The Female Doctor: A Commentary

Before Jodie was announced as the new Doctor, I remember thinking that I did not want a female in the lead.  I admit it but in retrospect, this was largely due to the fact that I never fully grew up: I wanted to be the Doctor as a kid and I’m male, so how could I be the Doctor if he were female?  But the day it was announced, my wife and I were cleaning when the DoctorWhoNews app made the TARDIS sound and without even looking, I knew: the announcement was online.  I dropped what I was doing, called to my wife (who, I am fairly certain, rolled her eyes, but came anyway) and we watched the mysterious person walking through the woods to be revealed as Jodie.  And in an instant, I accepted it and have been looking forward to it since.  I think for me, I realized that she is the Doctor now and that’s my hero – gender doesn’t matter.  And besides, there has never been a bad Doctor.  Bad scripts, sure, but never a bad Doctor!  And Jodie was amazing as Beth in Broadchurch.  It wasn’t about whether she was good or bad, but if the scripts were.  So I am ready and excited and hope beyond hope that I meet her at tomorrow’s ComicCon.  But my sister wrote something for our website which I felt, even if it’s not popular opinion, would be a good post for today.  A sort of counter-perspective that will be proved right or wrong today.  We shall see.  So on the day the female Doctor premieres, here is a word from my sister…

jodie announced

Most of us have heard the saying, “Girls can do everything that guys can do.”

Really though?!! I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend. All that being said, I can’t do “everything” a guy can do. I like being the fairer sex. I don’t feel inferior OR superior to men. Truth be told…I am glad I can’t do everything a man can do. Just like I am glad a guy can’t do everything a girl can do. Lord knows, after two C-sections (that in some ways, felt like I was smack right in the middle a sci-fi movie) I know, no man, could survive child birth. Especially, after seeing how most men react to the common cold.  (ML: Hey, I resemble that remark!)

You see, I grew up as a non-fan of science fiction. Not really a “non” fan. Just not a “fan.” Being almost 8 years younger than my brother, I would often, as a child, watch Doctor Who with him. I was born in 1980 so the episodes of Doctor Who that I watched with my brother were almost always of Tom Baker. I felt a love for this man as the Doctor. I don’t know if it was because I felt like he had a kind face or because I did love spending time with my big brother. You see…being a little sister, I would find myself watching movies or shows such as The Dark Crystal, Star Wars, Star Trek, and of course Doctor Who because that is what HE was watching. These shows would not have been what I would have chosen for myself. (Actually, I loved a show called Square One that was on PBS I believe, and based in reality with Math being a common topic actually.)

I have always been more grounded in reality than fantasy. So, if someone were to ask me how to get on my parents’ balcony from outside, I would suggest using a ladder. Whereas my brother would fashion a rope from tree leaves or something wildly complicated. I can however, teasing aside, appreciate my brothers’ passion for science fiction. So much so, that I remember buying my brother a book at book fair at my school when I was probably just 8 years old. The War of the Worlds by H.G Wells. As a little sister, I was willing to tag along on my brother’s journey into science fiction. We would pretend we were in an episode of Doctor Who in my great grandmothers back yard for the entire visit to her house.  (ML: The Seeds of Doom… and there were Krynoids in that yard!)

I remember being the only kid in my class to raise a hand when the teacher was looking for an answer to a science question. She prefaced her question with, “the alien/andriod on Star Trek goes by this name.” “Data” I answered. Even saying it the way they said his name in the show, which is BIG, considering my strong New York accent.  I guess my brothers shows did seep in to my brain, even without me wanting them to.

All this being said, I am glad I grew up with a brother who loved Doctor Who because it allowed us to have some time together with him in his element. I think this is particularly why I do not understand all the hype behind a female doctor. I know regenerating from one being into another is a large part of Doctor Who. I realize there must be a change of “Captain” of the Tardis. I can remember a particular regeneration scene that I watched with my brother on an episode called, The Watcher. (I hope I got the episode right! Mike?) So, I know it can’t only be Tom Baker with his cool scarf.   (ML: Logopolis, but the Watcher totally fascinated my sister at the time…)

I just don’t know why, now, after all these years- the Doctor needs to be a female. I know, I know. The Doctor is a “being”, not defined by gender. Fine and well. Still… some things need to just stick. To me, it just seems wrong. The Doctor is a man. Or a being that takes the form of a man. That is part of the birthright, the fiber, of the show. I hope I haven’t offended any “women’s-lib” group for saying so. Oh, and where the hell did K-9, go by the way? Can’t anything stick around and stay the same? 😊  DLG

jodie announced2

Me again; Mike.  We’ll see if my sister nailed it or if perhaps she’ll have second thoughts if she watches it tomorrow.  (Here’s to hoping… 1:45, BBC America… just sayin’).  But I live in hope.  My two biggest heroes brought me up that way.  My dad is for always and ever a male.  The Doctor… is the Doctor.

Good luck Jodie.  We’re counting on you!   ML

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2 Responses to The Female Doctor: A Commentary

  1. Mike Basil says:

    Thank you, ML and DLG, for your very thoughtful words. Quite agreeably, a hero that doesn’t need to be defined by gender is appealing and quite synchronously what this world needs now. Even if I for one felt that many male heroes in the history of television and films would have been a lot more interesting as females, including The Fugitive (which I actually had dreams about), and even if this can imaginably spawn a sequence of female Doctors (given how Barbara Benedetti’s regeneration finale in Broken Doors back into a man consequently ended that fan-film series), Jodie’s wisdom is on the mark about just going with it as an individual playing the Doctor, not either as a woman or a man.

    When I first heard the rumors back in 1980-1 that the new Doctor after T. Baker may be a woman, that effortlessly clicked with me and Joanna Lumley, even for a parody-sketch when I first saw on VHS The Curse Of Fatal Death, convinced me that it could work. It may just be my own personal fandom for female SF heroes which began with Sarah Jane Smith, Leela and Princess Leia. The potential for non-white Doctors made enough sense to me too and that can be more likely now in light of C. Baker’s wisdom on the Doctor’s flexible diversity. I think I can remember someone (for The United Whovians of Tuscon which I temporarily joined in the 90s) saying that Oprah Winfrey would make a great female Dr. Who. I can imagine her being another hidden incarnation for the Doctor like the War Doctor. Maybe that’s a possibility as it would imaginably be for Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren or Kate Winslet.

    I’m just letting my imagination run wild. But that’s what Doctor Who permits if nothing else which (as I’ve often shared) is why it’s the one show that I’ve always most comfortably stuck with. So it may cause me some concern if they make Jodie’s replacement a man. I think it’s more likely for Jodie to spark the decisions for more official female Doctors before they somehow to go again in some future project with a man. We know of course from T. Baker’s Curator twist that it will be a matter to be dealt with somewhere down the road. But for now, I expect to enjoy Jodie as Dr. Who for quite sufficient reasons. Thank you both again for this quite timely article.

    Liked by 1 person

    • scifimike70 says:

      Congratulations to the top 10 most iconic women in SF:

      1. Jodie Whittaker (Doctor Who)
      2. Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek)
      3. Sigourney Weaver (Alien/Aliens)
      4. Carrie Fisher (Star Wars)
      5. Gillian Anderson (The X-Files)
      6. Linda Hamilton (Terminator 2: Judgment Day)
      7. Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)
      8. Jacqueline Pearce (Blake’s 7)
      9. Joanna Lumley (Sapphire & Steel)
      10. Alison Lohman (Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind)

      Liked by 1 person

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