University Study on Sexism In BBC’s Doctor Who (Infographic)

In April 2014, I completed a study, with several other students, for my Media Research Methods class, which we then entered into BYU-Idaho’s Research and Creative Works Conference. My group’s research took second place. Many have asked to see that, so here is the final report. 

IS DOCTOR WHO SEXIST-01 2

Is Doctor Who Sexist?

Back in 2010 Steven Moffat took over as head writer of the cult classic British Sci-Fi Doctor Who from Russell T. Davies. Davies had headed the reboot of the show back in 2005. When the switch happened many fans began voicing problems they were having with the new direction of the show. One of those problems was sexism, or at least that is what people were claiming. However some fans of Moffat said people were being overly sensitive and just couldn’t let go of the RTD era. So which side was right? We sat down and watched all of the episodes since the reboot to the departure of the Pond’s (excluding a couple specials) to figure out if there was a quantifiable answer to the claims that female character writing had taken a nose dive.

We conducted two major tests on all the companions since 2005 that had completed their tenure in the show. The first was a Bechdel Test, and then the second was speaking time.

The Bechdel Test was developed for films. To pass, a movie must have at least two women in it who talk to each other, about something besides a man. This was applied to each episode the specific companion was in. The companion scores ended up looking like this:

Bechdel Test:

Rose: 74% with 23/31 passed

Martha: 78% with 14/18 passed

Donna: 100% with 16/16 passed

Amy: 53% with 17/32 passed

*River: 57% with 8/12 passed

How it was determined if a conversation qualified:

Conversations were allowed to pass if they were not centered around a man but did briefly mention one. This was to allow for a companion to be able to mention the Doctor, for example if someone were asking where they were from they could say “Oh, I came here in a box with a man called the Doctor,” and then carried on. Or also perhaps two women discussing something where they may briefly mention their brother, employer, etc. If the mention of the man was removed from the conversation, the purpose of the conversation would still stand. An episode could also pass if the conversation(s) happened in the presence of/with a man as long as it was still between at least two women who were actually conversing with each other (i.e. more than one or two lines and was clearly directed at each other), and about something besides a man. However, conversations where two women were addressing the Doctor (or another man), and not really talking to or acknowledging each other, were not included. This was to allow for three (or more) way conversations, since the test did not say that a man/men observing/participating in the conversation with two or more women disqualified it. A simple address was not considered as a conversation. The women had to have more than a two line exchange. (See end of post for a full list of failed episodes.)

Next we measured the companion’s average speaking time per episode.

Companion Speaking Time:

Rose speaking time: 2:37

Martha speaking time: 3:15

Donna speaking time: 3:46

Amy speaking time: 2:35

*River speaking time: 3:06

Finally, we did a comparison between the numbers from Russell T. Davie’s era and Steven Moffat’s era.

RTD vs. Moffat

Number of episodes that failed the Bechdal test

89% (24/27) of the episodes written by RTD passed the Bechdel test with 78% (45/58) passing during his era.

57% (12/21) of  the episodes written by Steven Moffat passed the Bechdel test, with 58% (19/33) passing during his era.

Speaking time

Companion Speaking time went from 3:12 to 2:35 per episode, a19% decrease.
Female Speaking time went from 8:30 to 5:46 per episode, a 32% decrease.
Female Speaking roles went from 5.5 to 4.2 per episode, a 24% decrease.

But What About River Song?

Ironically, the woman who is often propped up as proof that Steven Moffat is, in fact, not a sexist was one of the worst in terms of the Bechdel test and overall independence of thought and character. While maintaining an average speaking time, the episodes she is in only pass the Bechdel Test 57% of the time, and she herself only passes 42% of the time. She also never passes it on her own after Series 5. It is also important to note that River’s “passes” barely scraped by this test. Her passing conversations were always around three or four lines of exchange total, limited to one per episode, and were always in the presence of/with the Doctor.

Personal Commentary

As I watched these episodes again with a fine tooth comb, I noticed many things that were not included with this study, as they were not quantifiable, which was the purpose of this research. One thing that struck me was the difference between Rose Tyler and River Song, and how the two writers dealt with the main love interest during their run. I came across the following post on Tumblr while I was conducting my analysis, and I think it pertains to this conversation.

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(Just for the record, I am neither of those users.)

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.

I think there is a discussion to be had here though. I think Rose probably should have had more speaking time, but then again maybe people who are quiet may not be oppressed. Writing a variety of women is important, and there may be times you want to write a girl who doesn’t say much. That’s ok. I simply think that its important to make sure women have their voices heard, and at the same time avoid the “Strong Female Character” stereotypes. I suppose the most important thing would be to simply write people. I think Moffat struggles with this in general, but especially when writing any sort of romantic female character. (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.)

I got asked a lot of questions while presenting this about this research confining women to only one type of character to be seen as good. I was very happy that these questions came! For one, it meant many people knew that a variety of women should be represented. However, the purpose of this was to study trends. Yes, there may be outlier episodes where it’s only the companion and The Doctor, and will there for not pass the Bechdel test, but this research allows us to see where the overall show is going. Writing a woman who doesn’t talk as much is fine, but when it becomes an overall trend to have all of the female characters failing the Bechdel Test and not speaking, that is when it becomes a problem. If you truly were writing a diverse group of women, those outliers wouldn’t matter.

Of course there’s a lot to be said outside of what I’ve mentioned above about the data and it’s implications. This was just one of the meant things I noticed as I rewatched the show. But what do you think? I’d love to hear all of your insights, so feel free to blow up that comment section!

