not want female Doctor Who

I Am Excited, But I Do Not Want a Female Doctor Who

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not want female Doctor Who
I want a female Doctor, but also, I do not want a female Doctor.

I’m a woman, and I do not want a female lead for Doctor Who. That’s not a typo at all. I’m also a feminist, although probably a very bad one. I’m also someone who has unpopular opinions about a lot of things. One thing I’m passionate about is that I do not want a female Doctor because boys need an intelligent superhero who uses his brains not his brawn. Current popular culture reinforces the toxic masculinity that leads to misogyny and rape culture, and we need to make sure we change that. [Editor’s note: for a counter-opinion, that a female Doctor does help change that, check out GeekMom Shiri’s post.]

A Dearth of TV Role Models for Boys

My kid spends a lot of time watching television because I’m probably a pretty terrible parent as well as terrible feminist. One of the things I hate most about kids’ television is the way boys get treated. Popular culture reinforces two things to young boys. First, they need to be physically strong not smart to be the hero. Second, they’re stupid anyway.

Where Are the Superheroes Who Win with Smart Not Strength?

The first two superheroes that are going to be the counters for this are Iron Man and Batman, right? Tony Start is brilliant. However, he basically uses his intelligence to create a muscular armor to allow him to dominate enemies using physical violence.

Bruce Wayne, well, the jury’s out on his intelligence since he hires people to make his tech. However, assuming he’s smart, he also uses that intelligence to become a physically dominating hero.

We could even include Bruce Banner (and now Amadeus Cho) in this. Smart guys who have to become physically intimidating monsters to be heroes. The fact that Marvel then killed off Hulk because he was worried about being too dangerous in his Hulk form? Right. The physical brawn here even undermines the intelligence.

Looking to the majority of other mainstream male superheroes? They don’t even touch on intelligence. It’s all about being the biggest, strongest, baddest hero on the street. Why I do not want a female Doctor Who? Because we need to change this definition of hero and this representation in media.

How Regular ‘Tween Shows Treat Boys as Stupid

In researching this article, I researched “Shows Ten-Year-Olds Like.” Reading through the list “Top Ten Hottest Shows for Tweens,” several of my arch nemeses appeared. The shows listed are The Loud House, The Amazing World of Gumball, SpongeBob Squarepants, Stuck in the Middle, Bunk’d, Liv and Maddie, K.C. Undercover, Henry Danger, Jessie, and Good Luck Charlie.

So, both Jessie and Bunk’d are about the same characters. I’m not even going to discuss here all the reasons I hate this show because I’ve already discussed the way it reinforces rape culture. I hate this show. Making a second show with the same characters only adds to the reasons I didn’t want a female Doctor Who.

Of the remaining shows, The Loud House, The Amazing World of Gumball, SpongeBob Squarepants, and Henry Danger are the ones that include male protagonists.

The Loud House

My kid describes the protagonist, Lincoln Loud, saying, “He’s like me. He doesn’t always ace the test, but he gets a pretty good grade on it.” I wouldn’t actually say that’s the case. My kid does pretty well on tests. So, seeing them identify with Lincoln when Lincoln doesn’t do well is kind of upsetting.

It gets better. The Loud House Wikia describes Lincoln as follows:

He is known to be “the man with a plan”, as he is usually elaborating plans with a specific objective, most of them for his own benefits. His plans rarely succeed because of his own selfish and reckless decisions or by his sisters’ interference. When he goes too far, he will always find the solution even if that means humiliating himself…

He really feels bad about being an outcast, so he tries to be like the others. He often feels left out of the family, as he’s the only boy, believing he doesn’t have any antics, and his sisters sometimes gang up against him or are mean to him…

He’s a very individual person with limited experience of teamwork in contrast to his sisters who cooperate as roommates.

The male character is a selfish, bratty boy who gets into trouble while his sisters are good working with others. If I was looking for a cartoon character example of “boys will be boys“? This kid would be it.

Keep in mind, my kid says, “he’s just like me.” Great.

The Amazing World of Gumball

This is another show about which I only know the ads. From the ads, I’m guessing it wouldn’t be on my own top ten list. However, when I asked my kid if they’ve watched it, they said they had, at grandma’s house. I asked what they thought of the show and received, “The boys are really dumb. The girl is the really smart one. The mom gets mad a lot.” That’s a resounding endorsement for a male-positive show right there.

Spongebob Squarepants

I’m going to go out on a limb here (and since I’m already unpopular by the title) and say, “I hate Spongebob Squarepants.” There. That feels really great.

The reason I hate Spongebob? He’s an idiot. I mean, it’s all well and good to have a kind character. I’m totally down with that, but he’s kind and stupid. The smartest character in that show is Sandy Squirrel, the girl who does science. The boys are either mean or stupid or some combination thereunto appertaining.

