WisCon 34 Panel: Chicks Dig Time Lords


Panel Description: There is a perception that there weren’t many women in Doctor Who fandom before the New Series was launched. This is patently false. Women have had a major role in Doctor Who fandom since the inception of the show. Do women approach and experience their Doctor Who fandom (or other media fandoms) differently than men? This panel explores different approaches to media fandom by the women involved in it, functioning within an assumed male–dominated fandom. Approaches to fandom discussed will range from feminist critique to costuming to fan fiction.

Panelists: Evelyn Brown, Lynne M. Thomas (moderator), K. Tempest Bradford, Kathryn Sullivan

The Chicks Dig Time Lords book was intentionally positive in focus, in defiance of the reality that women are quite outnumbered in Doctor Who fandom. Lynne says the fandom is 80% male!

Opinions on the show. Best show ever? Tempest says no, but probably the best thing on television right now. “Which isn’t hard.”

Kathryn: “I like the Doctor because he thinks; he doesn’t always solve things with a gun.”

Evelyn: “I love the scope of it.” If you don’t like the show, you can just wait, and it will soon be doing something different.

Tempest: She likes that it’s an adventure show, and isn’t full of emo stuff like the shows on Syfy. She got into it because one of her roommates was a huge fan, then quickly caught up on the new Who via torrents.

Lynne: She likes the overwhelming positivity of the show and its openness to change.

A poll of the audience is taken to see how many fans there are of each Doctor. I fear I am the only one who never raises a hand at all!

Leah in audience asks the panel to list their favorite companions.

Lynne: Favorite: Ace. Least favorite: Peri.
Kathryn: Favorites: Zoe, Leela & Donna. Least favorite: Adric
Tempest: Favorite: Donna & Martha & Ace. Least favorite: Rose (2nd series)
Evelyn: Favorite: Jamie & Zoe; Tegan and Turlough. Least favorite: Rose, maybe. She likes when there are crowds of companions who can talk about the Doctor behind his back.

Lynne likes the show’s flexibility about sexuality, but recognizes that the treatment of bisexuality (for example) has been problematic at times.

Tempest: “I hate sexual tension! …in fiction.” Whining and pining. David Tennant era bothers her. Why was Martha bothering with this skinny, crazy dude? Everyone agrees that her emotional arc with the Doctor was handled badly and didn’t seem in character.

Lynne asks a question of the audience: “What’s the Tom Baker episode where he fellates an alien?” There is amazed laughter from the crowd.

Someone asks Tempest what she thought of the end of the Martha story (pairing off with Mickey.) She hates it, because it doesn’t follow anything that came before. She wants to interrogate Russell T. Davies about it.

Discussion about historicals. An audience member wants to know if any of the older shows depict historical events in countries besides England. Some examples are given, but Tempest thinks it’s better if the show’s producers don’t even go there, given the amount of fail the show has demonstrated towards brown people. Lynne argues for the story limitations of an extremely small production budget.

Verity Lambert was given production duties on the classic series because she was young and female, and the BBC fully expected her to fail. Here we are 46 years later…

An audience member who is studying media in England reports that she has been told that the reason the new show focuses so much on Britain is because market research says that is what their audience wants. And also that the BBC is trying to target it to children. An audience members protests that the British Empire is pretty big! “Didn’t they own three quarters of the globe at one point?” Chris Hill (English fan) in audience: “We’re sitting right here!” Much laughter.

Tempest gives a hilarious rant about how the Daleks keep coming back again and again after supposedly being exterminated. She wants Davies to stick to the story he has set up.

The doctor’s daughter steps out of the “people making machine with mascara on”. Evelyn says she got it from her father, because he regenerated complete with hair gel.

Sex in Doctor Who. Lynne: “Some say there is no sex in Doctor Who. Others of us say, ‘Uh uh. You don’t dress Leela like that if there is no sex in Doctor Who.’”

Lynne: “A millennium-old person might have gotten over some of his hangups about sex.” Tempest: “Or developed more.” Laughter.

Mention of “The Curse of the Fatal Death”.

Chris points out that most British shows at the time of the classic series were asexual. Even the “companion” concept was fairly common, and was usually treated as a father-daughter dynamic.

Last 15 minutes of panel are reserved for discussion of the Matt Smith series.

Tempest: “I’m just tired of people jumping the Doctor’s bones.” referring to the episode with Amy coming on to the Doctor

Lynne’s husband has a theory that Steven Moffat has a checklist of story elements that he would like to correct from the Davies era. For example: Rory as apology for Mickey.

Tempest gives a run-down on Steven Moffat’s issues with women. His two shows before Doctor Who (Joking Apart, Coupling) both based on his own life.

About the author

Janice Dawley

Outdoorsy TV addict, artistic computer geek, loner who loves people.

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