I don’t think this will end the sexism debate. I realize I attempted to quantify something that is largely opinion based, and there will be some who will prefer Amy’s 2:35 to Donna’s 3:46, and say more isn’t better. Some will make excuses for episodes not passing the Bechdel Test, and all that’s fine. I acknowledge the limitations of this study. When it comes right down to it though, these are the numbers if you want them. But your thoughts are your own, so do with this as you will.

Episodes that failed the Bechdal Test:

“Father’s Day”

“The Empty Child”

“The Parting of the Ways”

“The Girl in the Fireplace”

“Rise of the Cybermen”

“The Age of Steel”

“The Satan Pit”

“Doomsday”

“Daleks in Manhattan”

“Evolution of the Daleks”

“The Family of Blood”

“The Sound of Drums”

“The Eleventh Hour”

“Amy’s Choice”

“The Hungry Earth”

“Vincent and the Doctor”

“The Lodger”

“A Christmas Carol”

“Day of the Moon”

“The Curse of the Black Spot”

“Let’s Kill Hitler”

“Night Terrors”

“Closing Time”

“The Wedding of River Song”

“Asylum of the Daleks”

“A Town Called Mercy”

“The Angels Take Manhattan”

Excluded episode: The Girl Who Waited. I couldn’t decided whether or not it was a pass or fail, so you can go decide.

*As River Song was never a full time companion, her averages were not incorporated into the overall numbers, such as “Average companion speaking time.”

If you would like to hear an interview I gave on the topic, go check out this episode of 2MTL!

Disclosure: I do not in any part own BBC’s Doctor Who. The photos used in the infograpic do not belong to me. This study and it’s contents are copyrighted by Rebecca Moore, and are not associated with Brigham Young University Idaho beyond what was disclosed in the opening paragraph. BYUI does not own or have responsibility for this research. I received no funding or any sort of monetary compensation from them.  

Credit to other group members: Joseph Struhs (@Joseph_Struhs), Tyler Minetto, Joseph Meldrum, Zak Ison

NOTE TO COMMENTERS:  Due to the recent popularity of this post, there are many comments coming in, and I will most likely not be able to read them all in depth and respond.

To address a few issues though, I am aware the Bechdel test has flaws, as do our other methods. This was simply to study trends between authors. However, I don’t think the whole thing should be dismissed simply because of issues with one part. All of the information is statically significant and a good starting point. I’ve seen many suggestions for expansion or improvement that are very good. I probably will not be expanding this though, simply because I do not have the time. If you wish to sit down and do hours of analysis, feel free. And, as a note to those who say I have too much time on my hands or some other such nonsense, I was in a Media Research Methods class. I had to choose media to research for my final to pass it. It wan’t just for fun. Analytics is an important skill for my industry. I saw an issue being brought up by others, and I attempted to quantify it.

Beyond any of that, please try and refrain from hostility against your fellow commenters. 

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713 thoughts on “University Study on Sexism In BBC’s Doctor Who (Infographic)

  1. Peoples of the internet, please attend carefully. The message that follows is vital to the future of you all.
    If you want to post a complaint about the above study, first read the article through properly, and then, taking into account how low the Bechdel Test sets its bar, and how easy it should be to achieve a pass, ask yourself why you personally believe that women should not be treated with fairness and equality in Doctor Who?

    If you still feel you have a grievance to air, then go ahead and post, however:

    1/ Please do not complain about the overall accuracy of the test, as this argument has been made many times before, and on every occasion the assertion has been proved false.

    2/ Please do not state that the show is called Doctor Who and this therefore means it’s perfectly reasonable for all the female characters to blather on about him incessantly to the exclusion of all else, as again, this argument has been made countless times before, and has always been shot down.

    3/ Please refrain from saying that the Bechdel Test cannot be used as the final arbiter to determine sexism, because no sensible person has ever suggested that it can be. The Bechdel Test is a tool for identifying trends, that is all.

    4/ Please do not adopt an outraged tone and then misrepresent various aspects of the study to build a straw-man argument, as it will only make you look stupid.

    5/ Please refrain from using the reductive argument “if you don’t like it, don’t watch it,” because that’s just stubbornly ignoring the issue and sweeping it under the carpet.

    6/ Please do not expect that your objections to the study, or the Bechdel Test in general, will carry any more weight just because you’re female, or for that matter, a male poster pretending to be female. For an oppressive system to exist also requires participation from both sides of the equation.

      • “Don’t listen to this uppity commenter with a honey badger for a profile pic who thinks he controls the conversation.”

        I posted that list simply to try and avoid having the same conversation and exchanges over and over again, and also to perhaps limit the amount of misogynistic morons who come on here to rant about how they believe they are being suppressed by women. In your case, it appears to have worked, in that instead of trying to make any kind of repetitive, or crazed argument, you’ve resloved instead to make personal attacks. Well, done! You must be so proud of yourself.

    • Your not the moderator, so let people speak what they will. Unless you are actually affiliated with this study you have no place to tell anyone how they should conduct themselves!

      • “Your not the moderator, so let people speak what they will. Unless you are actually affiliated with this study you have no place to tell anyone how they should conduct themselves!”

        People can come on here and say what they like, but if you come on and rant about how they think the test isn’t accurate, or that it’s being unfairly applied to Doctor Who, or that the Bechdel Test is being used as a final arbiter to determine sexism, then you are adding nothing to the debate, as all this has already been discussed and hashed out in this comments section. Equally, adopting an outraged tone and misrepresent various aspects of the study to build a straw-man argument, or saying stuff like “if you don’t like it, don’t watch it,” as a way of stubbornly ignoring the issue and sweeping it under the carpet, or thinking your objections to the study, or the Bechdel Test in general, will carry any more weight if you’re female, or for that matter, a male poster pretending to be female, then again, this has all been done before, and what is more, you’ll look like a clown.