Henry Danger

This is another show that I’ve never seen. My kid is up somewhere between dark o’clock and dumb o’clock on Saturday mornings. This means they get free reign of the television so we can sleep in. Word on the street about the titular character, Henry Danger, is “The boy is dumb.”

Now, this isn’t to say the girls’ shows are that much better. I hate Jessie of Jessie. According to the kid, Liv and Maddie from their titular show aren’t too bright. I don’t exactly think I’d say the protagonist of Good Luck Charlie is the sharpest female tool in the shed.

What I do think is that mothers, as women, ask for better for their daughters than anyone does for boys. I think that we want to teach our young girls that they can be smart and strong. We want them to be able to succeed, as well we should.

We sometimes forget that boys ingest similarly damaging stereotypes in their media. We rarely ask for better. By not wanting a female Doctor Who, I am asking for that for our boys.

Collegiate Gender Gap and Social Capital

Before continuing, let me be clear.

Women are still at a social disadvantage.

Women still make less money than men.

Women are still more likely to be passed over for a promotion. 

Women are still the minority in STEM.

All of this is exponentially worse for women of color. 

What Gender Gap in Collegiate Degrees?

What I am going to discuss is the current gender gap in higher education. As more women are encouraged to go to college, more women are succeeding. As an educated woman, I love this. We need smart, motivated women in our workforce. Perhaps, with more women graduating from college, a day will come where we can finally have gender equality in the workplace.

College enrollment barely tips in favor of women. In 2014, 56% of students enrolled in college were women. This is as it should be. We are finally at a place in history where the proportions of women and men enrolled in college matches their percentage of the population as a whole. By 2004, 60% of bachelor’s degrees were awarded to women.

Gender equality means having the same access and the same resources. The question to ask ourselves is: Why is there a 10% discrepancy between men and women earning degrees?

Why Does Social Capital Matter?

First, let’s define social capital. The Harvard Kennedy School defines social capital as the premise that “social networks have value. Social capital refers to the collective value of all “social networks” [who people know] and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other [“norms of reciprocity”].” In other words, the things people around us influence how we act. Certain actions that meet the group’s beliefs have value. Think of the ATM of coolness.

The problem is that social capital can go in both directions. You can make deposits and withdrawals at the Bank of Coolness. For girls, education is something that makes them cool. According to the article, “Why the Boys are Missing: Using Social Capital to Explain Gender Differences in College Enrollment for Public High School Students,” female friendships tend to be more involved in academic discussions so being good at school has more inherent value. Boys, on the other hand, overdraw their cool account as they get better at school.

This is not a new premise, however. In 2009, Harvard economist Roland Fryer published “An Empirical Analysis of ‘Acting White’.” Fryer’s economic modeling showed that popularity within the African-American high school community decreased as GPA increased. Most importantly?  Males were impacted by this imbalance most. Females had similar results but to a far lesser extent.

In other words, academic success puts boys in social capital debt. If you’re a boy of color, particularly black, this is way worse. When our boys feel that they will be less cool as they do better in school, they choose coolness. Most people do.

Just like bowties and fezzes, heroes in our popular culture are cool. When the Doctor uses intelligence to beat his foes, he is cool for doing it. His intelligence, not his physical strength, makes him the hero.

This Is Why I Did Not Want a Female Doctor Who

We all know that representation matters.  For a lot of women, the announcement of having a female Doctor means they finally feel that they belong to the community. And GeekDad Jules wrote an excellent article on the non-binary and genderfluid representation now present because of the change to the Doctor’s physical form.

I get this. For myself, I am beyond excited to see a woman in this role.

We Have Fought for Our Daughters, and a Female Doctor is a Win

Women are making huge strides in creating representation for little girls. In the last year alone, we’ve seen Moana and DC Superhero GirlsThe popularity of Goldie Blox comes, in part, from excellently smart female characters with whom girls can connect.

We moms have done a phenomenal job advocating for better representation for our daughters. We are fighting tooth and nail to give these things to our daughters, as we should. We see our daughters as multifaceted women-to-be and want them to be able to see that in their media.

We are providing our daughters with female historical role models to highlight the way we have been exorcised from the narratives.  We are kickstarting books like Good Night Tales for Rebel Girls and making them so popular they end up in our local big box bookstores.

We are doing right by our girls. We should be so very proud of ourselves.

We Need to Fight for Our Boys the Same Way

Unfortunately, we are not fighting for our boys the same way. We want to raise sons who end the misogyny in our society. I mean, well, I do. I work hard at showing my child that there is a better way to be a man. I teach my child that “Yo Mama” jokes are sexist. I explain why women march. I have the hard conversations that my child will need to give a voice to those who don’t have one.

I’m not sorry about this. I’m not saying I want to stop this. I’m not saying I shouldn’t do this.

However, in the way that we fight to change the stereotype for our girls, we need to do it for our boys.

