When Chicks Dig the Doctor

So over on Digital Spy they’ve had a poll and now they’re doing a countdown of the Ten best Tenth Doctor moments and in at number 10, somewhat to my dismay, are the closing minutes of Forest of the Dead where the Doctor unilaterally consigns Alex to an eternity of simulated bliss. One of the Talking Heads remarks that this is wonderful because it illustrates that the Doctor will always "go the extra mile" – in my book that tends to have as much to do with vanity as with love, but there you go.

I can’t think of a single female DW fan on my flist that didn’t detest that moment, and many of them hated the end of JE (at least the bit with Rose) for similar reasons. That little feminist observation led me on to notice that every Talking Head on the Digital Spy clip was male. I wonder why that is? I doubt if it’s a sexist conspiracy. More likely it’s the fact that women tend to be more circumspect about publicly declaring their allegiance to a fandom than blokes are. It’s one thing to be a male geek. But to own your fantasy as a woman is a bit less acceptable.

I think this might actually change after Tennant quits, because right now if you come out as a fan of New Who the chance of you being dismissed as a Tennant fangirl is extremely high. Since girls tend to be a bit more sensitive about relationships in general, they don’t necessarily want to be associated with this, if only because their Significant Others don’t react to it very well. Maybe I’m extra-cautious about this because I’m fifty and to lust after a 38 year old toyboy just isn’t on – though, interestingly, the age gap between DT and his current partner is slightly greater, and that seems fine (And that’s a topic in itself, as you’ll know if you’ve been following the tale of Aaron Johnson (Nowhere Boy) and Sam Taylor Wood, his much older, female fiancee).

But to return to DW, I reflected that it was a bit hypocritical of me to grumble about male-dominated discourse when I’d self-consciously removed any reference to DW from my Facebook Profile. It’s a bit like RTD keeping it to himself that he’s gay – if you ain’t gonna come out, stop hurling rotten tomatoes from the sidelines. Maybe women fans have only themselves to blame? It’s going to be interesting when Chicks Dig Time Lords comes out next year to see if it’ll bring more of us out of the comparatively private realm of fan fiction and into the public spotlight. And how cool is it that Torchwood Babiez is in there?

I go back and forth on this myself. It’s gradually dawning on me as I contemplate doing a dissertation on Shakespeare that, much as I love the Bard, what I really want to do is a PhD on Doctor Who. And one thing is certain – if I don’t believe in my ability to do that, nobody else will. That doesn’t mean I’ve got up the nerve yet to go off to Cardiff Uni and sit at the feet of Matt Hills yet, or for that matter to tell my academic friends in Birmingham and Stratford of my intentions – though I did manage to sneak the Daleks into a recent essay. And guess why I’m absolutely paraonid about mentioning DW in Stratford? Because they’ll groan and assume I’m mooning after David Tennant, that is why. In certain Stratford circles, you mention him at your peril. Shakespeare is far too serious to be sexy, at least if it brings all these strange people who don’t understand how to speak the verse into Stratford. It’s all a bit vulgar, really…

I have a lot of respect for the lovely Paul Cornell and I think he’s probably right when he says,"I always say Doctor Who isn’t a show, but a lifestyle choice" – there are values embodied in the Doctor which actually transcend the Skinny Sexy Scottish Bloke – much as I love him. Paul Cornell isn’t afraid to express love in his writing about the show – not in a slashy way – but just in the honesty of his warmth, affection and inspiration when he writes about it. Fandom needs a bit more of that I think, and who better to provide it than us chicks who dig the Time Lord?

And now, just to annoy you all, here’s a picture of the new bloke…


19 thoughts on “When Chicks Dig the Doctor

  1. You know what I’ve always had a bit of a problem with — when the Doctor sends Astrid out to float amongst the stars for eternity. What if she doesn’t like it out there?
    What is the age gap between David Tennant and his current love interest? I never hear anything about his private life, so I don’t even know who he’s dating.