        So, Wayne, do you have anything new and original to say about this study, or are you here just to complain about how I am preventing you from repeating the same bankrupt misogynist arguments that have appeared on here a hundred times before?

    • Please curb the attitude Alan. You are sounding a lot like the trolls that clog of this comment section.

      Anyway, I disagree with the authors views on Rose Tyler being a comparable female role-model to the other RTD companions like Martha and Donna because “She (Rose) argued when she had moral issue with his (The Doctor’s) choices, stood her ground, defended others, and overall became the moral compass of their relationship.” Rose is one of the worst written companions in Doctor Who history. Here some links to some videos and blogs that point out why the character of Rose (not Billie Piper the actress) is not a great female character, especially compared to other companions. I don’t want to bore people with long-winded paragraphs to get these ideas across so I’ll let these Doctor Who fans explain the finer details.

      http://spiralboundnotebooks.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/topics-in-doctor-who-5/

      http://whatculture.com/tv/doctor-who-6-reasons-why-steven-moffat-era-is-far-better-than-russell-t-davies-era.php/2

      • “Please curb the attitude Alan. You are sounding a lot like the trolls that clog of this comment section.”

        Keep going ‘Wayne,’ you’re just confirming everything I said about you.

  2. Reblogged this on The Underground Mother Road and commented:
    I have long stated that Amy Pond was my least favorite of the companions, much to my chagrin of the few Whovians I know. I look at this study as some proof that perhaps there was something about the way her character was written, and therefore portrayed, that never sat right with me. #9 and 10 were my doctors. I suffered through #11 and it took me some time to warm up to his zany character who appealed more to my two pre-teens (at the time). I love this show, and have followed it for years. This study perhaps helps to explain the dischord I still feel for the Clara Oswald character and my love of #12 (god bless maturity) and the troublesome nature of Moffat story arcs. Granted, my current academic work does not take me into the interesting realms of being able to study Doctor Who as it applies to social/cultural norms, so I live vicariously through the experiences of others. Good post this one…

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    • “Who the fuck even has time to find out bullshit like this… It’s so desperate lol”

      LOL. What a loser! If you read the article, then by your own admission, you’re a hypocrite, and if you didn’t read it, it means you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    • Thank you for the link, however, if you’d bothered to read Wiki article yourself you would have come across this: “To be successful, a straw man argument requires that the audience be ignorant or uninformed of the original argument.” And so, as the issues my comment concerns has been clearly outlined in the article above, you’ll see that your reference to a straw man argument is in itself fallacious.

  4. This is very interesting, thank you for posting it. While I’ve been watching Dr Who since Troughton days, I gave up during it’s nadir in the 80s, and now dip in and out. The discussion, and often resistance, regarding a female doctor is telling. Peter Davison is reputed to be very anti the idea, saying that a woman might be able to be the ‘mad genius,’ but would she be vulnerable? That caught my attention: why would the vulnerability of a female doctor be any kind of issue? Did anyone ask if Peter Capaldi would be vulnerable?

    Another thing that is interesting is the way choices for the female doctor (i.e Helen Mirren, Joanna Lumley, Tilda Swinton) are often beautiful woman. No-one suggests that the Doctor needs to be handsome. There’s not only sexism but a lack of self awareness about it, and the situation hasn’t been helped by Moffat’s inability to write female characters with any depth. He can make them funny, he can make them endearing, but principally they are types rather than individuals. Doubtless he could write a great female doctor …if he could get his head around it. So could RTB. It’s just perception and audience fear. For sci-fi fans, Whovians are notoriously traditional.

    Are viewers prepared for female adventurers being heroes? Being scientists? Being disconnected to the values we place on women?

    Here’s hoping.

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  10. I guess I’m more surprised that there are that many episodes with two women as I often think of the Doctor and the companion more or less alone together. Of course, there was Rose’s mother, but it speaks to extras having meaningful conversations with the companions instead of just the doctor. That is especially true when it comes to Donna. I actually think it would be helpful to describe the natures of the conversations which also combats some of the complaints about the Bechdel test by putting substance behind the test. Anyway, I’m glad you put some substance behind what bothered me about Pond.

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  12. Hello,
    I think this study is really interesting and I agree with most of it. You handled it very well.
    Nevertheless, I do believe “Doomsday” pass the Bechdel test as Jackie Tyler and Yvonne Hartman share a conversation about the cybermen:
    [Jackie: What happens in there? What’s upgrating mean? What do they do?
    Yvonne: I think they… They remove the brain… Sorry, hum. I think they remove the brain, and put it in a suit or armour. It’s what these things are… They’re us.
    Cyberman: Next.
    Jackie: This is your fault! You and your Torchwood! You killed us all!
    Yvonne: I did my duty! For Queen and country! I did my duty. I did my duty. Oh God, I did my duty.]
    Okay, so maybe it’s not really long but I would count it as passing the test.

    Your study is really great, I’ll show it so someone who doesn’t understand why I have problems with Moffat’s writing.

    • The study states “An episode could also pass if the conversation(s) happened in the presence of/with a man as long as it was still between at least two women who were actually conversing with each other (i.e. more than one or two lines and was clearly directed at each other), and about something besides a man.”

      This would suggest that Doomday fails because, on both countsm only two lines are exchanged in sequence. Also I don’ think the second example you give really qualifies as a conversation.

