tl;dr: Steven Moffatt brings us the very best Christmas gift of all: his A game. Spoilers for “The Snowmen” (a.k.a. the 2012 Christmas special)
Some time ago, Courtney asked me what kind of reaction I was trying to draw by doing femme Doctor cosplay (deliberately feminine variants of Doctor outfits), and I said that I wanted people to think about how clothing hobbles women. You simply can’t run in a corset, as Johanna Mead noted in her essay in the Hugo-winning Chicks Dig Time Lords (whose followup, Chicks Unravel Time, has contributions from Doctor Her’s own Courtney Stoker AND Tansy Rayner Roberts and is available now from quality booksellers everywhere), and as anyone who’s worn one will know. Part of the point of putting the Doctor in, say, a Fifties pencil skirt is to visually demonstrate that she would be ill-equipped to, as the Ninth Doctor said to Rose and then immediately demonstrated, run for her life. People wear what society expects them to wear, and if your society sticks you in a corset and bustle, then your society has assigned you the role of “monster food”, not “hero”.
That societal expectations constrain womens’ choices of roles is key to this story, which is fraught with female agency and the inevitable male pushback. Everyone’s favorite katana-wielding lesbian Victorian ninja detectives, Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint , are revealed as the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, but because they are women their achievements are taken from them and assigned to men. Dr. Simeon is quite upfront about that. Never mind that they are a lizard woman and a working-class woman in an openly romantic relationship, it’s their gender that makes their accomplishments unbelievable. Clara is whip-smart, but even she is trapped by a society that keeps trying to assign her a role–barmaid or governess, posh accent or Cockney, inquisitive or ladylike–and insists on a skirt with a bustle in either case.
The men we see are freer, but still constrained. Captain Latimer is cut off from an affectionate relationship with his children by his cultural belief that children are “not his area”. Dr. Simeon is a product, at least in part, of his society’s belief that men don’t have emotional lives and can do without human contact. Like the snow, society is revealed to be everyone mirroring everyone else, in a horrible feedback loop of perceived propriety.
And it’s the stifling propriety that’s the problem here. Captain Latimer is confronted with, in short order, a lizard woman with a human wife, a Sontaran, and an evil ice reincarnation of his former governess, but it’s the notion that Clara has a “gentleman friend” that he finds the most objectionable. [UPDATE: Very possibly for more than one reason, as several have noted in the comments. I’ll freely admit that, as an ace, I often miss this sort of thing.] Governesses are supposed to be respectable. Women who have gentleman callers immediately cease to be respectable. When Dr. Simeon muses about Vastra’s “suspiciously… intimate… companion”, Vastra knows right away that he is attacking her respectability. Her defense (hilariously, she’s culturally savvy enough to know that 1) her respectability is an extremely important social aspect, and 2) marriage is a defense against impropriety) has no effect–she, and we, and Dr. Simeon all know that the allegations of impropriety are enough. “What’s wrong with Victorian values?” asks Dr. Simeon as the Doctor faces him down, and for once the Doctor (and the show) spell it out. The problem is that emotion is assigned to women and only to women, and women are devalued. The problem is that even a respectable Victorian woman is only an insinuation away from catastrophic social ruination. The problem is that privileged white men built themselves an echo chamber and used it to convince each other of their society’s enlightenment and advancement. The problem is that a society that has no room for dualities or human failings or even human emotions has no room for humans, only human-like simulacra made of ice.
Now that is some shit I’m delighted to see brought up in Doctor Who.
 SPIN-OFF! SPIN-OFF! Are you listening, Mr. Moffatt? I WOULD WATCH THE HELL OUT OF THAT SHOW.