  2. RE: the ending of FOTD, I’ll go on record as saying that I’m female and *didn’t* actually hate it — but I certainly didn’t find it the uniformly happy-happy ending it was presented as. More of a weird, ambiguous, faintly-creepy thing that I actually liked because of its built-in dissonance. But I’m a weirdo, and freely admit it. 😉
    Similarly, I agree that a lot of what the Doctor (especially Ten) does is more motivated by vanity than by “going the extra mile,” but again, I *like* that flawed aspect of his character. I feel it makes him interesting (see above “weirdo” commnt).
    RE: the ending of JE, yeah it can be interpreted as pretty sexist, but I tend to see it more as RTD attempting to do the impossible and provide a happily-ever-after to a series character romance *without* nuking the continuing series itself. In that sense, I really like as an ambitious (though arguably flawed) storytelling idea. (Not to mention that TenII/Rose is a ficcer’s extravaganza, IMO, and one in which I partake happily.) Unfortunately, RTD has a bad tendency towards things that *look* like complete gender!fail (see the ending of “The Next Doctor” for a lovely example), but which I really think are unintentional.
    As for me, I about as “out” a geek as it’s possible to get; hell, I’ve hosted 2 DW/TW themed parties at regional cons, among other things. I just tend not to hang out around some areas of online fandom because they aren’t interested in what I’m interested in (character, storytelling, fanfic, myth-and-fairytale meta, etc.). There does seem to be an unfortunate gender divide in fandom, in regards to the things people get out of it, but, quite honestly, I’m doing this for *fun* and I’m gonna go where my interests are. *shrugs*
    As for being afraid of being called a DT fangirl — why the hell can’t I be both a DT and a DW fangirl? Far as I’m concerned, it’s two great things that go great together. *shrugs* Then again, I’m not working the cultural setting you are, I don’t care if I’m being taken all that seriously, and I’m certainly not involved in writing from an academic angle. I can see where wanting to do something non-traditional would be daunting in that situation . . . but I really hope it works out for you to do what you want. 🙂
    Sorry, that brought out a herd of teal deer for some reason. 🙂
    Oh, ETA — Go ahead and lust after someone younger than you. Admittedly, DT is only one year younger than me, but I fully expect to be squeeing over MS if he strikes my fancy. *shrugs* Age gaps are overrated, IMO. 😉

  3. I think quite a lot of the issue with JE was the writing being rather clumsy – and even RTD admitted that in his book. I can see that he couldn’t spare the time to get into a lot of arguments about it.
    As for lusting, well if you have teenage kids it tends to make you very aware of how easily embarrassed people can be.
    I’ve no idea where the teal deer fit in, though.

  4. We think it’s VERY cool that there’s a Babiez comic in Chicks Dig Time Lords 🙂
    I’m learning, slowly, to come out of the geek closet. It certainly was difficult/impossible for me even five years ago. Now I’m sometimes unabashed in my love for things like Doctor and Batman. And I don’t care who knows it. And when people start accusing me of being in it for the *kute boyz* I tell them that I DO ship Doctor/Rose. And by that I mean One/Rose. And that my fantasies involve Hartnell bending Billie Piper rather unlovingly over the TARDIS console and…
    The boys get skeeved, and the girls get huffy, but I just tell them that if Rose is his one true love, she’ll be the first Doctor’s love too 🙂 Basically I find a bit of humor gets me around the silliness of having to either prove that I’m NOT a squeeing fangirl, OR have to show my fangirl smutfic license and registration.
    I’m tired of hiding that I have a uterus and like these things. I’ve always had unisex usernames online, and I used to try to avoid identifying myself as female because that would instantly lose my credibility. Because I can’t possibly like Batman because he’s Batman and awesome, I haveta like him because Christian Bale is hot. 1) I’ve liked Batman far longer than that and 2) When I’m watching the recent Batman films my brain filters all the dialogue so that Kevin Conroy is saying it in my mind. Cos HE is Batman, IMHO.
    You know what–love Doctor Who, and don’t be shy about it. And don’t justify it either and try to prove that you just flat out love it and aren’t in it for TEH SECKSEE TENNANT. It’s an added bonus feature, but so are hot female companions for the guys. You don’t see girls questioning boys’ love for Doctor Who based on Leela’s teeny tiny skirts and such.