  13. Something that wasn’t mentioned in the article and I haven’t seen mentioned in the comments is that the Bechdel Test was not designed by an academic, but by a cartoonist. I doubt Allison Bechdel thought anyone would or should use it in an academic study. Whether or not it’s flawed is beside the point; it’s the application that’s the problem. If you try to paint your ceiling with a screwdriver, it’s not the screwdriver that’s flawed.

    Failing the Bechdel Test does not automatically make a work of fiction sexist. Take Flatline, the most recent Doctor Who episode at the time of this comment. Besides Clara, the only female character featured was Missy, who had a brief conversation with herself. Jamie Mathieson wrote a story that happened not to involve a conversation between two women. On its own that doesn’t make him a woman-hating jerk. More importantly, it doesn’t negate the fact that Clara kicked some serious ass in that episode. You could argue that she was a bit eager for the Doctor’s approval at the end, but that just demonstrates that sexist/not sexist is a false dichotomy when it comes to TV.

    It’s reductive to define sexism by a 30 year old cartoon, but this study is flawed in other ways, too. The worth of “companion speaking time” as a measure of girlpoweriness seems predicated either on it being “the length of time the writers deigned to allow the female characters to speak” or that a woman’s worth can be judged by how much she speaks.

    • “Failing the Bechdel Test does not automatically make a work of fiction sexist.”

      Please refrain from saying that the Bechdel Test cannot be used as the final arbiter to determine sexism, because no sensible person has ever suggested that it can be. The Bechdel Test is a tool for identifying trends, that is all.

      • I’d refrain except that it’s one of two criteria in an infographic titled “Is Doctor Who Sexist?” From that, it sure as hell seems as if it’s supposed to determine sexism. Then at the end of the commentary it acknowledges the limitations of the test as well as the companion speaking time. Each contradicts the other. Either I’m to believe that the Bechdel Test is supposed to be the final arbiter to determine sexism, in which case I say “no it isn’t”, or I’m believe it isn’t, in which case I say “then don’t ask a question the test can’t answer”.

      • Once again, The Bechdel Test is a tool for identifying trends, that is all. “Flatline” failing the Bechdel Test doesn’t automatically make Jamie Mathieson, as you put it ‘a woman-hating jerk.’ Indeed, “Mummy on the Orient Express” passes the Bechdel Test, and even makes a sligh reference to it when Clara says to Maisie “Seriously? We’re stuck in this carriage, probably all night, and all we can talk about is some man?” However, if a series consistantly fails the Bechdel Test, then it may be a good idea to ask yourself why that is, especially when you consider how low the Bechdel Test sets its bar, and how easy it should be to achieve a pass.

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  15. Amy passed the test more often than she failed it, even if only by a slim margin, but if we grant that it’s possible to for an episode to fail the test without necessarily being sexist, it’s immaterial how low the bar is. I know that’s why you used the word “consistently” and you argue that while a single episode failing the test does not a sexist series make, if a series consistently fails the test, the pattern suggests it is in fact sexist. But I submit that the pattern can be misleading. If just half of Amy’s episodes that failed the test are not actually sexist (which, admittedly, is hard to quantify, and attempting to do so would generate more and bloodier debate than what we’ve seen here), suddenly she passes two thirds of her episodes. Half of Donna’s episodes could be unflinchingly sexist despite passing the test; the point is we don’t know.

    • “Amy passed the test more often than she failed it, even if only by a slim margin, but if we grant that it’s possible to for an episode to fail the test without necessarily being sexist, it’s immaterial how low the bar is.”

      Not if Amy is failing the test 47% of the time, and with many passes that, as you point out yourself, are only being achieved by a slim margin.

      “I know that’s why you used the word “consistently” and you argue that while a single episode failing the test does not a sexist series make, if a series consistently fails the test, the pattern suggests it is in fact sexist.”

      No. I stated ‘if a series consistently fails the Bechdel Test, then it may be a good idea to ask yourself why that is,’ which doesn’t rule out the possibility of extenuating circumstances.

      “But I submit that the pattern can be misleading.”

      But again, no one has ever suggested the opposite.

      “If just half of Amy’s episodes that failed the test are not actually sexist (which, admittedly, is hard to quantify, and attempting to do so would generate more and bloodier debate than what we’ve seen here), suddenly she passes two thirds of her episodes. Half of Donna’s episodes could be unflinchingly sexist despite passing the test; the point is we don’t know.”

      The point is Nu Who under Moffat frequently fails the Bechdel Test which, as defined here, only requires two named women characters to have a conversation of more than two lines that’s about something other than a man. The fact that 47% of the time Amy can’t do that is damning.

  16. I didn’t mean many of her passes were by a slim margin.What I meant was her pass rate is barely about 50%. I don’t know how convincing her passes were because I haven’t watched any of her episodes more than once, let alone rewatched for the purpose of any kind of analysis.

    I did ask myself why Amy’s/Moffat’s episodes failed the test as often as they did. The answer: I don’t know. I’m sure in some cases (I wouldn’t venture to say how many) sexism is a valid answer; others not so much. As the Bechdel Test only suggests sexism by omission (though sexism nonetheless), I assume a lot of the sexism that is present is of that sort, lacking the requisite conversation(s) to pass the test and not compensating in the way that Flatline did.

    • “I didn’t mean many of her passes were by a slim margin.What I meant was her pass rate is barely about 50%.”

      Fair enough, but what you said was ‘Amy passed the test more often than she failed it, even if only by a slim margin,’ which in essence is correct. Amy’s passes are barely scrapped through.

