Bras In The T.A.R.D.I.S: Why Representation Matters

The 13th Doctor is a woman. I never thought I’d see the day, but we finally have a female Doctor Who. Yes, much has been said about the 13th Doctor already, but I wanted to add my thoughts on the matter.

Now that the dust has (somewhat) settled after the announcement that Jodie Whittaker is to be the 13th Doctor, I wanted to share my thoughts on the news.  It’s something that I have been hoping for for quite sometime so as you can imagine, I have some things to say about it.  So strap in lads, this is a long one.

First off, I’d like to applaud the BBC for actually taking that step and casting a woman as The Doctor.  It’s something that has been called for for quite some time now and a decision that would have been debated over and over, but ultimately discarded for yet another white male.  This time though, it actually happened.  I would argue that this is a brave choice for the Beeb as Doctor Who is not a programme that has been around for just a few years, it has surpassed its half century.  Deciding to take the plunge and have a female Doctor is a bold move for Aunty and I must give them props for their decision.

The other side of that argument is that it’s about goddamn time.  I mean, it’s 2017 and it’s only now that we have a female Doctor.  It should have happened about 3 series ago, not this year.  Traditionally, the Doctor has nearly always had female companions, women always being not quite good enough to be a Time Lord in modern-day Who.  It always seems to be forgotten by many that Doctor Who began with a female Time Lord in the TARDIS in the shape of Susan, The Doctor’s granddaughter.  In 1963 when the first episode aired Susan was there, so why not make the Doctor female?  And lets not forget Romana, The Corsair, The Rani, The Inquisitor, The Woman, Jenny, Missy and Ohila.  There have been female Time Lords since 1963 so why is it such a shock to people for the TARDIS we know and love to have a female at the helm?

Little girls need strong, empowered women to look up to just as much as little boys need their role models.

When I found out the casting news on that Sunday, I was emotional.  I knew I would be, but I was actually quite shocked by just how emotional I was.  There were quite a few tears that evening and I’ll tell you why: Representation, and it matters so much more than people realise.  I’m 37 years old and I was an emotional mess at finding out that one of my most beloved fictional characters is going to be played by a woman, so can you imagine what it must have felt like to a 10-year-old?  All over Twitter there were reaction videos of people’s daughters watching the announcement trailer and it was pure magic.  I cried even more watching those videos because I knew how much it meant to those happy little souls.

We currently live in a world where a Wonder Woman film (written and directed by a woman) is this summer’s biggest box office earner, far out pacing her male counterparts.  The Ghostbusters are female, Rey and Jyn are out there saving the galaxy, female-centric comics are outselling those with male leads, and a woman won the popular vote on the US election.  Do you know how empowering that all is to little girls? They are seeing women taking the lead in the world at the moment: strong, intelligent, powerful women proving that they can dream big and that they can succeed.  THAT is why representation matters.  Today’s little girls are going to grow up to be tomorrow’s leaders, so they need to see themselves reflected in today’s media. They need to see themselves in comics, in film, in science and on TV.  They need to see that they can be strong and intelligent, and they can fulfill  their dreams just as much as boys can.  How can we inspire the female leaders of tomorrow if we can’t depict them in those roles today?

Look at their little faces. THAT is why representation matters so much, that right there.

Now onto the subject of the internet backlash to the Jodie Whittaker news.  There is an awful lot that I could say on this matter and none of it would be polite.  I think it’s absolutely disgusting the level to which some of the internet Broflakes have stooped in order to throw their toys out of the pram.  And then of course the red tops went one step further and published nude shots of Jodie from when she was in Black Mirror.  I don’t remember that ever happening when Capaldi was announced, or Smith and Tennant, the latter two having whipped out their bits on numerous occasions for TV and film.  But because Whittaker is a woman, the press will gleefully print anything to degrade her.  The patriarchy at work everyone: men are always portrayed as strong and as leaders whilst women are cast as weak harlots.

If you honestly think that the casting of a woman in the role of The Doctor is going to destroy the show, then you have completely missed the entire point of Doctor Who.  For starters, The Doctor is an alien.  An alien. It seems that the rabid part of the internet can accept the concept of a two-hearted alien who can regenerate, flying around the universe in a big, blue box, but only if it’s played by a man. Pfftt……

Then there is the core message of the show: acceptance and change, those are the 2 main core principles of Doctor Who.  It is a show based on constant change, of accepting the different races and life-forms from all over the galaxy, so why can some people not accept The Doctor being a woman?  ‘Doctor’ has no gender in the English language, so why should The Doctor have any specific gender at all?  Why not a woman?  Hell, why not an asexual, blue scaled lizard creature?  By being angry about the casting of Jodie as the 13th Doctor, you are essentially saying that women are not good enough to play leading roles, either on TV, in film or in life.  You are saying that your mother was good enough to give birth to you, but that she is not good enough to hold any position of power or of seniority.  By bashing the new Doctor, you are saying that female role models have no place in society, and that little girls don’t need to see themselves reflected in the media in any way because male role models will work just as well for them.  And for those who are gleefully reducing Jodie to a sexual object, shame on you.  She is a fantastic actor with some seriously good roles under her belt such as Black Mirror, Broadchurch, Attack The Block and Cranford.  Go and look up her work, you won’t be disappointed.

My last point is that we wouldn’t have Doctor Who if it wasn’t for the show’s founding producer, Verity Lambert.  It feels very fitting to finally have a woman at the helm of the TARDIS.

And to all the girls excited about the news: dream big little ones, dream big.  The stars are yours for the taking, the universe yours for exploring and don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t succeed.

Reviewer: Vix


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