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

  1. “DOCTOR: I could be anything.”

    Could but still remained male. There’s even talk Charles Dance will be the next Master. Again male actor.

    “Please let me explain this to you again. These are not proper polls. These are polls of fans, not of Doctor Who’s overall viewership.”

    I only asked you to take a look and you thumbed your nose saying its not official? These are fans who haves poken and voted on BOTH sides of the equation. Yes there are people who like the idea of having a female Doctor but there’s also the other side who doesn’t. Aren’t you curious as a researcher?

    “The only way to do a poll properly on this subject would be to get a company to phone up, out of the blue, a large cross section of people and ask them.”

    So why don’t you do it?

    “There is not drill. If work dries up for Tennant in a few years, and Doctor Who has become a ratings disaster, then Tennant could come back. There was even talk of inviting Tom Baker to come back to play Doctor Who when the show’s return was first being considered.”

    Doctor Who became a ratings disaster in the 80’s and they canned the show even though that was due to inside fighting and senior execs. They didn’t ask Tom Baker to rescue it after McCoy. Baker would say no to that. The TV Pilot didn’t do well either because FOX pitted it against Rosseane which trashed it ratings wise. They chose not to bother til 2005. It will be a matter of time when the Beeb will lose interest again and no one wants to carry on till someone revives it again in say 5-10-15 years. Tennant will be alright even if his career dries up there’s always the theater as a teacher or director.

    “. Perhaps you’d be happier staring at a test card?” Now, now be nice. I’ve been very patient with your snarky remarks and correction.

    “Sarah didn’t need bolstering, she was already considered the queen of companions. B.T.W, S.J.A was C.R.A.P.”

    Till River Song came along. Not a fan of hers though. Wow you really dislike Sarah Jane. Not mocking you ok. Just noticed.

    “I did watch ‘The Five Doctors’ but the idea is rubbish. In ‘The Deadly Assassin,’ Engin says, “After the twelfth regeneration, there is no plan that will postpone death.”

    Apparently Terence Dicks had other ideas since he wrote The Five Doctors. I guess it was a bit of payback for Robert Holmes and Philip Hinchcliffe’s tampering of Brain of Morbius?

    “Good, that’s because they want to learn. Answer the questions honestly, don’t lie to them or make out as if something is a terrible taboo subject.”

    What if they don’t like the idea of a female Doctor? What then?

    “They also know he is an alien from another planet who can change shape.”

    But they know he’s been male for the past 51 years.

    “I don’t remember there being any suggestion that the Metacrises clone was Doctor number 11. I think the idea was that the Doctor regenerated himself as Tennant and then sent the overspill energy into the hand, which then, though some bollocks, created the Metacrises Doctor.”

    RTD believed that it not a complete regeneration.

    “In reality, of course, Tennant was originally meant to have regenerated into a different actor, but then he decided to stay on for the specials.”

    He stayed to help with the transition from RTD to Moffat from what I understand.

    Yes thanks for the correction The Death Zone. I have not seen The Five Doctors in over a decade. Loved The Three Doctors though.

    “Unless, of course, you happen to be a deeply prejudiced person who has some twisted desire to pass those prejudices onto their child.”

    Now now be nice. I have been very patient with you and with your snarky remarks. :) We can be civil as this line on the page has stated “please try and refrain from hostility against your fellow commenters.” Would you at least consider that should you reply? Yes I may have poked fun at you once or twice apologies for that but you make it easy. We all have prejudices even you. Everyone.

    • ““DOCTOR: I could be anything.””
      “Could but still remained male.”

      Here is the dictionary definition of ‘Anything.’ ‘1. anything whatever, something no matter what. 2. A thing of a kind. 3. in any degree; to any extent; in any way; at all.’ It doesn’t say, ‘but not male,’ does it?

      “I only asked you to take a look and you thumbed your nose saying its not official?”

      Again, please read this carefully. It’s not just unofficial, it’s meaningless. It’s worthless. It has no value. You cannot use it to back up your opinion.

