If you’re not a Dr. Who fan, you may be wondering why the words “BBC has named Jodie Whitaker to be the 13th Doctor” have caused such a commotion recently. So a little back story: the show Doctor Who (of which, full disclosure, I am a fan) is about an alien who travels through time with a companion in a telephone booth that is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. The show’s first run went from 1963-1989, but not with the same character in the lead role. When it was time for the first actor to go, the editors decided to make the Doctor immortal via the use of “regeneration” so that the show could go on. The Doctor doesn’t die, but merely regenerates into an entirely new body. The show was rebooted in 2005 with a series of new Doctors.
To date, there have been 12 Doctors and, while their mannerisms and traveling companions may have varied, one thing always remained the same — the Doctor has always been a white dude.
And that brings us to the 13th Doctor, the recently announced Jodie Whitaker. Ms. Whitaker is a white woman, so obviously the show is still desperately behind and lacking in their Doctor diversity. But the show has finally introduced a woman as the main character and men (and a few women, because internalized oppression is a thing) are flipping out.
The tweets from these folks seem to suggest that they themselves had time traveled right back to an age where women were to be seen and not heard. Sadly, that level of misogyny is still alive and well today (*cough* trump *cough*). I’m loathe to give attention to any of these backward dudebros, so I’ll look at these tweets categorically:
“This is just pandering to women!”
They apparently aren’t concerned that 12 male Doctors since the 1960’s could be seen as pandering to men.
“This makes the show completely unbelievable and unrealistic!”
So... they can accept an alien with two hearts who time travels in a telephone booth that is bigger on the inside than the outside, and who regenerates into another body on a regular basis - but only if it's a dude, because if it's a woman the show becomes completely unbelievable. Riiiiight.
“If Doctor Who can be a woman, then can Wonder Woman be a man?”
Ah, the privileged bliss of pretending not to understand that those who have been denied almost any representation should not have to give up what little representation they have when oppression finally starts to right itself.
“This is nothing but political correctness!”
Because there’s simply no way that a woman could be the best choice for anything. Don’t mind that sound, it’s just me banging my head against the desk.
“It makes no sense for the Doctor to be a woman!”
I’ll let the good folks over at Merriam-Webster take this one:
'Doctor' has no gender in English.
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) July 17, 2017
Others pointed out that this is actually canonical to the series:
Let’s take a moment and soak this in: women make up half the population and only 1/13th of the Doctors from Doctor Who, and there are actually men out there deluded enough to claim that this is unfair to men. If you’ve ever thought “What is this privilege thing that everyone is talking about?” well, this is it.
Privilege is believing that you, as a white male, are the default, and anyone else is “diversity.” It’s the ability to state with a straight face that anyone who is not a white male is unfairly taking what is rightly yours, and that it’s completely reasonable to attack those who dare to challenge your supremacy.
And if that’s not completely clear, Rupert Murdoch’s papers showed us exactly what that looks like when they published out of context photos of Jodie Whitaker in various nude scenes she has acted.
Thank the Time Lord for the anti-misogynists of Twitter who were on the case:
— BlackGirlNerds @SDCC (@BlackGirlNerds) July 16, 2017
Not sure what is more entertaining - the joy of Jodie Whittaker being cast as the Doctor, or grown men throwing tantrums over it. #DoctorWho
— Sister Outrider (@ClaireShrugged) July 16, 2017
Now Doctor Who needs to regenerate 13 times as a woman before a male actor can play her again. It's your turn to patiently wait misogynerds.
— Jess (@MercurialMiss) July 17, 2017
Congratulations to Jodie Whitaker, a talented performer, on her well-deserved casting. Congratulations to Doctor Who for making it clear that women can be doctors too, and remembering that representation matters.
I’ll look forward to Doctors of color, Doctors with disabilities, Queer and Trans doctors and maybe, someday far in the future, even another white dude.