Archive for News & Announcements

A statement of trans-inclusive feminism

I wholeheartedly endorse this statement of trans-inclusive feminism, because feminism–hell, womanhood–without our trans sisters is stunted and incomplete.

I’m not sure how I feel about the utility of this–I have been on the Internet for twenty years now, which is more than long enough to get really cynical about online petitions–but I think it’s important enough that I sign on anyway.

Congrats, Tansy!

The 2013 Hugo winner for Best Fan Writer (well-deserved, as regular readers know)… blogs right here.

Now go check out her blog if you haven’t already.

This ‘n’ that

Two quick things. First, as Doctor Who bloggers, we are contractually obligated to give opinions on the casting of Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor. Mine is that Capaldi is a marvelous actor–which is, like, two or three of my top five qualifications right there–and that casting such a respected and accomplished figure (seriously–dude has an Oscar[1]) is a serious coup for the rubbish-looking kids’ program that Michael Grade axed. (Suck it, MG!) That Capaldi is a lifelong fan is just icing on a pretty spectacular cake.

He’s also the twelfth white guy in a row.

This does not mean he’s a bad choice or that I’m unhappy with his selection. I just would have preferred a riskier, less “safe” choice, and I’m disappointed that the legions of non-white-guys who are also stunningly good actors were apparently never even considered. My own personal pet pick for Doctor is Paterson Joseph; if you don’t know why, go rent Neverwhere [2] and watch his remarkably Doctor-like portrayal of the Marquis de Carabas.

Update: Or, having just caught up on my podcasts, “what Chip at the Two Minute Time Lord said.”
 

Second, your life is not complete without this picture of John Barrowman being exterminated by what I can only describe as a Dalek fairy princess.

On a convention floor, actor John Barrowman is collapsed against a TARDIS after having been "exterminated" by a small girl wearing a homemade Dalek costume that incorporates a tuile skirt and a halter top.

On a convention floor, actor John Barrowman is collapsed against a TARDIS after having been "exterminated" by a small girl wearing a homemade Dalek costume that incorporates a tuile skirt and a halter top.

You’re welcome. (Via Tor.com)

[1]Albeit not for acting. His multiple BAFTAs, however, are for acting.
[2] Which also has, in a supporting role, Peter Capaldi!

Verity!

Completely self-promotery, but I wanted to point you all at Verity! (or the Verity podcast), a brand new Doctor Who podcast featuring six women. Our first few episodes are up, including a teaser, a practice ‘get to know you’ episode, and the first real one, in which we review The Snowmen.

The mission statement of Verity! is to add more female voices to the Doctor Who podcasting community, and to chat with our friends. We hope to bring more reviews, meta-discussion, humour and wildly differing opinions to the table over this anniversary year, covering Classic as well as new Who.

Hope you give us a listen and enjoy!

The Voices:

Email: veritypodcast@gmail.com
Podcast: RSS
Blog: RSS
Twitter: @VerityPodcast

Chicks Unravel Time comes out today!

(Note: Thanks Nightsky for that announcement yesterday!)

COURTNEY SAYS:

I’m really excited about today’s publication of Chicks Unravel Time: Women Journey through Every Season of Doctor Who. Chicks Dig Time Lords felt a bit all over the place, for me, with some thoughtful and provoking pieces paired with more shallow commentary. However, from its table of contents, I gather that the sequel is more comprehensive and meaningful, consistently tackling issues of gender, race, sexuality, and power dynamics throughout the volume. And I can’t wait to read it.

Both Tansy and I have essays in this book! Mine is titled “Maids and Masters: The Distribution of Power in Doctor Who Series Three,” and is an exploration of the power dynamics between the Doctor and his companions (focused, of course, on Martha) and the Master and Lucy.

What’s so compelling about the Doctor? Why do so many different kinds of people jump in the TARDIS to travel with him? Is it his boyish charm, his goodness, his sense of humor?