      “These are fans who haves poken and voted on BOTH sides of the equation. Yes there are people who like the idea of having a female Doctor but there’s also the other side who doesn’t. Aren’t you curious as a researcher?”

      No, because it is a poll on the internet. It is not something that has been run with any scientific rigour. I may as well put a poll up on my website and fix a result saying 100 million people want a female Doctor, and it would be of similar value to the ones you keep pointing me at.

      ““The only way to do a poll properly on this subject would be to get a company to phone up, out of the blue, a large cross section of people and ask them.””
      “So why don’t you do it?”

      Okay, done it. I’ve just phoned up five thousand people and four thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine of them said they wanted a female Doctor. Only one person said no, and I think that was probably you. Did you get a call from me today?

      “Doctor Who became a ratings disaster in the 80′s and they canned the show even though that was due to inside fighting and senior execs. They didn’t ask Tom Baker to rescue it after McCoy.”

      Jonathan Powell was trying to kill Doctor Who, so why would he put any effort into reviving a show he hated?

      ” Baker would say no to that.”

      You seem very well informed on what Tom Baker would and wouldn’t do in 1989.

      “It will be a matter of time when the Beeb will lose interest”

      From what I’ve been hearing, Doctor Who was considered for the chop very recently.

      “again and no one wants to carry on till someone revives it again in say 5-10-15 years. Tennant will be alright even if his career dries up there’s always the theater as a teacher or director.”

      So you think he’d rather remain a teacher than return to head the revival of his favourite programme?

      ““. Perhaps you’d be happier staring at a test card?””
      ” Now, now be nice. I’ve been very patient with your snarky remarks and correction.”

      Dictionary definition of ‘snarky’. ‘Testy or irritable; short.’ See? None of that applies to my answers, and to be honest, I’m the one who is being patient with you. None of this stuff about a female Doctor has anything really to do with the above study. You appear to have the strange idea that if you can convince me that a female Doctor is a bad idea, then by magic it will never come to pass. Well, it may come to pass, who knows what the future holds? Not me. Not Moffat. Not you. Not anyone. Equally, what’s wrong with being corrected? Don’t you want to be corrected? If I make a factual error and someone points it out, I’m grateful.

      ““Sarah didn’t need bolstering, she was already considered the queen of companions. B.T.W, S.J.A was C.R.A.P.””
      “Till River Song came along.”

      In whose book?

      “Not a fan of hers though. Wow you really dislike Sarah Jane.”

      I don’t dislike Sarah Jane. I’m just not happy with what the new series did to the character.

      “Apparently Terence Dicks had other ideas since he wrote The Five Doctors. I guess it was a bit of payback for Robert Holmes and Philip Hinchcliffe’s tampering of Brain of Morbius?”

      That wasn’t tampering. That was improving.

      “What if they don’t like the idea of a female Doctor? What then?”

      Then they will have learned a useful life lesson, that we can’t have everything we want.

      ““They also know he is an alien from another planet who can change shape.””
      “But they know he’s been male for the past 51 years.”

      Then that will be another valuable life lesson for them. That just because something has been around for a long time, it doesn’t mean it’s going to last forever. Take a look at the Soviet Union, or the British Empire, or the soon to be dissolved country of Iraq. We live in a world of impermanency, where people who cling onto the past usually remain there.

      “RTD believed that it not a complete regeneration.”

      As RTD is no longer in charge of the show, it doesn’t really matter, does it?

      “He stayed to help with the transition from RTD to Moffat from what I understand.”

      I think it’s more the case that Tennant sided with what he then thought was the more powerful force in television. Turned out he was wrong.

      ““Unless, of course, you happen to be a deeply prejudiced person who has some twisted desire to pass those prejudices onto their child.””
      “Now now be nice. I have been very patient with you and with your snarky remarks. :)”

      It wasn’t a snarky comment, it was a serious comment.

      “”We can be civil as this line on the page has stated “please try and refrain from hostility against your fellow commenters.””

