Dont get me wrong; I greatly enjoyed the special, and I think Steven Moffat is the wasps elbows. But Moffats gender politics do continue to bug me. Ranking especially high on my feminist gripe-o-meter this past season were the Mrs. Williams comment in The God Complex, and the revelation that the seemingly independent River Songs entire identity, including her choice of profession, is determined by her focus on the man she loves.
Im sure some will see tonights episode as preaching female superiority. But if they do, theyre missing the point. The repeated message of tonights show was that womens strength comes from motherhood. That line is one of the oldest arrows in patriarchys quiver.
In a long literary tradition, a female character is most likely to be allowed to express strength and resolve if her doing so is somehow connected to her natural role as familial nurturer. Think of examples from Greek tragedy: Antigone and Electra, whose heroism is triggered by their feeling for a slain relative, or even Medea, whose fairly extreme deviation from a nurturing role results from the disruption of her marriage. (Actually one can fit Lysistrata in there too.)
For the sake of the spoiler-averse, I wont go into details about plot, but the Christmas special fit into this pattern all too well.