It’s that time of year again! For the past couple of years, Doctor Who has created a mini-episode for Red Nose Day in the U.K., which raises money for Comic Relief, a charity that gives aid to disadvantaged people both in the U.K. and in Africa. This year, Steven Moffat wrote a two-part minisode for the cause, both parts of which can be viewed below the cut.
I’ve been regularly discussing Moffat’s Women here at Tor.com, because for the most part Steven Moffat has excelled in creating complex female characters. From Nancy in “The Doctor Dances” to Amy Pond he’s done a wonderful job of creating women that are positive feminist additions to the television landscape.
Which is why it pains me to have to write a negative Moffat’s Women column for the first time.
Part 1 - “Space”:
Part 2 - “Time”:
In “Space” and “Time,” The Doctor is allowing Rory to help fly/fix the TARDIS (it’s not really clear which, but knowing the TARDIS it could easily be both). Rory gets distracted by the sight of Amy walking above him on a glass floor in a short skirt, and drops a thermal coupling, which The Doctor “specifically mentioned not dropping.” This causes the TARDIS to end up inside itself, and a cute, wacky bit of time paradoxery ensues.
There’s a wonderful bit in the middle where Amy, upon seeing herself outside herself for the first time can’t stop flirting with herself. It reminded me of Mirror Universe Major Kira on DS9 or Doppleganger Willow on Buffy. Except, there’s no “evil” Amy. It’s just Amy, which makes this moment all the more amazing. There’s no good/evil judgement there. Of course Amy would flirt with herself! She’s gorgeous and awesome! What makes it even funnier is The Doctor calling Amy on her slight tendency toward self-centeredness by saying that Amy flirting with herself is “true love at last.”
Rory being distracted by Amy in a short skirt (not to mention the idea of two of her) is understandable. After all, he knows what she looks like under the skirt, making it even more understandable in his case. This isn’t my problem with the minisodes. My problem is with the too-easy, dated, sexist humor they employ, especially in the second part. First, there’s the issue of Amy being a bad driver and Rory being allowed to “have a go” at driving the TARDIS. Bad woman driver, ha ha. Now, one of the things I love about Amy is the fact that she’s flawed. She’s a complex woman, so if being a bad driver is one of the many things that make her who she is, I can forgive that.
Less forgivable, however, is the final message at the end. Once the crisis is resolved, The Doctor says that they should be safe, but to prevent it from happening again, he says “Pond, put some trousers on.” So, let me get this straight: Rory gets distracted, Rory drops the coupling...and it’s Amy’s job to put some pants on? Yes, it’s just a joke. Yes, she rolls her eyes at The Doctor and gives Rory a glare...but the fact that Moffat chose to have The Doctor reprimand Amy at the end instead of, oh I don’t know, slapping Rory upside the head for not paying attention, soured the experience for me.
It’s an issue I’ve been thinking a lot about recently, under more serious circumstances. You can check out how I feel about the matter here. Long story short, it bothers me that it’s always a woman’s responsibility to cover up, because “men will be men. What else can we expect from them?” I’m tired of it always being a woman’s job to curb her behavior or style of dress in accordance with what men want and need.
First, when discussing Amy’s “bad driving” she brings up the fact that she got her license on the first try—unlike Rory—Rory says that Amy “cheated” her way into a driver’s license by wearing a skirt. Ha, ha? Later, The Doctor does reprimand Rory when the problems first arise with an “Oh, Rory!” to which Rory replies, “Sorry.” So, how hard would it have been for The Doctor to say something to Rory at the end like “I’m getting you a pair of blinders or something?” Or, so as not to place blame on Rory for his desire for his wife, or blame on Amy for wearing what she wears, say something like “I’ve really got to figure out how to tint that floor?” There were any number of ways to write a funny ending for the minisode. It bothered me that Moffat went with humor that dates back to a time when people laughed at bosses chasing their secretaries around a desk, and it was totally okay. I’m willing to give Moffat the benefit of the doubt and assume that, since this was a small job for a charity, that he wasn’t really thinking that hard about it. I hope he’ll come to realize that “punishing” Amy for what she wears, even in jest, sends the message that men and boys don’t ever have to be responsible for their actions. That women cause trouble, or that women are “asking for it.” That it’s better if women aren’t around when men are doing manly things, because they’ll just be a distraction. Do you see where this way of thinking can lead?
Not to mention the fact that Amy had what seemed like an urgent question for The Doctor that she wanted to talk to him about in private at the beginning of the minisode; a question we never heard. Perhaps this will be addressed in “The Impossible Astronaut?” We’ll have to wait until Saturday, April 23rd for the Series 6 premiere of Doctor Who on BBC One/BBC America to find out!
Teresa Jusino is two years older than Buffy Summers. Her “feminist brown person” take on pop culture has been featured on websites like ChinaShopMag.com, PinkRaygun.com, Newsarama, and PopMatters.com. Her fiction has appeared in the sci-fi literary magazine, Crossed Genres; she is the editor of Beginning of Line, the Caprica fan fiction site; and her essay “Why Joss is More Important Than His ‘Verse” is included in Whedonistas: A Celebration of the Worlds of Joss Whedon By the Women Who Love Them, which is on sale now wherever books are sold! Get Twitterpated with Teresa, or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.