      “I don’t know how convincing her passes were because I haven’t watched any of her episodes more than once, let alone rewatched for the purpose of any kind of analysis.”

      Well then, you should go here: http://incoherent.net/2014/08/how-sexist-is-doctor-whopart-ten/#more-6279

      “I did ask myself why Amy’s/Moffat’s episodes failed the test as often as they did. The answer: I don’t know. I’m sure in some cases (I wouldn’t venture to say how many) sexism is a valid answer; others not so much.”

      I think the reason why the episodes fail is self evident. Neither Amy or River are given much agency beyond talking to men or about men.

      “As the Bechdel Test only suggests sexism by omission (though sexism nonetheless), I assume a lot of the sexism that is present is of that sort, lacking the requisite conversation(s) to pass the test and not compensating in the way that Flatline did.”

      I don’t think Flatline does compensate. Again, the bar is so low there is no reason why a story that features a cast of eleven (including two women) shouldn’t pass the Bechdel Test.

      • Of course you posted link to a blog in which you are the primary poster and are on friendly terms with the writer. I also noticed your excessive efforts to prove to Simon how much more knowledgeable of Doctor Who facts and trivia you are. Poor Simon. Did you at least take him up on his offer and have a pint with him at the pub?

      • “Of course you posted link to a blog in which you are the primary poster and are on friendly terms with the writer.”

        Er… I don’t know the writer, and I’m only the pirmary poster on the blog because hardly anyone else has made a post. I only went there in the first place because a pingback leading me to the site appeared at the end of one of my posts. Equally, if you actually bother to read any of the posts on that site about the two Bechdel Test studies, you’ll see that, for the most part, it is basically just comparing his results with the ones that appear here. However, if this site particularly offends you, here’s another one that I have no contact with at all. Enjoy: http://iaras22.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/bechdel-tests-pre-1989-doctor-who/

        “I also noticed your excessive efforts to prove to Simon how much more knowledgeable of Doctor Who facts and trivia you are.”

        Actually, no, Simon’s knowledge and trivia is extensive, and if you bother to read our exchanges properly you’ll see it is mainly all about interpretation of that knowledge.

        “Did you at least take him up on his offer and have a pint with him at the pub?”

        As I say about, I don’t know Simon, I have never met the guy outside of his blog, or even know where he lives. He is almost as anonymous as you are.

      • It’s not about being offended by the subject matter but about commenters like you who pester everyone who wants their questions answered by the actual person who posted the blog. Calling people idiots and such is incredibly rude and quite disappointing etiquette for someone who wishes to have a sound intellectual conversation. So pardon me for calling you out on your asinine behavior.

      • “Is that why you keep coming back? Wayne, if you want to make a post about how you believe Feminazis are destroying Doctor Who, or how the Master turning into a woman has destroyed the progamme forever, then make the comment. I can’t stop you. I don’t have the power to delete your posts., So what are you afraid of? Equally, if you intend to make a rational and thoughtful comment about the study, that says something new, sensible and interesting, I will either respond positively, or if you prefer, not at all. So make your move.”

        Settle down Alan. I’ll respond positively to you when you stop acting like a busybody.

      • “Settle down Alan. I’ll respond positively to you when you stop acting like a busybody.”

        I don’t want you to respond to me, if you feel you have to respond at all, you should respond to the study. As for “busybody” the dictionary definition states: “A person who meddles or pries into the affairs of others.” But neither of those definitions apply to me. This is a public form. If you want to make a positive or negative post, go ahead. I’m not stopping you.

      • “I don’t want you to respond to me, if you feel you have to respond at all, you should respond to the study. As for “busybody” the dictionary definition states: “A person who meddles or pries into the affairs of others.” But neither of those definitions apply to me. This is a public form. If you want to make a positive or negative post, go ahead. I’m not stopping you.” *facepalm*

        Then don’t respond Alan. A busybody does apply to you perfectly not only on this forum but on many others I’ve seen you post on. You even took the trouble to post the definition of “busybody”. Thanks, you get a gold star for effort.

      • “Then don’t respond Alan.”

        Well, the problem is you keep making post personally directed to me. So I feel obliged to respond. In the same way as you appear compelled to respond to me. Why don’t you try not responding to this post?

        “A busybody does apply to you perfectly not only on this forum but on many others I’ve seen you post on.”

        I make posts on public forums. If that makes me a busybody in your mind then, by definition, you must also be a ‘busybody.

        “You even took the trouble to post the definition of “busybody”. Thanks, you get a gold star for effort.”

        I’m glad you appreciate the effort, but your own definition of a ‘busybody’ still seems to be way off the actual meaning. Now how about you making a post relating to the study, after all, this is what this particular comments section is all about, and while you do that, perhaps you should come out and reveal you true identity. I’m sure your name isn’t really Wayne, is it? You know who I am, let me see who you are. After all, what have you got to be afraid of?

      • “I’m glad you appreciate the effort, but your own definition of a ‘busybody’ still seems to be way off the actual meaning. Now how about you making a post relating to the study, after all, this is what this particular comments section is all about, and while you do that, perhaps you should come out and reveal you true identity. I’m sure your name isn’t really Wayne, is it? You know who I am, let me see who you are. After all, what have you got to be afraid of?”

        Firstly, I already have posted something so get off my case about it already Busybody!

        Secondly, the name ‘Wayne’ I use is only part of my name and the reasons I don’t use my full name are (1) simple anonymity and (2) I’m careful about how my personal information is disclosed. Once you upload something onto the Internet it is really hard to get it removed permanently even if you’ve deleted it or increased your privacy settings. You have no idea who has seen your content or what they intend to do with that information, especially on public forums like this.