      I’m not being hostile, I am making a genuine enquiry as to the reason why you dislike the idea of a female Doctor Who, and why you somehow feel it will be damaging to your kids? The fact that you are refusing to give an answer is a pretty clear indicator of where your prejudice coming from. Perhaps you would like to disabuse me of this idea?

      • “Again, please read this carefully. It’s not just unofficial, it’s meaningless. It’s worthless. It has no value. You cannot use it to back up your opinion.”

        And you tell me i’m being prejudiced.

        “Okay, done it. I’ve just phoned up five thousand people and four thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine of them said they wanted a female Doctor. Only one person said no, and I think that was probably you. Did you get a call from me today?”

        It wasn’t me sorry. Nice try but your sarcasm gave you away.

        “That just because something has been around for a long time, it doesn’t mean it’s going to last forever.”

        The same can be applied to the show. Like I said The BBC can and will cancel any show their discretion. They did it in the late 80’s and you said RTD made a recommendation which they ignored. In the end if they don’t find a successor to Moffat (Chris Chibnall has his hands full. Mark Gatiss is iffy and Neil Gaiman said he won’t do it) they can call it a day.

        “I don’t dislike Sarah Jane. I’m just not happy with what the new series did to the character.”

        Fair enough.

        ““Sarah didn’t need bolstering, she was already considered the queen of companions. B.T.W, S.J.A was C.R.A.P.”” Till River Song came along.” In whose book?”

        Not mine. I’m not even a fan of River. I see so many admins on fansites that use her name and call everyone sweetie.

        “Then they will have learned a useful life lesson, that we can’t have everything we want.”

        Any parent can teach that to a kid by saying “NO,” when they throw a temper tantrum. You don;t need a TV show for that.

        “That wasn’t tampering. That was improving.”

        Terrance Dicks didn’t think so and was extremely angry with Robert Holmes.

        “I’m not being hostile.”

        Not hostile? There was one guy who posted (no not the other poster who you had a lively debate with) his opinion and you ripped him to shreds.

        “I am making a genuine enquiry as to the reason why you dislike the idea of a female Doctor Who,”

        I’m not too crazy about the idea. Its just too gimmicky. I don’t see the need for it. And does it have to be The Doctor who needs to change gender? Why didn’t The Master who changed into a snake like creature? Why didn’t River? Why didn’t Borusa? Romana teased it but she went on to be female. Rassilon was male in End of Time. RTD could have explored the idea tentatively with The Master or Rassilon but he kept their original gender. Moffat certainly didn’t do it and cast Smith and now Capaldi despite the hints. Its like Bruce Wayne or Indiana Jones getting a transgender surgery when they have female counterparts like Batgirl, Lara Croft even Celina Kyle. Just bring in another female Time Lord like The Rani or Romana and get a writer that will really develop them. Not Moffat. That’s where he is weak. I didn’t say I have kids. I just don’t like the idea of kids getting confused as to why the character they have known as a male is all of a sudden a woman. My nephew was upset when Matt Smith left. Is that a good enough answer for you? If its not then, I can’t help you and I don’t expect you to accept my answer.

        Look if a female actress gets cast, fine but it does not mean I agree with the decision. I’m just not sold on the idea. Thank you.

      • “And you tell me i’m being prejudiced.”

        You *are* prejudiced. You also have no concept of how to properly conduct a poll.

        ““Okay, done it. I’ve just phoned up five thousand people and four thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine of them said they wanted a female Doctor. Only one person said no, and I think that was probably you. Did you get a call from me today?””
        “It wasn’t me sorry. Nice try but your sarcasm gave you away.”

        It’s not sarcasm, it’s a ‘barbed’ comment. Get used to it. However, it also appears to have done the job in pointing out how ridiculous your suggestion was that I should go off and conduct a country wide survey.

        “(Chris Chibnall has his hands full. Mark Gatiss is iffy and Neil Gaiman said he won’t do it) they can call it a day.”

        You don’t think Chris Chibnall is also ‘iffy’?

        ““Then they will have learned a useful life lesson, that we can’t have everything we want.””
        “Any parent can teach that to a kid by saying “NO,” when they throw a temper tantrum. You don;t need a TV show for that.”