The patriarchal norms of toxic masculinity reinforce all of the things we hate about rape culture. The only superheroes our boys see are intelligent yet womanizing men (Iron Men), emotionally distanced men (Batman), or unrealistically hyperphysical men (Superman/Thor). This reinforces the ideal that a hero is emotionally distant or super physical.

We want to see an end to Gamergating jerks. We want a world where we don’t need “Cosplay is Not Consent” signs. To do that, we need to raise a better generation of men. To do that, we need to give them heroes that show those qualities.

We need modern heroes who show our boys that it is ok to win with words, not fists. We need modern heroes who show our boys that it is cool to care.

We need books titled “Cool Stories for Caring Boys.” We need to make an audience for that. We need to make caring boys as viral as rebel girls.

We need to change the way our boys feel about themselves just as much as we show our girls they can change how they view themselves.

Why The Doctor Needs to be a Male

This is why the Doctor needs to be a male. I asked my child, “Can you tell me any smart male superheroes who win with words not violence?” “No.”


Our boys need a male role model who wins with words, not fists. Our boys need to see a male hero who shows emotion. Our boys need a male hero who gives them more than some over muscled technical weaponized dude who sees women as nothing more than a romantic sideshow.

This is why our boys need the Doctor to be male.

Why Not Have Them Identify with a Woman?

They already do this if they want to be a caring and intelligent person. Every other emotionally connected, thoughtful character of intelligence in our modern popular culture is a woman.

In the same way that every strong protagonist my generation had was a man.

Except for Wonder Woman. And look what happened when we finally got her.

We women have been asked for generations to be nothing more than wives or mothers or second class citizens. In the same way, our boys are being asked to be nothing more than brute force or cunning schemers, neither of whom really seem emotionally connected to others.

I question whether it’s right to say to them, “we had to do it, so now you need to also.” To me, two wrongs do not make a right.

Would You Feel the Same Way About a Person of Color as You Do a Woman?

No. The lessons, to me, would not be the same at all. I would have preferred a male of color over a female in this case.

Boys, especially young boys of color, need to see men in roles where intelligence is valued over physical strength. Our boys live in a school system where men are the minority. In the US, 19.3% of elementary and middle school teachers are men. Men of color account for a smaller percentage of that. This also doesn’t mean that all the men are teaching academic classes. In Australia, the majority of the male teachers work in upper levels (here it would be high schools) or as physical education teachers.

Our boys see men in schools as either rare or only there to be physical. There is no clear place for our boys in our current educational structure because they do not see themselves represented there.

A man of color as the Doctor would have given those boys who most often fall by the wayside a touchstone. When our young boys of color see themselves represented in media as nothing other than violent gangsters, they begin to believe that. Seeing themselves as a caring, intelligent man who knows how to win with words could have done so much more for that demographic.

So yes, I wanted a Black or Hispanic Doctor.

Why I Care

I care about this because I have a kid who identifies with the Doctor because he is the only smart, nonviolent, male character my kid sees. We ignore the needs of boys to see themselves as nonviolent. We say, “boys will be boys” when they fashion sticks into handguns. Later, we worry that they will turn violent.

When we remove, whether for two or three years, the single easily recognizable intelligent, nonviolent male from mainstream geek culture, we remove that touchstone.

I want my child to see that men don’t have to be violent. I want my child to recognize that it is ok to be smart. I don’t want my kid to tell me, as they have done before, that school means less than football because “reading isn’t what people know you for.”

I want my kid to see a male hero who is smart, openly caring, and nonviolent. I want this because I want my child to see that an easily recognizable popular culture figure can be both a man and non-toxic in his masculinity because society agrees with that.

I wanted a female Doctor for myself; however, I do not want a female Doctor Who.

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59 thoughts on “I Am Excited, But I Do Not Want a Female Doctor Who

  1. Thank you for a differing opinion on this. At first I was confused, but after reading your post, I found I started agreeing to it. Your reasoning is sound. There are few “smart” men portrayed in movies and TV these days. Yes, we have Sherlock, but I have also found, and I know this will make me very unpopular by saying it, that the pendulum has swung to the extreme where every strong (or smart) character must be female. I look to all the “reboots” of movies and shows that are changing the originally male characters to female just for the sake of doing it.

    I feel that is what Doctor Who has done as well. “Hey, Ghostbusters rebooted with an all female cast (and made the one major male character an idiot), so why can’t we do that too?”

    I fear that some day in the near future, classics like “The Outsiders” or “The Blues Brothers” (Sisters?) is going to get a reboot with an all female cast too.

    While I do agree that women need representation in movies, changing gears to ONLY women in movies may end up having a negative overall effect. The pendulum has swung both ways harshly, let’s hope it can stop in the middle and everyone can be treated equally.

    1. Who says that the underlying assumption that every possible point of view needs to have a media representation is at all positive/helpful? I believe this undermines the msg that people are individuals, and individuals don’t have an external locus for their self esteem, nor do they require validation from the herd.

    2. “I look to all the “reboots” of movies and shows that are changing the originally male characters to female just for the sake of doing it.

