“I support affirmative action, I support positive role models, I support great female lead roles on TV and film and in books but I disagree with the writer of this New York Times opinion piece. For starters, I certainly was not disappointed with the choice of Capaldi for the lead role of Doctor Who. The assertion of the writer that all Whovian fandom was waiting for a female Doctor is patent nonsense and expresses nothing more than the writers personal bias.

In fact, Stephen Moffatt, the current head writer of the series was reported by the HuffPost as saying: “I didn’t feel enough people wanted it,” he said, according to The Telegraph. “Oddly enough, most people who said they were dead against it — and I know I’ll get into trouble for saying this — were women, saying, ‘No, no, don’t make him a woman.'”

As a passionate Doctor Who fan for most of my life, as a woman and as a proud Feminist, I am dead set against changing the gender of the Doctor. More so if it’s to appease those politicking for diversity or to overturn gender roles. The writer does not posit a single argument illustrating why such a change is needed or even desirable. Instead the writer argues that it is an opportunity to push politically motivated agendas–give me a break. That’s as laughable as suggesting that Santa, or Pooh Bear or Batman or any of the millions of other fictional male lead characters be re-cast as women or with some other diverse trait just because it could be used to further a social or cultural cause.

If the issue is so damned important and I have to argue that it is, then the right thing to do is to help, to encourage, to create and to develop strong fictional characters and roles in their own right; characters who display and celebrate diversity. Stop encouraging the lazy bastardisation of existing characters and most of all; keep your politically motivated mitts off Doctor Who.”


I wrote the preceding post after Thatch sent me the article which can be found at the following link:

He knew that I had already publicly expressed my dismay at the thought of a female Doctor Who, so guessed I might be interested in the article. Indeed I was, but by the time I had read it, the comments section on the post had closed and my indignant response was doomed to silence; instead I turned to Facebook initially and now here to my blog.

Thatch and fake Tardis - Glasgow.

Thatch and fake Tardis – Glasgow.

With the announcement of the 12th Doctor Who being anticipated by many fans of the long running series, it was only fair that speculation as to the identity of the next actor to play the Time Lord was rife. Along with the speculation about which male actor would pluck that plum role, there were a few voices agitating that a woman, or at the very least a member of a minority group be cast in the role.

What was the reason for this vocal opposition to the casting of yet another Anglo male, do you suppose? Could it be that the reason was that it would advance the Doctor Who mythology and canon? No, that wasn’t it. Was the reason perhaps that it would enhance the characterisation of the Doctor? No, not that either. Was the reason because it could better explain the fictional universe that Doctor Who and companions inhabit? No, no way. Was it perhaps that anybody other than an Anglo male could do a better job in the role? Again. No, not the reason stated, though a possibility.

Each of these, individually and collectively are acceptable and plausible grounds for considering a change, indeed each successive actor reinterprets the role. Instead most of these vocal agitators merely view it as a chance to break “the glass ceiling” or as a missed opportunity to feature a member of a minority to fulfil a legal public sector equality requirement.

Then I read the following article:
Doctor Who can change the world with a sidekick and a satsuma. Why can’t he become a she?

“Why is it so hard to conceive of a female Doctor, or a black Doctor? For the same reason that it is hard to conceive of a female president or a black Prime Minister, or any world government or economic power not largely controlled by rich white men: because we cannot imagine it. Because we refuse to imagine it. Because the stories we tell ourselves and each other about power and history don’t often include women and non-white people in leading roles. “[Laurie Penny]

I read these words with suspicion. I experience no difficulty imagining a female Doctor–I can even imagine myself in the role-neither am I afraid of change; I just don’t want to watch a female Doctor Who on the telly. I’ve even speculated on a different ethnicity for the doctor – but reasoned, for goodness sake that he (yes he) is a non-human humanoid, an alien of an all but extinct species – why would he regenerate into a black or a Chinese or an Italian unless there were analogues on his now defunct home world.

And if he did regenerate into an Indian, let’s say–he might wear the outward characteristics, but as an alien the similarities would only be skin deep as he would be unfamiliar with and would not have access to the cultural or ethnic baggage associated with this ethnicity. The Laurie Penny comparison is not valid. Real life versus fiction; not the same thing at all.

You may well ask, why I have chosen this insignificant issue on which to take a stand? Truthfully? I’m fed up with Political Correctness and the extremes that it is increasingly being stretched to-because it diminishes diversity, homogenises creativity, stifles self expression and here’s the biggie, obscures the real issues.

So what has Political Correctness done in this situation? I’ll tell you. There have been well meaning and a scattering of patronising people bang on about how important it would be to have, for example, a female Doctor Who, (a fictional character in a family show) crash through the “glass ceiling” to raise the spirits of women – yeah seriously? I’ll tell you what will raise our spirits – how about an end to violence against women, an end to poverty, an end to inequality and child exploitation or how about a positive move to real power in female hands? Political Correctness says: “Don’t worry about the big picture – concentrate on the small shit and the rest can be overlooked and if anybody should notice – you can point to me and show that you care.” I am being cynical I know–but the debate in the NYT article and others on the subject – is farcical.

This narrowness of vision is indicative of why we haven’t tackled the big issues. It promotes the kind of thinking that leads by illustration rather than example, lest it offend. It’s indicative of the kind of thinking that places too much importance on seeing ourselves reflected back from the screen or page rather than from real life. It’s the kind of vision that doesn’t want to leave anything to the imagination or give credit to people who achieve despite obstacles – oh look, that would be all of us–women and men, marvellous multihued multitudes – not all Noble Laureate material, but survivors and achievers all the same.

Yep, I’m for empowering women and other minorities, for assisting the transition, for promoting realistic representation in the arts, for stomping on the bigots, for imagining a better world and trying to do something about it – but for goodness sake, let’s get some perspective and focus on the real issues and stop hiding behind Political Correctness in the guise of equality and diversity.

Oh and while we’re at it – hands off Doctor Who.

Leave a Reply