Yep, back by popular demand, it’s Freudian Friday! Let’s get down and dirty with some character analysis.
Today I want to talk a little about Doctor Who companions and their motivations for running away with the Doctor… and naturally, I want to talk about some gender issues in the show.
I’ve been lusting after this t-shirt for awhile:
The Doctor beckons, and Belle flies to his side. I actually love this t-shirt, entitled, “Adventure Awaits,” and the Cinderella counterpart, “Come Away with Me.”
But this one’s a little troubling. It’s rather shocking to see Belle dropping a book, of all things (heresy!), though we can probably assume that the Doctor has an amazing library in the TARDIS. She wanted adventure in the great wide open, and she’ll get it… but only if she takes the Doctors hand and follows him blindly.
It gets me thinking about the recent companions and their complete disregard for the lives they leave behind. Amy Pond leaves on the eve of her wedding. Martha Jones leaves a promising career. Rose Tyler leaves a boyfriend and her mother and an entire universe.
Granted, many of them leave behind dull, troubled lives. Donna Noble left a rather insipid existence to become fairly badass (though the results were disastrous), and Rose’s life and boyfriend were rather humdrum. Clara Oswold… well, we don’t really understand her motivations yet, do we? But when the Doctor comes along, generally cute and funny, and offers adventures untold in spaces unimagined, the companions snatch the opportunity to leave behind their dull existence and literally fly into a new one.
Young, bright women, abandoning their lives and family to join a mysterious man in his time-travelling spaceship. He beckons, and they come running… and don’t even get me started on how many of these women want to get it on with the Doctor. He’s irresistible, it seems.
There are a very few male companions in the 2005 reboot. Mickey and Rory accompany Rose and Amy, respectively, and Craig has a few of his own adventures with the Doctor. Donna’s grandfather tags along briefly, as does Captain Jack, whose motivations are sexually tense to say the least.
Most of them come along in the hope of some improved image of gallantry: Mickey, Rory, and Craig all want to mack on their ladies, all of whom have more or less abandoned them in favor of the sexy, exciting Doctor.
That doesn’t say much about the women in this universe, does it? They’re turned on by power and adventure, and consequences be damned if as pursue those qualities.
I don’t want to discuss River Song too much here, because a) she’s awesome and b) she carries her own set of fraught sexual issues.
On its face, the Doctor’s offer of adventures in space and time seems liberating. Come away with me, and I’ll show you the universe. It all hinges on him, though. These women, once on these adventures, have far less agency than they did in their ho-hum lives. They get to save children and aliens and the world—and the Doctor himself—but they invariably end up damaged, either emotionally or physically, and with no capability of returning to their normal existence.
Rose is thrown into a parallel universe. Donna has her eyes opened and then, lest the brightness of broad existence kill her, forcibly closed. Amy gives birth to and loses a daughter, and is thrown from her time to live out an existence she would never have chosen. We’ve already seen Clara die twice, and we’ve barely seen her at all.
So is it worth it? Would you trade adventure for certain emotional torture? And is it acceptable for the Doctor to continually snatch ordinary young women from what might have been ordinary, successful-in-small-ways lives?
And what does it say about Doctor Who as a show that the theme is one of a man enlightening and awakening pretty girls?
This is one of those questions that I hate to ask: I hate to scratch the shiny veneer of a show that I love. But there are some troubling issues here.
What do you think, readers? Are the Doctor and his writers misogynist pigs? Do the female companions actually benefit from his company? Would you go away with him?