        Then what’s your problem?

        “Terrance Dicks didn’t think so and was extremely angry with Robert Holmes.”

        He still did the Target novel adaptation. So he couldn’t have been that upset.

        ““I’m not being hostile.””
        “Not hostile? There was one guy who posted (no not the other poster who you had a lively debate with) his opinion and you ripped him to shreds.”

        Read it again. I meant not being hostile to you (yet). Anyway, who was this other poster you’re talking about? Was it the guy who believed women were controlling the world and had ruined his life through wearing short skirts and having boob implants, or was it that other chap who thought women should be repressed and not given an inch in case it encouraged other “minorities” to speak up and challenge the system? Nice company you keep.

        ““I am making a genuine enquiry as to the reason why you dislike the idea of a female Doctor Who,””
        “I’m not too crazy about the idea.”

        Not an answer.

        “Its just too gimmicky.”

        Again,not an answer and also not true. Since when was casting a woman in something a “gimmick”?

        “I don’t see the need for it.”

        Again, not an answer.

        “And does it have to be The Doctor who needs to change gender?”

        It can be anyone of them.

        “Its like Bruce Wayne or Indiana Jones getting a transgender surgery when they have female”

        Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica changed sex, and that worked out, in spite of the initial howls of protest from hard core fans.

        “I didn’t say I have kids.”

        Reading back over your previous posts, I certainly get the impression you were implying it. Now I’m starting to doubt you’re even a woman.

        “I just don’t like the idea of kids getting confused as to why the character they have known as a male is all of a sudden a woman.”

        Oh, my god, the poor children!!! They will be so confused, their heads will explode. In fact it might turn them all into transsexuals. Little Billy loved playing with his toy guns, but after the Doctor turned into a woman he now insists on wearing a dress, lipstick and carries around a handbag. We’re going to have to have him gassed. Far better for Billy to hate trannies and poofters than to be one. Wouldn’t you agree, Mec?

        “My nephew was upset when Matt Smith left. Is that a good enough answer for you? If its not then, I can’t help you and I don’t expect you to accept my answer.”

        That’s not an answer. Your nephew liked Matt Smith, and was sad when he left. What’s that got to do with the Doctor turning into a woman? Would your nephew have head-butted the TV in response? Would he have gone outside and beaten up someone to demonstrate his masculine heterosexuality? What sort of household does you nephew come from anyway? In the end, we are clearly talking about your prejudice here, not your nephew’s.

  2. Pingback: How sexist is Doctor Who? – The Intro… | Simon's incoherent blog

  3. Reblogged this on afternoonsisterbella and commented:
    I don’t like Doctor Who, primarily because two exes of mine loved it and I could never figure out the appeal. Unfortunately, my best friend loves it, so I can’t completely dismiss it. This is a very interesting read, if not for the Doctor Who component then for the ongoing discussion surrounding sexism and female characters on television.

  4. Well, given that actions speak louder than words, i would say that rose is worse than the rest of the companions together; she almost killed herself for the doctor, end up in trapped in an alternate universe, thanks to the doctor, and started to jump between universe, not caring about the damage that it could to the space-time continuum, just to be with the doctor. Besides of being rather clingy and jealous.

    • The thing is that when people say they want ‘good’ female characters, that translates to ‘well-written’, ‘as resolved as their male counterparts’ and ‘possessing of independent thought and character’. It has nothing to do with how nice of a person or ‘good’ they are in terms of personality, that’s not what is important. Write female characters who have bad personal qualities – that’s fine, those women do exist and diversity is the key to interesting characters – as long as they have those qualities mentioned before, otherwise it’s an inaccurate representation of a human being and plain lazy writing.

  5. Wow! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a completely different topic but it has pretty much
    the same layout and design. Great choice of colors!

  6. Pingback: 57 – Today Is about Change | Kat & Curt's TV Re-View

  7. Pingback: In Defense of Amy Pond Part II | Pulp & Fiction

  8. Howdy! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering if
    you knew where I could get a captcha plugin for
    my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having difficulty finding one?
    Thanks a lot!