  5. I think I am in a very small minority of female fans (and arguably of a lot of fans, despite Digital Spy’s list) who adored the ending of that episode. After I saw a lot of folks’ well articulated disputes with it, I felt a little guilty about liking it, and wondered why I did like it.
    When it comes to the meta problems a lot of female fans, or fans in general, have with the ending as it relates to how Moffat views and writes about women, I can’t speak to that within the context of the story. Why? Because I experienced the end initially, with the strongest emotional resonance, from within the story. I was invested in River, who I adored as a character, I interpreted the end scene from what I imagined her point of view was: only part of the “life” that she was having in the tiny universe to which she’d been delivered. I read her meeting up with her team as a signal that that life would include adventures as well rest, intellectual wandering as well as rescues.
    And I mention rescues because I read her saying goodnight to the children as a signal that Donna’s “children” had somehow magically been saved, too. And within the Magic Whoniverse, that salvation was plausible to me, the viewer. Throughout the two episodes, I’d been thinking of River as a sometime partner with the Doctor in his adventures — which almost always include rescues — so it didn’t throw my inner vision of River to see her doing that. And in the end, I left the story thinking that she had been offered universes within that tiny one she’d been planted in, and I would have been delighted to find myself there had I been in her shoes.
    That the Doctor’s rescue of River was part of a stubborn, possibly partly ego-drawn refusal to let the Universe win is a perfectly valid view. I actually don’t think the idea of “going the extra mile to save someone” and “being a near-immortal git with a God complex” are mutually exclusive, so it didn’t bother me.
    When it comes to the question of “did the Doctor take away River’s/Rose’s/Donna’s right to choose their path, I have some more problems, but far fewer than a lot of people (although I did write a Donna fixit in which she chose to die, written in a white heat of anger immediately post JE). Taking someone’s choice to live away is the decision I find hardest to approve. Taking away their choice to die always leaves them a multitude more choices – even the choice to die after the original decision maker has moved on. Taking Rose’s choice away? I think that’s him making his choice. I may have my problems with it, but very few.
    Man, I’m rambling, so I’ll just say I’ve rarely had a problem with letting people know I’m a DW fan, but that’s because I’m 54 and have been a fan since 1963. If folks assume I’m a Tennant fangirl, I’m going to laugh (since if I’m any kind of fangirl, I’d be an Eccleston fangirl.)

  6. Yeah, my biggest problem with RTD’s writing (and a lot of DW — and most of TW — scripts) is that one frequently gets the impression it just needed *one more* going-through, or a good solid beta-ing, to make it brilliant.
    RE: lusting, well, yeah, as the Doctor reminds Jack, there’s a time and a place for expressing it. But in and of itself, as an impulse, I certainly see nothing wrong with it (besides, teenagers need to get embarrassed by their parents now and then — builds character). 😉
    Sorry for the netspeak; “teal deer” is a shorthand expression that comes from yet another shorthand expression, “tl;dr,” which stands for “too long;didn’t read.” It was originally used as a derisive response when someone online would post some gigantic, but dull, rant/discourse about something. People will also use it in a humorous way about their own Very Long Posts, to indicate they’re aware of their length and rant-y-ness, which is what I was doing. (A “herd of teal deer” means tl;dr x 10.) 🙂

  7. Oh, no, he’s dating his daughter! Ewwww. 😉
    Now, is she any relation to Steven Moffatt?
    Oh, and as far as the whole David Tennant fangirl thing goes — I guess that’s one advantage to living in the U.S. — no one here knows who he is. Except other sci fi geeks like myself.

