'Doctor Who' Changes How Women Are Portrayed In Sci-Fi
Start writing a post
Wellbeing

'Doctor Who' Could Change The Way Women Are Portrayed In Sci-Fi

A long-lived character trope could be made something new by the Doctor's new face.

89
'Doctor Who' Could Change The Way Women Are Portrayed In Sci-Fi
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VOeiRL6Omw

Every piece of genre fiction from the last ten years has some variation of the Eccentric Intellectual Male Hero. Fewer pair these traits with a kind heart the way Doctor Who does with the Doctor, but this hyper-intelligent madman trope is everywhere, from superhero movies to action/adventure films to crime and detection television.

You never see this trope applied to women, though. If a woman is intelligent, she is either cold and calculating, or just witty enough to quip with the team of intelligent men on which she is the sole woman. Most importantly, though, she is never, ever eccentric. She is perfect in everything she does, not messy or unpredictable. She is often emotionless, because while emotion equals depth for male characters, it's seen as a weakness in women. She is always mature -- far more mature than her male co-star, for sure. And there is always a male co-star -- someone to ascend to True Hero in the end in a grand display of cleverness.

Now that the Doctor has fifty-five years of characterization as that eccentric intellectual man, though, that is what the Thirteenth Doctor must be. And this time, the Doctor is played by a woman.

A fear for a lot of people heading into this new series of Doctor Who was that the Doctor's oddities might be lessened -- that she might lose her immaturity and imperfections. Luckily, though, the new series currently airing has not abandoned the Doctor's personality. She is just as much the funny, whip-smart madwoman every man before her was. She talks fast in words no one else can understand, moves clumsily and stumbles over social cues, pulls absurd faces while pulling off clever plots and expounding on her love for science and discovery to no one in particular. And she is never doing this to support an all-important male character. Instead, she is the hero -- always the first to run into action, always steps in to protect the men and women on her team, always the most intelligent person in the room and is rarely challenged on that. It's something I've never seen a woman allowed to be onscreen before.

That isn't to say there aren't slips in the way the Doctor has been written in this current series, though. We're nearing the end of series 11 and we still have yet to get a true glimpse of the dark and angry parts of the Doctor's personality, a defining aspect of her previous incarnations' characterization. She has not yet had to make a decision that brought her morals into question, and those moments that should have brought them into question, like her walking away as a man is killed to ensure her companion would exist seventy years later (Demons of the Punjab) or her setting off a room full of bombs knowing the man who put them there would be in the center of the explosion (Kerblam!), were not addressed. She has been selfish and arrogant to a degree, but not nearly as much as the men who came before her were. Women are very rarely given tragic, nuanced pasts and the resulting boiling anger in fiction the way men are, and that is a part of the Doctor that would be thrilling to see played by a woman. The Doctor is an extremely flawed character, and while I'm clearly excited to see his eccentricities continue into the Thirteenth Doctor, I'm anxiously awaiting the moment when her character takes on the other layers past Doctors have been allowed.

However, even if we simply continue on the path the Doctor has been put on this season, I'm still hoping it will spark a shift in the way intelligent, heroic women are allowed to be portrayed in media. Women do not have to fit into this strange Intelligent Dream Woman ideal who looks perfect, speaks clearly and with maturity, and spends the majority of her screentime proving she can keep up with the guys. She can be as fast-talking, flawed, and eccentric as every man who came before her, just like the Doctor.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee
nappy.co

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

73783
college students waiting in a long line in the hallway
StableDiffusion

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less
a man and a woman sitting on the beach in front of the sunset

Whether you met your new love interest online, through mutual friends, or another way entirely, you'll definitely want to know what you're getting into. I mean, really, what's the point in entering a relationship with someone if you don't know whether or not you're compatible on a very basic level?

Consider these 21 questions to ask in the talking stage when getting to know that new guy or girl you just started talking to:

Keep Reading...Show less
Lifestyle

Challah vs. Easter Bread: A Delicious Dilemma

Is there really such a difference in Challah bread or Easter Bread?

46606
loaves of challah and easter bread stacked up aside each other, an abundance of food in baskets
StableDiffusion

Ever since I could remember, it was a treat to receive Easter Bread made by my grandmother. We would only have it once a year and the wait was excruciating. Now that my grandmother has gotten older, she has stopped baking a lot of her recipes that require a lot of hand usage--her traditional Italian baking means no machines. So for the past few years, I have missed enjoying my Easter Bread.

Keep Reading...Show less
Adulting

Unlocking Lake People's Secrets: 15 Must-Knows!

There's no other place you'd rather be in the summer.

977305
Group of joyful friends sitting in a boat
Haley Harvey

The people that spend their summers at the lake are a unique group of people.

Whether you grew up going to the lake, have only recently started going, or have only been once or twice, you know it takes a certain kind of person to be a lake person. To the long-time lake people, the lake holds a special place in your heart, no matter how dirty the water may look.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments