Doctor Who: Is the World ready for a female Doctor? Part 1
As Matt Smith confirms his departure as The Doctor this Christmas Special, people have been wondering (and betting) who the next Doctor will be. Doctor Who is the only show that would face this type of problem – as the only character who could change their looks, personality, and entire show but still remain the SAME person. The Doctor could be anyone.
The picks have ranged from famous celebrities to lesser known actors, first black Doctor, first gay actor Doctor, and of course – first female Doctor. Head writer Steven Moffat has not dismissed the idea of a female Doctor. He told an audience at the Edinburgh Television Festival that a female Doctor “can happen. The more often it is talked about, the more likely it is to happen some day.” But are Doctor Who fans ready for this change? Would a female Doctor be accepted?
The show itself has created confusion among the Whovian World. According to the Doctor, he could generate into anything: any skin color; have two heads; be female. Unlike Romana, the Doctor could not decide what to regenerate into. The Doctor also mentions The Corsair who has been both female and male in the Who universe. Also, at one point during the regenerations, the 11th Doctor shouts “I’m a girl!” due to his long hair – comic relief – he wasn’t. Now that can be confusing since… the Doctor was a “father” and a “grandfather”. We also see the Doctor’s childhood at the Gallifrey Academy as a young boy. The Doctor has never generated into a female or anything other than a humanoid. So… should there be a female regeneration?
Several media outlets have expressed their opinion on the potential gender swap for the Doctor.
DailyMail UK’s Christopher Stevens voiced his opinion on why a female Doctor would be unacceptable. He argues “British tradition” for having the Doctors remain male and that the Doctor is a role model for young boys everywhere. Having the Doctor regenerate female would break tradition and deprive males of a true role model. After he posted his article, he was faced with many criticisms of sexism for his remarks.
There were, however, some that agreed with him, such as Alessia Cesana, a writer for ANewTake.com. Cesana wrote her opinion of why the Doctor should never be female providing strong analysis; the Doctor had been born a boy, grew up as a boy in Gallifrey, and should remain a boy for young boys to look up to. She also states that, as a woman, the Doctor’s gender would not define her personally – which is very true. She also expressed that she would not continue to watch the show if there were to be a female Doctor.
Some argue that Doctor Who already provides a strong female presence with current and previous companions – Donna Noble, Martha Jones, Sarah Jane Smith, Amy Pond, River Song, Clara Oswald, Barbara Wright as well as other strong female characters, like Madame Vastra and her human wife, Jenny. With that, there is no need for a female Doctor since companions already serve as female role models.
I asked fellow Whovians (through several Who Facebook groups – Doctor Who and the T.A.R.D.I.S. and Doctor Who and our own Nerd Reactor fanpage) their opinions regarding a female Doctor and to determine “are we ready for a female Doctor?” An overwhelming amount of people in every group chose “NO.” Many reasons given were due to tradition, the change in storyline, why change a formula that was working for BBC all this time and, honestly, for some it was just a matter of preference.
Judith R: “For me, no way. Being “ready” for it has nothing to do with it. Part of Doctor Who is the Doctor is a man. It would be another show if it were a woman. Have him find a woman Time Lord in his travels make her a big part of the season and story line. Do not change what we have loved and followed and watched for close to fifty years.”
James M: “It would not fit the role as the doctor has always been male and now he is romantic with river that would be weird as they would have to either end the relationship or change is orientation as well as gender and the TARDIS is female so it has a relationship with him which also would be altered if the doctor became female, i also feel there would be great outrage and people would claim it was just a feminist movement rather than a good idea.”
Joshua D: “I don’t think sexism has anything to do with the doctor, its just tradition. After 11 doctors being male its just that everyone is used to a male doctor.”
Kristin H: “I voted for a male Doctor because I HONESTLY cannot see a woman playing The Doctors role. Maybe if it was a different Time Lord (For instance, I could see The Master being played as a Woman) but I cannot picture a woman playing The Doctor’s role. I could care less if he’s attractive or not, just as long as he still portrays him well and can capture the soul of the Doctor.”
Mike T: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, imo [in my opinion]. I’m all for equality and blah blah blah, but no reason to alter a good thing”
Kelly M: “the doctor has mentioned several times about having a family, wife kids etc.. he has a very ” father figure” quality to him. and i for one just don’t think it would make sense for his character to be a woman.”
Andrew N: “A female doctor would just seem weird. The Doctor is a quirky guy who runs around with young girls. You cant just flip the paradigm like that. The Doctor as a female would be, if it happened, a one season ordeal. A female I don’t think can be as complex as the Doctor need be.”
JD B: “I voted for no because I think there is far more in cannon to back up fixed genders then the 1.5 references to it being possible.”
I took to Twitter and noticed the outrage the BBC even considering a female Doctor.”
Ouch. Tell me how you really feel.
Overall, the majority of social media, blogs, articles and voices in general are not ready for the Doctor to be female… maybe ever. Should that stop the BBC from casting a female for the role of the Doctor? Quite possibly, due to fear of viewership decreasing.
