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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For me though, it’s those little one liners that cut deeply. Because remember, the Doctor often forgets the social mores of the time. Who can remember if the way people greet each other is with two cheek kisses or a handshake? He also finds certain human perceptions of the time incredibly odd and dated. But when the Doctor says things like “because she’s a woman” or when he smirks when Clara asks him if he’s making flying the TARDIS easy because she’s a girl, then you get the sense that the Doctor has this perception of women that belongs to the present time. A perception of women that women are fighting hard to erase […] Part of the reason that women are so up in arms about Moffat is that the way he writes women hurts stories and characters with so much potential. A lot of the stereotypes he indulges in are so incredibly unnecessary to the story he’s telling and you wonder why they are there at all. They strain credulity, twist the story and characters in weird ways and he doesn’t really get a whole lot of bang for what’s a very expensive buck.

A comment on Of Dice and Pen: Sexism in Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who? The anonymous reader who sent this to me added:

This is one of the key problems I have with so many forms of Sci-fi media and the anon summed it up perfectly. In a futuristic world, in other universes and on other planets, the presence of today’s sexism is not only just as problematic as it is in any media - it also doesn’t even make logical sense in the majority of cases. Why is the Doctor, a thousand-year old alien who has been just about everywhere and experienced a melting pot of cultures, acting like the sexist old men from down the pub?

One of the reasons sci-fi is a fantastic genre is the pure escapism it offers, and unlike, say, fantasy, it can avoid the “But in the past sexism was present!” tropes and justifications that are often used (see GoT..) with relative ease. But so often it completely fails to do so, the writers unimaginatively falling back on today’s stereotypes - and the missed opportunities to be progressive in such a small way is very disheartening. I don’t know if it’s down to lazy writing or simply being oblivious that doing this is both very problematic andmaking their world less believable, but I can only hope more sci-fi writers manage to avoid this trap in the future.

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