  8. I can’t think of a single female DW fan on my flist that didn’t detest that moment,
    *timidly raises hand* Although I may not technically count, as you’re on my flist but I’m not on yours.
    I interpreted the end scene from what I imagined her point of view was: only part of the “life” that she was having in the tiny universe to which she’d been delivered. I read her meeting up with her team as a signal that that life would include adventures as well rest, intellectual wandering as well as rescues.
    This. I’ve never entirely grasped why everyone jumped to the conclusion that a 1-minute scene of her reading to children inescapably meant that:
    1) That’s all she would ever get to do for eternity, and
    2) That she had somehow been twisted by the computer into wanting to do it. For eternity.
    We don’t know from the text what River thought of children, so it’s as much a projection that she would have loathed reading them a story as it is to assume that she wouldn’t mind doing so. (As she’s based on Benny, who has a kid, I’ve always assumed that River’s in the latter camp.) It’s an equal projection to assume that minding the kiddies is all she ever does – there’s as much to show, in meeting with her team and moreover in knowing that the world is to some degree malleable to her thoughts that River would enjoy herself immensely.
    Heck, I know a lot of women whose idea of heaven would to be left undisturbed for eternity in a world with all the books ever written, and I’m one of ’em.
    I’m not even convinced that River’s ultimate fate was taken out of her hands. She didn’t tell the Doctor she wanted to die, she told the Doctor she didn’t want him to die. There’s a huge difference between sacrificing yourself for another and committing suicide, most especially when it comes down to the idea of not having to cease to be afterwards. So that he rescued her is not, IMO, a betrayal.
    And again… we’re assuming that she doesn’t have the option of saying “Computer, I’m tired of playing, delete my data.” In the lack of alternative canon, I like to think that she does have that final capability of self-determination. Unlike Donna, River is completely aware of her situation.

  9. This turned into a bit of a rambling essay. Sorry.
    Urgh. The end of FotD is definitely not in my top ten. I’m not a River Song fan, but from what we saw of her she didn’t sign up for an eternity of a simulated happyland with kids (who happen to be the same as the kids the computer so thoughtfully provided Donna! because they are both women and therefore will not really be content unless they are taking care of children!) JE bothered me even more regarding the Doctor making choices for others without their consent.
    One of the reasons I liked WoM was that it made canon the opinion that Ten sometimes goes too far in the name of “saving” people. WoM invites viewers to condemn the Doctor’s actions when he plays the hero beyond what is wise or wanted by others. Therefore it implies that we’re not just being overexcitable fangirls when we decry earlier actions (like the endings JE or FotD, or his treatment of Harriet Jones) where we feel that he placed his self-image as a hero who achieves perfect endings over the choices of others or the actual greater good. It suggests that RTD or someone on the inside was conscious that these past actions of Ten’s weren’t the brave decisions of a wise, near-perfect hero but early signals of a flaw that cracked him wide open that day on Mars.
    There is definitely fail in Digital Spy’s failure to include any female talking heads. There are plenty of women in fandom (and involved with the show), and the fact that they had so many people talking and not a single woman suggests that they are really being daft and blind.
    Sorry about all the people in your corner of academia making stupid assumptions about DW fans. I’ve been on a campaign lately to stop treating my geekhood like something to be ashamed of, because it’s not. I even outed my fandom journal to a few RL friends (admittedly only ones who are quite close to me or geeky enough in their own way not to judge). The different context you’re working in sounds challenging for that. However, I suspect that outside of the Very Serious Shakespeare Scholars at Stratford, plenty of academic-types would think a PhD dissertation on Doctor Who was fantastic.

  10. Now, is she any relation to Steven Moffatt?
    No, although she is related to Peter Moffett… better known to Who fans as Peter Davison (she is indeed the Doctor’s daughter).

  11. Welcome to the Older DW Fans club!
    I think you’re right to point out that our feelings about the endings of individual stories tend to get muddled up with our issues about writers, and I understand that Moff and feminists don’t get on too well. But for me, that ending was superficial from the Doctor’s PoV as well. If anything, I objected rather more to the finger-snapping shot because I don’t care for that way of portraying him as a character. I like a bit more emotional depth.