I would argue that for most of the companions in the new series, the most attractive part of the Time Lord is his power. To convince Rose to leave her life for adventure, the ninth Doctor expands on the power he has: “Did I mention that it travels in time?” Later, Martha says to the crowd in the tenement in Last of the Time Lords, “I know what he can do.” That’s her vote of confidence for the Doctor, how she convinces the people of the Doctor’s importance: what he can do, not how good or brave he is. The adventure the Doctor offers his companion is inseparable from his power, from his ability to manipulate space and time, from his ability to threaten and fight enemies unimaginably evil and powerful. Power impacts every relationship the Doctor has, but it’s not something Who fans talk about often. We like to pretend, I think, that the Doctor’s extraordinary power isn’t important. We like to think that it doesn’t affect him or his relationships with others. We like to think that if companions are “strong” enough, sassy enough, smart enough, they are his equals. But no matter how many times a companion saves the Doctor, or how many times a companion stands up to him, they don’t have his power. The Doctor can manipulate space and time, travel through them in a manner even the humans of the future could only imagine. He can fix practically anything with his magic sonic screwdriver. He can hold the knowledge of infinite lifetimes in his head. He can read minds. He can (and does) force his will on others: he takes away Donna’s memory; he disables Jack’s ability to time travel; he traps a girl in a mirror. His power outstrips any possible capabilities of his companions.

The disproportionate power dynamic in the Doctor/companion relationships is something each companion in the new series struggles with at some point or another. When Rose protests in School Reunion, “I’m not his assistant,” she voices the frustration that many of the companions have felt with the Doctor. The truth is, they know that they are small next to the Doctor, who is practically a demigod. But they, along with most of the audience, resist that reality, insisting that they are as good as, as clever as, as important as the Doctor. And perhaps they are all those things. But they are not as powerful as him. And this crucial fact is never more evident than it is in Series Three, where it seems that unequal power distribution in close relationships becomes a near-constant theme.

I argue that Martha as John Smith’s maid is a visual exaggeration of, but not a departure from, Martha’s position as companion. Because I like to be provocative, apparently!

TANSY SAYS:

I am ridiculously excited to be in this book! I’ve enjoyed all of the ‘Geek Girls’ books from Chicks Dig Time Lords to Whedonistas and Chicks Dig Comics, but it’s great to see them coming back to the original idea of many female voices talking critically and squeefully about Doctor Who, with such a dynamite concept.

Personally I’m desperate to get my hands on a copy to see what Diana Gabaldon has to say about the Second Doctor and Jamie McCrimmon!

My own essay is “The Ultimate Sixth,” dealing with the problematic and erratic final Colin Baker season, Trial of a Time Lord (Season 23, 1986). Which I happen to love like the blazes, even though it’s broken in a million places.

There’s plenty of crunchy feminist discussion in my essay, of course – after all, there are some brilliant, strong female supporting characters in the story, most of them played by middle aged women such as Joan Sims, Honor Blackman and Lynda Bellingham. But perhaps of most relevant to Doctor Her readers is my discussion of the fate of Peri (Nicola Bryant), one of the more controversial production decisions of this era. Peri actually has two potential endings to her story, both problematic in different ways, and it’s one of those issues that has kept fans arguing for decades:

[SPOILERS!]

But that’s the problem, isn’t it? The marriage. Peri has two fates – to die twice at the hands of Crozier and Yrcanos, and to marry Yrcanos and live as a warrior queen. Neither of these are good options. The Doctor’s behavior to Peri takes on huge repercussions (never dealt with) upon her death, but the alternative is that she gets to live on an alien planet with a crazy warlord king whom she never displays any attraction to whatsoever. The closest thing to affection we see from her is exactly what you might reluctantly offer a large, vicious dog who almost bit your arm off, but was distracted at the last minute by a packet of sausages and now thinks it is your friend.

