“You’d make a lousy feminist!”

My son’s words followed me down the garden path as I left. As a child of my generation, I am used to the changing face of the familiar, but his throwaway comment of, ‘It’s a female Doctor!’ had shocked me profoundly.

‘I suppose it had to happen eventually…’ and ‘Shouldn’t be allowed…’ were my immediate comments upon hearing the news. The thought of a female Doctor just seems plain wrong to someone who was around for the very first episode of Doctor Who. William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, John Pertwee and Tom Baker… it was bad enough when the face of the Doctor changed back then, but to have a sex change as well just doesn’t sit right, even though I know the storyline allows for it.

Personally, I gave up on Doctor Who after Tom Baker, though I did see the odd episode here and there. Even so, and although opinions vary on the acting, production and characterisation, Hartnell remains the Doctor for the child in me.

The parting rejoinder from my son, though, did make me think. He is quite right. In spite of the many battles I’ve fought for equal rights over the years, as a worker, a woman and as senior management, I would make a lousy feminist.

While I am a firm supporter of equal rights and the continuing need to address the political, economic, personal, and social discrepancies that still exist between the sexes, I am also of the opinion that the same level playing field should be extended beyond gender to include all human beings, not just women, regardless of ethnicity, religious affiliation or any other of the false separators that currently cause the divisions and inequalities between us.

I have been refused jobs on the stated grounds that, being a young woman, they wouldn’t want to waste their time training me, only to have me go off and have babies. I have been given jobs where I earned three quarters of the salary of the men I was employed to train. I remember the bra-burning years, when women fought to be allowed to do ‘men’s jobs’ such as working on building sites… and even demanded the right to work shirtless like their co-employees. I agree with wanting the right to be able do so, but have to question the practicalities of bra-less building, if only on safety grounds.

In the same way, the morals and social mores that have been acceptable for the male of the species from time immemorial should be equally permitted for women… sauce for the goose, and all that… but there are few things more unattractive than a drunken young woman, senseless and vomiting in the gutter outside a bar. Just because you can, doesn’t always mean you should… and it certainly doesn’t mean you must. Equal rights, in essence, means having the legal, political, social and economic right to make that choice for yourself.

I do not see roles as gender-defined… there are women who can hold a household together through the darkest times, wield an axe or a power drill, or reach the top of ambition’s ladder, just as there are men who are more tender mothers than their partners, and others who lead armies, in the workplace or on the battlefield.  Who we allow ourselves to be should not depend upon the body we wear, its gender, age or race. The expectations of societal norms are moulds made to be broken.

The thing is, I suppose, that I have never seen women as being inferior in the first place, except in legal and social terms, but as equal partners in the dance of life and creation. The gifts and strengths of the sexes complement each other; we are not opposites, but necessary parts of a whole.

Being male or female is not only a physical attribute, but an energetic one too. There are feminine women with a dynamic, masculine energy and as many strong men with a receptive and gentle aura… and both are as valuable in the wider world as their more stereotypical counterparts.

The moon could not illuminate the night without the existence of the sun… but the sun does not shine at night. The brilliance of the stars could not be seen without the blackness of space, but would we be aware of the darkness without the light it holds? Strength that does not know how to be gentle becomes brutality, just as emotion without discernment descends into sentimentality. Each one of us is a unique cocktail of masculine and feminine elements and, when we can accept those elements for the gifts they are, they enable both ourselves and those around us to shine.

My son is right, I am a lousy feminist, I am more egalitarian than that. The human race is a single picture made of a myriad small pieces. Subtract but one piece and the picture is incomplete. Seek to change one piece and you change the whole…and in that lies hope for the future and equality of humankind as well as possible seeds of destruction. Change your piece of the picture and you can begin changing the world for the better, but devalue any piece and you damage the whole.

It all comes down to having the right to choose…and even in the most restrictive societies, we each have the right to choose what is in our own hearts, where no legislation is needed, nor can it be imposed unless we allow it. We travel together on a journey through life and time, companions on the road. There are those upon whom we can lean when our steps falter, others to whom we extend a helping hand and yet others who make travelling a chore or a delight… but we all share the same journey in the end. Man, woman, young or old, it matters not at all… unless, of course, you happen to be playing the new Doctor Who.

50 thoughts on “Who?

