By now, most of you are probably aware of Steven Moffat’s categorial denial that he would consider a woman doctor: he considers it as unlikely and improbable as casting a man to play the Queen.
Regular readers may have noticed that I have cut Steven Moffat a lot of slack. I’ve met him. I like him–honestly, he’s smart and funny in person, with this wonderfully dry, self-deprecating charm–in the weird asymmetrical way that people who go to cons get to like guests of cons. But here I have no hesitation in saying that I think he’s catastrophically wrong.
Let’s review, shall we?
|The Queen||The Doctor|
|A real person||An imaginary person|
|A human from the planet Earth||A Gallifreyan/Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey|
|Member of a species whose gender identity is innate (though it may not match the gender assigned at birth) and stable||Member of a species that can change apparent gender under some circumstances|
|Could certainly be played by a man; in fact, was always played by a man on the Elizabethan and Jacobean stages.||Could certainly be played by a woman; in fact, was played by a woman in “The Curse of Fatal Death”, though admittedly Moffat may not have heard of that obscure–oh, he wrote it?|
I think Moffat means well, and that he really does think he isn’t sexist. Unfortunately, this leads him into the classic privileged mistake: thinking that his good intentions (or, more accurately, lack of bad intentions) is a magic get-out-of-sexism free card. Even if his behavior and writing is sexist… well, sexists are those terrible people over there who hate women. Not him. He doesn’t hate women! He loves women! He just doesn’t want to cast one, or hire any to write for him, or write women who fall outside of a narrow range of stock types. And he really doesn’t want to examine his own reasons for his behavior, or to listen to people unless they agree with him:
“[A female Doctor] didn’t feel right to me, right now. I didn’t feel enough people wanted it […] Oddly enough most people who said they were dead against it – and I know I’ll get into trouble for saying this – were women […] [They were] saying, ‘No, no, don’t make him a woman!’”
(Here we see a glimmering of self-awareness–the hazy notion that he’ll “get in trouble” for voicing an opinion–struggling to make itself known. It gets shot down, but it’s there all the same.)
Ultimately, Steven Moffat’s major failing is that he doesn’t or won’t listen. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t believe that the voice of fandom is sacrosanct. Fandom doesn’t always know what it wants. But I do think that fandom should be listened to.
Not dismissed out of hand with condescension and an absolute refusal to consider the way that one’s actions belie one’s noble motives.