is Doctor Who sexist?

Becca A. Moore, a student at Brigham Young University, is sharing the results of a study she did with several other students for a media-research class that attempted to quantify just how sexist Doctor Who is, via the Bechdel Test and other measures. This is just a part of the infographic her group created to summarize their results:


Click over to Moore’s blog to see the full infographic as well as a detailed explanation of the study’s conclusions.

Basically, the numbers — as far as such things can be quantified, and Moore deals with potential objections to the numbers — back up the feeling that many fans have had: that the show has gotten markedly more sexist and less inclusive of fully rounded female characters since Steven Moffat took over as showrunner from Russell T. Davies. This includes the diminution of River Song as a character in Moffat era. And this is quite interesting:

Fun fact, Rose’s Bechdel test score would have been in the 80′s were it not for the episodes Moffat wrote during her run.


And Moore nails the overarching problem with the women in the Moffat era:

I think when it comes to giving women love interests in fiction, you have to let them maintain their own independence of thought. This keeps them from simply becoming a sex object or plot device. Rose (and Martha and Donna) had that in spades. While both Rose and River had their share of arguments with The Doctor, how they handled them was drastically different. Rose argued when she had moral issue with his choices, stood her ground, defended others, and overall became the moral compass of their relationship. River rarely if ever, disagreed on issues or principles. If asked to do something she disagreed with she would just yell, “I hate you,” and then do it. Her mentality toward The Doctor can be summed up with a conversation she has with Amy in series 6. The Doctor has left them with instructions Amy does not want to do, but River tells her, “We’re going to as The Doctor’s friends always do. As they’re told.” I think I just heard Rose, Martha, Donna, Romana, and Sarah Jane slap you. When it comes to River Song, it seems that audiences were fooled into thinking she was a strong female character because of her propensity toward violence, and some admittedly excellent monologues.


Thanks to Allen and Anne-Kari for the heads-up.

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