      I feel that is what Doctor Who has done as well.”

      Except that Doctor Who (as a tv show) has been talking about this concept for years. Which kind of kills the whole ‘passing phase’ argument.

      Years. Like, Classic Who eps.

    1. Dave, remember, it could be said “Why can’t a little girl look up to a man” as a role model. Association is the hard part there.

      1. Except that little girls look up to men and other boys all the time, because we’ve been forced to. Do you think that there aren’t little girls who see the Doctor as a hero already? Little girl Star Wars fans who didn’t already see themselves in Luke Skywalker or women who were once little girls who loved the Ghostbusters? That was basically me growing up.

        The Doctor being a woman now doesn’t take away from the 50+ years of the Doctor being male. That “hero” still exists. The Doctor being a “heroine” now gives us a chance to see what all of those qualities look like coming from a woman. I think that’s an amazing thing for boys to see. This isn’t just for girls. It’s for boys, too.

  2. Karen, I felt EXACTLY the way you did when I heard the news. I have a son and I have a daughter. I, myself, am an engineer. I’ve walked the walk of a woman with no or very little role models on my way into my place in a male-dominated profession. I love that there are more role models for my daughter then there were for me when I was growing up. This is all wonderful.

    I hate that there are little to none for my son, and the popular culture doesn’t seem to care. I also agree with you that two wrongs don’t make a right. Saying “now is the turn for girls” isn’t the same as creating a world where there is true equality. And you can’t teach boys to model the behavior we all hope for men in the world if we don’t show it to them. The argument for representation goes all ways. If women need role models, so do men.

    I appreciate what Dave G above says. Sure, I think Wonder Woman is one of the best role models to come out in a long time. But if we say that we needed her because girls needed to see themselves in their heroes, the same must go for boys.

    I want my son to be who he is: intelligent and kind and compassionate. He uses his heart and mind, not his fists, to solve his world problems. There aren’t many male hero characters who are like him, and it breaks my heart.

    1. Uses his heart and his mind and not his fists?

      Have you not seen the most recent season, in which the Doctor brutally kills his enemies and turns others into murderers?

  3. Just because this one out of 13 Doctors is female doesn’t eliminate all the other 12 Doctors. And the next will probably be a dude too.

    As far as the smart action hero boy role, I thought Big Hero 6 did this very well.

  4. So after listing the top watched shows and their deficits, your complaint is that a show that is NOT one of the top watched ones that has followed exactly the design you want should keep following that design to give boys a good role model? The last 50 years was not long enough? If your child was not able to list Doctor Who as someone who thought his way out of a problem before, how many more seasons does the show need to get on his radar? How many more after that does it need to solve society’s ills so that it can finally feature a female Doctor?

    As for male heroes that solve problems without violence, how about Dr. Strange? He won the entire movie by thinking. Yes- there were fights but they were never ones he started. Sherlock Holmes? Not that it is kid appropriate, but Elementary is a great show and the main characters pretty much never get into fights. Dismissing Iron Man as a guy who punches people completely ignores his motivation, and how he “woke up” to what was going on in his life. Likewise dismissing Batman’s intelligence just because he does not make his own gadgets is incredibly condescending. Because the “world’s greatest detective” can’t be THAT smart if he can’t make his own hi-tech gear? The Justice League and Justice League Unlimited TV show had many instances of super heroes using their brains instead of their brawn to solve problems. Sure- there were lots of fights too. Comic books. But it showed that fighting was not the only way.

    There are not nearly as many examples as there should be, but hitting people is more entertaining to watch than talking. That is why we have multimillion dollar sporting events, barely televised political debates, and not televised at all academic tournaments.

    1. I’d like to add that there are still some good TV shows showing men making a difference using their brains, just not in the top ten for tweens. I’d like to suggest the author check into The Librarians. The shows are gone now, but my boys watched a LOT of Eureka and Warehouse 13 when they were on. My 13 year old is addicted to Star Trek, and not the flash-bang stuff in the new movies — the old tv series where there’s a strong emphasis on avoiding violence when possible.

  5. So I went to the source to really understand from the mind of a child on this one. Asked my nerdy nephew his thoughts on this one.
    As he point it, a good role model is a good role model no matter who they are. I can learn a lot from a lot of people. Sometimes I think adults think too hard on this stuff and do see the point in it all.
    Kids sometimes.

  6. Take a look at Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe. I couldn’t ask for a better male role model for my son.

    1. I’m so glad you mentioned Steven Universe! After reading the article, my first thought was “How has she not discovered Steven Universe yet if this is what she wants?”

    2. I was coming here to make the same suggestion! Steven Universe is full of positive portrayals of all genders (and fluid gender), as well as non-stereotypical warrior characters. On top of all that, there’s catchy music too. My son and I enjoy it equally and watch together.

