Disliking a female-led ‘Doctor Who’ is definitely sexist

Disliking a female-led ‘Doctor Who’ is definitely sexist

Disliking a female-led ‘Doctor Who’ is definitely sexist
July 20
20:41 2017

After tons of speculation and different actors thrown into the spotlight, BBC’s “Doctor Who” has finally announced who will replace Peter Capaldi in the title role: Jodie Whittaker. This is the first time a woman has ever played the Doctor since the show began in 1963, and fan reactions are definitely mixed.

Whittaker has made her feminism no secret, and she’s asked fans “not to be scared of [her] gender” during an interview with BBC. Yet there are many fans who aren’t just scared of her gender but enraged by it, some even saying they will no longer watch the show.

Commenters on Facebook under numerous articles, like this one from The Telegraph, were quick to point out how Whittaker’s Doctor will crash the TARDIS or decorate it with pink throw pillows. Then there are other fans who are merely disgruntled with the idea of a female Doctor, and deny that this makes them sexist.

Being upset about a female main character in a television show that has cracks in the universe, a giant invisible beast stalking Vincent van Gogh and a plethora of fictional alien races playing key roles is sexist. It’s not unrealistic for the Doctor to be female, and the decision has been a long time coming.

Yet media and fan reactions to the announcement show how Whittaker is taking on an uphill battle. Daily Mail was quick to publish an article highlighting Whittaker’s previous role in “Black Mirror” because she had sex in it. The only time the publication seems to have mentioned former Doctor Matt Smith’s sex scenes in the show “Secret Diary of a Call Girl” was when they highlighted Billie Piper’s relationship with him. The Sun printed photos of Whittaker topless under the headline “Dalektable” after the announcement, according to The Guardian.

This kind of reporting after a massive career break rarely, if ever, happens to men. People and publications want to claim they’re not sexist, but treating someone differently because of their gender is practically the definition of sexism.

But what if the roles were reversed? What if a man was cast in a role traditionally held by a woman?

If roles were truly reversed then people who aren’t sexist would be fine with a man being cast. In our current society, representation is not equal and that is why Whittaker’s Doctor is such a big deal.

It’s important for girls and women to see themselves in important roles, not just as the constant companion. You can claim that disliking this change simply means you’re against change, but that’s an inaccurate assessment of one’s views. The Doctor regenerates every few seasons. “Doctor Who” is a show literally based on change, so the Doctor regenerating into a woman is far from a problem.

Too often, progress is swept under the umbrella of political-correctness. Finally, women and minorities are getting the screen time they deserve, and a large group of people stand in the background screaming about how political-correctness is ruining everything. Casting people other than white men isn’t just about political-correctness, it’s about progress. It’s about having the characters we see onscreen reflect the diversity we see in the real world. Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor is yet another step for progress, and only time will tell how many new viewers the show gets and how many old viewers the show keeps.

Her first episode hasn’t even aired yet, and assumptions are being made across the board. If you don’t like Whittaker’s casting just because she’s a woman, your opinion is sexist. It’s that simple. It doesn’t mean you’re a misogynist or you hate women, but anyone with issues about a female Doctor needs to face their sexism. The rest of us will be over here, celebrating progress and waiting for you to join us.

Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins

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Amanda Dycus

Amanda Dycus

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1 Comment

  1. Professor
    Professor July 21, 11:00

    I found the article to be ignorant, flippant, and completely without any depth of analysis into the subject matter. Changing a character’s gender for the sole reason that you can, and without any true pivotal reason in the the story-line is simply ignorant of good storytelling. Your article demonstrates it perfectly, you wrote on a subject not because you understood the subject matter and had something of value and intelligence to say, but because you could. I sincerely hope you’re not a journalism student.

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