  9. Reblogged this on Susannah with an 'H' and commented:
    This post sums up some issues that I have, but have had trouble expressing, about Moffat’s era so far. Definitely a worthwhile read. Regardless of your opinions on the Bechdel test, this is something that needs to be addressed more often.

    • “Bigotry and idiocy at its finest wasted money”

      I agree, it is a shame that new Doctor Who has done so badly under the Bechdel Test. Let’s hope the next series sees Moffat up his game.

    • “err, if it isn’t clear, I mean this study…”

      Oh, right. Perhaps you’d like to explain then, why you believe this study is “Bigotry and idiocy at its finest” and is a “wasted money,” especially as the research was done as part of the author’s “Media Research Methods class” and, therefore, didn’t actually cost any money to produce?

      • 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.

        1) The Bechdel test is not designed for television shows. It’s designed specifically for film where you’ll have many more characters and two or three times more time than you do in a television show.

        2) Additionally the Bechdel test does not prove sexism. You could write two women having a two minute conversation about shoes and makeup while they push their babies in prams in a supermarket then never have them or any other female in the film again. They’d be 2D characters at best. But the film would still pass the test. Rose could speak longer than Amy but be completely anti-feminist and Amy could speak less than Rose and be feminist. The quality of the dialogue they’re given matters more than the amount of time that they speak.

        3) The context of Amy’s amount of dialogue isn’t taken into account. Remember, River is often in Moffat’s stories featuring Amy, so the show’s dialogue is not only shared with the Doctor and Rory, but also River, compared to just the Doctor and Rose or Martha or Donna. (11 of Moffat’s 21 episodes feature River, over half.) In the Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe she doesn’t appear till the end. And only has a cameo in Closing Time.

        4) Also, where is Clara?! The majority of her on-screen time has been completely ignored. Clara passes 83% of her episodes. She passes 100% of Moffat’s episodes. She only fails in two – Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS (which only has the additional three characters that are three brothers) and Cold War (which is a period episode set on a Russian submarine where there wouldn’t be any women). To be fair, the study was conducted in April, before all of Series 7 had finished, and before Day and Time of the Doctor.

        5) Some of the episodes this study passes/fails are just wrong. Dalek apparently passes based on one woman saying to both Rose and Adam to get up the stairs. But it doesn’t pass by the study’s own criteria. Similarly, the study fails the Girl in the Fireplace. Yet by the study’s criteria, it passes – Rose and Reinette have a whole minute of conversation without turning it to the topic of the Doctor. The study fails (or ignores in Clara’s case) 16 episodes all which pass the test. With these updated numbers, the true pass percentages are 62% for RTD and 75% of Moffat’s episodes.

        6) It’s also clear there’s a bias against River. Despite not being included even though she’s appeared in 13 episodes – basically a whole series, she’s still used to be pitted against Rose. Moore’s bias shines brightly when she makes the statement that “River, if ever, rarely disagreed with the Doctor on issues or principles”… yet she disagrees with him during her death scene, and when she tells Amy to be with Rory in the Angels Take Manhattan, when she has him cuffed in the Wedding of River Song, and then she’s got that whole “well then soldier, how goes the day?” speech in A Good Man Goes to War. In that she calls him up on how he makes his enemies scared of him and go to much more drastic measures. River argues and disagrees with him constantly.

        7) In terms of this being an academic study it’s not sound at all. The fact the author has bias should not be obvious. Studies should be objective. The fact that the author seemingly ignores facts (see point 6). There is false data (see point 5), the study itself cannot be definitive as to whether or not Moffat’s era is more sexist (see point 2), and there is a complete lack of data on 24% of Moffat’s era. This study has flaws on several levels that I’m surprised it was accepted by a university.

      • “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.”

        I’m all ears.

        “1) The Bechdel test is not designed for television shows. It’s designed specifically for film where you’ll have many more characters and two or three times more time than you do in a television show.”