  7. Oh my god, this is so stupid. We can never get anything right. Gays in Star Trek Beyond? Wrong! Female Doctor? Wrong!

    You keep talking about representation, and fluid genders and salary breach and lots of stuff, and then you sabotage the best results out of that.

    All this is so so so dumb. No wonder so many people simple ignore you guys.

  8. There are a *myriad* of reasons why this article is absurd and offensive (to the point where I’m considering unfollowing GD/GM), but it’s my birthday and I don’t have the time to debate it point by point. So I’ll just focus on the article’s main point “Young boys need positive role models to toxic masculinity,” something I agree with (even if I don’t think those role models must always be male).

    I’ll put aside the clear exploration of classism and “lower class tourism” that has always been pretty central to the plot of Dr. Who, since that’s largely lost on the American audience. But certainly, we can do better than the sexist and problematic trope of “insufferable genius,” when looking for less aggressive superheroes for boys. Right?

    How about Steven Universe?
    Or Beast from Xmen
    Robin from Teen Titans
    Green Lanterns whose powers literally are fueled by their imagination
    Finn from the new star wars (Who is a fighter, but whose character arc centered around walking away from violence)
    Amadeus Cho
    Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon
    Hiro from Big Hero Six

    I could go on, and on, and ON.

    1. I’m excited to have a new doctor. She could be a dog in this incarnation, and I wouldn’t care. I’m excited to see where the show goes, period.

      I agree with a lot of your points, but I do have to point out that all of the characters you listed are animated. It’s a small distinction, but my kids don’t relate to animated characters, like, at all. Zilch. They relate to characters they see as “real.” If you have some suggestions of live-action characters that are somewhere between nerdy and mainstream, I’d love to know about them.

      1. I went with the animtaed because I have younger children so that’s what I’m familiar with. If you’re going to get into the live action stuff appropriate for teens and adults (like Doctor Who) I feel like there’s even more.

        All of the little boys in Stranger Things.
        Hardison from Leverage.
        Arthur from the Tick.
        Mickey from Hustle ( not really a hero I know. But so damn cool)
        Rory, the male companion from Doctor Who
        Pretty much the whole cast of the Movie Hackers
        Harry Potter
        Ron Weasely
        Captain Picard
        Geordi LaForge
        Pretty much every Federation officer in Star Trek (not the new movies)
        Nick Fury (Who does fight, but spends most of his time out-manipulating people with his wits)
        Doc Brown
        Marty McFly
        Dr Alan Grant
        Ian Malcom
        David Levinson
        Pete from Pete’s Dragons

        And as Brent points out sooooo many options in books/comics

          1. The Stargate SG-1 leads feature a smart man, a tough/smart woman, a fun but clever leader and a tough/learning alien. 10 Seasons plus 5 seasons from the Spin-off with similar strong characters. It’s full of great role-models like Star trek.

  9. I totally understand the writer’s point re: how important it is for boys to have male role models not dependent on destruction. However, I don’t understand the desire to need this particular Doctor to be male in order for that to exist.

    1) This is one Doctor in 50+ years of history. That male Doctor hasn’t gone away and he still exists. Want your son to see a male Doctor who’s awesome? Throw on a Blu-ray from a previous season.

    2) The Doctor IS a hero, however he’s not as entirely wholesome as you’re painting him. After all, the Doctor has been responsible for many, many deaths. Just because he’s not violent doesn’t mean his actions haven’t had violent consequences. Often, it’s his (mostly) FEMALE companions who pull him back from the edge, which is why he doesn’t travel alone for very long.

    3) When it comes to modeling behavior for boys, it’s just as important for them to see heroic women as it is for them to see heroic men. This isn’t something that’s just important “for girls.” BOYS need a female Doctor. They need to be taught that it’s okay to look up to a woman as a hero.

    After all, as a geek woman who used to be a geek girl who grew up watching Star Trek and whose favorite movies were boy-focused ones like “Stand By Me” and “E.T,” most of my heroes growing up were men. I didn’t have the luxury of “not relating to my heroes because of gender” because this was all there was. So, why is it okay for girls to see male characters as “universal,” but for the reverse not to be true?

  10. As a bystander, I’d like to remind everyone that we each enjoy and express our geekiness in our own way. There’s no “right way” to geek, and there’s no “wrong way.” It’s a matter of passions and enrichment. Thanks for the great post. I’m glad to see opinions that aren’t the same as everywhere else online.

  11. Yeah, I agree with some of the comments above. Whittaker will most likely only be in the role for 2 seasons at most. You can show your boy reruns of classic Who during that time if you’re dead set on having him watch Who. And frankly, Capaldi’s Doctor wasn’t really the best role model (see the “insufferable genius” remark in the previous commenters post). Tom Baker, Patrick Troughton and Peter Davison would be better choices.

