A Feminist Fanmail to Steven Moffat

Dear Steven Moffat,

I’m not really sure how to start this, as I’ve never written fanmail before. I don’t even know the PO BOX – should I call you Mr Moffat? Mozzie? You seem like a nice chap, so I’m going for the informal chat-at-the-pub-with-a-pint-of-cider type of talk. I’m going to be honest and straight with you, Mr Moff – I haven’t always been your biggest fan. (Un)fortunately, I happen to be one of those feminists who have had a bit of gripe with some of the female characters you have created, or commented upon, in both of the series you are showrunning, but namely Doctor Who.

doctor who logo

When you took over the helm from Russell T Davies back in 2009 I was initially thrilled, but this excitement soon turned to upsetting disappointment. Time and time again I found that your female characters were underdeveloped or frighteningly unrealistic. It was a bit off-putting, Moff, and really tested my faith in Doctor Who. But this latest series, 7B, has really impressed me, and I’m over the moon to consider myself a fully-fledged obsessive-nut-job Whovian once more. Clara, Madame Vastra and Jenny have convinced me that female companions in Doctor Who don’t have to just be wooden objects, and in terms of storytelling, this series is back at sublime levels.

So now that you’ve got the companions and the story sorted, I have to tell you from one mate to another, Steven: I really really really really really really hope that the next Doctor you’ve chosen turns out to be a woman.

Let me explain. A lot of people are really against the doctor being a woman, for some mental reason. My family, boyfriend and friends have all chalked up arguments why the Doctor can only, nay, must only be male. By far the most common of these reasons is simply “tradition” – that there has always been a white, male doctor, so there should only be a white, male doctor.

I think that that’s a bit of a crap excuse, don’t you, Moff? “Tradition”, in many respects, doesn’t mean “heritage” or “pride” for me, so much as “laziness” or “complacency” or “fear of the new”. We are all creatures of habit, and I get that. But shouldn’t we mix things up a bit, just once in a while? Say “sod the bloody established system” and just do something new?

Now, I get that the Who Fandom is a little bit like an elderly suspicious neighbour sucking its teeth, or a vicious toddler expecting a new unwelcome baby sibling – if something new pops out of the woodwork that they disagree with, it can cause endless tutting/screaming/tantrums in the form of internet storms that can launch a thousand online forums. For some people, opinions never change; I still dislike River Song, as I find her contrived and her catchphrases irritating. clara dr who

But, as I should know, we Whovians are capable of incredible flexibility: I despised the first two incarnations of Clara/Oswin – I found them as annoying as River Song. I found them so annoying I thought I would have to stop watching the show. I’m glad I didn’t, because in the most recent version of Clara, you’ve created a wonderful female character who is funny, realistic, and can hold her own. She is now my favourite new-who companion, and I have you to thank for that.

So, maybe this new doctor might turn out to be my favourite too. I’ve heard that Peter Capaldi and Daniel Rigby are contenders, and as they are both superb actors, perhaps I’ll still be content if we have a male doctor this time around. After all, I’ve sprung this on you some mere hours before the official news release – but if by some miraculous and possibly timey-wimey intervention you read this post in time, perhaps you could put off tomorrow’s announcement and search for a female Doctor, or at least give it a stab the next time round.

Human women have been allowed to be doctors for quite a while now; how’s about we let a Galifreyan Time Lady in the TARDIS do the same, Moff?

Yours with great fan-lady-Whovian respect,

Bethan Smith

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4 thoughts on “A Feminist Fanmail to Steven Moffat

  1. Pingback: The Arguments Both For and Against a Female Doctor on Doctor Who | We Minored In Film

  2. *Sigh*. Welp, perhaps we’ll have to wait another four years or so before gender equality in the TARDIS. Also, did any eagle-eyed readers spot the “man playing the Queen” comment made by Moff last night? That was a bit of a d*ck move!

  3. That wasn’t a dick move.He himself said that he would love a woman in the TARDIS as The Doctor.Gender equality has always been in TARDIS, sure the women started out as companions but they are all BAMF role models.Just because they have the title of companion doesn’t make them inferior at all to The Doctor.In the whole purpose of story arcs is to demonstrate exactly how women have save/will save The Doctor.


    A FEMALE Whovian.

    • Hi Susan! Thanks for reading our site, and thanks for the comment.

      While I appreciate what you’re saying, I have to disagree with most of what you said. While there are many strong, female companions with their own story arcs in the show, it is the Doctor who is ultimately in charge, who is credited as the star of the show, and has the power of being a time lord. The Doctor ultimately holds the keys to all of the power/knowledge of the universe in the TARDIS. It would be nice to see the dynamic changed and a female hold that potential power and knowledge for a change.

      I would also disagree that all modern companions are BAMFs, namely because most of their story arcs revolve purely around men, mostly the Doctor. I’d take River Song as a key example – she only takes up her career and BAMF status because she “falls in love” with a man she barely meets, but hears a lot about, and has to fight to find him. At one point she says that she would destroy the entire universe and the fabric of time for the Doctor because she loves him, and he has to marry her to keep her satisfied. I don’t interpret this as particularly strong, bold or even romantic. River could have been awesome but her character revolves too much around being romantically attached to the doctor at the expense of her own autonomy.

      Also, with regard to the “queen” comment, I think it’s open to interpretation. I detected an undercurrent of sexism/sarcasm in what Steven said. I interpreted it as “oh, look how ridiculous it would be to have an actor play a male queen”, and therefore how ridiculous it would be to have a female doctor. Incidentally, I would love an actor to play a queen (Mark Rylance does an awesome job!), and an actress to play the Doctor.

      I hope that’s explained my thoughts enough. Nice to hear from a fellow female Whovian!

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