed in the same universe, they’d be total badass BFFs). When Hillary Clinton ran in the Democratic Primary in 2008, she faced an incredible amount of criticism based on her appearance. Commentators focused on every single line and wrinkle on her face; radio jockeys asked whether Americans could stand the sight of a woman president becoming "older before their eyes on a daily basis" and whether her aging appearance would directly correlate to declining poll numbers; even in 2013, when after 4 years serving as Secretary of State she retired and published a website featuring a flattering picture of herself, the very first comments about this website focused on whether Clinton had gotten a face lift because, apparently, she looked too good.

In this clip from the Miss Representation trailer, a Fox News host describes one unflattering picture of Clinton taken during the 2008 race and describes Clinton as looking 92 years old and “haggard”; obviously this woman is not fit for office.

In my headcannon, I imagine every month or so Hillary and Harriet would get together for coffee and discuss the latest international crisis they had to deal with and all the sexist crap that they put up with.

"I’ve been working to form a coalition to stop Qaddafi’s massacre in Libya and I’ve been in an airplane for a week straight," Hillary would say with a sigh. "But I come home and all people can do is complain that I don’t spend enough time on my hair."

Harriet would nod knowingly. “Don’t get me started. I looked a tad stressed after an alien invasion, and my government collapsed and was replaced by some young attractive man named Saxon. Of course, we all know how that turned out. Tell me, how is one supposed to look during an alien invasion?”

Barack Obama served for President of the United States for four years and very visibly aged. Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State for four years and also visibly aged. Only one faces snide jokes about their appearance and faces questions about whether they are fit to continue working. That is sexism.

Harriet Jones was many things: a caring daughter, a tough politician, and ultimately a leader who faced a terrible decision. But in the end, despite everything she said and did, she was reduced to her appearance, and on this basis alone she was brought down. That is sexism.

Yet despite it all, Hillary Clinton and Harriet Jones keep working. Hillary Clinton is expected to run for President in 2016. Harriet Jones continued to work behind the scenes with various projects and eventually gave her life to help defend the planet. In the end, she is probably a greater inspiration to women because of what the writers did to her. She taught us that sexism comes from everywhere, even from the people we admire the most, and that we must continue to work in spite of it. But she also serves as a cautionary tale: if we want more women in elected office, we must continue to call out sexism wherever and whenever we see it. As Hillary Clinton knows, this type of sexism isn’t confined to the world of fiction.

So thank you, Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister.

Reblogged by request.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
hello! I rewatched season 2 and I thought a bit about the 'don't you think she looka tired', and wondered if you could tell me why it's sexist. I thought it to be against her as a person, not against her as a woman. Could you please explain it (or link me to an explanation) to me?
whovianfeminism whovianfeminism Said:

If viewed entirely in isolation, that comment doesn’t appear to be sexist. However, when we view it in the broader context of how women in politics are treated, it definitely has sexist overtones. Harriet Jones was deposed primarily on the basis of her appearance (“Don’t you think she looks tired”), and viewers are watching this scene from a context where female politicians are consistently judged more harshly for their appearance then their male colleagues and presumed to be unfit for office the moment they don’t appear perfectly prim and proper. I discussed this at greater length here, and I’ll reblog that post in a moment for convenience’s sake.

As the Type 40 bad girl made clear in The Doctor’s Wife, she doesn’t like him bringing home strays. The TARDIS, as we know, likes to fire her pet Time Lord at interesting moments in history and watch the fireworks. Anyone less mad than the Doctor might have noticed by now the TARDIS navigation always works perfectly when the crisis demands, but never when he fancies lunch, or tea and biscuits at the Eye of Orion.

Now those pesky humans who keep following him home are usually content to stumble about, saying, ‘It’s bigger on the inside,’ and remain sufficiently in awe of the Police Box magic never to question it. But clever, sceptical, hard-to-impress Clara might just cause trouble. It’s almost like it’s all building to something… Oh! What’s this I’m writing today?

-Steven Moffat, explaining why the TARDIS doesn’t like Clara

The most frustrating thing about Moffat is that he can sometimes say the most profound, insightful things about Doctor Who, and then turn around and say something that makes it look like he’s never watched the show before. Clara is not the first companion to question the “Police Box magic” and the previous companions did not stumble around in blind awe of the TARDIS.

Rose, in her very first episode, started questioning how the TARDIS worked and why it was disguised as a Police Box. The Doctor dismissed her questions because he was still in his “Humans are Stupid Apes” phase, but she was questioning it nonetheless.

Donna was confused and terrified when she first went in the TARDIS because she thought she’d been kidnapped, but when the Doctor invited her aboard the TARDIS a second time she dismissed his attempts to give her the inspiring “The TARDIS is bigger on the inside” speech. She never remained in awe of the TARDIS and in one episode was shown actively learning how to pilot it.