        This is ridiculous, as you are trying to suggest that every film has casts of thousands. The fact is the Bechdel test can be applied to all drama, including TV and film. Equally, your statement contains a tacit admission that current drama is indeed dominated by and focused almost entirely on men.

        “2) Additionally the Bechdel test does not prove sexism. You could write two women having a two minute conversation about shoes and makeup while they push their babies in prams in a supermarket then never have them or any other female in the film again. They’d be 2D characters at best. But the film would still pass the test.”

        Mark C you are not impressing me. All you are doing is rehashing the same silly arguments that have appeared over and over again on these comment pages and which, over and over again, have been shot down in flames. And these comments get shot down because the posters who make them clearly haven’t bothered to read the study properly, or give even a cursory look at the comments section that follows it. So here I am again, repeating the same damn thing, which is, the Bectdel test does not prove that a TV show/film is sexist. It can only be used to identify trends that may indicate that a more stringent test should be applied. Equally, the fact that a couple of lines between two women talking about “shoes and make-up” would pass the Becdel Test, just shows how pathetically low the pass bar is, and yet so many fail to achieve even this piss poor standard.

        “Rose could speak longer than Amy but be completely anti-feminist and Amy could speak less than Rose and be feminist. The quality of the dialogue they’re given matters more than the amount of time that they speak.”

        Agreed, and again, that’s why the Bechdel Test is only an indicator.

        “3) The context of Amy’s amount of dialogue isn’t taken into account Remember, River is often in Moffat’s stories featuring Amy, so the show’s dialogue is not only shared with the Doctor and Rory, but also River, compared to just the Doctor and Rose or Martha or Donna. (11 of Moffat’s 21 episodes feature River, over half.) In the Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe she doesn’t appear till the end. And only has a cameo in Closing Time.”

        If you’d bothered to read the study you’d see that it isn’t just who the female characters are talking to, but also what they are talking about. The fact that Moffat era Doctor Who finds is so difficult to have two named female characters talk to each other about something other then men is really quite strange, and makes Doctor Who (especially in comparison to a lot of the drama coming out the the USA at the moment) very dated and old fashioned. In fact, amazingly, it’s a huge step back from how Doctor Who was presenting itself during the 1980s.

        “4) Also, where is Clara?! The majority of her on-screen time has been completely ignored”

        Because she hasn’t finished her run in the series yet (which you actually note yourself later in your post).

        “Clara passes 83% of her episodes.”

        No she doesn’t. Out of 10 stories there are five passes. You are probably counting Clara’s interation with female children, whereas the test specifies the conversation only counts if it is conduced between ‘two women.’

        “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS (which only has the additional three characters that are three brothers)”

        However, that story could have passed if instead of three brothers there was two brothers and one sister.

        “and Cold War (which is a period episode set on a Russian submarine where there wouldn’t be any women).”

        However, you can have female Ice Warriors. Indeed the Ice Warrior talks about his daugher. So, there’s no excuse really, is there?

        “5) Some of the episodes this study passes/fails are just wrong. Dalek apparently passes based on one woman saying to both Rose and Adam to get up the stairs.”

        Wrong, she and Rose exchange a few works. Again, all of this has already been gone over.

        “Similarly, the study fails the Girl in the Fireplace. Yet by the study’s criteria, it passes. – Rose and Reinette have a whole minute of conversation without turning it to the topic of the Doctor.”

        Nope, it’s still a fail. The exchange clearly revolves around the Doctor, indeed, all Rose is doing is passing on a messaged to Reinette that’s been given to her by the Doctor, and therefore it has been discounted as a genuine conversation between two women that isn’t about or involves a man.

        “6) It’s also clear there’s a bias against River. Despite not being included even though she’s appeared in 13 episodes – basically a whole series, she’s still used to be pitted against Rose. Moore’s bias shines brightly when she makes the statement that “River, if ever, rarely disagreed with the Doctor on issues or principles”…”

        Right. This is the first new thing you’ve come up with. To give the full text of the author’s comment: ‘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 do 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.’

