So some feminists are calling for a female Dr Who - but isn't that missing the point entirely?

There are already several great female characters in Dr Who. What's truly special about the long-running programme is what an unusual role model it offers for boys

Share
Related Topics

In the strange and brilliant world of Dr Who viewers expect their preconceptions to be challenged. Perhaps that’s why I find myself in the bizarre position of agreeing with both the Daily Mail and Louise Mensch. This is not something that makes me feel comfortable, but the idea of The Doctor becoming a woman isn’t appealing to this feminist.  

I have been watching the programme for about 6 years now – completely by accident. I’d seen it as a youngster of course - I knitted a Tom Baker scarf and hid behind the sofa like the rest of my flare-wearing long-haired pals. But I hadn’t taken any notice for years. Then one day, with my 18 month old daughter in her highchair playing with toys and the TV on, I left the room. When I returned from making the tea I found her, toys discarded, mesmerised by the screen.  What was she watching? I asked her. “Be quiet Mummy.”  A few seconds later I saw the blue box and was surprised to feel myself immediately transported through time with a familiar chill running down my spine. “You can’t watch this!!” I went to turn it off. “No Mummy! I’m watching!”  I felt guilty. Guilty that I was about to upset my daughter by switching off the TV, guilty for leaving the TV on in the first place and guilty because I went to Catholic school (that’s not relevant).

My conversation then became as surreal as the programme: “You can’t watch it because it will give you nightmares...you don’t know what nightmares are...but it means you can’t watch it...you are supposed to watch it behind the sofa...I think Social Services would be called if anyone knew I’d let you watch this....”  Each odd statement was greeted with a “shhuuuu” or “Be quiet Mummy!” and I must admit I started to become fascinated by her face, she was there. 

I decided, against my better judgement, to sit down on the sofa next to the highchair and whisper a kind of nightmare prevention commentary into her ear as she watched. “That’s a man dressed up” (very helpful) “That’s made using a computer” and so on...

But as I watched the programme and became reacquainted with this clever, gentle, funny chap, I started to enjoy it as much as my tiny girl. And I instantly saw a potential role model.

Six years on and The Doctor has never let me down. He’s helped to reinforce the values that I hold dear and we have genuinely enjoyed the “appointment TV” family viewing time the programme has provided.

David Tennant and Matt Smith have become familiar faces in our house – on books, puzzles, action figures, you name it – but so have Alex Kingston, Freema Agyeman and Karen Gillan.

I’ve heard some funny comments this week, Dr Who being racist, sexist and not dealing with real issues being three of them. Having watched hours of the programme and its spin off series The Sarah Jane Adventures, I’ve heard all of those issues being dealt with beautifully. And episodes like Richard Curtis’ 'Vincent and the Doctor', which tackled the taboo of mental illness, have given me some great material to work with as a mother. Not to mention the introduction of many other historical figures – bringing them to life and making them interesting – as well as the parts of our story written into the Doctor’s adventures, including slavery and the stealing of natural resources.

But by far the most valuable contribution to the younger generation has to be the fact that the Doctor is the only non-violent “superhero” male role model. He solves problems through talking and he’s proud to be a science-loving, socially awkward geek. He’s the hero of boys and girls. But most of all he shows boys that violence and aggression won’t get them what they want. Being clever, not conforming, being kind, talking – these are the ways to be a hero.

My daughter will love the Doctor whether he’s a boy or a girl – River Song and Amy Pond are her heroes too - and I hope she still feels the same long after One Direction fade into another dimension, but being a feminist and calling for him to become a woman is missing a massive point.

As feminists we are always asking men to change, to become less aggressive, and to value equality. The idea of feminists arguing that we should take away the only male role model that appears to use his brain rather than weapons or fists seems rather alien to me.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: A huge step forward in medical science, but we're not all the way there yet

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
David Cameron has painted a scary picture of what life would be like under a Labour government  

You want constitutional change? Fixed-term parliaments have already done the job

Steve Richards
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album