A couple of days ago, the UK woke up to some great news: Jodie Whittaker is to be the new Dr in the BBC’s acclaimed Dr Who series. Great news right? Nothing gets me more excited than seeing modern society slowly adapt and pave the way, bit by bit to a fairer and more gender equal society.
The great thing about the Dr Who series is that it has been created in such a way that the main character can change over and over again without upsetting the plot line. If anything, the regeneration of the doctor enhances the story and keeps viewers coming back. Added to that, the prefix Dr is, of course, genderless meaning that really there is no excuse for the protagonist always being male. So I am ecstatic that for the first time in history, this Dr will be a woman.
Of course, as with any move towards equality, there are those who aren’t happy about it. Twitter was ripe with men (and some women) who adamantly said that Dr Who was meant to be a man and that they wouldn’t be watching the show anymore. Comments such as “Dr Whore” were all over Twitter and of course, the tabloids are still tearing around trying to do their best to turn Whittaker into nothing more than a sex object. It’s worth noting that two of the previous Doctors, Matt Smith and David Tennant, have both done nude scenes in other work, but needless to say, the tabloids didn’t care about men doing it. The complaints about Whittaker got so bad, that the BBC had to issue a statement about their choice. In it, they politely reminded people that:
“The Doctor is an alien from the planet Gallifrey and it has been established in the show that Time Lords can switch gender”
The fact that it has got to this point, is quite frankly pathetic. Come on guys – is it really that bad to have a woman on screen that you feel the need to complain? I seem to be rolling my eyes a lot more than usual recently. On the other hand, this time I feel like even these people, who are intent on bringing down Whittaker simply because she is a woman, can’t bring me down. Usually, I get really angry about these things, but this time, they made me laugh and roll my eyes. There will always be people who can’t see the bigger picture, people who prefer the status quo and feel threatened by change. But they can’t do anything to change what has happened, they can rant but they can’t change the fact that the much-loved TV programme is getting the rejuvenation it desperately needs and that the abhorrently sexist sci-fi world is slowly changing.
I will be watching the new series when it airs, and I imagine I will feel the same way I did when I saw Wonder Woman. I felt a feeling of such empowerment which has been reflected in almost every woman I’ve spoken to. But this new Dr Who isn’t about me, and while I think it’s great to see that representation on screen and see the changes it brings, Jodie Whittaker will be more important for those younger than me. I can’t really imagine what it must be like to grow up with watching shows with strong female leads and I’m so glad that young girls will be growing up on a more level playing field than I did.
They will have seen an all-female cast as Ghostbusters where the token Hollywood “dumb blonde” was played by Thor star Chris Hemsworth. They will have seen the recent Star Wars films where female protagonists led the way. They will have sung along to Disney’s Moana and Frozen. They will have seen the first female super hero in Wonder Woman and finally, they will see their first female Dr Who. There is still a long way to go where female representation in entertainment is concerned, but if the Jodie Whittaker announcement has done anything, it’s made me feel that finally, we may be getting somewhere.