Women as Reward: Feminist Frequency


Of course, five examples can be taken from this in Doctor Who. The first time I know that happens is in The Big Bang. As you may know, Auton Roman soldier Rory Williams defends Amy-in-Pandorica for nearly two millennia, being dubbed “The Last Centurion.” This, of course, is an act of chivalry, and his reward for this is being able to marry her.


It is important to recognize that their marriage was not actually a definitely thing, such as when Amy kissed the Eleventh Doctor at the end of Flesh and Stone.

Or when Rory was shot dead and also erased from existence in Cold Blood. It is established that his act of chivalry is what eventually really sealed the deal for them becoming married. This can seen in another act of chivalry when Rory questions the Twelfth Cyber Legion in A Good Man Goes to War, donning the Last Centurion outfit.

He did have a little help from the Doctor with that one.


Another example comes from Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, regarding John Riddell and Queen Nefertiti.

When they initially meet, there is a lot of tension between them.

Riddell than does his first act of chivalry.

Followed his second.

Before, he gets Queen Nefertiti as his reward. Notice that in both instances chivalry is somehow involved.

Originally, when Amy Pond debuted as a companion, she was actually a kissogram, wearing a clearly skimpy outfit (short skirt). When the Eleventh Doctor discovers she is a kissogram (not a policewoman), this exchange follows in The Eleventh Hour:

Doctor: You’re Amelia.
Amy: And you’re late.
Doctor: Amelia Pond. You’re the little girl.
Amy: I’m Amelia and you’re late.
Doctor: What happened?
Amy: Twelve years.
Doctor: You hit me with a cricket bat.
Amy: Twelve years.
Doctor: A cricket bat.
Amy: Twelve years and four psychiatrists.
Doctor: Four?
Amy: I kept biting them.
Doctor: Why?
Amy: They said you weren’t real.

As well as this:

Mrs Angelo: I was just about to phone. It’s on every channel. Oh, hello, Amy dear. Are you a policewoman now?
Amy: Well, sometimes.
Mrs Angelo: I thought you were a nurse.
Amy: I can be a nurse.
Mrs Angelo: Or actually a nun?
Amy: I dabble.
Mrs Angelo: Amy, who is your friend?
Doctor: Who’s Amy? You were Amelia.
Amy: Yeah? Now I’m Amy.
Doctor: Amelia Pond. That was a great name.
Amy: Bit fairy tale.
Mrs Angelo: I know you, don’t I? I’ve seen you somewhere before.
Doctor: Not me. Brand new face First time on. And what sort of job’s a kissogram?
Amy: I go to parties and I kiss people. With outfits. It’s a laugh.
Doctor: You were a little girl five minutes ago.
Amy: You’re worse than my aunt.

The context of this exchanges suggests that the Doctor has a disagreement with her loss of childhood innocence. By calling her “Amelia,” he is trying to revive this revive this innocence, even shaming her for this. However, this could also be Amy’s way of exerting control over her own sense of sexuality.

For quite a while, this narrative would disappear, until Asylum of the Daleks, with Oswin Oswald, who was feisty, make several comments with sexual connotations, and finally, wore a distinctive short red skirt.

Finally, between The Bells of Saint John and The Name of the Doctor, in which Clara Oswald was “the only mystery worth solving,” the Doctor also made a comment on her attire in Nightmare in Silver:

If you think there is suspect that these things are not connected to sexual assault, and lack of consent, try reading Ted Kissell’s article from The Atlantic, “Doctor Who‘s Latest Big Mystery Wasn’t Much of a Mystery at All“:

So, the solution to Clara’s mystery is the same as the solution to River Song’s: This woman’s life, from birth to death, is inextricably bound to the Doctor’s. And as with River, since we’d already seen the end of her story, there was no tension when she had an opportunity to make a sacrifice for her man. Ah, there’s a natural segue into a rundown of some of this half-season’s nuggets of sexist nonsense, the kind that Moffat and his crew—which has included exactly zero women writers—seem to think is so droll…

  • In “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS,” the Doctor only lets Clara fly the TARDIS in “basic mode.” When she asks if this is because she’s a girl, he says no, and then makes a face.
  • At the end of “Nightmare in Silver,” the Doctor refers to Clara as “a mystery wrapped in an enigma squeezed into a skirt that’s just a little too… tight.” And then he starts to smile—leer, really—and makes an “uhh” noise in the back of his throat before he checks himself and looks appalled. Too late, dude.
  • In “The Crimson Horror,” Jenny rescues the Doctor from partial paralysis. In his elation, he grabs her, dips her, and forcibly kisses her on the lips. A woman he knows to be both queer and married. (This is the same guy who twice asked Rory for “permission” to hug Amy.)

Many reviewers didn’t seem to think the last one was a big deal, reading Jenny’s immediate slap of the Doctor as enough of a rebuke. Others were uncomfortable with it, and at least some were mad enough to call this nonconsensual kiss what it would be in the real world: sexual assault. As far as I’m concerned, both the kiss and the slap were played for laughs, letting the Doctor off the hook far too easily.

As a wise man once said in a very complex song-and-dance number involving puppets, Doctor Who is about the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism. Kissing people when they don’t want to be kissed is nothing if not the triumph of brute force, and it sure ain’t romantic.

This Doctor is always telling us what’s cool. You know what’s cooler than all the bowties, fezzes, and Stetsons in the universe? Consent.

2 thoughts on “Women as Reward: Feminist Frequency

  1. Pingback: Bisexuality and Doctor Who | The Progressive Democrat

  2. Pingback: On Stardust | The Progressive Democrat

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