  12. Re: This turned into a bit of a rambling essay. Sorry.
    Yes, I’m glad that we’re getting a bit more questioning of the Doctor’s habit of rapid fixes – and I agree that Ten’s dramatic flaw has been present right from TCI and the business with Harriet Jones.
    What I like about the idea of studying Doctor who further is the whole question of genre. We’ve been looking a lot on my Shakespeare course at what makes a comedy a comedy and a tragedy a tragedy – what expectations does the audience bring to each? And the thesis I’m tentatively working on is that DW was originally conceived as a comedy – that is a show with a fundamentally optimistic outcome. But by opening up the Doctor’s emotional life RTD has steered it more in a tragic direction, because it’s difficult to see how this particular character can really find a happy outcome long-term (In comedies we tend to make certain compromises on character to bring about thematic resolution – you’ll see what I mean if you start really thinking about whether the couples married off at the end of Shakespeare’s comedies would be happy together!)
    I feel that ultimately RTD’s doctor is untenable and that’s why I predict some kind of big reset at the end of the two-parter. Many of Moffatt’s attitudes are more consistent with comedy in the Shakespearian sense, but when plonked into the universe of RTD’s Who they jar because we’ve come to expect more emotional consistency.
    And that went on a bit. Sorry!

  13. I think the point you make about not being allowed to like Batman (as opposed to CB) once you out yourself as female is a very interesting one. We live in a culture that objectifies women, so it’s fine for a bloke to acknowledge his hots for Leela and then move on to the serious stuff like theme and character. But if a woman does that in SF/fantasy/superhero territory, the charge is very quickly made that she’s only in it for teh sexy, and that by implication she’s unable to move beyond that motivation and discuss the more significant meta.
    There’s also (admittedly a very pleasant!) double bind with Tennant – once we admit he’s attractive we are also admitting that the strategy to get women into DW in their thousands by casting that kind of romantic lead has been successful, ergo, we are shallow and easily pleased. But if you like DW when William Hartnell is playing the Doctor, it’s clearer that your affiliation transcends the bloke playing the character.
    I would really rather have liked an elderly and unprepossessing Eleven, but it wasn’t gonna happen. I think it’s interesting that they’re going for the tweeds, though – it may be a suggestion that the separation of character from sex object is beginning to happen.

  14. Maybe I’m extra-cautious about this because I’m fifty and to lust after a 38 year old toyboy just isn’t on
    The societal views that popped into my head at this were:
    ~ the law protects females from males because males are promiscuous and women aren’t (lol)
    ~ the world wars wiped out a generation of men, and society was set up in a way that women depended on men (no status without marriage, kids being bastards with no inheritance). Therefore the 50 year old bachelors married the 16 year old girls to save society. Obviously society isn’t set up like that anymore, so feel free to lust after someone younger.
    When people assume I only like Doctor Who for DT, I tell them I’m asexual, like the Doctor. I’m killing two birds with one stone in that sentence. Sometimes I joke I’ve got a thing for Billie Piper instead, especially in the GitF when she’s lying on the clockwork droid table with the push up bra (just to show I’m paying attention).
    I would cheer if you did a PhD on Doctor Who. This year I’ve been part of the dataset of a doctorate studying sexuality in Doctor Who, and a subject for a photography undergraduate studying British science fiction community. Doctor Who is in the academic community. You could start by postulating kids will be studying Doctor Who in school four hundred years from now the way we study Shakespeare today.

  15. Because it’s a gag, he just needed to do something to piss her off. As a Queen who’s power was based on her virginity, having sex with her was the best way to undermine her. It wasn’t recreational sex. It was purposeful. To be asexual is to have no inherent desire for recreational partnersex. It doesn’t prevent you from partaking – that’s celibacy and abstinence.

  16. For what it’s worth, I’m male and I wrote fix-its for the Doctor’s apparent disregard in Journey’s End of Rose’s and Donna’s rights to self-determination. Now, I don’t recall now how much I was bothered by his behavior before I saw that my flist was bothered. Certainly I never thought it was out of character for the Doctor to choose for Donna not to die. Mostly I remember Bidmead’s comment on Davies from about that time, that Davies is a first-draft writer; he picks some neat ideas and some set pieces, and contrives plot to string them together. I read that, and I thought, “Yeah, I can see that’s what it is, because that’s the same thing I do with my fanfiction.” (…when I write something that’s longer than a set piece in the first place, which I haven’t done for years.)

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