A Woman Doctor?? This is AWESOME for Dudes.
If you’re here, you’ve heard by now that THE THIRTEENTH DOCTOR WILL BE A WOMAN.
I decided to take a break from The Keys of Marinus and do a post about this historic event. Plenty of people have written already about how this is great for girls and women. Others are also writing about how we still need better representation of people of color in Doctor Who. And there’s also plenty of writing out there about how casting a woman is completely consistent with the whole premise of the show. And while I agree with all of those points, I’m not going to write about them here. I’m going to talk about men and boys. And while some may think that men and boys already get too much attention, I’m a mom with a son, and I care about how men and boys are raised.
So, some people are…concerned about this development. (Note: I’m not going to go into implicit, explicit, or systemic sexism right now, although that is an excellent topic if you want to Google it and potentially something I’ll do a later post on.) To summarize some of the concerns, there are thoughts out there that, for example, men and boys won’t be able to identify with a female Doctor, that men and boys are losing a role model, or that the world is losing a father figure.
And at least some of that is true. This wise, kind, (technically) nonviolent character with an appreciation and respect for wonder and diversity will not be played by a man. And yes, in many ways he’s been a great male role model, something sadly lacking in plenty of film and TV today. So first, if you’re looking for more sources of good male role models, I can suggest a few off the top of my head to look into if you haven’t already:
Harry Potter as well as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Full of truly awesome good guy male characters, and some damn good not-quite-good-guys also.
Most of Star Trek, including a couple of upcoming new series.
Current Star Wars, including the current animated serials. Star Wars Rebels, for example,has excellent, well-realized, kind, and thoughtful male characters. Plus, Tom Baker voices an alien who’s been around for millennia, makes fun of everyone, and occasionally turns into a thunderstorm.
The Percy Jackson books, and probably all of Rick Riordan’s young adult fantasy books: FULL of male characters who have to struggle through character development while keeping their moral compass straight despite impossible odds. AND it’s an excellent education in classic mythology.
Add more in the comments! Now, on to why the Doctor being a woman is actually a positive development for men and boys.
First: Flexible thinking. It’s good for your brain. Trust me, I’m a doctor. (Really. I’m a child psychologist.) Mental exercises in cognitive flexibility are beneficial to brains of all ages. I’ve seen a good deal of commentary online to the effect that “you couldn’t imagine a female James Bond, Harry Potter, etc., could you?” Here’s the thing: If you genuinely CAN’T imagine that, it probably means your brain’s a bit rusty or excessively rigid. If you can imagine it, but it horrifies you, you may be thinking in very strong gender stereotypes that are ruining the experience for you. (Note: “Imagine Wonder Woman as a man” is an interesting point, but doesn’t actually apply here, because you don’t need flexible thinking to do that. We already have that character; he’s called Superman.) The thing is that some of us may not be able to properly imagine the Doctor as a woman until we actually see it. You may not be confident AT ALL, ahead of time, that this is going to work. When you SEE Thirteen, see the Doctor’s character played by a woman, see the same traits you’ve loved for years expressed by a woman, that may be the first time this can make sense to you.And it will be good for your brain. Brains can be stubborn, and sometimes they have to be forced into becoming more flexible. Just remember, when the time comes, that cognitive flexibility is healthy; rigidity generally is not. The Doctor is flexible; the Daleks are rigid.
Next: Understanding women. I know this is a thing, because y’all talk all the time about how hard we are to understand. And honestly, it’s not that surprising, because you haven’t tended to have realistic examples of women shown to you in popular media. Well, that’s about to change. Think of how much we know about the Doctor, how we’ve enjoyed taking apart his personality, examining his motives, figuring out what makes him tick. NOW WE GET TO DO THAT FOR A WOMAN. Plus, we get to watch a woman figure out how to BE a woman. Besides adjusting to a new body (whole different weight distribution!), she’s going to learn what’s different about how a woman experiences the world. You’re going to have a direct window into that experience.
Improving your love life. I am not kidding. Besides understanding women better, you’re about to have a woman character whom you respect. While real women deserve respect, there are plenty of women CHARACTERS out there who…don’t really inspire respect. But this one is THE DOCTOR. We respect the Doctor. And the truth is that respect for women is hot. Do NOT believe that garbage about women wanting men who feel superior, or treat them badly, or whatever. That’s a bullshit lie. A dude who understands that a woman is an equal, fully realized human, and treats her (and others) as such, is FAR more attractive. Many women in film and TV aren’t shown as equal, fully realized humans, so it’s darned hard to respect them—and many of you have been stunted without your consent by having fewer chances to see fully realized women. The Doctor is about to give you that chance. Take it and run with it!
BETTER male role models. At some point, Thirteen will have a male companion. NuWho has had a distinct lack of full-time male companions (total = 0). And while the temporary male companions have frequently been good characters, they’ve tended to leave quickly (Captain Jack, Mickey), be sidelined (Nardole, Rory), exist mainly for comic relief (eh…basically all of them), and/or only be there because their love interest was obsessed with the Doctor (Rory and Mickey again).
So here’s what’s coming: Imagine a dude taking on all the responsibilities of the companion. Pulling the Doctor’s moral compass back into alignment. Translating the Doctor for the ordinary humans (or aliens) they have to rescue. Bonding with and supporting vulnerable locals. Getting upset when he sees too much death. Getting upset when the Doctor seems to lack empathy. Learning from the Doctor’s vast perspective and slowly developing into someone greater than he was when he started. That, folks, is a realistic, kind male role model. It’s frankly a better male role model than the magic, sarcastic alien who can’t handle FEELINGS so keeps running away from them. Boys growing up with that kind of male role model are getting something healthier than what we’ve had recently.
Ok, finally: You get to fancy her! This one applies to anyone strictly attracted to women. Guys (and gals to whom this applies): You have no idea what awaits you! Trust those of us who’ve been fancying, crushing on, and creating steamy fanfictions about the Doctor for years or decades now. It’s awesome. Heck, I’m a hetero woman, and I fully plan to fancy 13. Jodie Whittaker’s gorgeous on a level with David Tennant, and since she’ll be the Doctor, we know she’ll be intelligent, witty, a bit vulnerable if you know her well enough, mysterious, and fundamentally kind—great Gallifrey; who WOULDN’T fancy her?? It doesn’t even have to be sexual. Intellectual crushes are also awesome things. It adds a wonderfully pleasant dimension to your viewing. Take it from the other half of the population: Jump on in! The water’s fantastic.