Thoughts on the new Doctor, by Christine Pyman
As an admin of a couple of Doctor Who groups, and a member of many more, I think I’ve seen some of the best and worst of the Who world’s reactions to The Doctor regenerating as a female.
It seems that, as a species, humans don’t particularly like change, and the Internet has given everyone a platform to express their disgruntlement. Some, including friends, have decided that an apparent gender change is a step too far for them to accept, some have loudly trumpeted that it’s about time (pun intended), and others have taken the more rational approach of waiting to see some actual episodes before they make up their minds about the change.
I find the most interesting thing about this, is the challenges to our own mind set.
Having a hero figure as female is not new, and one of the important things about The Doctor is the ability to fix situations and problems without violence, which is sometimes offered as a more feminine solution to problems.
We know that a Timelord’s physiology is not human, we are offered perspectives outside of our own, and I like to think that the solutions that are shown, and our acceptance of the rationale, make us better people.
For myself, as a long time fan of the show, I will say that as I had always experienced the Doctor as male, in my mind The Doctor was masculine, and like many others, I wasn’t happy about the possibility of him being played by a her. I felt a bit like I would lose an important part of my childhood, stories that had helped form my world view, if the Doctor appeared as female.
When the big reveal of which actor was going to portray the new Doctor went to air, I stayed up to watch it in real time (about 2am, SA time), and when Jodie Whittaker was announced, I totally surprised myself with my excitement.
Wow, how simply wonderful! I danced around the room, punching the air, yelling “ yes, yes”. I suspect my cats thought I’d been coffee drinking again.I am still surprised by the intensity of my joy.
I wanted a male actor to continue with the role, definitely, right up until the announcement. My rational side argued that there are many things we don’t and possibly cannot understand about alien races, which is part of the success and staying power ability of Doctor Who. My stubborn mind was telling me, no, The Doctor should be male. My emotional side ambushed me, empowered me, and I am still celebrating.