If you’re just waking up from a long weekend con crash, after years of making half-assed empty promises, the BBC finally did it. They gave the key to the TARDIS to a lady. They let a woman regenerate into Peter Capaldi’s sonic sunglasses (dear god, I hope those are dead). Come the end of Moffat’s run (thank you sweet Cthulhu!), Jodi Whittaker will become the first lady Doctor that’s not part of a joke.
The internet is still blowing up, one side whining about how the PC police are coming to take away their manhoods and force them all to suffer the same way women have been punished and viewed by them. Basically, it’s the end of white maledom as we know it. We shall all cry a great long tear for its demise.
All the hand-wringing reminded me of the last time we went through a regeneration. Matt Smith wanted out, we were going to be trapped with another two! seasons of Clara, and people began to speculate that maybe the Doctor didn’t always have to be a white guy. Cue another white guy becoming the lead, but he was old this time so it was kinda different. Somehow.
I had a Facebook blowup with one those “friends” we always forget to unfollow, which I collected and commented on for posterity’s sake. In honor of a woman taking the role of our favorite regenerative alien who lives for thousands for years, I present the same damn argument every man will make about this casting choice broken apart by me all the way back in 2013:
If you’re a Whovian and you haven’t been living beneath a particularly thick chunk of rock for the past few weeks, you’re aware that Doctor Who is looking towards a 12th regeneration.
This, of course, has led to wild and rampant nerd speculation and battles about who should fill his fez the likes of which you can only get when someone misquotes Star Wars.
Back when Tennant was about to hang up his Converse, there was a small group wondering, “Will the next Doctor be something other than white?” And an even smaller group asking, “Why can’t he become a she?” It was silenced as PC crap pretty quickly by those who rather enjoy being incorrect, apparently. But this time, the small voices, perhaps buoyed by a stronger social media presence, are echoing in far more curious ears. Why can’t the Doctor become a woman? After all, nerd God Neil Gaiman has already canonized it.
Naturally, this challenge — this threat — is most vitriolic to those who have spent their entire lives being the norm: the straight white male. It is terrifying to have to see the world through different eyes.
But some guys, those scared shitless about no longer being automatically elevatored to the top, are aware enough to know that they can’t talk about how women are less than men, how women aren’t strong enough, capable enough, intelligent enough. So they go that benevolent sexism route.
This all came to a gloriously shiny example on my little old Facebook feed, courtesy of someone I shall now call Hipster Fedora because people like this aren’t worth the attention naming names can lead to.
Alas I cannot show a screencap (more on that later) but he posted a long spiel about how the Doctor could never be a woman because he’s always portrayed as bumbling (First of all, that’s about as wrong as one can get. The Doctor is Sherlock Holmes with a pocket of Jelly Babies, Celery, 3D glasses, or a bow tie. Second, you want bumbling, look at the companion, who is typically…well, you know). And it would be sexist for portraying a woman as bumbling.
And therein lies the benevolent sexism, the placing a woman high on a pedestal so she is no longer human, but a marble statue with no voice, no thoughts, no actions, and no misdeeds. Simply perfect.
My facebook post was as such:
As you’ll probably notice, I was being a bit more general and thinking about female characters in general (I’ve been on a bit of a bad book kick lately, and oh man, there are some doozies out there) but Hipster Fedora just HAD to respond:
I like to call this the “Women are another species response.” See, trying to picture life through the eyes of a woman, a thinking, feeling, breathing, eating, crying, breaking, laughing, living woman is fucking terrifying for Hipster Fedora, because then he has to realize that those he treats as less than are just as human as he is.
I also love the assumption that all women ever care about are breasts. I know I can’t go five steps without grabbing my own chest and shouting “BOOBS BOOBS! I HAVE BOOBS!” It’s why women only make 77 cents on a man’s dollar; we’re too distracted by our own racks.
And “I have no problem with a female Doctor” (WARNING WARNING FEMALE ALERT! WOMEN ARE ANOTHER SPECIES), but now let me spend a paragraph saying why I have a problem with a female Doctor.
My response was a quick quip, because I was busy watching Beowulf wander around Austin Powers-style (with the very necessary help of Rifftrax. Speaking of which, you must watch their Doctor Who Dalek VOD, hilarious enough to make a Cyberman crack their head trying to smile).
Because at the end of the day that’s all this comes down to: writers’ rooms full of men telling the public how women think, react, and feel without bothering to get a woman’s opinion. Or worse, they ask one and assume we are all as hive-minded as an ant colony and share one life. So because of that token woman, who’s too terrified to rock the boat and is easily talked over, they can claim they’re progressive about women’s issues, all without having to change a single viewpoint.
Hipster Fedora’s response was basically exactly that including psychiatrists? because they are (apparently) the bastion of What Women Want.
This was then followed up by walls and walls of text that I see no reason to torment you with. The short story: slash fiction is dangerous (because it might shatter poor women’s fragile minds and they’ll all suffer the vapors with such degenerate thoughts of two women getting it on, or worse, two men!), putting a woman in charge would somehow make her weak willed because the doctor is always a feeble-minded simpleton (again, he must have never seen an episode of Doctor Who in his life, or mixes up the Doctor and the companion, or has the attention span of a three-year-old with a caffeine IV drop. One of those three), some random shit about Ender’s Game, where I really don’t think the ramblings of a serious homophobe are going to back up much of any argument about progressiveness, and then it ends triumphantly with, “Well I wouldn’t mind it but I’m sure that women would be bothered.” Proving once again that he considers himself the arbiter of what women want and not women themselves.
I so love when people prove my point on their own, and all I have to do is hold up a mirror and watch them peck themselves to death on it.
This led to a long random fight for a while between Hipster Fedora and other friends on my wall as Beowulf slipped so far into the uncanny valley I thought I was playing a Shrek video game. By the time I checked back in, I just had this to say:
Which is such a serious threat to his manhood and need to place himself above the thoughts and beliefs of every other woman that I received this epic flounce and defriending (which at this point I was too lazy to bother doing myself).
Misandry! I think we all just got MRA Bingo! And all for telling a guy that no, not all women want what he tells us we want.
Now that I’m a misandrist. do I get to cat call men and say they’re asking for it? Can I talk over them and assume they’re a fake geek guy because they don’t know the name of Kirk’s childhood cat? Do I get to decide if and when men can use birth control?
If so, I could really get behind this misandrist thing.
Oh no, wait, it’s when a straight white guy has a tiny corner of his pie taken away and he pitches an epic toddler tantrum and blames everyone else for his failures and dreams of “the good old days.”
That’s why it’s a douchebag who wears a fedora; they want everything to be back to the 50s, when their birthright ensured that they deserved more than those below them and anyone not a white male is less than human.
As for the Doctor situation, personally, with Moffat still sitting in the producer and head writer seat and a writers’ room with an overabundance of testosterone, I’d rather it not be a woman for 12. In order for it to work, you don’t change the Doctor, you change the reaction of the world to her.
She’s just as brilliant, just as ancient, just as tormented by the decisions in her past; but people mistrust her more, they talk over her often, they treat her as if her opinion is less than, and she has no idea what she actually wants.
I’m sure it won’t be hard to find a few examples of men doing that to women.
Wherever Hipster Fedora is now in 2017, I hope he shat himself when he heard the news.