        You’ve said your name is actually Alan Stevens and you have posted links to websites that you have a history on, which gives the public access to your digital footprints. If someone wanted to they could look up your Internet history and track you. Simply by knowing your full name and age they can figure out your address, phone number, e-mail, friends and family. Even if you’ve taken precautions against this chances are that many of your friends, family and associates have not and they could be exploited in order to get to you. You can’t be careless with your personal information online in this day and age. I don’t know how you view this issue but I for one only wish only for my friends, family, and associates with my permission to know and use my personal information.

      • “Firstly, I already have posted something so get off my case about it”

        Took you a while though, didn’t it? And there was a lot of flailing about beforehand.

        “Secondly, the name ‘Wayne’ I use is only part of my name and the reasons I don’t use my full name are (1) simple anonymity and (2) I’m careful about how my personal information is disclosed. Once you upload something onto the Internet it is really hard to get it removed permanently even if you’ve deleted it or increased your privacy settings. You have no idea who has seen your content or what they intend to do with that information, especially on public forums like this.”

        So basically, although you like to make posts attacking people, you are too spineless and cowardly to put your real name to it.

        “You’ve said your name is actually Alan Stevens and you have posted links to websites that you have a history on, which gives the public access to your digital footprints. If someone wanted to they could look up your Internet history and track you. Simply by knowing your full name and age they can figure out your address, phone number, e-mail, friends and family. Even if you’ve taken precautions against this chances are that many of your friends, family and associates have not and they could be exploited in order to get to you. You can’t be careless with your personal information online in this day and age. I don’t know how you view this issue but I for one only wish only for my friends, family, and associates with my permission to know and use my personal information.”

        Wayne, if someone was serious about tracking you and your friends and family down via your digital footprint, they’d do it, and appearing under pseudonyms and restricting your personal information isn’t going to help you one bit. Equally, you are also not in control of posts and information your family and friends have released onto the web, which therefore leaves you vulnerable from many other directions. In fact, based on this short correspondence, I’ve managed to build up a fairly detailed picture of you.

        For example, you’re a British Doctor Who fan, who also likes TV/film fantasy and comic books. Your loyalty to Doctor Who in particular is huge and personal, to the extent where you think if someone has attacked the show then they have also attacked you. This would suggest that you’re either quite young and a bit immature (last teens early twenties), or an idiot (twenty-six upwards).

        You came on here to make an aggressive, trolling comment about this study, which would also have involved a personal attack on its author, and you would have done this without first properly reading the study, or the comments that followed it. However, you then noticed my list of ‘please don’t dos’ and clearly there were several items on that list you’d intended to put into your own post, so on November 3, 2014 at 4:48 am, you wrote:

        ‘7/ Don’t listen to this uppity commenter with a honey badger for a profile pic who thinks he controls the conversation.’

        Also, having noticed that the last post I made was only five days ago, and that, consequently, any dick post you make will receive a reply, you take an hour out to read the rest of the posts on the page, and even to go over to Simon’s blog and read the posts you find there. Finally, at 5:49 am you make a follow-up post on this blog. The bizarre logic contained in this post, and in all but one of your subsequent posts, boils down to this:

        ‘If I make a number of personal attack on Alan, then hopefully he will be so intimidated, he’ll go away, which will then allow me to make my own ill conceived, poorly thought out dick comment about this study and its author without any comeback.’

        But Wayne, can’t you see, a dick post is still going to read like I dick post, whether I’m here to point it out or not.

        There is, however, a positive side to all of this, in that, firstly, although on November 4 you complain about me calling some posters on here idiots, by November 5, you yourself are calling those self same people ‘stupid,’ which means at least we have come to agreed on something. Secondly, when you’re finally pushed into making a post about this study, it’s evidently a somewhat more considered and rational one than the obnoxious rant we evidently would have got from you under different circumstances. So by any standard, that has got to be an improvement.

      • “So basically, although you like to make posts attacking people, you are too spineless and cowardly to put your real name to it.”

        I knew you were going to say something like that. Here’s a link to the Urban Dictionary definitions of the term ‘Busybody’. They fit perfectly with the type of person you are and the lifestyle you lead.

        http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=busybody

        “Also, having noticed that the last post I made was only five days ago, and that, consequently, any dick post you make will receive a reply, you take an hour out to read the rest of the posts on the page, and even to go over to Simon’s blog and read the posts you find there. Finally, at 5:49 am you make a follow-up post on this blog. The bizarre logic contained in this post, and in all but one of your subsequent posts, boils down to this:”

        Thanks for proving my point by acting like the creepy weirdo I thought you were. Gold star for being a stalker.

        “There is, however, a positive side to all of this, in that, firstly, although on November 4 you complain about me calling some posters on here idiots, by November 5, you yourself are calling those self same people ‘stupid,’ which means at least we have come to agreed on something. Secondly, when you’re finally pushed into making a post about this study, it’s evidently a somewhat more considered and rational one than the obnoxious rant we evidently would have got from you under different circumstances. So by any standard, that has got to be an improvement.”

        You are welcome, now please take your girlfriend out for a nice dinner. You spend way too much time on the computer and she is getting lonely. Just kidding, people like you don’t have social lives or girlfriends.

      • “”So basically, although you like to make posts attacking people, you are too spineless and cowardly to put your real name to it.””

        “I knew you were going to say something like that.”

