Should there be a female Doctor? It's a question that has divided Doctor Who fans for decades. Are we ready for a female Doctor? Is it finally time for woman's touch in the TARDIS? The 12th Doctor might be exploding onto our screens today, but before Peter Capaldi was cast, there was a LOT of speculation that the BBC had decided to make a very big change to our titular hero. Today, Xavier Gonne and William John find themselves in ether side of the battle. Who's side so you fall on?
Why the hell not… Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. There has been some debate in recent years about who should be the “next” doctor. It feels like as soon as Matt Smith became the 11th Doctor, the blogosphere have unfairly been talking about his demise and about the 12th Doctor and the possibility of it being a woman.
I’ll get to the bulk of my argument in a moment, but first I’d like to start with Star Trek; DS9’s Dax. For those who aren’t familiar, Dax was an alien (Trill) symbiont which, when its host died, would be transferred into a new host. When we meet Jadzia Dax, she is the eight host for the Dax symbiont. Of those, four hosts were male, including Curizon Dax, with whom Benjamin Sisko had a significant friendship. The Dax and Doctor characters are incredibly similar in that that (production-wise) the actor can change and the story can continue and (story-wise) the personality, skill set and outlook can change, but the memories remain. They are constructs which we, as fans, accept without question.
So, if Dax can be (and repeatedly was) a man, why can’t the Doctor be a woman?
I’m here to argue in the affirmative.
Sexual politics. Doctor Who has been great for equality amongst the sexualities (all fifty-eight of them, according to Facebook!). Russell T Davies did an admirable job at using gay characters in a family show, and Steven Moffat has continue to champion LGBT themes (It should be remembered that if this was a US show, that would never have happened). It’s now pretty unusual for an arc to go by without a gay character. Making the Doctor female would open a whole new set of possibilities storylines and avenues of commentary on culture… including every point I’ve made here.
And yet, in such a forward thing, progressive show, we still lack strong female roles. All the female roles are dependent on, or causal to, the Doctor. Even folks like River Song was created (within the shows mythology) to kill the Doctor. Everything’s about the Doctor. Every girl and woman is Doctor facing, so let’s have the Doctor have a woman’s face.
Yes, let’s have a Doctor with a woman’s face, a woman’s voice and a woman’s body. Just think of the fanfic. Just sayin’.
They’re running out of male stereotypes. Think about the possibilities for a female Doctor. They’ve gone through a bunch of male stereotypies. We’ve had the doddery old professor, old doddery professor, the kung fu fighting professor, the shouty professor, the quiet professor (okay, so a lot of professors), the Doctor from the North, the Scottish one, the other Scottish one, the prep-school Doctor, the vagabond Doctor, the half-human Doctor, and my favourite Doctor (he’s quite something!).
And why does “quintessentially British” mean male? (Idris Elba would make an awesome Doctor… and James Bond… and… okay, Stringer Bell can do anything he damn well pleases… just sayin’)
Emilia Clarke… as the Doctor. Helen Mirren… as the Doctor. Helena Bonham Carter as a truly whacked-out Doctor. Kelly MacDonald… as the Doctor. Hayley Atwell… as the Doctor. Thandie Newton… as the Doctor. And every American (international) actress looking for a meaty role.
Think about it; a pregnant Doctor. They can repopulate Galllifrey… one Time Lord at a time and thus reverse the worst self-inflicted wounds suffered by a franchise in this commentator’s memory.
And finally, make the Doctor a woman and cast Elizabeth Heery. Who, you say? Wife of Peter Davison (fifth Doctor), who is father of Georgia Moffett (The Doctor’s Daughter) who is married to David Tennant (Tenth Doctor).
And in conclusion… think about every “against” point you’ve read here and consider this; each and every one is a point of debate, commentary, controversy, humor, story hook, plot device, or juxta-fraggin’-position which can be used by the writers of the new Female Doctor Who.
OK, so I’ve found myself at a slight disadvantage after my opponent so cunningly brought up Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s Dax, and even questioning my own stance on this delicate matter when the concept of Hayley Atwell as the Doctor brought me to a standstill. But, at the risk of sounding like an out of touch, elitist ‘fan’, the Doctor should not be a woman.
Let's get the obvious out of the way first. The issue is that, deep down, below the outlandish costumes and crazy behaviours that make up each incarnation, the Doctor has always been a man. Yes, the show has always relied on change, but whether tall or short, fat or thin, old or young, he has always been a male character.
In today's world, the importance of understanding ones gender and identity has never been higher. As society continues to shrug off the taboo surrounding transgenderism, it's becoming clearer that the sex one identifies as is more important than the body they inhabit. Now, from what we've seen of regeneration, the Doctor's physical form and his entire personality changes, but his memories and his core values and belief, essentially his core being, remain the same. With this in mind, arbitrarily switching the Doctor's gender wouldn't change the fact that he has identified as a man for 2000 years. To keep the character the same, we wouldn't see a female Doctor, we'd have a male Doctor trapped in a female body.
"Son, there's been an accident. Your father was struck by a Z-neutrino ray. He regenerated this morning."
"Oh! What does he look like now?"
"Well... Actually, he's now a woman."
Talk about confused, the poor Gallifreyan kid!
Even behind the scenes, the idea of a female Doctor isn't as good as it first seems. Equality is so important in our society, as it damn well should be, but look at it this way, what if they announced tomorrow they're making a new trilogy of Alien films. They're bringing Ripley back, one of the strongest female role models we've seen in sci-fi; great! Oh, but they've cast a dashing young guy to play Ripley. It wouldn't work, because Ripley is a character built on decades of being a woman.
But y'know what, as much as I may be opposed to the idea now, I was also one of those morons who said "Matt Smith's gonna suck!", and look how wrong I turned out to be. Ultimately, you never know what could be in store for the Doctor. Perhaps he's get an intergalactic space cold, sneeze and temporarily become a woman, or perhaps the 13th Doctor could indeed become the first Timelady at the helm of the TARDIS. All I can say is, should that be the case, come on Hayley Atwell!
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