“There’s a good warlord” is not a basis for a lasting marriage. Neither is the moment when Yrcanos stops being funny for thirty seconds and strokes Peri’s cheek. She flinches, and you see how afraid of him she is. It’s chilling and creepy and I know it was the eighties but really, really? That’s her happy ending? That’s the best she can expect? I would so much rather hear that she went back to Yrcanos’ home planet, introduced his culture to democracy and kicked his arse in the polls. Peri for President!

COURTNEY SAYS:

We hope you’ll go and buy the book, and read the rest. We’re both proud of what we’ve contributed to this anthology, and I hope that this is just the start of Doctor Who fan books that contain numerous essays meaningfully analyzing Doctor Who with a feminist lens.

And if you’re interested in a book giveaway (let’s be honest, who isn’t), there’s one at Love & Monsters! Go enter before the 16th to be eligible!

It goes without saying that they make outstanding gifts

For those of you who don’t know, Chicks Unravel Time, the highly-anticipated followup to 2010’s Hugo-winning Chicks Dig Time Lords, is out next Tuesday, Nov. 13. Our own Courtney Stoker is a contributor. UPDATE: And so is Tansy Rayner Roberts, which I didn’t know before. Congrats, Tansy!

Later this month, Outside In: 160 New Perspectives on 160 Classic Doctor Who Stories by 160 Writers is out, on the 49th anniversary, in fact: Nov. 23. I’m in this one.

TV needs diverse queer characters: John Barrowman

This guest post was written by Sheena Goodyear, a reporter, blogger and copy editor for Sun Media. When she grows up, she wants to be Special Agency Dana Scully. You can read her thoughts about TV at Rabbit Ears, her video game ramblings at Button Mashers and her news stories at the Toronto Sun.

captain-jack-2
Capt. Jack Harkness, bisexual superhero.

John Barrowman — known for playing Captain Jack Harnkess, possibly the first and only queer sci-fi hero on a children’s TV show — says LBGT people deserve to be represented on television all their diversity.

Capt. Jack originated on BBC’s Doctor Who and later got his own spin-off, the more adult-oriented Torchwood. The roguish, bisexual con man-turned-hero with a flirtatious charm that rivals James Bond’s is one of the best things to come out of the Russell T. Davies’ run on Who. 

In response to  question about queer representation in science fiction at a Fan Expo panel in Toronto on Sunday, Barrowman admitted mainstream  TV has more gay characters. But those characters, unlike Jack, tend to be reduced to stereotypes.

My big this is — and this is where I’m so proud of Capt. Jack and proud of what Russell and Steven and July Gardner and the BBC allowed me to help create — was the fact that I’m a hero. I’m not a flouncing queen — and there’s nothing wrong with that, don’t get me wrong — but there’s a very diverse group of gay men and women out there. And we need to be represented on television in the proper way. We don’t need to all be stereotyped on television.

That’s what happened in the mainstream. And unfortunately, certain audiences around the world only identify with types. For writers and people that are creating new shows and doing things differently and not just writing stereotypes, those are the shows we should stand up for and watch and be proud of.

There’s no doubt that Capt. Jack has been a huge role model for many a young LBGT geek. Take this blogger who says watching Jack on Doctor Who as a teenager helped her feel OK with who she was. Or the fans at Barrowman’s panel, many of whom stood up to identify themselves as queer and thank him for his portrayal of Jack.

But Barrowman himself is also a role model, putting a bit of himself into Jack and never shying away from his own sexuality in the spotlight. He speaks often about his longtime partner Scott Gill, despite industry pressure to keep quiet.

In fact, someone said to me, and this producer was gay himself, and he said to me, “You can’t say ‘your partner’ and you shouldn’t talk about this you shouldn’t do that and you shouldn’t be who you are.” And I went back to Scott and I said, “Look what should I do?” And he said, “Well, what do you want to do?” And I said, “Well, I’m not gonna ask you to hide and pretend, and go to a function and then pretend to have a girl on my arm because some people aren’t comfortable with it. That’s not my problem. So I’m gonna be who I am.”

You can catch Barrowman this fall on Arrow, which premiers Oct. 12 on the CW.

This post is cross-posted from Rabbit Ears.