    That said, I think you’re 100% right about the rest of it. We tend to only focus on one thing, one problem at a time as a society and educating young boys about rape culture and toxic masculinity seems to be the lowest priority on the Feminism to-do list. Simply put, Feminism has completely and utterly abandoned male youth/male children in this country and it is a disgrace. It almost feels based in resentment. Like a “sins of the father” type of thing. When it comes to male children, Feminism tends to take the angry schoolmarm approach while showing clear favoritism to young girls. This approach to diffusing and dismantling toxic masculinity is not a good one and will not serve either young girls or boys well ultimately.

    But to rail against a female doctor who will only be in the role temporarily is kind of ridiculous. If anything it will teach the kid about accepting people of all genders and that’s a valuable lesson for young boys especially. Anyways, interesting article.

  12. Try Phineas and Ferb for your kids, it is the best family show out there. All of the kids are smart, with individual strengths and weaknesses. Even the parents are treated like real characters.

    I don’t think keeping the Doctor male does much to address the problem you’re discussing. Doctor Who is not a children’s show, my youngest is 9 and would like rather watch P&F or MLP, both of which have wonderful, nonviolent, emotionally strong characters (MLP is short of male characters, but they’re there and wonderful).

    1. Also, what a wonderful teaching moment for boys who enjoy DW: look at that, the character has become female and is still a wonderful character. Sex/gender is not what makes the Doctor powerful/smart/heroic.

  13. I wholeheartedly agree that men need better role models.
    However, why does it have to be Dr. Who? Because it is the only hero of its kind? Not really, look at the Star Trek captain who, while they sometimes use weapons to solve conflicts, more often use intelligence, diplomacy, and other skills.
    Why can’t you let Dr Who branch out in this exciting new way? Why can’t you be advocating for better new shows that have good male role models? Why does the character arc have to fit how you’d like it to go?

  14. Okay, I’m a feminist and a mother of teen boys, and feel the need to comment here.

    I wholeheartedly agree that boys need good role models not using their brawn to conquer problems, and that as a culture we have a tendency to neglect that side of things. That said, there are many, many seasons of Doctor Who for you to fall back on, and it’s not the only show out there with men or boys using their brains to solve problems.

    When you focus on the top ten shows for tweens, I have to say — when my kids were tweens, we avoided the shows that would’ve been the top ten for their age group then. If you did that, there were actually many excellent shows as far as role models were concerned. Among them were Phineas and Ferb (for the youngest, anyway), Eureka, and Warehouse 13 (yes, I know the guy was the “dumb” one on there, but still really bright compared to a lot of people and normally wasn’t using his brawn to fix everything).

    My thirteen year old is sort of a Doctor Who fan, but more of a Star Trek fan (he watches the old ones — ALL the old ones). He enjoys The Librarians (some violence, but all four “main team” characters are there because of their smarts and half of them are male, the experienced brilliant librarian is male, etc.) as well. If you’re looking more for sitcoms and Disney-type stuff, Fresh Off the Boat has some intelligent boys navigating their lives.

    Moreover, my boys have a tendency to watch shows like Table Top, listen to Freakonomics and to Star Talk, etc. They like Face Off, where they watch experts (many of them male, two of the three primary judges are male) engage in craft. Shows like those are also wonderful.

    So…is there a reason you’re fixating on Doctor Who, where the lead character goes through multiple regenerations, where a regeneration often only lasts for a couple of years, and where fewer than 1/10th of those are female? Is there a good reason that you’re not supporting other shows with the types of characters you say you want, highlighting them for the good they do and using the power of this site to steer others towards those shows?

    I love having strong female characters, but those aren’t the only strong characters I want. That means that I have a certain amount of responsibility — responsibility to support the types of shows with the characters and storylines I like when I find them. Luckily for me, that’s not a particularly heavy responsibility. All I have to do is find things I like, watch them, and talk about them sometimes. There is room in my life for a female regeneration of Doctor Who. I think my sons are going to be okay.

  15. A tangential note:

    I’m an archery instructor. From 2002 to 2012, I averaged about 9 kids in my weekly classes. The week BRAVE opened, that jumped to 65, about evenly divided between boys and girls.

    The boys saw the movie and thought archery was cool and they wanted to do it. They admired Merida regardless of gender. Fine, good, right.

    The girls, though, they had a fire, as if somebody had told them for the first time, “this is for you too.” They’d seen Robin Hood, Legolas, Rambo. They’d seen archery in movies and cartoons and comics, but Merida was a revelation to them and they turned out in droves.

    A month or two later, when HUNGER GAMES opened, our club’s female membership doubled in three months. It has not stopped five years later.

    Representation matters.

    Which gets to your point. Smart, sensitive, gentle boys are told on the daily that there’s something wrong with them, usually involving misogynistic insults like “girly,” “sissy,” and the ones that aren’t fit for publication, not to mention the homophobic ones. They deserve some positive representation too.

    As you point out, Spongebob is an idiot. Barney is an idiot. The last intelligent, kind, and gentle male seen on TV was Mister Rogers. I would very much like to see a smart character who is also kind.