        Well, of course you knew I was going to say something like that because it’s true. You are a spineless, gutless coward.

        “Here’s a link to the Urban Dictionary definitions of the term ‘Busybody’. They fit perfectly with the type of person you are and the lifestyle you lead.”

        I’ve read your link, and although the guy who made the entry appears to be a selfish, habitual criminal, his definition of ‘Busybody’ actually fits you down to the ground. Someone who comes to this blog and absolutely has to have their say, no matter how stupid, boring, arrogant and uneducated it might be, and why? Because someone said something about your favourite TV show you didn’t like. Oh, poor baby.

        “Thanks for proving my point by acting like the creepy weirdo I thought you were. Gold star for being a stalker.”

        This is from a guy who was too scared to make a post about this study because he didn’t want to be contradicted, and so for days sat at his keyboard and whined like a spoiled brat. That’s stalker behaviour, which is interesting, because it means that everything you are accusing me of must, by definition, be a projection of yourself.

        “You are welcome, now please take your girlfriend out for a nice dinner. You spend way too much time on the computer and she is getting lonely.”

        I spend a lot of time on the computer because that’s part of my job, you dick. It takes me only about two minutes to write a post to you, because nothing you have to say on here requires any more brain power.

        “Just kidding, people like you don’t have social lives or girlfriends.”

        Oh, you’ve cut me to the quick with that remark, you rotten bully. Meanwhile, keep up with the sexism, I’m sure it makes you a popular guy.

      • The creature known as the ‘Alan Stevens’ is a nocturnal gastropod that inhabits dark computer rooms in shabby suburban North American houses. They tend to spend 12 to 18 hours on the computer with the remaining hours of the day either eating or sleeping in its own filth. Because it stares at a computer screen for long periods of time it develops severe eye strain, leading to very bloodshot eyes. Being nocturnal the skin of the Alan Stevens develops an ashy-yellow color similar to the skin of a dead komodo dragon and mushrooms grow in its fat folds. Because they are rarely seen outside eyewitness accounts report that an Alan Stevens has a face that resembles a World War One battlefield, covered in pockmarks, erupting pimples and lesions. Its diet consists of mainly of potato chips, Rock Star energy drinks, and when available the blood of the first born. Alan Stevens are asexual by nature and do not have visible genitals, but they do like sucking on phallus shaped objects. Keep children away from Alan Stevens because it carries salmonella on its skin. If you see an Alan Stevens quickly kick it in the head and let it fall to the ground. Step on its neck and quickly cover its head with a bucket of lye to incapacitate it. Contact your local wildlife official to have the Alan Stevens relocated out of public areas.

      • You will know when Alan Stevens is around by the strong odor it admits, which smells like a bottle of cologne exploded in a septic tank. If it approaches you quickly cover your ears because the creature will begin to bombard you with obscure Doctor Who references, including entire scripted dialogue from the Patrick Troughton era until you are so bored that you fall into a coma. If this happens Alan Stevens will steal anything of value on your unconscious body, including any first born children that may be accompanying you. All valuables stolen are then sold off to pay for more potato chips, energy drinks, and next months Internet bill. The first born are consumed so that Alan Stevens can use the life essence to live for another century.

        If an Alan Stevens is cornered by an angry crowd wanting to kick it in the head, step on its neck, and pour a bucket of lye on its head, the creature will resort to two defence mechanisms: (1) Alan Stevens will emit a high-pitched shrieking noise, which from all accounts sounds like Queen Elizabeth II being fingered by an orangutan. (2) Will secrete a corrosive slime from its anus that will burn an escape hole in the ground. When the crowd is temporarily stunned by the shrieking and the escape hole has appeared, the Alan Stevens will quickly slither away to safety. If this happens be careful when using the toilet to defecate because Alan Stevens likes to emerge from toilets and will more than likely stick its nose right up your sphincter.

      • Wow, Wayne, you’re really showing up Alan for spending so long responding to people on someone else’s blog post by taking what’s probably even longer to compose those extensive insults! That’ll definitely show him you can waste even more time on the internet than he ever could!

  17. Wayne said: “It’s not about being offended by the subject matter but about commenters like you who pester everyone who wants their questions answered by the actual person who posted the blog.”

    This would suggest that you’ve read the blog, but if this were true then you would also have read this note from the author :’Due to the recent popularity of this post, there are many comments coming in, and I will most likely not be able to read them all in depth and respond.’ Equally, if you’d bothered to properly look through the comments section you’d see that the author hasn’t made a comment, or answered a question, since 31 May 2014.

    Wayne said: “Calling people idiots and such is incredibly rude and quite disappointing etiquette for someone who wishes to have a sound intellectual conversation.”

    Some people who have posted here don’t want an intellectual conversation, they just want to spew venom and make offensive and deluded misogynist rants. Here are some examples:

    ‘fact of the matter is this test is entirely fucking useless.’

    ‘It is abundantly clear that the only way the Doctor will once more be the centre of this show is when the “social justice warriors” (i.e. deranged loonies) get their way and cast a woman in the role. Of course, it will be perfectly alright for her to be the hero and to make jokes at a man’s expense (as it is throughout the modern mainstream media).’

    ‘If feminism is not as dishonest, irrational and hateful as I accuse it of being then please PROVE it to me”

    ‘Overall, I think you’ve badly represented the whole program and its morals.’

    ‘Feminism is also a resource acquisition strategy. The main difference is that it is all about securing resources and special treatment for feminists only and to hell with children’s needs, or anyone else’s.’

    ‘you are taking something good/entertaining and needlessly attaching controversy to it using the criteria of a silly test based on the notion that males exist and some females dare to talk to or about them.’

