When it was announced that, for the first time in the show’s history, Dr Who’s titular character would be played by a woman, the reaction was mixed, to say the least. Some though it was fantastic that the Doctor was going to be a woman, saying it was about time the show had a female lead, praising the show for being progressive and that the new Doctor would be an inspiration for so many. Some, on the other hand, didn’t agree with the show changing the gender of its lead, accusing the show of caving into the feminists, being too politically correct and not caring about the show’s long and rich history of being a show with a male lead. The decision to have the Doctor has been controversial and has generated a lot of debate. Here’s a look at why the Doctor should never be played by a woman.
What about young boys who look up to the Doctor?
While Doctor Who has long had a fan base consisting of both sexes, some would say it appeals slightly more to males. The Doctor is a character many men and boys up and down the UK and throughout the world look up to. He’s very much a role model for those more interested in things like sci-fi and fantasy, space and science. The show undeniably has a broad appeal, but changing the character into a woman makes the show change who it’s mostly aimed at. While many women and girls will be delighted that they now have a female lead of a hit sci-fi show they can look up to, what about the men and boys who’ve held the Doctor (as a male) as their role model for so long? Have they just been forgotten about or are they expected to just accept the fact that the character they’ve admired for so long has changed gender quite unexplainably and is no longer the male lead they once knew?
The Doctor is a man (well, a Time Lord, technically speaking)
A male character should be played by a man. Likewise, a female character should be played by a woman. Both of those statements are easy enough to comprehend and they make sense. The Doctor has long been established as a man. He’s always been of the male gender – sure, he’s an alien with two hearts who can regenerate, but he comes from a world with Time Lords and Time Ladies and he’s always been the former, not the latter. A fundamental aspect of the show is that the Doctor is a man. You can well argue that the show at its heart is all about change: there are different incarnations of the Doctor, different companions, different aliens, different alien worlds…you name it. The show constantly reinvents itself and that’s a key part of its long-term success. But, while change has done the show good, there are some things that shouldn’t be changed. The show has a core identity and that’s a man travelling in a blue box (the Tardis) going on adventures with companions and meeting all sorts of aliens. For every show, there are some things you just shouldn’t change because they’re a fundamental aspect of the show. Because the Doctor has always been a man, that itself is a fundamental aspect of the show and, quite frankly, is something about the show that should never be changed.
Women should have their own roles
With the Doctor becoming a woman, a role traditionally played by a man has now become a woman’s role. There’s no telling yet whether Jodie Whittaker’s first female Doctor will be the only one – there’s a chance the Doctor after her could go back to being a male, after all. The point is this: a man’s role in a TV show or film should always be a man’s role – the same can be said for women’s roles. In a time where feminists are loud and proud, it seems that some think it wrong for a long-running, hugely successful show like Doctor Who to have always had a male lead.
Some people think it’s only fair that a woman should get to play the part. In line with that, the tagline for the show’s current series is: It’s About Time. This can be read in two ways: the first and most literal meaning is that it’s a show about time, obviously since there’s a lot of time travelling involved; the second meaning is that it’s only right that the Doctor be played by a woman and it should have happened before now. In other words, those running the show seem to think the role should be open to women. But shouldn’t women have their own roles instead of taking over roles from men? If the show had always had a female lead, would there have been demand for a male Doctor for a change? There’s nothing wrong at all with having a strong female character – Doctor Who has many, including many recent companions – just as there’s nothing wrong with strong male characters. But the two should be separate. It’s much better for women, and men, to have their own roles, rather than taking over roles that don’t really belong to them.