I think the reason that lots of people think Steven Moffat’s version of Doctor Who is sexist is because it repeatedly acts and sounds sexist. It may be that Moffat consciously tries to craft his Who as feminist or pro-feminist. If so, I don’t think there’s any better illustration of the crucial point that, in a sexist society, however much of an ‘ally’ you may be, if you’re a man then you still enjoy male privilege, and probably don’t realise it half the time.
The Doctor describes Clara as “a mystery wrapped in an enigma squeezed into a skirt that’s just a little bit too tight”. The Doctor describes Marilyn Monroe as though she really was nothing more than the stereotypical ‘man crazy’ ditz she played in some of her movies. Rory likens being married to Amy to being trapped inside a giant robot duplicate of her. We get dialogue like “Why did she try to kill you and then want to marry you?” “Because she’s a woman”. Osgood, a scientist, is shown to be secretly obsessed with jealousy towards her prettier sister. A Dalek develops a female alter-ego, and she spends her time cooking.
In Moffat’s show, women are overwhelmingly defined by their traditional gender roles or bodily functions. It doesn’t matter that their excellence in these gender roles is praised by show and lead character. It doesn’t matter that we’re supposed to be impressed by the virtuosity with which River tricks people using her feminine wiles. It doesn’t change anything that the Doctor goes into rhapsodies about the wonders of motherhood. That isn’t liberating; it’s still the mapping of male, patriarchal conceptions of female value onto female characters.
River exists entirely because of the Doctor. Who the hell is River? She is an assemblage of gender essentialist tropes and wisecracks. When does she ever – beyond, arguably, her first appearance – behave like an academic or a scientist? When does she ever display anything resembling erudition or intellectual curiosity? When does she ever do or say anything to show or engender love? Admittedly, the Doctor seems to be sexually aroused by the way she shoots people… which is just charming. In ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’, she is incarnated as Mels, a character we’ve never seen or heard of before, and plonked unceremoniously into the story out of sheer, brazen convenience. She stalks Amy and Rory (her unwitting mother and father) for years, pretending to be their friend, all because of her pre-programmed monomaniacal desire to get to the Doctor. She regenerates while “concentrating on a dress size”. She spends the rest of the episode obsessing over her hair, clothes, shoes and weight. River’s instability is finally conquered by the love of a good man. This seems intensely hostile and patronising. If that isn’t what was aimed at, then somebody is a very bad shot.
It doesn’t matter that River is ‘powerful’. Fetishizing ‘power’ in women characters – having them kicking ass and always being ready with a putdown - isn’t the same as writing them as human beings."
[…]The reason I feel ill when the Doctor snogs River’s ghost at the end of ‘Name of the Doctor’ is not that I hate emotion in Who, or that I want – because I’m a sexually and emotionally repressed nerd or something – Doctor Who to be emotionless. Rather, the opposite of this is the truth. The reason I feel ill at moments like that is rather that I hate fake emotion, cheap emotion, unearned emotion. Commodified emotion. Packaged, marketed, profitable, sugary, junk emotion. Sentimentality, in other words.Sentimentality is disgusting because it’s not fundamentally about other people, or relationships. It’s about oneself. It’s self-regarding, self-comforting, self-pleasing. It isn’t social. It’s narcissistic. This is precisely what is so horribly wrong with all those Moffatian emotional tornadoes. How can they be touching when the characters and relationships are so shallow? When we’re watching narcissists adoring their own reflections in their partner’s eyes?[…]I don’t like having to hate this show. I want to love it.
A thought experiment: Imagine how people might react if Taylor Swift released an album made up entirely of songs about wishing she could get back together with one of her exes.
We’d hear things like: “She can’t let go. She’s clingy. She’s irrational. She’s crazy.” Men would have a field day comparing her to their own “crazy” exes.
Yet when Robin Thicke released “Paula” – a plea for reconciliation with his ex-wife Paula Patton disguised as an LP — he was called incoherent, obsessed, heartfelt and, in particular, creepy.
But you didn’t hear men calling him “crazy” — even though he used it as the title of one of tracks.
No, “crazy” is typically held in reserve for women’s behavior. Men might be obsessed, driven, confused or upset. But we don’t get called “crazy” — at least not the way men reflexively label women as such.
“Crazy” is one of the five deadly words guys use to shame women into compliance. The others: Fat. Ugly. Slutty. Bitchy. They sum up the supposedly worst things a woman can be.
WHAT WE REALLY MEAN BY “CRAZY” IS: “SHE WAS UPSET, AND I DIDN’T WANT HER TO BE.”
“Crazy” is such a convenient word for men, perpetuating our sense of superiority. Men are logical; women are emotional. Emotion is the antithesis of logic. When women are too emotional, we say they are being irrational. Crazy. Wrong.
Women hear it all the time from men. “You’re overreacting,” we tell them. “Don’t worry about it so much, you’re over-thinking it.” “Don’t be so sensitive.” “Don’t be crazy.” It’s a form of gaslighting — telling women that their feelings are just wrong, that they don’t have the right to feel the way that they do. Minimizing somebody else’s feelings is a way of controlling them. If they no longer trust their own feelings and instincts, they come to rely on someone else to tell them how they’re supposed to feel.
Small wonder that abusers love to use this c-word. It’s a way of delegitimizing a woman’s authority over her own life.
Most men (#notallmen, #irony) aren’t abusers, but far too many of us reflexively call women crazy without thinking about it. We talk about how “crazy girl sex” is the best sex while we also warn men “don’t stick it in the crazy.” How I Met Your Mother warned us to watch out for “the crazy eyes” and how to process women on the “Crazy/Hot” scale. When we talk about why we broke up with our exes, we say, “She got crazy,” and our guy friends nod sagely, as if that explains everything.
Except what we’re really saying is: “She was upset, and I didn’t want her to be.”
Many men are socialized to be disconnected from our emotions — the only manly feelings we’re supposed to show are stoic silence or anger. We’re taught that to be emotional is to be feminine. As a result, we barely have a handle on our own emotions — meaning that we’re especially ill-equipped at dealing with someone else’s.
That’s where “crazy” comes in. It’s the all-purpose argument ender. Your girlfriend is upset that you didn’t call when you were going to be late? She’s being irrational. She wants you to spend time with her instead of out with the guys again? She’s being clingy. Your wife doesn’t like the long hours you’re spending with your attractive co-worker? She’s being oversensitive.
As soon as the “crazy” card is in play, women are put on the defensive. It derails the discussion from what she’s saying to how she’s saying it. We insist that someone can’t be emotional and rational at the same time, so she has to prove that she’s not being irrational. Anything she says to the contrary can just be used as evidence against her.
More often than not, I suspect, most men don’t realize what we’re saying when we call a woman crazy. Not only does it stigmatize people who have legitimate mental health issues, but it tells women that they don’t understand their own emotions, that their very real concerns and issues are secondary to men’s comfort. And it absolves men from having to take responsibility for how we make others feel.
In the professional world, we’ve had debates over labels like “bossy” and “brusque,” so often used to describe women, not men. In our interpersonal relationships and conversations, “crazy” is the adjective that needs to go."
— Men really need to stop calling women crazy - Harris O’Malley (via hello-lilianab)