Female Doctor Poll Results & A Case For
Last week Doctor Who TV asked you to vote either
With a topic such as this it’s no surprise to see that the results were very split. What is interesting is that in Doctor Who TV’s poll on the same subject in 2013 readers voted overwhelming in favour of a male Doctor (87% of the vote) so these latest results could suggest that more fans are warming to the idea despite ultimately ending on “against” with
Now to conclude, Connor Johnston will take the somewhat undefended side of the debate on this site in favour of a female Doctor.
On the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral, in the climaxing moments of one of the most engaging moments of Doctor Who history, the reveal of Missy’s identity sent ripples through the hearts of Whovians everywhere as it confirmed one of the most debated topics among the fandom: Time Lords can regenerate into different genders.
In recent times we’ve had articles deliberating on the motivations of casting a female doctor, we’ve had articles looking at the idea from an impartial view and articles blatantly against the idea… But what we’ve been lacking lately is an article in favour of such a divisive and taboo possibility. It’s more of a surprise to myself than anyone else that I decided to write this article, as it was just over a year ago now when the speculation ran rapid around the casting of the Twelfth Doctor that I remember being one of the many Whovians passionately debating AGAINST a female Doctor… Oh how people change!
Today, I’m not aiming to covert millions of fans to join the “
” bandwagon with petitions and Joanna Lumley t-shirts; because however lovely the idea – that’s never going to happen. Instead I’m aiming only to appeal to you to open your mind just a smidge to at the very least acknowledge that one day (not necessarily any time soon), under the right team, with the right actress and, more importantly, with the right audience a female Doctor could possibly just work; and hope to explain to you why I believe we’ve been asking the wrong question all along…
It’s no secret that prior to Matt Smith’s first moments as the Doctor in “
” there had been hardly an ‘in universe’ mention that any Time Lord could ever change sex to begin with, and that’s without mentioning that if the fact that gender is fluid on Gallifrey is such an established law of Doctor Who canon then it seems very unlikely that of all the Time Lords we’ve ever heard about during the show’s 51 year history only two individuals have ever changed sex. But let’s be honest with ourselves here, the point of the continued existence of the show is not to be restricted by “established canon” but to constantly add to it. When before “
” had there ever been mention of regeneration? When before “
” had there ever been mention that Time Lords could telepathically link to one another and join the entire Time Lord intelligence as one?
It seems to me that while we still remarkably have learned so little about the mysterious Time Lords even after 51 years of television, each showrunner has rightly exercised their creative licence and in turn acted to reveal a little more about them during their respective reigns. Through mentions in “
”, Steven Moffat has with his position established that while history might aim to disprove it, the absolute fact (however unlikely it may seem) is that Time Lords can change gender and furthermore that on Gallifrey gender is fluid. What we learn as time progresses and the narrative is extended should never be seen as “invented” information but rather “discovered” fact: The expansion of mythology to which every writer is awarded the right is the key to progressive story telling.
One of the most prominent complaints regarding Steven Moffat’s revelation that gender is fluid on Gallifrey is a general unease among those audience members trying to relate Gallifreyan ideology to their own life. Arguments such as “If your father one day turned into a woman how would you react” etc. The answer for many of course would not be favourable – but then who among us would be comfortable if our father’s came home, still a man, but with a completely different face and a completely different personality?! Why are some impossible aspects of regeneration (an utterly implausible idea by human standards anyway) easier to digest then others?
As I’ve just stated: many of us would not be comfortable with people we know changing genders (an unfortunate result of western society’s ideology of gender binary… more on that later) but as I’ll stress once more that is because we are attempting to relate to the Time Lord situation from a human point of view. Time Lords are a DIFFERENT SPECIES and therefore cannot be held accountable to human gender expectations. What may seem strange to us would seem perfectly normal to species such as the Anemonefish, Parrotfish, and Hawkfish (all examples of marine life who can easily change genders) which is kind of poetic when we realise the ocean is home to such elegant gender fluidity; and of course, as we now know it’s an ideology shared by Time Lords. One can never apply human logic and human ideas of ‘gender’ on an alien race like the Time Lords given how confusing and ‘impossible’ their biology is.
Century, has been used as a tool to make commentary on social matters. Both Russell T Davies quite prominently and Steven Moffat have used specific characters to not just promote acceptance of homosexuals but also to a certain extent aim to ‘normalise’ it in the show’s universe by making no big deal of a person’s sexuality on the show. I believe that now it also needs to tackle and help kids ease to the idea of an equally topical issue like gender binary, as it’s the next area where society needs total acceptance.
