Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Problem with a Female Doctor: The Real Reason We Can't Have Nice Things

I recently read this argument against casting a woman as the next Doctor, wherein it is put forth that to cast a woman as the Doctor would rob young boys of a sorely needed non-violent super hero. 
Below is the response that I posted in the comments: 
The man who abhors violence, never carrying a gun, but this is the truth, Doctor: you take ordinary people and you fashion them into weapons…” Davros, Journey’s End
I think it’s a rather rosy and unrealistic view to paint the Doctor as a non-violent superhero, when the show itself is quite dark and violent. True, he attempts non-violent resolution, but there is a reason the Doctor’s name came to mean “death.” He has slaughtered countless aliens (let’s not go into what he may or may not have done during the time wars). Let’s not forget that famous scene where London got a festive snowfall that was actually the ashes of the dead alien invaders. Yes, they were bad guys. They’re ALWAYS bad guys, which makes the violence ‘okay,’ but it doesn’t make the Doctor a poster boy for pacifism. 
It’s also problematic to pit young boys’ need for a non-violent role model against young girls’ need or desire to see themselves in the lead role of a popular science fiction television show. Setting it up in this manners allows us to make a value judgement, and to yet again set girls in second place to much more pressing needs.
Patting them on the head and saying, “Why aren’t you happy with the River Songs and Amy Ponds of the world, you greedy little thing? Shouldn’t it be enough to be the best friend or the girlfriend of the hero. They’re strong, smart and running beside him, lucky girls. Don’t see them complaining that their stories are actually all about him. How they make him a better person. How they love him. How he is tortured by the loss of them.”
When the real question is ‘Why can’t the Doctor be a woman?’ 
I’ve rarely seen any real answer to this question. Oh I’ve seen the separate but equal argument that says women can totally have their OWN characters. We just can’t have THAT one. You know, the one at the front of the group. Or the lead role in a popular title of books, movie franchises or video games, unless we’re really pretty and/or sexy and the right male demographic wants to ‘date’ us. 
I do not hold out hope that there will be a female doctor, and if I did articles like this one, and the comments that support it would kill whatever hope I had. I do however wonder what we’re really saying when we constantly tell women and girls that they can be anything they want to be, but when we ask for something like a female doctor we are told we’re asking for too much. We are called ridiculous, and that our desires are excessive and unreasonable. 
We are told that there should be better reasons for a woman to take a lead role. This implies that women already dominate the lead roles in media, that there are a wealth of female-centric stories in the sci fi genre, and/or on television. When we know statistically that is patently untrue on both fronts. Yet when we ask for more, we’re told we’re asking for too much.
Which begs the question, how can I ever get anything if I don’t ask for it? Should I sit, and wait. Politely holding my tongue and be happy with whatever the industry gives me? How does anyone even know there might be a need for something if those in need remain silent?
The real answer to the question is there is absolutely no legitimate reason why the doctor can’t be played by a woman. However, the role won’t be played by a woman because the creators and network are too scared of the fans and lack the imagination to depict a reality they see everyday in their female co-workers, spouses, family, friends and even themselves. Yet, it’s too much to bring it to life on screen.
The show depicts a universe where possibilities and opportunity await anyone, no matter their gender or even species, as long as they go out there and grab it. Sadly, that is not the world in which the show is made. It’s pretty sad when you think about it. Because you know this kind of blatant discrimination is something The Doctor would never tolerate. 


This: "How can I ever get anything if I don’t ask for it?" reminds me of when I was a (curious) kid and asked a million questions a minute: I was considered "troublesome". Whereas my brother, with very similar DNA and of the same ilk, was always looked upon as "intelligent and seeking answers". (Thankfully, he would always kick the shins of people who dissed me. Time and again. Still does).

No, the Doctor would never tolerate this. Just as M is a woman, the Doctor could be one too.

Or did we somehow fill our quota with M?

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