I was once a little girl. Between the ages of 4-18, there was a void of role models that were anything remotely like me.
I was overweight. I loved to read books. Science, chemistry, anatomy, and math were my subjects. I read comic books. I played video games. I put together plastic models of my favorite muscle cars. I liked movies like Dawn of the Dead and French Connection.
I wanted to be Indiana Jones. I wanted to be a writer like Richard Matheson who created stories of sci-fi and horror that just baffled me in their perfection.
I went into the library at my school, the reading center, AND the public library and I asked specially for any sci-fi writers who were women. I was told where to find the section, and basically, that was that.
What I found was cover after cover of half naked slave girls with Conan type guys dragging them around the rocky desert like areas.
I also found Dune. So now I wanted to be Indiana Jones, Richard Matheson, AND a Bene Gesserit. Also wanted to be Ellen Ripley until she took off her clothes and did battle in her tiny hipster panties.
I lucked into Anne Rice one summer day and found this paperback book called the Vampire Lestat at my local 7-11. I remember walking home in my flip flops and shorts, running my fingers over her name and marveling that I spent my whole allowance on a book. I read that book in one sitting and didn’t miss the Cherry Slurpee which was the reason I had gone there in the first place. Anne Rice was a gateway drug to a lot of other books, a lot of them horror and many of them I still have and look back fondly.
There was a hole in my heart for a character who was like me. Smart, funny and who loved science and chemistry sets. I don’t think I ever fit in anywhere. At school, I was a weird mix up of things that always garnered strange looks.
“You like that?” “But that’s a boy thing.” “Why would you want to do that?” “That book is too big. I would never read that.” “Why don’t you wear makeup?” “Why don’t you focus on your hair and clothes.” “Girls aren’t good at science.” “You’ll never be a writer.” “You should forget about majoring in chemistry and pick something you’ll be good at. Like a teacher.” “Women sci-fi writers don’t get published unless they use a male pen name.” “Why do you like to use tools?” “Comic books aren’t for girls.”
I remember ordering Dr. Strange vs. Dracula. I remember it sitting on the counter at my local Comic Book Shop. (It has since closed.) The guy behind the counter we’ll call Al, knew me, knew it was for me, got it out when I came into the store. I had to make a detour for any other books I needed. Waiting for a twenty something dude, and he spots my comic book.
“Hey! That looks awesome; I want that too!” Says the dude.
“Sure, I’ll just put it in with your other stuff.” Says Al.
So the guy starts walking, and I’m standing there like. Um. You have more under the counter there Al. He says in all seriousness.
“Comic books are for guys.”
I started to cry. Which probably proved Al’s point in some sick way. He went back to doing his thing. The five other guys in the shop ignored me. I tried to walk to the door with as much dignity I could. I was 14 years old. I didn’t have a lot of that on hand, but I did my best.
I stopped collecting comic books after that. I would read them, but now it was a dirty secret. Something I did but didn’t share with many people. My guy friends who collected, I’d just check them out while we waited to leave to go somewhere else. I was always talked to like I didn’t know what I was doing, or anything about the story line. I accepted it.
With the internet, it became easier to find books and subjects and not be judged openly. If I was a kid now, I think Hermoine Granger would be a role model. Emma Watson certainly would be.
I would be in my twenties before I found Madeleine L’Engle, Octavia E. Butler, Margaret Atwood.
I’m almost 40 years old now and Dr. Who is going to regen into a woman for the first time.
So Peter Davidson who was one of the Doctors has this to say.
“If I feel any doubts, it’s the loss of a role model for boys, who I think Doctor Who is vitally important for. So I feel a bit sad about that, but I understand the argument that you need to open it up.” ~ Peter Davidson.
I want to scream. I want to cry. I want to take my skinny impossible to look like Barbie doll from 1985 and beat her into a wall. I want to rage with everything inside of me that chokes on this.
Off the top of my head, I can think of role models for my son. Not a freaking problem in fact.
- His Dad.
- Bill Nye
- Neil DeGrasse Tyson
- Shaun White
So did you see what I did up there? Did you catch that? Each role model for my son is a real living person. They’re his father, scientists, and entertainers. Human’s that he can look at and reach for the stars and have a chance of doing it.
Looking back I remember the joy I had in playing Street Fighter and picking Cammy or Chung Li. I remember not being cool because I played the girl characters.
For me being a girl was awkward and I spent a lot of time in a kind of limbo. I looked up to the women in my family. I am blessed with some badass chicks in my family.
My mom was witty and beautiful, and I never felt that I could hold a candle to her. She was a force of nature, and I was a sneeze.
I feel like the idea that boys NEED the male role model that is Dr. Who just broke my brain. It reminds me of Boys Will Be Boys. There is proof or explanation of why this is a fact, it just is. Could Mr. Davidson not think of another role model for boys in this day and age?
I think girls today more than any other time NEED a female Dr. Who. They need someone like Agent Carter. They need Hermoine Granger, Katniss Everdean and Meg Murry. They need to see young ladies like Emma Watson who are leaving around books for people to find. Or Gal Gardot who stops a line at Comic Con to comfort a little girl who is overcome with emotion.
Most of all, while Dr. Who has always been constant with having the sidekick be a woman, or having characters that are women… Why must women be in those roles? I want my son to see that women can be in charge. One day when he is grown and out there working, I want him to respect his boss if they are a woman. I want him not to find it odd or be a threat to his male ego. I can only do so much without it becoming preachy. I need to have visual representations.
SO yeah. WE need a female Dr. Who. We need a lot more female role models not just for girls, but for boys too.