The handling of the Master’s gender change not being the focus of the plot in any way of the Series 8 finale and the foundation of a Doctor becoming female being written into the show’s history clearly shows that Doctor Who is the perfect tool to promote this acceptance. As a society we need to shake the common ideology that men can only be heroes to boys and women only to girls, as I’ll go on to say later in the piece it is the role that we are inspired by, not a gender, and to say having a female in the role would restrict the number of kids that could look up to the Doctor is just a little tasteless in my opinion.
Recently, Steven Moffat said that “The longer you do a show the cosier it gets, the cosier it gets, the nearer to death.” One of the insanely exciting effects of one day casting a female Doctor is what a refreshing, new and diverse perspective it would take that would totally invigorate the show and easily save it from any fear of repetition or flatness. Breaking tradition in such a drastic way is a risky, yet usually rewarding tactic – and as much as people try to protest it’s hardly an ‘out of the blue, wacky idea’ as there are countless cases of such an ‘unthinkable’ change working out sensationally.
Starting off with an example closer to home and with great relevance to today’s topic is the case of Missy being revealed as the first female regeneration of the Master. This was a direction I felt totally saved a dying, slightly repetitive character such as the Master and while not reinventing the character, most definitely revamped it. I can’t do anything else, but praise Michelle Gomez for her remarkable performance as the Master. She brought so much intensity, complexity and most of all insanity in a whole new way without decreasing the effect that John Simm, Roger Delgado or any of her predecessors had before her. There is a perfect balance of comedy, class and horror to her portrayal. She exudes villainous energy, and is clearly having a great deal of fun with the role and judging by the fairly positive reception including 60+% of voters being immediately in favour of the reveal and a further 50% of people voting Gomez as the best Master of New Who after she had a bit more time to prove herself in “
– I’d say it’s been a fairly successful move for the Master.
I think I must be in the 0.01% of people who watches and equally enjoys both the BBC’s “
”. If you’re somewhat familiar with the show or at the very least have identified the image used just above it’s probably no secret who my second case study for the day is, and that’s the casting of Lucy Liu as Dr
Watson. Elementary exhibits enough stylish wit in its mood and look to quickly distinguish itself from the British “Sherlock” series and while Johnny Lee Miller’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes is just as enthralling and different from Benedict Cumberbatch’s … the real contrasting factor is the casting of a female Watson the revitalizing twist to the dynamic between such classic characters. What could have been a disastrous creative choice has worked out immensely well with the female interpretation of Watson having such a unique class, cheek, sophistication and charisma to her character while still encompassing the classic “Watson” traits including the compassion, hilarious frustration and of course the lovable tedious attitude to the protagonist that is so crucial to the role. Yet another example of a gender change to a historically male character that has worked out sensationally in the receptions of the public with Elementary going on to reach 72 episodes by the end of its current season in just over 2 years of production.
At the end of the day Doctor Who at its core is a show about adapting to and embracing change. It’s a show about acceptance, diversity and even more then that it’s a commentary on humanity and modern day society. We watch the show due to an admiration of a character with the central beliefs to never act cruel or cowardly, to never give up and never give in – IT IS THE ROLE and the CHARACTER of the Doctor we admire, not an actor and definitely not a gender.
I know I may ruffle a few feathers in saying this, but in my mind anyone that says they would stop watching the show immediately if the Doctor regenerated into a woman is obviously more attached to the gender of the character then the character itself. I’m sorry for being blunt but in my mind if a woman in the titular role is something you wouldn’t even GIVE A CHANCE then there’s no doubt to me, that’s a sexist point of view. The question shouldn’t be whether the Doctor should ever be female or not; rather: “Has society evolved to a level of acceptance where a female Doctor could be welcomed”. If no, “Should Doctor Who be used as a tool to promote a social maturity”, and if yes “Should Doctor Who be used as proof of society’s achievement.” Should the Doctor become a woman? Ultimately to me the casting of the Doctor shouldn’t be based on gender- but on ability and who is best suited for the role at the time – if that’s a woman why wouldn’t we want the best suited. One day I’m sure that role will be ready for a female to take it on board, and I for one will most definitely not be someone to challenge it. ‘
Before anyone comments please remember to keep it civil. Last time comments had to be closed so let’s not have a repeat of that. This is obviously a topic with strong feelings from both sides, but if people can’t discuss the topic without getting heated and sniping at each other there will be no choice but to close them again.
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