Cross-posted at Geek Feminism.
Post-Gallifrey, I was interviewed at i09 about the phenomenon of femme Doctor cosplay. If you’re not familiar with it, femme cosplay is when female cosplayers alter the costumes of male characters to make them feminine. Femme cosplayers add ruffles, lace, heels, alter the silhouette of a costume (often with a corset), etc.
- A femme Jackson Lake sports a corset and long coat. Photo by Alex Halcyon.
This trend is often contrasted with crossplaying. Crossplayers are usually female cosplayers who alter their bodies to costume as male characters. (Male crossplayers dress as female characters.) Unlike their femme counterparts, they will bind their breasts, wear men’s wigs, and wear makeup designed to mask feminine features. Generally, people think these trends are at odds; they believe that femme Doctors and crossplay Doctors are doing very different things.
- squirrelyTONKS is a bit of a femme Doctor superstar at the Gallifrey convention. Photo by Alex Halcyon.
A snippet from the interview:
Both crossplay and femme cosplay draw attention to gender. Women passing as men are destabilizing gender by illustrating how easy it is to perform the opposite gender, by showing that all gender performance is performance, since cosplay is fundamentally performative. Femme cosplay does the same thing: it draws attention to the performance of gender, but this time femininity. […]
So really, crossplay and femme cosplay are not that different. Both alter their bodies, showing that no matter what gender they are playing, their bodies often don’t match any ideal. While crossplayers wear binders, femme cosplayers wear corsets and heels. But their motivations are the same: they emphasize the performative nature of gender, and thus destabilize it. Women do this more because they have more to gain by destabilizing gender, being at the bottom rung of the gender hierarchy.
I have quite a bit more to say about how I think femme Doctor cosplay (and crossplay) is a feminist critique of Doctor Who and its fan community, so go read it!
- Two femme Fifth Doctors with cropped jackets…and celery! Photo by Alex Halcyon.
I took some time to think of how The Doctor has a positive impact on the views we embrace and express in this blog. I looked at the entire series from beginning to the present for an answer. The Doctor in all his incarnations shows an innate joy in exploration and embraces those that are different. How wonderful to have this view, how amazing would it be to emulate this attitude. Instead of fear and loathing, if a person presented themselves as a decent individual they then would be accepted as they are. Be they male, female, gay, straight or whatever they so choose. We as a species could do worse than take this underlying theme and implement it when dealing with our fellow humans. The only skills required are an open mind, the joy of discovery and benevolent acceptance.
Would children discovering their sexuality, thought unacceptable, still feel the need to end their lives if these simple lessons were used? I believe with the use of what I like to call the Whomanity Formula , oppression, abuse and that ever present villain “Bullying” would certainly become only scary fables. As a lesbian and mother to a son that just came out, I hope I’m not the only one that observes this underlying thread. I’m not a Pollyanna; please don’t think all I see are butterflies and rainbows. I see many things in the series that should be discussed and addressed. I just wanted to point out the factor that drew me to the series. The unbreakable thread that ties my heart to The Doctor and his companions, no matter what face he wears. I want to learn new things, experience new ideas and see my surroundings through new eyes. I don’t care if they are straight eyes, lesbian eyes, or queer eyes; The Doctor embraces them all and delights in the degrees of different.