5 Reasons Why It's Important the Doctor is Female

I remember sitting on a panel at a Doctor Who convention in 2013 when the question was asked: “How would you feel about the Doctor being a woman?”  At the time, I hadn’t given it much thought and answered something to the effect of “I’d prefer the Doctor to be a man, but I would be fine with it if it happened.”

As I thought more and more about the question, it became important to me to figure out exactly why I preferred the Doctor to be a male. The answer that I eventually settled on was that I preferred the Doctor being a white male because it was important to me to see this character going off on adventures and doing amazing things while, at least on the outside, resembling me.  I could indirectly live vicariously through the Doctor more easily because he and I had something in common. I didn’t want to give that up.

It’s a great feeling to see a fictional character with a high moral stance saving the universe that shares even the most basic of characteristics with me. I had never really thought about it because that was the norm for me. Most fictional heroes are cisgender, white males. I wanted my favorite hero to always be relatable on the simplest of levels. It was as simple as that. That’s when it clicked. It was a simple as that. The reasons that I wanted the Doctor to remain a white male are exactly why it was important that the Doctor be something, anything other than a white male.  

It is so easy for even the most well intending, progressive, white guy to space out on this very basic concept because we have never faced the struggle of looking at our favorite heroes and not seeing ourselves in them. It’s a privilege that we have taken for granted, and it is time for that to change. It’s time for everyone else to have the opportunity to look at their favorite characters and see more of themselves reflecting back. We’ve had a long time guys, so let’s share the feeling.The truth is, we will still see some of ourselves in a female character or a person of color, and odds are it’ll be far more important than just the color of our skin or being the same gender. The Doctor isn’t about how they look, it’s about what they do.  

For me, time and perspective had shifted, and by the time Capaldi’s end was near I was beating the drum for the Doctor to be a woman or a person of color. On July 16, 2017, Jodie Whittaker was revealed to be the next Doctor, and in a mirror to the changes we are seeing in our culture and society that have been so sorely delayed, we knew that our show was never going to be the same. Nor should it be.

At Gallifrey One 29 in Los Angeles the weekend of President’s Day there were a sea of 13th Doctors ranging from toddlers to giant legos to puppets. There was one quote that kept resurfacing in my head: This is why it’s important the Doctor is a female.  

This is why it’s important that the Doctor is a female.  


5 Reasons Why It's Important the Doctor is Female

This little boy who put together a 13th Doctor cosplay moments after her reveal is why it’s important that the Doctor is a female.

5 Reasons Why It's Important the Doctor is Female

Photo Credit: Faith-Anne Bell & Robert Lowrey

These girl scouts are why it’s important that the Doctor is a female.

Doctor Who

This group is why it’s important that the Doctor is a female.

5 Reasons Why It's Important the Doctor is Female

This group is why it’s important that the Doctor is a female.  


If like this little girl, you’re confused as to why it’s unclear to anyone why it’s important the Doctor is a female...  

Doctor Who

Because, it’s about time.


Stephen Webb

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Stephen WebbStephen is a stay-at-home dad, husband, writer, podcaster, performer, & pop culture fanatic. 

February 28, 2018 by Sartorial Geek



Kristine said:

I wish all males – and indeed all persons – were as opened-minded as you. Thank you for detailing out why it is important the show take this controversial step. It cannot evolve without doing so.

Charles Martin

Charles Martin said:

A marvelous piece that skillfully utilizes both the words and the images to bring the message home. I have to say I may be an outlier, but I had two things going for me when it came to the inevitable casting of a minority and/or female Doctor:

1. This show in particular is about change, and I have understood from the first dawning of my fandom that nothing repeat NOTHING was concrete about the show except the TARDIS. So I think that helps even more than the Moffat-era (and rather ham-fisted, truth to tell) foreshadowing the inevitable crossing of the gender line.

But more importantly:

2. For whatever reason, I’ve never identified that strongly with male role models simply because they were (white cisgender) male; I have always looked to a character’s, um, character to find things I identify with and prize. The gender of the person never mattered to me nearly as much as their ethics, if you will.

I read Wonder Woman comics as a kid and loved Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (yes you heard me) and other shows with female leads (Alice, One Day at a Time, Maude — christ I’m really dating myself here!) and admired them the same as the male heroes because it was their courage, honesty, and desire to help others that impressed and inspired me. If I had to pin it down to something specific, maybe those WW and Legion of Superheroes comics I eagerly consumed alongside the usual fare for a young male in the 70s planted the seeds of equality in my mind.

Whatever it was, that’s been my criteria for role models ever since, so of course I was drawn to Doctor Who over other, more macho forms of fantasy/SF entertainment. I would like to think most people — especially women and minorities, since they have traditionally been very underrepresented in the “hero” space — would, if they thought about it, come to understand that that’s really what they like about, say, Superman or Einstein or Mr Rogers (or whomever they admire most), because frankly none of those people look even a little like me. :)

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