Women in the TARDIS

River Song and Amy Pond

River Song and Amy Pond - the two most important female characters that Steven Moffat has created for DOCTOR WHO

Teresa Jusino loves the way Steven Moffat writes female characters for Doctor Who. (See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.)

Nivair Gabriel hates the way Steven Moffat writes female characters for Doctor Who. (See here.)

Funny thing is, I’m largely in agreement with both Jusino and Gabriel; they just focus on different things. There are good and bad aspects of Moffat’s portrayal of women, and Jusino and Gabriel between them provide helpful analyses of each.

(In related news, I enjoyed Moffat’s satire on gender roles in his earlier series Coupling; but he clearly takes those roles to be largely innate whereas I take them to be largely constructed, so I actually enjoyed the humor in a somewhat different manner from what Moffat intended. It’s like the different ways one would enjoy Yes, Minister depending on whether one thought that a viable alternative to bureaucratic government was possible – laughing at foibles that one takes to be inevitable features of the human condition versus laughing at foibles in a way that can lead to discrediting and combating them.)

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3 Responses to Women in the TARDIS

  1. MBH February 4, 2011 at 7:06 am #

    To add to his litany of badly drawn, disappointing female characters, Moffat gave us River Song, an archaeologist from the Doctor’s future who not only knows everything about him, but to whom he’s also entrusted his precious sonic screwdriver.

    I don’t necessarily disagree that other women are portrayed in a sexist light, but it’s not fair to say River Song is a sexist character. My feeling is that River Song is the doctor’s anima; but that makes the doctor into River Song’s animus. So neither character is individuated — as one should expect from a time-traveler and an omniscient archeologist. Individuation is a process that happens through linear time, so neither the Doctor nor River Song would be complete people in and of themselves.

    I’ve only seen episodes with the 11th doctor, so I don’t know how far this extends to the other characters, but given their non-linear time travel, neither the males nor the females would be individuated. And since Amy Pond is depicted as someone who grows up awaiting non-linear travel (the doctor’s return), it shouldn’t be that surprising that she also isn’t individuated.

    I’m not saying — normatively — that non-individuated characters are absolutely good. I’m just saying that, given the circumstances, feminists might excuse how a woman — or a man! — would develop in extenuating circumstances.

  2. MRDA February 6, 2011 at 5:38 am #

    The “no-means-yes” romance plotline is a convenient and popular one in television; hell, it’s even been in Buffy. But as any dictionary will tell you, “no” is the opposite of “yes” — and the more television writers like Moffat push that dangerous fallacy, the more girls and women will find themselves victims of sci-fi fans who don’t understand the rules of consent. Or, at the very least, they’ll find themselves working in a shop to support a boyfriend’s useless tinkering.

    Wow…I guess she missed the irony of scribing that in a screed against sexism and stereotyping. I guess it’s only a cardinal sin when blokes do it….

  3. Nick February 9, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    Doctor Who Infographic

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