What I think about a female Doctor Who

R. Brady Frost in his office.

I don’t really like that the new regeneration for The Doctor is female.

What? A female Doctor Who?!

I didn’t like it with The Master, but I wasn’t aware of what his other regenerations were. (Before he showed up as a rocket-stealing old man, that is.) If it was just one random gender flop after a long string of male versions, I consider it to be a cheap gimmick. Nothing more.

If your instant reaction is to call me a misogynist, please hear me out.

I am a father. And as a father of two girls and three boys, do I think the 13th regeneration of a fictional alien character empowers any of my children?

Nope.
Not one bit.

I think that it’s safe to say that none of my children will ever be timelords.
Now let’s talk about gimmicks and why I think it’s important to distinguish them from real empowerment.

Are you ready?
More important than a single regeneration of The Master, who was a character much like Loki in many ways and always full of tricks, is one detail that’s often overlooked. More on that in a minute. First, do you know what empowerment really looks like? It looks just like you. It looks like me. It looks like people who don’t look like you or me. Empowerment is a force that allows us to become better than we are.

A female version of The Doctor might do it, given time and good writing, but not by default. To be empowered almost implies that we are at a state of less-than, but are bestowed an outside path toward betterment. A confident woman does not need to be empowered externally. She empowers herself through facing the adversities she encounters. Funny enough, facing adversity prepares us to face larger adversities. The more we face, the more confidence we gain in our own abilities, which fuels the progression.

Now, back to that earlier point: the one missing detail. What is it like to be a female timelord? Would I ask The Master or The Doctor? Only if I wanted a male opinion. Presumably, they would only be able to compare to what they remembered of their past lives as men. Do you want the real scoop? Ask Jenny.

All these people are blowing up my social media feeds and laughing at feelings that differ from their own. People are slinging words like misogyny and bigotry like they don’t cause pain and turn people against one another. Most of these people are strangers. Some are people I know. My heart hurts for them. My brain struggles against why I believe this whole thing is a sham and the idea that as a “cis white male” my opinion doesn’t count, or that I should be silent.

But as a father to two daughters who values real role models over reskinned male personas, I ask you…. What about Jenny?
Jenny is The Doctor’s daughter. She’s out there, having adventures and doing who knows what. She wasn’t born in the usual way. She has no mother to speak of. She’s all alone. No tardis. No companions, as far as we’re aware.

She is self-empowered. She’s not just some gimmick or writing trick, but apparently, she just isn’t as interesting as a long line of male regenerations suddenly showing up as a female. Think about that. Think about it long and hard. If you have a daughter, think about her. Which story makes more sense?

You can keep your Doctor… give us Jenny.

2 Comments on “What I think about a female Doctor Who”

  1. I’d like a female Doctor Who if I thought it was about just adding another element to the story. I don’t think they will do it that way however. Riversong could have been a Time Lord but they wrote her off as a sacrifice to the Doctor. I think it was their way of having him make it past being the 12th regeneration and on into the future. Riversong could have been a great Time Lord, a lot of fun and a strong character. But, no. She played her part and was retired.

    I often think of Jenny, the daughter born on that evolving planet with military humans and fish sort of humans. She had no past, just a few days to get to know the Doctor (in that current regeneration), then she regenerated and stole off with a ship to who knows where. Why not bring her back? She could even take over for the Doctor as the main focus for awhile.

    At first I liked Matt as the Doctor but somewhere along the way the stories seemed to become so one dimensional, focused on the Doctor and his life more than the other characters and places. By the time the Scottish action (can’t think of his name right now) started I was already not as interested in the series. Christopher Eccelston (sp) was my favourite of the new Doctors. I did watch the older shows with Tom Baker and etc. Funny how different those were from the new series. I miss that bit of dorkiness. The latest shows in the new series had become so smooth and made for a US audience. They weren’t very original and they weren’t nearly as much fun, and just funny. Too much romance, for me. I don’t want everyone falling in love with the Doctor or each other. Originally this was a show to teach children about history and science. I really think it needs to get back to those roots.

    Maybe a female Doctor is a way for them to reinvent the show again. Like rebooting a computer. Another male actor might just try to fit in but a female could make the role her own again, in a completely different way. That’s my hope. At the very least I hope they do not make her a stereotype, with a lot about fashion, cosmetics, fear of bugs and power tools, etc. Though, the other way seems too contrived – the non-stereotypical woman who rides motorbikes, etc. No romance for her either, let her stand on her own and reflect the stories and people around her without being the centre of them all. I like when the Doctor does not have all the answers and ends up knee deep in trouble with no apparent rescue in sight.

    The stuff about empowering is just a buzz word these days. It’s one of those things you say so you don’t actually have to think of anything to say. I start to nod off as soon as I hear someone mention how empowering something….. zzzz.

    1. Laura,
      You’ve made so many excellent points in your comment. While we didn’t watch any of the Doctor Who episodes prior to Christopher Eccleston, I can say that we share a lot of the same sentiments about the progress of the show from that point on. We stopped watching shortly after Peter Capaldi took the role. He was just too harsh and it felt like the fun died. River was gone. What was left? Daleks, Cybermen, a T.A.R.D.I.S., and a sonic screwdriver? It just wasn’t enough.
      Maybe a female Doctor could revitalize the show, but only if they do exactly what you’ve said… they have to turn it on its head and she needs to step into the role and own it without some kind of agenda. There are so many contention points, and the show’s writers will have to handle them with excellent writing. I have to say, that wasn’t their strong point when we bailed. Time will tell.
      There will always be loyal fans, no matter what, and that’s more than okay. I suppose my biggest issue was that it felt like people couldn’t say, “Eh, I’m not really enthused about a female version of The Doctor.” Certainly, the best response would be to suggest we all just wait and see. But either way, opinions are opinions. The whole thing just showed me that I need to be a little more selective of the folks I follow on Twitter. 🙂

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