The Doctor is a traveller in time and space.
my friend Alex writes
. So far, so totally normal for me. I've been hearing about Doctor Who
since my second visit to the UK started the week after the show re-started in 2005 (and I got to watch "Rose" because the friend I was staying with had taped it on her VCR; that's how long ago 2005 is).
She goes anywhere she likes...
Now that did something to me. Like going to gigs to listen to Stuart's otherwise-all-female band, like watching new Ghostbusters
or Ocean's Eight
or Wonder Woman
. I never adequately take into account how affecting I find it when men are not the default. As the least feeling-like-a-woman of all the women I know, I never expect seeing women as main characters will make feel any different but it absolutely does.
And I feel that same kind of way -- somehow more excited and more settled at the same time -- when I read a paragraph calling this character "she." In all the time I've been in the UK, I've been hearing about the Doctor, but I'd never heard the Doctor called "she" before. And he wasn't just talking about characteristics of this Doctor -- she's blonde, she has a West Yorkshire accent -- Alex was saying this about traits that'd always been associated with the Doctor.
She goes anywhere she likes, from Earth’s past, present and future to alien worlds and stranger places still. She respects life rather than authority, and obeys no-one else’s rules. She lives by her own joy in exploring new places and times, and by her own moral sense to fight oppression. She prefers to use her intelligence rather than violence, and she takes friends with her to explore the wonders of the Universe.
I shared Alex's post in a tweet where I tried to cram in what a big deal the she/her pronouns were for me, and when he saw it he was good enough to share a bit of the thinking that'd gone into what he'd written about this.
I always wanted to do the Doctor as 'she' because all the versions have been simply about the current one. I did think carefully about 'they' for the Doctors in general, but we're always talking about the current one as if she's all of them, because she is, so why change that?
Some friends of mine had a thoughtful discussion about this, particularly about "they," after we saw the first episode last Sunday night. I found myself instinctively reacting against "they," for reasons I couldn't articulate, but other people could manage it and what they said definitely resonated.
In the case of a Doctor, a single person who keeps changing bodies, the "they" could add some confusion if it's mistaken for a plural -- all those faces. "They" could also sound like the compromise of someone who's not quite on board with the (bizarrely contentious) notion of a woman being the Doctor. And most importantly of all, the Doctor has never, in any of her incarnations, expressed any indication of being non-binary or using they pronouns. She seems surprised but not misgendered when Yaz calls her a woman, and later refers to the clothes she needs to buy as "women's clothes."
Alex included several quotes in his blog post, from "Doctor Who
people" as he calls them -- writers, the current and previous Doctors, etc. Alex changed the pronouns in the quotes [all but Verity Lambert's, which is definitely about the First Doctor] and he told me,
I decided they were the exact quotes even when I was changing them, and took especial license (and pleasure) with Terrance Dicks' words because I suspect he'd disapprove.
And some of the differences were about more than pronouns. One bit of that Terrance Dicks quote now reads "The Doctor believes in good and fights evil. Though often caught up in violent situations, she is someone of peace. She is never cruel or cowardly." And about this Alex said the loveliest thing of all:
It was difficult because it was the only bit where I had to do more than change the he and him: "he is a man of peace." I chiselled at that for a while: "a woman of peace" didn't scan for me, "person" for the same reason and also ducking the gender, and so on. I left it highlighted and came back later with "someone of peace," which isn't quite right, but seemed to have the same flow saying it aloud, and I felt that was important, like translating poetry.
There's more I could say about this Doctor now that we've seen her first story, but what was meant to be a little aside/introduction about her pronouns has grown into so many words I don't want to add any more to it, so maybe I'll write about the episode another time. Maybe even before there's another one! But maybe not.