The announcement on Sunday night that the 13th Doctor Who will be played by actress Jodie Whittaker – the first time the role has been assumed by a woman – was met with a mixed response from fans and the media. While some praised the decision, lauding it ‘cause for celebration’ and a ‘step in the right direction’, others were less positive, stating that the announcement ‘has dealt another politically correct blow’ to the show. The fact that Whittaker already had her a statement on hand, in which she told fans to ‘not be scared of my gender’ as the change is ‘only a new, different one, not a fearful one’, indicates that she was anticipating a negative response, which in itself demonstrates how divisive the decision was to appoint her.
The move is looking likely to usher in a new era of female leads in roles usually held by men. Betting company Paddy Power have priced up the characters most likely to be played by a female star; the favourites (at the time of writing) are James Bond, Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, and Rocky. This raises a question of whether the character traits of these iconic characters are intrinsically male, and if so, how?
In the world of Marvel Comics, iconic characters are constantly being updates with female versions. Spider Gwen, She-Hulk and the even the latest iteration of Thor are all female. Considering these characters are partly known for their strength, this is a bold move for the writers. This change has provoked little to no backlash from the readers, who are predominantly young males, sparking an interesting debate as to whether age, rather than gender, plays more of a factor into people’s acceptance of these types of changes.
Anyone wishing to study a Humanities subject may want to think about the different way gender swaps have happened in different mediums. This applies to History, Classics, HSPS, Human Sciences, Arch and Anth, and English. And make sure to tune in to see the 13th doctor do HER stuff.