Pop quiz! Which of the following are real, actual statements about the new Doctor Who that real, actual people wrote on the internet under their own names, and which are fake ones created by my friend making fun of these people?
“Looking forward to the episode about their cycles syncing up.”
“It’s not sexist to be opposed to the Doctor being a woman; it’s knowing what’s right for the show. DW has become so PC with crazy liberals these last few seasons and has just gotten worse. This new casting is going too far. True the Doctor can regenerate into anything – man, woman, animal, mineral, vegetable—but for the sake of the show, the Doctor should always be three things: white, from the UK, and MALE!”
“The sexism is all the other way – this is just another step in the man hating PC agenda that has been part and parcel of all BBC offerings for years.”
“They’ll only be able to have episodes three out of four weeks a month.”
“One thing Lore that is very important and they screwd up and its not Sexist besides there a bit racist they could of picked a black male and since the doctor had a daughter and a son and a Wife they just messed that up what are they gonna make her a lesbian”
….okay, typing that last one hurt me. In my soul. Surprise, the two about periods are my friend, and everything else is something someone said for real, in earnest, on a Doctor Who fan page comment chain. And they are only a small sample of the many, many, many male (and female!) tears that I could have chosen to represent to you on this fine Friday. But I have to stop somewhere, if only for my own sanity.
I’ve been a Doctor Who fan since my friend introduced me to it over Thanksgiving break in 2012. We watched a couple episodes together, she went home, then I called her very angrily the next day because I’d stayed up until 5 AM watching the show and it was All Her Fault. One of the intriguing things about the show was the built-in mechanism for not needing to care if your main actor left the show. Your star wants to move on to greener pastures? Boom, regeneration! It was a brilliant device, and one they abused mightily when it started to look like they’d actually run out of their pre-arranged number of regenerations. So now we have a whole new set. But for an alien with almost indescribable power and untold species and genders to choose from, Doctor Who has always come out kinda… white and male-y. The powers behind Doctor Who have given a lot of excuses for why this is, ranging from wanting to cast a specific male actor and not even auditioning anyone else, to the fans both wanting a female Doctor enough and wanting a female Doctor too much. (…what?)
That finally changed this weekend, when the BBC announced that Jodie Whittaker will be the first female Doctor. My Facebook wall was solid ecstatic reactions. Then cue the Internet, and the (mostly) tears. And there were so many.
Twitter user @TechnicallyRon turned Daily Mail comments and turned them into episode titles, including “Nobody Wants a TARDIS Full of Bras” and “Political Correctness Should Not Exist in Space.” Other people declared that they weren’t going to watch the show any more (the fandom won’t miss you.) Some people took the recent Wonder Woman movie as a chance to try and prove why gender bending shouldn’t be a thing, and then got schooled.
Or they tried to make “jokes.”
The super sleazy, Murdoch-owned British newspaper The Sun reacted by printing nude photos of Whittaker. Because the people at The Sun are terrible. (This Salon article pretty well summarizes my rage on that particular topic.) There were so many different varieties of “outrage” that someone even made a bingo card.
In preparing for this article, I won in like, five seconds.
Luckily, as one poll showed, these loud bigots only make up about 15% of the overall response to the casting. The better angles of the internet were also out in force, prepared to mock the ever-loving bejesus out of these idiots. I’m just gonna leave these here. Because they are amazing.
Merriam-Webster pointing out that there is no gender in the English definition of “Doctor.”
This user correcting the internet’s spelling:
This article technically has a whole collection, but this is my favorite:
A reminder that Whittaker isn’t the first woman to helm a sci fi series:
A thoughtful article pointing out that Whittaker shouldn’t have to apologize for her gender in her first statement on getting the role.
A brilliant suggestion for how to harness this manpain:
Someone asking where the madness will end:
Someone with similar questions:
First ghostbusters, then Wonder Woman, then a girl alien? Whats next, female balloons? Woman sand? A girl alphabet? Women can't be balloons
— Jill Gutowitz (@jillboard) July 16, 2017
And finally, a statement of our new world order:
Personally, I’m really eager to see what Whittaker brings to the role, and to the relationship between The Doctor and the companions. And, as with all things where someone takes a “gamble” and actually makes something about a woman, I have to hope like hell that no one screws it up. It took us 50 years to get our first female Doctor. God knows when we’ll get our next one.
Elle Irise is a regular contributor to This Week In Tomorrow. When she’s not compiling some of the best and worst reactions to manpain, she studies gender in popular culture.
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