But isn’t it about time for a female Doctor?
Is being a companion really enough of a role model for girls?
Legendary actress Helen Mirren was quoted saying “I would like to play the new female Doctor. I don’t want to just be his sidekick.” She later commented, “I think it’s absolutely time for a female Doctor Who. I’m so sick of that man with his girl sidekick.”
Photo by Costuming Diary
At many conventions, we see girls dressing up in their very own femme versions of “The Doctor”. Isn’t it time for the young girls to dress up in a Doctor that they don’t need to feminize? Having a female Doctor may be able to provide a role model for young girls who want to be the hero. But what about young boys?!?! There are eleven other Doctors for little boys to look up to.
If men are worried about their male role models, they seem to be forgetting the male companions of the Doctor. There is Ian (First Doctor’s companion) who was stronger than a Aztec warrior, a gentle soul, and absolutely brilliant. We can’t forget Scottish bloke Jamie (Second Doctor’s companion) who is the longest running companion in the Doctor Who universe and fiercely brave. And, of course, Rory Williams who is a loyal companion and every girl’s dream husband.
In an article by Geek Girl Playground, the writer debunks the “role model” discussion and asks why can’t there be a female doctor?
“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.”
– Geek Girl Playground
She further explains that this is a low possibility of a female Doctor due to the creators and network’s fear of the fans and the change it could possibly bring.
Doctor Who TV guest writer, Dan Roth, recently posted an article about “Why You’re Wrong About a Female Doctor” and argued against statements made against a female Doctor. He debunks the tradition that the Doctor has been a female by mentioning a fellow Time Lord, Corsair, who has swapped genders at one point. He also supports that it’s time for girls to have a role model too.
Several on the Facebook groups posted their agreement for a female Doctor in Doctor Who. It’s about time for a lady to step in…
Sammy H: “The twenty-first century is when everything changes. And you’ve got to be ready.”
Christine D: “I’d love to see time ladies, and truly I’d have no objection to the doctor being played by a woman, but they’d really have to find the right woman. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Helena Bonham Carter!!!”
Franco C: “I wouldn’t mind a female doctor…I’d love to see Gillian Anderson or Amanda Tapping…although Amanda has to work on her British accent (her accent on Sanctuary wasn’t that great). I love these two actresses because they can be both funny, witty, serious, dramatic all at the same time.”
Stan O: “Female, because it could prove to be an refreshing changer and open for more variable in terms of storyline.”
Juliet F: “I don’t think it would be any different than any other new Doctor – some would love, some would hate, most would watch regardless. Lol. I’ve never particularly liked Smith, but I keep watching & have a keen appreciation for a good storyline regardless of my feelings for the actors. I’m not a fan of a few actors who have played the Doctor, but I’ve never felt it changed my fan status. I’m quite confident I’m not alone in that. or perhaps it just makes me feel better to assume people aren’t so shallow as that.”
Isn’t it about time to be in favor of the POSSIBILITY of the Doctor regenerating into a female form? I know, currently, we are not ready for a female Doctor. But don’t rule out the possibility.
The character of the Doctor has varied with each regeneration – wise, mad, rebel, clueless, whimsical, romantic, soldier, bad, evil, and so forth. The Doctor is not defined by race, gender, hair color, height, or weight. The Doctor is defined by his actions (yes, I wrote HIS because the Doctor is currently in a male form). The Doctor could be anyone and anything. Why limit the Doctor’s possibilities?
Yes, the Doctor was a father, grandfather and has wives, but we have to remember – the Doctor is a Time Lord and has traveled through time where there may be worlds where it’s okay to love and marry the same sex. I know our world is getting there. Even inter-species love is acceptable in the Who universe.
I also need to point out, the Doctor is not real. *shock* The Doctor is a show about imagination. The idea that anything is possible and to limit the Doctor’s ability because of “British tradition” is not a very good excuse. Also, please note that the Doctor can regenerate many times – allowing the show to last for another 50 years or so. If BBC and the fans are not satisfied with any Doctor they have, BOOM – regenerate. New Doctor.
I’m not saying I am FOR a female Doctor. I am open to the possibility to the idea. Like every casting, it all depends on their acting ability and who the creative directors feel fit the bill of “their Doctor.” The actor/actress is not going to be writing their stories. They will be following a script written for them. If anything, the fans should be more focused on the writing than the casting. If the BBC feels a woman is fit for the role, then we, as Whovians, should trust in our creative team and be open to it.
But it seems those in the Whovian world are not ready for a change. Not ready for the Doctor to be anything but a their “MadMAN in the Blue Box”. It keeps up with their tradition and for some, it’s all they’ve ever known about The Doctor. Why change what has been known to work for the past 50 years? Well, maybe because times are changing and the Doctor is a Time Lord. But, it’s still not time YET.
Is the World ready for a female Doctor?
Sadly, not right now.