So parts of the internet ignited yestarday as the actor to succeed Peter Capaldi in the role of Doctor Who would be none other than Broadchurch's Jodie Whittaker.
Whenever men and women argue about something, it's always a source of absolute fascination to me, so I proceeded to pop the Orville Redenbacher in the old' popcorn popper, add a soupçon of butter to the top, and then watch the proverbial fur fly.
Notwithstanding that the show's first producer was female (Verity Lambert) and wanted a female Doctor from the start. Notwithstanding that the Doctor's Moriarity nemesis, (The Master), is now "Missy", having decided to inhabit the form of a 40something Spanish woman. Notwithstanding that this is a show about a creature with an alien physiology who can and does change its form, appearing to age or get younger, become taller or shorter, etc. with each new actor that comes along. The original target audience, the one that kept it going through cardboard sets and MST3K-level funding - was exactly the kind of "on the spectrum" sperglord who would quietly start twitching at any change in their environment. The same people who got agitated when it was was proposed that Peter Parker be black in the yet another reboot of Spider-Man, not because they particularly didn't like people of color, but because they'd always seen the character as a young white man, and change genuinely scares some people.
That being said, there was a very interesting dynamic that actually happened. Watching a few places online, I watched the conversations practically start with a young woman making the first statement about "crying" "manbabies" needing to get out of "mom's basement". Oh dear, it's going to be THIS kind of conversation. And sure enough, many of the women and a lot of men were going hard in the paint about "weak, scared" men who can't handle the idea of a strong, independent female character.
Were there men who made inappropriate comments? Absolutely. There was the PMS joke, the "sonic screwdriver is now a vibrator" joke, and a couple of men who said they were tossing their lifetime's hoard of collectibles because they couldn't deal with this.
But they were far fewer than expected, in fact notable because they were so rare.
What the men tended to say was far more interesting to me. They tended, if they weren't loudly calling out other men as unevolved and going over the top sticking up for m'lady - to say that what concerned them was not the fact that the character was female, but that Doctor Who was becoming yet one other forum to chant an agenda that as usual tended to describe them as needing to get out of the way and... I don't know, die or something because they're all racist, sexist, homophobes (insert rest of boring rant here)
And it begs the point - why are they making this change, and how are they going to manage it? I mean, if they're doing it for storytelling purposes, to evolve the character, to take the show in a new direction and make it inspirational, then excellent. If they're merely doing it because "don't you want to see a woman" and/or "as a feminist, I..." then, slow your roll for just a second. Last thing you want to do is force a square peg into a round hole and tell people they'll like it or else. That didn't exactly work out for Hillary Clinton either.
One of the things that's going to be interesting is the sheer fact that throughout most of Earth's history and in many parts of this planet now, women are second class citizens. One of the things they touched on with black characters was the problems they would face going back in Earth's history, to times when they were literally considered subhuman. Hate to say this, but if a female Doctor went and visited Victorian England and proposed a course of action to a bunch of men, 9/10 of the episode would be them gutlaughing at the very notion that a woman HAD a functioning brain.
Doctor Who has had problems with women for decades. For years they were reduced to scream queen eye candy whose only job, apart from batting eyelids and having attractive breasts was to ask "what IS it, Doctor?" allowing for the Doctor to make some kind of expositional remark. "Oh no! I wandered off again and now you have to rescue me!" eyeroll Stupid girl, alright I'll be right there. And I can WELL imagine female fans getting some kind of vindication here and enjoying the idea that a character they really like will now be running around with idiot himbos not sure where they are or what that alien thing is.
But in recent years, they've changed the role of female companions on the show. The first one was a giant-toothed love interest. Then we had one who, like a teenage girl, went around dictating the policy and so forth. We had an older ginger one who turned out to be, like, The Most Important Entity In The Universe for some reason, someone whose life was innately important and crucial to the entire fabric of reality. And then finally, we had the girl show up who is literally the entire reason for the Doctor having survived more than five minutes. Not because the character as written and conceived for 50 years used innate intelligence, wits, and courage to overcome any and all odds unarmed, but because, literally, a millennial human woman walked into the Doctor's time stream and conveniently moved a chair here, undid a wire on a Dalek there, sent him down one corridor vs another, even going so far as to pick the right TARDIS to steal on Gallifrey. The import of that action cannot be understated. If you had invested anything in that character's abilities, fate, personal story, character, ambition, etc. it was now null and void, because all he ever was doing was bumbling about the universe, with an eyerolling housewife quietly being Lois Griffin to the Doctor's Peter Griffin, fixing his mistakes and being the one to really save the universe over and over again.
Hence the apprehension of the men who did express concern at the announcement it would be Whittaker. "This, like everything else, is going to turn into yet another platform to spout a man hating agenda", basically.
Whittaker's "acceptance" speech started out with this: "It feels completely overwhelming, as a feminist, as a woman, as an actor, as a human, as someone who wants to continually push themselves and challenge themselves, and not be boxed in by what you're told you can and can't be," she said."
For the record, I look forward to seeing what she does with this. I have no qualms with the idea of an alien creature being able to change gender as well as appearance. I have no qualms with an amazing actress taking on the role and blazing a new trail. And if this inspires some young women out there to become doctors and scientists, or at least to think of themselves as capable, strong and able to take on the galaxy, I'm absolutely for it.
The only thing I'm shaking my head at is the fact that the vast majority of women who commented on this move chose to pre-emtpively label the other gender "man babies", "weak", "crying", "mom's basement", "can't get laid", "male tears" etc. and then complain that it's the men that put women in a box and tell them what they are, and/or genuinely wonder how anyone could possibly feel threatened by female empowerment, you pathetic, obviously having a small tiny little penis little cockroach of a filthy laughable nonentity, you.
It's a great day for feminism, women, and trans folks. But can we stop with this nonsense, already?