Martha, the first time she travelled in the TARDIS, asked the Doctor how the TARDIS worked and how it was able to travel through time. She also insulted the Doctor’s ability to pilot the TARDIS.

Amy was skeptical of the TARDIS the first time she saw it when she was seven, and even when she finally got to go inside the TARDIS she was actively questioning the magic Police Box she’d long since stopped believing in.

Rory was not perplexed or impressed by the TARDIS at all and had already guessed that it was able to be bigger on the inside than the outside because the inside existed in a different dimension. 

For goodness sake, Leela questioned the Fourth Doctor about how the TARDIS could be bigger on the inside than the outside, making him explain how the TARDIS was dimensionally transcendental in 1977!

Furthermore, the TARDIS never said she didn’t like the Doctor bringing home companions in “The Doctor’s Wife.” Her exact quote is: “I exist across all space and time and you [the Doctor] talk and run around and bring home strays!” “Strays” is not implied to be negative in this quote; in fact, just a few moments later the TARDIS refers to Rory as “the pretty one.” 

Clara is not particularly special or unique in this regard, no matter how hard Moffat tries to convince us she is. She’s not the first to refuse to travel with the Doctor until she’s ready, or to set her own terms for traveling with him. She’s not the first to question the Doctor for the way he tries to convince people to join him as his companion. And she’s not the first to question the TARDIS. You want to have a plot where the TARDIS doesn’t particularly like a companion? Fine, but don’t shit on all the companions that came before Clara to try to build her up as the only one smart enough and skeptical enough to question the “Police Box magic.”

Asker Anonymous Asks:
I have heard quite a few rose tyler fans recently talk about how she would have spent the rest of her life aimless and not reaching her potential without the doctor and that it was his presence that was necessary to make her grow into anything more than a shopgirl. That sounds extremely patriarchal to me, but I wanted to ask you, from a feminist perspective, what's your take on this?
whovianfeminism whovianfeminism Said:

liathepenguinologist:

whovianfeminism:

scifi-fantasist:

whovianfeminism:

whovianfeminism:

Oh my god I have so many feelings about this.

First of all, while I think it’s fair to acknowledge that traveling with the Doctor does give Rose a sense of purpose and direction and helps her reach her full potential, I really don’t like saying that she NEVER would’ve grown to her full potential if she hadn’t met the Doctor. Plenty of people start off in jobs they find unfulfilling and, through their own initiative, find something else to do with their lives that they find more fulfilling. We don’t need to meet a 900 year old alien with a time machine to do that.

But I also find a lot of problems with the assertion that the female companions reaching their full potential through the Doctor is patriarchal in nature.

First, the companions don’t necessarily change becauseof the Doctor; they change because of their experiences traveling through time and space. They discover a lot about themselves by being put in incredible situations that wouldn’t happen to them on Earth. They discover just how strong, courageous, and passionate they can be. And they discover a lot of this in the Doctor’s access.

Now, a valid criticism that can be made of this argument is that they can only access these experiences through the Doctor, who is the only person who can pilot the TARDIS and provide them with these experiences. But I would also point out that the Doctor helps all of his companions reach their full potential, regardless of gender. If only the female companions were transformed by their experiences and the male companions started off amazing and remained essentially unchanged I’d agree that this was patriarchal, because the men would reach their full potential on their own and the women would only be able to do so through a man. But the Doctor helps all of his companions reach their full potential by putting them in situations where they can discover their abilities on their own, and occasionally giving them additional encouragement and support. 

The ultimate lesson of Doctor Who is that everyone is important and that anyone is capable of being extraordinary in the right circumstances. 

mrsolivertwist said: It’s also important to note that the Doctor’s companions—male and female help HIM reach his full potential. Their strengths (and weaknesses) push him to be more compassionate, loving, open, confident, and humble.

That’s also a very important point. The relationship isn’t one sided; it’s not just the man coming in and making the women better. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship where they challenge each other and make each other better.

I mostly agree w/ this except Moffat. With Rose, Martha, and Donna we saw the Doctor grow in fundamental ways b/c of their influence. Moffs-era tho… idk. Amy Pond fer sher helped heal his broken heart but how did he actually grow? Moffs!Doctor feels hella patriarchal to me.

Moffs!Doctor feels hella patriarchal to me.”

The Californian in me NEEDS that on a T-Shirt.

But yes, you’re absolutely right. During the Moffat era, their journeys in the TARDIS are presented more as fun journeys or holidays, and their character development isn’t near the scale of earlier companions’ character development. In addition, none of Moffat’s companions ever seriously challenge the Doctor’s most troubling and problematic behaviors.

(I thought about discussing that earlier, but I’ve been working on a massive academic paper criticizing Doctor Who all week and decided for my fun Saturday night blogging I was gonna focus on all of the things that made me happy.)

*Gasp*

A massive academic paper I actually want to read? What sorcery is this?

It will hopefully be up on the website within the next few months! More information will be coming soon!