By now we’ve all heard the news:
The 13th Doctor will be Jodie Whittaker, a woman.
THE FIRST female Doctor since the show began in 1963. It’s an exciting, bold move for the franchise and, while there is always a bit of anxiety and sense of loss when a new Doctor arrives on scene, it seems that many folks are taking this change to a whole new level.
It’s unfortunate that even now, in 2017, so much fear, hate and anxiety can be drummed up over a pair of breasts. But, let’s talk about that for a second.
I heard a genuine concern last night from a dear friend who expressed anxiety because having a woman at the helm of our beloved T.A.R.D.I.S. may cause young boys to not be as into it as they always have. It will no longer be as relatable because younger boys (like ages 5-11) think girls are icky.
After a day to consider that concern, I have two, completely opposite feelings and voices to express on this anxiety. One is crazy bitter about it and is screaming: “Oh really!? I’m sorry, you mean your sci-fi favorite isn’t relatable because it’s not just like you? Please tell me more about how that might feel isolating and separating, because as a GIRL in the geek world, I know NOTHING ABOUT THAT! RRAAAARRRR!!!”
…And the other is… well… more compassionate and understanding. I mean, having a boy-child of my own, I know darn well this is a legit concern. My friend’s expression of anxiety was an honest consideration and, because I know him to be a genuine, stand up guy, was not meant in any kind of sexist, privileged way. The reality is, sometimes my son is turned off to a character simply because she is a girl, even if she’s awesome. Awesome or not, she is still a “she” and even though I have literally NEVER forced or even brought gender definitions to the table in our house, he cannot ignore the obvious differences and it often causes him a sense of separateness from a character.
For my son, (who will be 7 in November) and I know I don’t speak for every parent here, when there is a character of the opposite gender in a leading role, he automatically assumes it’s a “girl show”. He may still like it, he may still even ask to watch it (case in point: My Little Pony & Ever After High) but he also draws the connection that it’s a show more for his sister than himself.
In contrast, his sister, who is almost 5, has had to push past the gender role situation her whole, tiny life simply because the geek market is far more flooded with male heroes than females. That is slowly shifting, which is great, but more often than not, she’s had to kind of get over the fact that only the supporting characters are girls. On the rare occasion there is a “geek” or “hero” show that has girl characters leading the way, (DC Super Hero Girls: Super Hero High & PJ Masks) she jumps on board with both feet and dives into it with her whole heart.
ANYway, getting back to the point- Yes, I know some boys often think shows with girls as main characters are not for them, but here’s the most important thing about this entire situation…
When your boy child feels that sense of separateness and possible disinterest or even frustration with ANYthing like this, that means it is precisely the moment when it becomes a teachable lesson that can have a real, lasting impact upon the social development of any child. Why? Because as the adult, we get the opportunity say this in response:
Well yes, boys might not feel quite as much of a kinship with the new Doctor, but now young girls have someone to relate to in this universe, as well! Someone beyond a wife or a companion or even his beloved “Sexy”… someone that comes and goes with the Doctor’s whims, someone that always gets left behind eventually… Not anymore! Now, your sister, your daughter, your friend, your wife – can be the Doctor herself and won’t have to have any self-invented, fan-fiction mashup costume to accomplish it! …and how special that will be!? That is HUUUGE!!! What a beautiful age we live in to see this kind of thing! What glorious exploration we get to share with the Doctor as he/she explores a new side to himself and a whole new perspective of humanity because of it! Look at how many heroes you have always had to look up to who are men! Isn’t it a beautiful thing that now girls get to have a hero like this, too?
I wholeheartedly believe that The Doctor would be so, very and truly proud of us for this bold move!
We often struggle with change, and when it comes to The Doctor, we struggle every time He/She regenerates, as we would with any death. We get scared, we argue, we deny, we fight, we mourn, we work it out, then, we eventually accept. …then we grow to love with a deep attachment that causes us to mourn all over again when the next Doctor comes.
This regeneration will be no different from the others, no more difficult, nor easy to accept. Only this time, the Doctor will get a different set of plumbing and some new equipment up top. 😉
I am confident this will be a super fun regeneration, full of new discoveries for the Doctor in a way that has never been explored before. I’m beyond excited to see what comes of it.
So, let’s not be close-minded about this transition. I mean, really – if The Master can become Missy and be welcomed with open arms, surely we can offer that same acceptance to our beloved Doctor. I say let’s jump into this with the same fervor the Doctor would into the great unknown;
Allons-y, my fellow Whovians!
What are your thoughts? Is this a good idea? Are you concerned? Tell me why in the comments.