Entertainment | 1 week ago
Women can defeat Daleks too: why I'm overjoyed with the new Doctor Who
Jodie Whittaker is the first female Doctor Who in history.

Fans of Doctor Who have been speculating about the possibility of a female lead for years.

And yesterday during the Wimbledon final, the announcement finally came - Jodie Whittaker will be taking over the role of everybody's favourite Time Lord.

And rightly so.

Whittaker is Doctor Who's first ever female lead since the show premiered on the BBC back in 1963.

Doctor Who has a rich past in terms of talent, success, and its spike in fandom growth over the past ten years. The likes of David Tennant and Matt Smith are hard acts to follow, but it seems that Whittaker is being forced to prove herself in one way that those before her did not - as a woman.

Speaking to the BBC, the Broadchurch star said that she was "overwhelmed" to be cast in the role.

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"It feels completely overwhelming, as a feminist, as a woman, as an actor, as a human, as someone who wants to continually push themselves and challenge themselves, and not be boxed in by what you're told you can and can't be."

Whittaker also added that fans should not be "scared" by her gender.

"The fans have lived through so many changes, and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one (...) Because this is a really exciting time, and Doctor Who represents everything that's exciting about change."

Jodie Whittaker

There has always been an onus on women to go above and beyond to prove their worthiness in the workplace.

Men populating the majority of high paying, high power, executive roles is still seen as the norm. Even the introduction of gender quotas in many areas lacking in female representation, like business and politics, leaves women striving to prove that they deserve to be there.

Rather than applauding the rising numbers of women in industries such as these, the assumption that they 'only got there because they're a woman,' and that a man somehow 'lost out' on an opportunity, prevails.

Gender gap

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The response to Whittaker's new role as the Doctor has been overwhelmingly positive - for the most part.

Where many are only delighted that a woman has finally been given the task of travelling through space and time, others remain critical of the casting decision.

There are a lot of reason why these people are unhappy, but the most common one seems to be that Doctor Who has always been a man, so why do we need to change it now?

Well, why not?

Jodie Whittaker

Contrary to popular belief, women actually make up half of the world's population and are just as capable of defeating Daleks, travelling through time, and saving the world as the next person.

We just haven't been given the chance until now.

But this gender disparity doesn't just exist for women in leading roles - it's also present behind the scenes too.

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The latest Celluloid Ceiling report from the Centre for the Study of Women in Television and Film showed that women made up just 17 percent of all writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, and editors employed by the top 250 grossing films in the US in 2016.

This number has fallen two percent since 2015.

Women in work

Similarly, it was recently reported by Women in Film & Television UK that there is a 10 percent wage gap between male and female employees working for the BBC.

Although this gap has closed slightly since 2015, there are still only half the amount of women in high paying jobs in the BBC as there are men.

Representation on screen can only do so much to bridge this widening gender gap, but the importance of young girls and women being able to watch someone like themselves in a lead role is undeniable.

The premiers of films like Wonder Woman and Ghostbusters were met with streams of girls dressed up in costumes matching their chosen heroes.

Just yesterday, a mother posted a video of her daughter looking absolutely ecstatic the moment that Whittaker was revealed as the new Doctor. As it stands, the post has over 18,000 retweets and 60,000 likes.

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I would have loved the chance to watch just half of the badass, intelligent female characters now available to young girls when I was growing up.

More women in leads roles is not only great representation, but also sends the message that we can be more than just sidekicks, love interests, or the secretary who does all the work for zero of the credit.

Doctor Who is now a woman. In a few years, the extraterrestrial Time Lord might be a man again, but until then we've got years of Jodie Whittaker to look forward to.

And I'm sure she'll be only fantastic.

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#BridgeTheGap, doctor who, gender gap, Jodie Whittaker, women in media, women in TV