xandri: (John - what? ¬_¬)
[personal profile] xandri


I am not a feminist. This does not mean I don't support equal rights or equal treatment of females. This means that I don't place myself into a category that, by reputation, expects priveliges that support a double-standard in gender discrimination. I don't place myself into a category that, by name, is already biased in its own favor.

Fandom, especially online fandom, is full of people demanding equal representation and equal treatment, and that's fantastic. I'm glad that fans can organize as a group and say "the way you wrote this was discriminatory", and "the fact that you've excluded this group of people is discriminatory". I'm glad that it has impact. I hope that, in the next year, fandom can grab DC Comics by the balls and shake some sense into them, because they're the ones pissing me off the most right now. I hope that fandom can organize itself enough, and state itself reasonably enough, to make the people in charge realise that they are offending their best supporters.

Doctor Who fandom is no exception. With a show that's been around since the 1960's, it's not surprising that it has a huge international following and a diverse fanbase. I wouldn't say that Old Who is particularly discriminatory, but it is definitely reflective of much of Britain during that time period. There are many ethnicities that are noticeably not represented by any companions prior to the 1980's. The comic books branched out greatly in the 80's and 90's, including many companions of variety that the show did not feature. Also, the 8th Doctor has a diverse history of companions. Although since he never got a TV run, they are mostly limited to novels and audio recordings.

New Who has been incredibly diverse, even in comparison. Again, Old Who wasn't intentionally discriminatory, but New Who definitely takes into account the current face of Britain. Despite its diversity, there have been fandom accounts of 'fail' in regards to ethnic and gender equality. These aren't necessarily unjustified. Although the way something is written may not be intentionally discriminatory, if it is seen as largely offensive by a massive group of people, it's hard to deny that it came across as discriminatory anyways.

The biggest, and best, example of this is Martha Jones. While Mickey Smith was a prominent black character during the first two seasons of New Who, Martha was the first 'official' televised black companion. Martha also happens to be female. Neither of these is particularly related to the way she was mistreated by the Doctor, but she was still mistreated nonetheless. Martha was mistreated to an extreme, and not because of anything she'd done, but because of her predecessor. Her predecessor, who just so happens to be white.

So yeah. The Doctor is not, in any canonical way, racist. The writers, however, came across that way because the first black companion was treated like dirt. (You couldn't take a step off your Rose high horse for something of this measure? Really? That is some fail right there- the fact that you couldn't see that coming, and the fact that the Doctor shouldn't have behaved that way towards anybody, black or white.)

There have been other minor occurrences in the Doctor Who fandom since then, in regards to unfair treatment of characters, but the latest and biggest piece of crap to hit the fan has been the revelation of River Song's origins.

Here. We. Go.

I would have liked to see what her history might have been like had they not gone that route, definitely. And I'm certainly not saying that any fan is wrong, ever, for liking or disliking a particular plot twist. If you think it could have been done better, I won't disagree.

But to get up in arms about it because River is a female?

Really?

(Which, I suppose, is even more rich than the complaints about 'Mels' being black. Funny how most of the people I know complaining about that little development are white. Funny how all the black people I've talked to about it seem to think that it's cool that there was a black 'Time Lady', and that we have an answer to the question of whether or not Time Lords can change skin color during regeneration. Funny how the white feminists are the ones trying to start fights over it.)

So, okay. You're upset that River Song's backstory isn't the daring archaeological adventure you were expecting. (Yeah, I'm a bit disappointed about that, too. I would have liked to see her go 'Indiana Jones and the Search for the TARDIS'.) River Song could have been more of a free-spirited adventurer, traveling the cosmos in search of the Doctor. She could have been the devoted scientist whose interest piqued at the repeated mention of the same image- from different sides of the universe. She could have been a spunky student who got whisked away in the TARDIS during finals week.

Many characters could have been a lot of things.

Instead, much of her life was engineered. She was captured, brainwashed, and forced into painful and frightening situations. She became rebellious. Even when her plans coincided with the plans laid out for her, she still acted the rebel. It was the only thing she had. It was the only way she could possibly feel any amount of control in her life.

River Song became a victim, and a very unfortunate one. I feel bad for what happened to her, both as a character who missed out on some awesome theoretical plotlines, and a person whose free will was taken from her forcefully.

..... This has to do with her being female how?

I'm sorry, River Song was captured and brainwashed because of her parents and the nature of her birth, which, if you're reading this, you probably already know about. It sucks, but it would still suck if it was a male character in that position.

Which, by the way- if they'd had a son, instead of a daughter, wouldn't that son be in the same position as our River Song? And there are plenty of male characters in Old Who and New Who that have been manipulated similarly.

Why is it that the feminists get upset when bad things happen to female characters, but not when they happen to male characters?

In some cases, this is because of the ratio of representation. If I'm watching a movie with one female character and five male characters, and the shittiest thing in the plot happens to the female character, I'm gonna be a bit pissed. The same goes if I'm watching a movie with six protagonists, one of which is black, and the black one dies but the others all live. Really? (Unless it's in a historical context and happens for the purpose of providing accuracy, which really depends on the context.)

Doctor Who, however, has never had that kind of ratio in regards to gender. Doctor Who has been equally gendered since the very first episode. For those of you that haven't seen it, it involves the Doctor and his 'grand-daughter' Susan kidnapping a couple of schoolteachers (one male, one female) in the TARDIS. The ratio of male to female characters throughout the entire first run is exactly 50-50. Not to mention the fact that it involves incredibly strong, well-written women. (I'm not talking about Susan, she was whiny and needed to go.) Barbara pioneers the way for female companions by not only being intelligent, assertive, and opinionated, but by being unafraid to stand up to the Doctor- or any other male character that she feels is in the wrong.

Doctor Who has provided a legacy of wonderfully strong female companions- Sarah Jane, Romana, Jo, Ace-

I'm sorry, I've only seen one companion so far that comes anywhere near being as badass as Ace.

And that is River Song.

So yeah, I'm a little upset about not having 'Indiana Jones and the Search for the TARDIS'. I'm a little upset we might not get more companion time with River, and I'm a little upset that her initial meeting with the Doctor was engineered (and for such purposes).

I don't think it has anything to do with her being female.

Date: 2011-12-06 04:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spyderqueen.livejournal.com
Oh god, THANK YOU.

Date: 2011-12-06 04:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ensignw.livejournal.com
I'm with you on how they treated Mickey, and I'm not far enough in the series to know anything about Martha Jones or River Song, sadly, but you've made me want to pay attention to this kind of thing, now.

(Agreed with you on Susan, by the way. Susan was annoying. Barbara, on the other hand, was AMAZING.)

Date: 2011-12-06 06:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xandri.livejournal.com
Keep going, it's definitely worth watching. I love Martha, I love the way her season ended, and I love what they did with her throughout the rest of Doctor Who and Torchwood. (By the way, the first season of Torchwood starts between seasons 2 and 3 of New Who, and while it's not absolutely necessary to enjoy Doctor Who, there are lots of delightful crossovers and also more Martha in season 2.)

The way she's mistreated, though, isn't even subtle. You don't have to squint to see it, and it's even more infuriating if you are a fan of Old Who. It's a simultaneous slap in the face to every companion that isn't Rose.

AND UUUUUUGH, I LOVE BARBARA.

Date: 2011-12-06 07:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sams-ceara.livejournal.com
I hadn't heard anything about people complaining that she was female. I agree that she could have been written a much better backstory, but I don't write for the show, right? (oh, if I only did *grin*) I don't see, either, where anyone can say anything bad about the fact that she is female.

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