NOTE: This is only about the new Doctor Who- I know, I know, hardline fans will probably dismiss this out of hand. However, feel free to tell me in the comments how sexist (or not) old Dr Who is- I’m genuinely curious. Spoiler alerts, etc.
“Wait a second;” I thought as I sat in the lounge, my mind idly wandering as I munched on dry cereal from the box; “Was Amy Pond a stripper?”
Maybe I had been reading too many feminist blogs or maybe the new Dr Who promo had caught my eye, but whatever it was, that question hung in my mind.
In her first episode, Amy, the fourth of the new Doctor’s companions, meets him wearing a police uniform, but he finds out that this in fact a costume for something else.
My mind raced, was Amy Pond a stripper? – I hastily looked it up, ah no, she wasn’t a stripper, she was a kiss-o-gram.
A kiss-o-gram? The intelligent, interesting, funny girl who the Doctor chose to take travelling around the universe, her job was as a kiss-o-gram? Huh, well that’s kind of odd.
(Oh and it has also been made extra creepy in a Kiss-O-Gram Amy Pond figurine)
Now for those who have never seen Dr Who (and seriously, what is wrong with you?), I’m going to backtrack a little and give you a basic roundup. The original series began in 1963, but its new incarnation, produced by BBC Wales and headed up firstly by Russell T Davis and then by Steven Moffat, started in 2005. It centres around this guy who travels around Space and Time in a police box called the TARDIS (which is bigger on the inside) and as the last of his species the Timelords, he is known as The Doctor. His job is to save the universe and fight evil alien races such as the Daleks using a combination of witty badinage and a phallic wand-thing known as a sonic screwdriver. Although his status as the last of the Timelords gives him a somewhat melancholic and solitary vibe, he often travels with companions.
The companion is normally a sassy attractive female, sometimes accompanied by a male who falls into one of three categories: whiny boyfriend of said female, metal dog with weird high-pitched voice, or John Barrowman. The most recent of these companions (we haven’t technically met Oswin yet) is Amy Pond, the aforementioned kiss-o-gram.
As I thought more about Amy Pond, I realised something else that nagged at me. When she finished travelling with said Doctor, after she has travelled through countless galaxies, she comes back to earth to…
What? Becomes a scientist, goes on to start world peace?
Nope, she becomes A MODEL.
What on earth (or in the universe) happened there, guys?
I can see the writers’ room now, at BBC Wales in Cardiff, a white board with a big AMY POND in the middle with words like FEISTY, ATTRACTIVE, SMART, RED HEADED written around it.
It’s getting late and everyone’s a bit bored – “Shit, she needs a job!” cries Steven Moffat.
“What kind of jobs do pretty women do?” asks his colleague, desperately
“Er you know she could be… a kiss-o-gram!” says someone else, who presumably has travelled through time using the TARDIS straight from a 1970s episode of the Benny Hill show.
“Or a model!” shouts Steven.
“We’ve nailed it! Let’s go to the pub;” says Benny Hill’s production assistant.
And it’s such a shame, because Amy Pond was the kind of woman little girls look up to. She’s brave, she’s confident, she’s loyal…she’s basically kickass. And yet, now that I think about it, by making her a kiss-o-gram and then a model, the producers of Dr Who were selling the same bullshit to girls that no matter how amazing, funny and kick ass they are – they have to rely on their sexuality and their looks in the job market. Thank GOD they made Rory a nurse, at least.
Later in the series, Amy goes back in time, this time sans Doctor, and becomes a journalist – so far so good. But as this blog points out the ‘plucky female reporter’ trope often gets pulled out when writer’s run out of ideas (see How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days).
So I started checking out the other companions (I know, even the word ‘companion’ starts to sound really creepy – there’s a dissertation for any feminist undergrads) and I found a few worrying trends.
Here are the list of jobs that the other three companions have – Rose Tyler: shop assistant, Donna Noble: temporary secretary for a security firm (just temporary, not even permanent) and Martha Jones: trainee doctor.
Wait the last one is good right? Yeah, finally a job that didn’t come out a sitcom where the main joke was about a woman’s cat.
The problem is Martha spent most of her time in the TARDIS moping about after the Doctor like a lovesick puppy. They might as well have had clips of her texting her friends: “So, we went to this planet with two suns and he was all like ‘this is really nice’. Do you think he likes me?”
Brides to be
And there’s more – two companions are picked up by the Doctor, just before they get married (because all women are just brides to be). At least this massively creepy episode was thankfully never made: “Paul Abbott was scheduled to write an episode which would have revealed that Rose’s entire life had been manipulated by the Doctor in order to mould her into an ideal companion.”
I suddenly feel very wrong.
It pains me to admit it, I love Doctor Who, but when I started thinking about it I couldn’t stop. It’s starting to seem kind of…sexist. Then the final nail in the coffin hit.
Amy gets married at 19 to her teenage sweetheart (I know, I know). After a confusing plot involving her being pregnant but not knowing.
She becomes infertile and nearly ends up divorced because of it – good one, let’s bring that old chestnut out!
Why Stephen Moffat, why? Why have you fallen into every trap possible? I had such high hopes for you and you give me this! A kiss-o-gram turned model who gets married as a teenager, gives birth and then becomes infertile…
The only redeeming feature is River Song, who is genuinely intelligent, a criminal mastermind and doesn’t really need the Doctor at all. In fact, she’s totally fine living without him and sort of pops up out of the blue now and again to see how he’s doing. THANK THE LORD FOR RIVER SONG.
So I’d like to ask the writers of Doctor Who one thing – this time, when the Christmas special rolls around, can you please, please give us a real woman? You know, one with a real job, who isn’t constantly crying over some idiotic boyfriend – is that too much to ask?
Or maybe, just maybe… can we get a female Doctor for ourselves?
We can only dream.
Finally I leave you with this, a description of Sarah Jane Smith, the Doctor’s longest companion who was with him from 1973 to 1983, from an episode guide to the series: “Sarah Jane first appears in the Third Doctor serial The Time Warrior (1973), where she has managed to infiltrate a top secret research facility by posing as her aunt, Lavinia Smith, a famous virologist. Introduced as an ardent feminist.”
Who knew it could be better in the 70s?