Whoydensday: Old-Skool Feminism

Well, now that my life has finally settled back down a bit, I should be back to bringing you your regular Whoydensday updates. 🙂 There are certainly lots of exciting things going on at the moment, what with David Tennant’s final few episodes coming up at the end of this year — for those of you who want tasty, tasty spoilers, I recommend that you head over to Planet Gallifrey. But please, refrain from discussing them in this post! (But I’ll do a spoiler discussion day soon, I promise!)

Today, let’s all look back to the past, and name our favourite feminist moments from Old Who — that is, Doctor Who from between 1963 and 1989. Personally, I absolutely love how explicitly feminist a lot of the Old School companions were — not always, of course, but plenty of them were willing to tell the sexist idiots they encountered exactly where to go!

Here are my top three:
1. As pictured above, Zoe and Isobel teaming up in The Invasion, a Second Doctor story from 1968. Not only do they give the Brig and earful for being an anti-feminist (yes, they actually use the term “anti-feminist”, and it’s clearly an insult), they then team up and use their infra-red photography and 133t haxxor skillz to save the day (Zoe causes a computer to self-destruct — it is a beautiful thing to behold).

2. Sarah Jane tells the Third Doctor to make his own coffee in The Time Warrior, in 1973. I think Sarah Jane became my favourite companion the moment I saw this, and from that moment forward, she could do no wrong, no matter how many poor scripts she was saddled with!

3. Ace, in Battlefield, from 1989. There are too many awesome feminist moments in this episode to list, but my favourite (which I also mentioned in a response to Chally’s Whoydensday Ace post) is when the Seventh Doctor, the Brig, and Sir Ancelyn are arguing about who deserves the honour of returning Excalibur to King Arthur’s grave (in true chivalrous tradition, each wants the other two to do it). While they’re arguing, Ace steps in and does it herself, undercutting the masculine homosocial traditions that reinforce male privilege while marginalising women. Yay!

Feel free to share your own favourite Old-Skool feminist moments (link to pictures if you like), and discuss feminism in Old Who more generally, in comments!

Categories: arts & entertainment, Culture, gender & feminism, Life, Sociology

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5 replies

  1. Re #3, and she does it with such a total lack of regard for the fact that it’s The Sword Of Arthur. AND that episode featured Brigadier Winifred Bambera, just for bonus Amazing Points.

  2. Oh, yes! *fangirls Brig Bambera*

  3. Having trouble coming up with specific incidents (was very little at the time), but I remember loving that Romana was as smart and knew as much as the Doctor, and that Leela was fearless and kept saving his butt.

  4. My partner also suggests Susan in very early episodes of the show, and I quote, “pwning everyone else in school”.

  5. QoT– Susan was definitely awesome. I remember one particular moment in The Daleks, when she has to go back to the TARDIS on her own, through an area full of Thals (whom she believes, at that point, are the bad guys), and she’s completely terrified, but she does it anyway. Overall, that episode had so much women screaming and being helpless, and men trying to keep women away from danger and icky things, that it was wonderful seeing this moment where Susan could shine.

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