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Manic Pixies, Doctor Who and female role models in SF - Her Most Regal Majesty, the Queen of Snark
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sesquipedality
sesquipedality
Manic Pixies, Doctor Who and female role models in SF
I thought this article was interesting, if overly long for the point it was trying to make. However, the alpha SF nerd in me feels compelled to point out:

(a) if your role models came from SF and fantasy, why didn't you want to be Lessa the Weyrwoman, or Sigmy Mallory (or pretty much any Cherryh heroine) or Cassandra of Troy (the Marion Zimmer Bradley version)?* I bloody well know I did. To suggest that the genre is absent of real female protagonists is odd. For Lessa, you don't even have to wonder away from entirely mainstream SF (although being a McCaffrey character, she is of course, problematic in some ways).

(b) I don't think Moffat's female characters are any worse than RTDs, low bar though that is. The only one that was genuinely likeable was Donna Noble. This is one of the reasons we so desperately need a female doctor (preferably a fat, 40 year old, slightly obsessive one - still waiting for that call, Moffat) - so the writers can get used to the idea that female characters can exist as people (although to be fair, it's rare that anyone, except the Doctor himself, is allowed to be a rounded person).

*Or Marianne from Sherri S. Tepper's Marianne Trilogy, whom I sometimes felt like I actually *was* (despite, I should make clear, not suffering emotional abuse from my brother myself). But very few people will have heard of her, I suspect.
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sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: June 30th, 2013 10:25 am (UTC) (Link)
I think we can agree to differ on this one, but I do agree with a lot of what you say. Particularly irritating was that RTD teased this possibility by turning Donna into someone who could genuinely be an equal to the Doctor, then tearing it away. River Song could also have taken this role, but got ... erm, emasculated. The advantage of a female doctor is that the writers pretty much can't sideline the main character in that way.
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sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: June 30th, 2013 10:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I used to think I couldn't write male characters convincingly (I still don't tend to - I find the female perspective more comfortable, and there's no shortage of people doing male perspectives well) until I realised that all you do is write people. Some awareness of the differing societal pressures on men and women certainly helps, but really, people, just people.
huggyrei From: huggyrei Date: June 30th, 2013 11:39 am (UTC) (Link)
My own exprience here is somewhat odd; I suppose I never really saw why I should favour one gender over another in terms of who I wanted to be, which is probably why I picked up my Dad's rolling stridey walk without thought as to how it asn't all that 'feminine'. I identified with characters like, let's see.. the Doctor. Gair from Power of Three by Dianna Wynn Jones, my favourite book at primary school age. Bilbo (although not Frodo so much). Robinton from the Pern books. Benton Fraser from Due South. I don' think I even noticed that my role models all seemed to be male.

Similarly, it's not a thing I tend to think about when writing characters. I once wrote a short story told from the first person of a woman in loe with her female best friend, and showed it to my writing group, who looked at things anonymously. They didn't realise until part way through that the character was female, and agreed that the author was probably male.

This is I suspect very much a product of how I see the world; to me, my gender is really not that important, and I want to be treated like a me not like a member of a gender group (I do remember getting annoyed as a child and saying that I wanted to, well, not so much *be* a boy, as be *treated* like one of the boys, although I didn't mind the idea of becoming a boy if that would somehow mystifyingly fix it).

However, I do quite like the idea of the Doctor being female and this not being a big deal or a reason for them to suddenly be a fundamentally different person, if only because that would be a reflection on my own experience.
lord_sandwich From: lord_sandwich Date: June 30th, 2013 12:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I feel pretty much the same way and when I look at characters I really enjoy a large proportion of them are male (and my characters in RPGs are probably more male than female or at least a 50/50 split). Then again isn't that just highlighting the fact that more interesting and well rounded characters are men. I'd like to see more interesting female characters where their gender was just an incidental feature and their personhood came first. This isn't because I think someone needs to be the same gender as you for you to see them as a role model but because it sends the message that women can be complex too.
sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: June 30th, 2013 12:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Absolutely. Part of the reason River Song is such a failure as a female character is because she spends so much time metaphorically screaming "I AM A POWERFUL WOMAN" at the top of her voice, rather than just demonstrating it through her actions without feeling the need to draw attention to it. It's a common flaw in "strong female" characters within media though.
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sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: June 30th, 2013 12:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's also almost entirely not present in the double parter she first appeared in. It's like Moffat created this awesome character, then immediately forgot all the things about her than made her awesome and turned her into a stereotyped shadow of herself.

Edited at 2013-06-30 12:22 pm (UTC)
huggyrei From: huggyrei Date: June 30th, 2013 12:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, this is so. I think it's a good thing, firstly for women who definitely do see themselves as women and would benefit from better female characters, but also for the *men* to see and learn that, as you say, women can be complex too.
lanfykins From: lanfykins Date: June 30th, 2013 08:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Or Mavin Manyshaped. Everyone should want to be Mavin Manyshaped, for she is made of pure awesome.
sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: July 1st, 2013 08:09 am (UTC) (Link)
She is indeed awesome, but not a role model I came across while growing up - which is a shame.
lanfykins From: lanfykins Date: July 1st, 2013 08:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I will grant that she only became a role model of mine when I was in my twenties...

I wish I'd encountered her while growing up, too.
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: July 2nd, 2013 02:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
To my mind Moffat's female characters are differently bad from RTD's, but not in a readily comparable way; Moffat's being all Puzzles To Be Solved irks the hell out of me but no more than RTD's romance focus did.

I would like to see a female Doctor but I don't trust the current team not to screw that up really badly. And I wish there'd be more interesting choices in companion dynamics - a Gene Hunt or a Margaret Rutherford character, for example.
sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: July 2nd, 2013 05:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Gene Hunt would be an awesome companion.
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