    ‘These so called studies aren’t studies, as they have a political goal and they want to push a message : this show is “sexist” and needs to be boycotted (and sexism works only in one way, not the other)’

    ‘I can answer why the study is a waste of time. Bigotry, I don’t think it is, idiocy, possibly. But it’s definitely a waste of time, and a very poor example of an academic study.’

    ‘is this a test of legitimacy, a test for gaining the right to exist but under certain social(istic) parameters?’

    ‘And then you wonder why more and more people hate feminists.’

    ‘just enough to whinge and whine because everything in the universe doesn’t revolve around women?’

    ‘The real problem with the bechdel test and others like it is that it is a vehicle for a minority to force its will upon a majority.’

    ‘It’s a fun show, about a man who sacrifices everything to protect the universe. I have never once thought, “wow this show is really sexists.” Now I imagine some feminists are shouting at their computer “of course you’d say that you’re a man.”‘

    ‘Also, if you’ve watched the “history” episodes you see that when it is appropriate for women to be around they are there.’

    ‘The Doctor is a man, So is The Master.’

    ‘Doctor Who was never meant to be a platform for feminism in the first place but was supposed to be a program for kids.’

    ‘This test has nothing to do with equality for women its just a vehicle for an extreme fringe group to try to force its will down everyone else’s throats.’

    “Who the fuck even has time to find out bullshit like this… It’s so desperate lol”

    ‘female bimbos exploit men’s attraction to young fertile sexually available women ie short skirts and low cut tops exposing (possibly fake) boobs.’

    So Wayne, do you think I’m wrong to consider these people idiots? Then again, maybe you have sympathy for their extremist views, and you just want me to go away so you can express similar hatreds yourself.

    • You have way too much time on your hands. You take those people way too seriously and end up sinking to their level by giving them what they want, a reaction. Ignore them because responding to such comments only emboldens them to make even more stupid comments. That’s what trolling is.

      • “You have way too much time on your hands.”

        I think I have just enough time on my hands.

        “You take those people way too seriously”

        I don’t take them seriously at all.

        “and end up sinking to their level by giving them what they want, a reaction.”

        That would carry more weight if I was actually the author of this study, but I’m not. I’m just some guy.

        ” Ignore them because responding to such comments only emboldens them to make even more stupid comments. That’s what trolling is.”

        Is that why you keep coming back? Wayne, if you want to make a post about how you believe Feminazis are destroying Doctor Who, or how the Master turning into a woman has destroyed the progamme forever, then make the comment. I can’t stop you. I don’t have the power to delete your posts., So what are you afraid of? Equally, if you intend to make a rational and thoughtful comment about the study, that says something new, sensible and interesting, I will either respond positively, or if you prefer, not at all. So make your move.

  18. The title to this article is very misleading because it implies that there is blatant sexism in Doctor Who, specifically the new series. As Alan Stevens has obnoxiously pointed out in the comments the Bechdel Test is about measuring trends and doesn’t prove intentional sexism. In the case of this study all the Bechdel Test has proven is that there isn’t enough female related content written into the narrative of Doctor Who. That is hardly evidence of sexism against fictional female characters or misogynistic views of the writers of Doctor Who. The title more accurately should read ‘University study finds that there isn’t enough female content in BBCs Doctor Who’.

    If I may offer a suggestion for the students of this study to research a writer who has written, published, and directed sexist content in many forms of media? Please look at the collective works of writer and film director Frank Miller. He is an author and director who can’t write female characters without them being exploited by men, paper-thin characterization, and having them mainly occupy sexual occupations (ie. strippers and prostitutes). Frank Miller’s works are among the most misogynistic pieces of literature and filming I have ever seen outside of exploitation movies from the 70s and 80s. It would be really interesting to see if any of his works pass the Bechdel Test. Give Frank Miller the grilling he rightfully deserves.

    • I don’t think anyone would argue that RTD or Moffet are necessarily misogynistic, certainly not to the extent that Miller’s works seem to indicate he is. We also don’t really require a Bechdel Test to identify the tone of Miller’s works (although the prevalence of single named female characters in the central cast of many of his works would suggest likely failures).

      However, what the study results indicate is a “casual sexism” that is prevalent in much of modern media: women make up over 50% of the world’s population, yet if an alien species were to study the output of Hollywood as any indication, they’d probably come to the conclusion that they only comprised around 20% of the population.

      This doesn’t mean anyone is particularly misogynistic or sexist in their attitude, there’s just culturally something of a default of “We need X character for this role: here’s a male to fulfil that criteria” for a large part. It isn’t an attitude that is going to change in any way by shrugging our shoulders and saying “Well, it’s just some harmless entertainment”. That’s pretty much true, but we can ALSO enjoy that entertainment and have a discussion about the proportions and representation of the female characters to raise awareness so that next time someone says “We need X character for this role” the thought process results in “here’s a PERSON to fulfil that criteria”.

  19. Pingback: Women of Time and Space: An Analysis of Steven Moffat’s ‘Doctor Who’ | Failure in the Making

  20. Pingback: The Doctor's nemesis is a woman? It's about Time, Lord | Em News

  21. It’d be really interesting to see an updated version and see Clara’s statistics. I wonder if Moffat has improved at all. He does seem to like writing in a romance for his female characters- he hasn’t had a single one who hasn’t been romantically involved with someone with this romantic involvement being a large part of the series. (Not that this makes him inherently sexist mind- It’s just an interesting trend and one I’d like to see a change in with his next companion.)

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