    1. My oldest did not trust Barney as far as he could throw him. It wasn’t that Barney was stupid, it was that he had thin, but flat, teeth, making it unclear whether he was a plant-eater or a meat-eater. This did lend a certain sense of excitement to the show that would’ve have existed otherwise, as there was always the possibility that he would decide to snack on a kid. So…Barney wasn’t someone he saw as any sort of role model.

    2. “They’d seen Robin Hood, Legolas, Rambo”

      Nope, they did not. They are children, they did not have a memory of those characters.

      “when HUNGER GAMES opened, our club’s female membership doubled in three months”

      Young women like fads, are less individual than men, and are easily influenced by media, news at 11.

      You know is true.

      1. Also, Archery is in fashion in the “cool” areas of many cities around the world nowadays. It is a niche “next Pilates/Crossfit/whatever” thing.

      2. There is this thing called home video. Yes, the majority of my young archers (at last count, at least 12,000 over the last 16 years) have seen one or more Robin Hood movies or cartoons, the Lord of the Rings movies, and some have seen one or more of the Rambo movies. Many of them have also read the books. They do know these characters, even at the age of 10.

        Saying “young women” as a block are more or less anything than men is an inherently sexist statement, but even so, here we are five years later, and young would-be Katnisses are still showing up every week for our first time class. About 5500 girls and women last year alone at our range. Some fad.

        But I’m not just talking about the numbers. I’m talking about the light I personally saw in those little girls’ eyes, the fire in the belly, the passion for something they didn’t know was also for them until Merida and Katniss showed them.

  16. This article is a good article. It has meaning, it’s a product of a functional brain. You can read it and “get it”. Unfortunately, it’s yet another example of “Toxic masculinity first!” response whenever what might be a small victory for feminism (yet to be seen with the 13th Doctor, btw) is announced.

    Of course there is toxic masculinity and that is a problem, but toxic masculinity is a disgraceful byproduct of a completely asymmetrical power balance between genders (including fluid). If whenever there is a chance to start bringing some equilibrium to the arena people are going to ask for the fix for toxic masculinity first I will say “perhaps the solution lies is less overall masculinity, FOR GOD’S SAKE, GIVE ME SOME OPTIONS THAT ARE NOT MASCULINE-CENTRIC!”

    It’s a matter of priorities and for now, I’m sorry, but toxic masculinity rates lower than rape culture and objectifying women for so many reasons…, so many…

  17. If want someone thats alternative to The Doctor I would suggest Spock from original Star Trek

  18. Just to note. Another trend I do find with male protagonists in movies and tv; even if they are brilliant, intelligent eye etc they have to be put down by other characters on an almost regular basis. Sherlock is brilliant but what does the show focus on? His inability to socialise or form relationships, ditto the Doctor (especially in the Capaldi era). Even going back the X Files and Angel suffered from this too. I don’t recall Buddy or Dana Scully being show quite so much in this light.

  19. I don’t want a female Doctor either, but not for the reasons you stated, as I don’t have kids. I just think it’s stupid. Simple as. You want your son to identify with a man who uses his brain and is non-violent. You clearly didn’t see the sixth Doctors first story. He strangled his companion, never apologised for it and acted like a complete ass-hole! So, your argument doesn’t really stand up and Doctor Who is NOT a kid’s programme anyway. Family, yes. Kids alone, no.

  20. I stopped watching when boring Capaldi ruined the character. A woman won’t bring me back.

  21. “And you can’t teach boys to model the behavior we all hope for men in the world if we don’t show it to them.” –

    Therein lay the problem that I have with all this, and the crux of this is “We all hope for men” not

    “What men hope for men.”

    That’s the problem. Role models for men should be other men that they identify with. Not what “society” says what a man is.

    Cause that definition is a loose translation of “what I think” versus what the person should think about them.

    It’s assigning gender-reference notes to a specific gender. It’s like saying “all women like cake” or “all men like steak” sort of thing. That’s what man’s a man or woman.

    How about what makes a decent human “being”, yeah?

    A role model that can teach either gender to be a decent human being rather then a good man or good woman.

    That’s what I’d like to see.

  22. I was going to write a detailed list of everything I find distasteful about the post-2005 politically correct, feminist, Americanized and too-sensational reboot of the series (which I refer to as “Buffy the Time Lord,” which is what it morphed into), but why bother? I hope it tanks like the post-Clarkson Top Gear and the female Ghostbusters. And if it doesn’t, well, this show left me as a target demographic decades ago.

    Let’s be honest: a female Dr. Who is just the latest social comeuppance of those deplorable white males. The world didn’t get Hillary and the celebratory audio recording of a glass ceiling crashing, but it got the consolation prize of a Dr. Who sans Y chromosomes. (You watch… somewhere in the audio mix of the first female Who episode will be the sound of shattering glass. You read it here first.)

