A few years ago, I attended Gallifrey One, the American Doctor Who fan convention that takes place in Los Angeles every year. The experience was incredible; being surrounded by fellow Whovians, meeting the actors and creative minds behind the show we all loved and hearing them speak. But the main thing I noticed was the cosplay; the detailed costumes took my breath away, and I noticed the majority of women in attendance weren’t dressing as companions, but as Doctors. The women radiated confidence as they swaggered around the con with their sonic screwdrivers, pulling iconic poses as they took pictures with other fans and talked about their favorite episodes. Frankly, it was a beautiful thing to behold. Not to take anything away from the companions, all of whom are forces to be reckoned with in their own right; but being the companion, and being The Doctor are two very different experiences.
When the BBC announced on Sunday the 13th Doctor was going to be Jodie Whittaker, my first reaction was shock. I wasn’t shocked that The Doctor could be a woman, as the show had already established, in the Doctor’s own words, that Timelords could regenerate into another gender (that they were, in fact, beyond gender); but I was shocked that The Doctor was finally going to be a woman. Once the shock wore off, then came the tears, and they haven’t stopped. In the entire history of Doctor Who, women have always been the companions along for the ride. The closest a woman has ever come to being The Doctor was in River Song (Alex Kingston) who could fly the T.A.R.D.I.S, had a sonic screwdriver, and was part Timelord, but she wasn’t The Doctor; she wasn’t the hero of the story. Now, finally, a woman gets to be the hero.
Internet reaction to the news has been mixed, ranging from elation and tears of joy to irrationally angry cries about PC culture taking over the world accompanied by vows to never to watch the show again. Let’s be real for a moment; if you have a problem with the next Doctor simply because she is a woman, then you haven’t been paying attention to the theme of the show for the last…I don’t know, FOREVER. But digging past those idiotic arguments, are the ones that show just how meaningful this casting really is:
— 🏳️🌈Jenny Trout (@Jenny_Trout) July 16, 2017
My 9-y-old has already announced that the 13th Doctor is her favorite. #DoctorWho
— Laurie Anne Walden (@LAWaldenDVM) July 16, 2017
— SleepyBlueDragon (@sleepybludragon) July 16, 2017
Really happy that my 2 yo daughter will have Rey and the 13th Doctor in her life.
— E.V. Kwun (@geektrooper) July 16, 2017
The 13th doctor is a woman. They finally made her a woman after 52 years.
— aash kosh b’gosh (@littlehalfdevil) July 16, 2017
— Sasha (@IamSashaH) July 16, 2017
Rey. Wonder Woman. A Wrinkle in Time. 13th Doctor. 🔥⚡💥🌟
— Tracy Brown (@tracycbrown) July 16, 2017
I’M SO HAPPY THAT THE 13TH DOCTOR IS A WOMAN, THIS IS HISTORY IN THE MAKING !!
— linda evangelista (@chardelano) July 16, 2017
and then: 13th Doctor is a woman! im so excited i can’t tell u why (I CAN TELL U but can u listening to excited-like-five-year-old rusma?)
— Rós (@rusmamegasari) July 16, 2017
The 13th doctor is going to be a woman, y’all. THE 13TH DOCTOR IS GOING TO BE A WOMAN YALL!!!!!
— Gabrielle (@canningpeaches_) July 16, 2017
Even women who don’t watch Doctor Who understand the significance of the moment:
I don’t watch Doctor Who…but the 13th Doctor is a woman. Let’s let that settle for a bit. #HellYeah
— Diana Le (@dianale1303) July 16, 2017
So, as the world gets ready for a new take on The Doctor, an entire generation of young women and girls will have a new icon in their lives. They’ll see themselves represented in her and know that they don’t have to just be the plucky sidekick; they can be the hero of the story.
Jodie Whittaker makes her debut as The Doctor in the upcoming Christmas Day special. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on all the latest Doctor Who news!