  1. I’m pretty sure Arabella Weir played The Doctor in at least one of the Doctor Who audio episodes, so there has *technically* been a female Doctor already – although it says a lot that it is only just now that TV execs feel we are ready to accept one on screen!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know… but I still can’t get past the ‘archetypal’ Doctor of memory. I have to wonder just what the execs are saying though, and whether it is a real shift towards equality…or just a sop to the public demand for visible diversity.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think the ‘real’ Doctor is always the one you grew up with. For me it’s Peter Davidson! A controversial choice, I know – but he is MY Doctor!
        I know what you mean about the new Doctor, though. Part of me feels it is a bit of a ruse to create a bit of a stir and discussion around the programme at the same time as pandering to current diversity trends. I’m sure the actress is just wonderful and will be brilliant – but I can’t help being cynical where TV-types are concerned.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, I agree…which is why it will always be Hartnell for me 🙂

          Controversy is always good for viewing figures, I suppose…and this move was bound to polarise opinion, no matter how good a job the actress does.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Like you, I lost interest after Tom Baker; Truth be told, I didn’t have a TV after Tom Baker so I never knew what happened next. I agree with you about the egalitarian being more important than feminist aspect. I’d call it humanist. The only thing I’d disagree on is the perspective. I do believe that almost any prejudice is easier for society to overcome than the prejudice against women. Women will be the last to get equal treatment because those who have the power (men) won’t relinquish it unless they are forced to.


    1. I’d have called it humanist too, except that the term has a very particular meaning these days.
      Perhaps the problem with equality for women is simply the pendulum’s swing. If we were once a matriarchal society, the swing has now gone to the other side…and we grasp at it as it swings past. One day, it might settle.


      1. I believe we were a matriarchal society and as/if the pendulum swings back to a gentler more compassionate approach to society, we should find women being accepted as leaders in everything. Not to the exclusion of men, but on an equal footing. I look forward to it.


            1. I don’t think it needs logic. To see God made manifest in Nature does not require belief in a particular ‘god-person’. It sees All as part of the Divine… and feels no need to add stories and timelines to something of which we see such a tiny part.


              1. I get that easy enough, it’s the idea of going to a remote spot to contemplate nature because that brings one closer to God. Surely all that means is that we, as human beings appreciate beauty, we are in awe of the grandeur of the world and see what other animals don’t. To be closer to God, wouldn’t it be more logical to be among people who are supposed to be made in God’s image, the summum of creation? When I hear of priests needing to be alone with nature to restore their faith, I think it’s their faith in nature that’s being restored.


                1. I think that kind of spiritual retreat brings us closer to our own self, rather than any external factor. But if we have to go away to see divinity, we are looking in the worng place. Not all teachings say that Man is made ‘in the image of God’ and I think we can see divinty in everything, from the bumblebee to the mountain.


  3. I mostly agree with what you say apart from one small point. You say “the sun does not shine at night” being picky, it shines all the time, just that is half a world away. And I kniw you know that, but your words reflect something different. Just saying!


    1. I know, Evelyn…but that would just have complicated the idea. I suppose it depends on how you define ‘night’. The sun shines at midnight in the polar regions… but it is never seen to be shining when the sky is dark and the stars come out to play.


  4. I haven’t seen much of the new doctors since Jon Pertwee. I saw two episodes with David Tennant, both were repeats and the same ones just happened to be on if I tuned in. I do remember Peter Cushing and Roy Castle in the film version with the Daleks. As for a woman? Time will tell I suppose.


  5. I have a similar reaction when choir GIRLS are sugested for cathedrals – WHAT – replace the uniqueness of a sound that is a gift for just a few precious years and choir boys are so sweet…


  6. I have come round to the idea of a female Doctor, Sue, but there’s still a part of me that feels it’s unnecessary. Just as it’s unnecessary to have a black James Bond. What next? A white Shaft? Diversity is important and good, we just need to create new characters that better reflect humanity. A brilliant example of that was with Marvel’s Black Panther, and we are seeing a growing trend for more female heroines. There’s still a way to go, but I’m not sure changing existing heroes and heroines is the answer.


    1. “Create new characters that better reflect humanity…” Now that is exactlywhat should be happening, Graeme. It is not as if we are short of creative writers who could breathe life into believable characters.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Excellent article!! I am withholding judgement on the new Doctor. I did not think the reboot of the series would work and I was wrong. Tom Baker was my favourite but then David Tenant and . . .


  8. Loved this Sue. Eloquently said, diversity makes up the components of the world. I loved your comparisons like the sun and the moon working together. Harmony is what we should all strive for. ❤


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