    But I do applaud anyone coming out not in favor of it, even if it has to be a female feminist. It seriously bucks the socially enlightened trends the media is interested in propagating with a heavy hand.

  23. Dr Chick represents another failure of feminism to innovate but instead just steal. Instead of making their own great female sci if hero they just transform a male one to female. So boring, such lack of imagination.

  24. I agree that we do need more male role models in history, after shows like “Phineas and Ferb” ended, most males in kids shows were either depicted as over zealous, misogynistic, childish, incompetent, and using their hammed fists like a bun-vending gorilla, and it’s tainting our media, like a white person walking into a mosque and calling all the muslims “terrorist”… I myself suffering as a empathetic and all around “nice guy” person with Aspergers Syndrome (btw you’d be surprised how many psychologists say we’re the “nicest people you could ever meet”) know as a grave fact we need more male role models like what the Doctor was, something to prove that men can be honest “mr. nice guys” who are also smart… I’m waiting to judge as they have 2 male companions and a female companion… but should there be any referencing of the dreaded word of “misogyny” I don’t think I could live knowing a childhood classic to many has been reduced to taking jabs and creating a biased that “little boys have lots of role models”.

    I think you are a brave person as a feminist sharing such views, I foresee big things from a person like you. I do see Jodie falling flat as they’ve recently revealed they’re chucking the Sci-Fi out the window to make way for Fantasy, so when people in the comments have been mentioning “Buffy the time lord”, it appears the fears may be coming true…

    Jodie WOULD’VE worked… however it may have looked better if her concept was animated non canon spinoff media like a story called “The Scream of Shalka”… as with that they would’ve accepted it more than what Chibbers did in July, and not to he harsh on the writer, but his Doctor Who writing is more lacklustre than watching a pirated VHS or DVD…

  25. In my personal opinion, the show has been crap since Christopher Eccleston left. I also agree with a comment from Kevin above, in that beloved characters are being stolen!
    I very much doubt that men around the world would be cheering if the Alien franchise was to be rebooted with Ripley being replaced by a male character! thanks
    Who’d want to see that? Certainly not I, that’s for sure.
    I’d like to think that there are very talented writers out there that can create original female characters, so please let’s see them given a chance, instead of this constant trend of usurpation that seems to be happening in the so called “21st century” 🙂
    Ps – I am a proud egalitarian, and am raising my three year old Son to be such too.

  26. SpongeBob is one of the wittiest cartoons on TV. Also kids don’t consider him a role model. My kids watched SpongeBob with me. They are both brilliant college students.

    Rape “culture” is not a thing. By that I mean it in is truest sense. There’s no rape community hanging out giving tips and making T-shirts.

    I.agree that most does portray bits as stupid. Same as sitcoms do to dad’s.

  27. I don’t really like gender fluidity. I like it that Wonder Woman is a woman; Batman is a man; Superman is a man; Supergirl is a girl; The Doctor was an alien man; Ripley in Aliens is a woman; River Song is ALL woman 🙂 etc.

    I agree with others who have said I would rather see something new and original written for a strong female lead rather than changing the sex of a historical character.

  28. I just saw your and I’m glad I’m not the only one not happy about a female Dr.Who. This whole turning male characters into female roles thing is just getting ridiculous.

    Then I hear about wanting to make the Indiana Jones character into a woman. Why? Girls have Lara Croft, which is similar. She isn’t good enough? Why toy with an iconic character such as Indy?

    As far as Sponge Bob, I like him because he’s an idiot. As an adult who still watches cartoons, I enjoy a show at times when you don’t need to think. I do that enough in my work all day. Some days not having to think for an hour or so is a great escape.

  29. Everything today is about masculinity. Macho is represented as the center of everything, the original, even to the point that women are imitating masculinity, as a derivation of men.
    There are no female characters but females trying to be masculine(science, sports, politics, etc.). Exactly the same is happening in universities through false education degenerated only to favor girls is that girls get to become imitators of men, but never achieving like men can. We’ve only created the fiction of equality based on attacking boys and giving women an absurd amount of privileges through the corruption of the state.

  30. First of all I disagree with the notion that you need a TV character to be inspired or motivated. That being said a good written character definitely can inspire you. So you need to change up the characteristics rather than physical appearance or gender. And you have them act in good written stories. The writing of Doctor Who has been declining ever since Moffat took over. Chibnall doesn’t seem to be doing any better. A female Doctor Who who takes over characteristics from previous Doctors might be a logical approach but goes against the so called change that is promised. In fact the whole gender thing wouldn’t matter since the same could happen to a male Doctor.

    The real problem lies with the fact that a female Doctor Who is politically motivated. It is intended to appeal to a certain audience who usually don’t watch science fiction. Star Trek has been plagued with this issue as well and for the most part they have not been that successful. You know why? Since in the end we want characters we can relate to whether they are female or male. It’s hard to relate to a character who is nothing but a political gimmick. All they do is to emphasize an agenda whereas they should tell their part of the story.

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