        “yet she disagrees with him during her death scene, and when she tells Amy to be with Rory in the Angels Take Manhattan, when she has him cuffed in the Wedding of River Song, and then she’s got that whole “well then soldier, how goes the day?” speech in A Good Man Goes to War. In that she calls him up on how he makes his enemies scared of him and go to much more drastic measures. River argues and disagrees with him constantly.”

        However, the author of the study’s point is that although River may disagree, she then ends up doing what the Doctor asks anyway. As to the specific points you raise. Please provide me with the releveant dialogue extracts, so we can go through the scenes to check and see if your criticism has any merit here.

        “7) In terms of this being an academic study it’s not sound at all. The fact the author has bias should not be obvious. Studies should be objective.”

        The study is objective. However, I do find bias in your criticism, together with misinformation and some misrepresentation.

        “The fact that the author seemingly ignores facts (see point 6).”

        You need to supply more evidence to support this point.

        “There is false data (see point 5),”

        The information you claim to be false under point five, is actually quite sound. So you are once again mistaken.

        “the study itself cannot be definitive as to whether or not Moffat’s era is more sexist (see point 2),”

        I’ve covered this, but to quote the author of the study: ‘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.’

        “This study has flaws on several levels that I’m surprised it was accepted by a university.”

        I don’t find this criticism valid for a number of reason, the main one being you clearly haven’t read the study properly.

  10. at a 2nd momenAt a 2nd moment I thought that maybe you were sarcastic in your previous message, I was right the 1st time instead, you’re serious.
    What university produced is waste of money: militancy ; and legitimating a tv show with a chronometer on one hand and an abacus on the other, with percentages, milliseconds, equations to measure all…I see a hilarious (but yet perilous) zealotry, the umpteenth case of it, so I sounded annoyed.
    Imagine if a man did this study for soap operas, complaining about not enough men in them and depicted in a positive way, wouldn’t it look ridiculous?
    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)
    what if I liked the show, I would be sexist and a tory because doctor Who didn’t pass the test? is this a test of legitimacy, a test for gaining the right to exist but under certain social(istic) parameters?
    I don’t think women aren’t respected in this show, so end of story. What about movies depicting life of criminal males in prisons only for men, or about a small troop during the WWI, or about robots, they don’t pass or shouldn’t be produced because there aren’t women there? We have to give to a percentage of robots some breasts of steel? (not over a certain cup or it would be sexist! As if I care anyway)
    I think that in “art” there is more than “minority” percentages and similar, it’s about creativity, entertainment and messages perhaps?
    For what I understand this show is aimed mainly at men, soap operas will give more place to women and depict men in a less favourable way, and so, where’s the problem? We’re still in a democracy, so as there is space for soap operas being shifted towards women and not depicting enough men (as if I care), even a Doctor Who, or a macho Schwarzenegger movie have the right to exist without being “unlegitimated” for what they are.
    sorry for posting in a not organized way but I don’t have time now.
    Bye

    • “Imagine if a man did this study for soap operas, complaining about not enough men in them and depicted in a positive way, wouldn’t it look ridiculous?”

      Yes, because men are already grossly overrepresented in the media. Women are consistently underrepresented in films:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-news/10061148/Smallest-number-of-film-speaking-roles-for-women-in-five-years.html

      http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/11/only-15-percent-of-top-films-in-2013-put-women-in-lead-roles-study-finds/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

      And also in TV:

      http://wmc.3cdn.net/6dd3de8ca65852dbd4_fjm6yck9o.pdf

      If, however, men were getting only 15% of the lead roles in mainstream media, then complaining about their underrepresentation would be perfectly fair.

      “For what I understand this show is aimed mainly at men, soap operas will give more place to women and depict men in a less favourable way, and so, where’s the problem? ”

      Even if men aren’t getting roles in soaps (which I doubt is true, I’d like to see some numbers put to that assertion), they’re getting most of the central roles overall.

      “macho Schwarzenegger movie have the right to exist without being “unlegitimated” for what they are.”

      Again, the problem is overall representation. In a world where 50% of our action movies are getting female leads, and 50% of general roles are female, sure- Arnie punching The Rock for two hours is no problem. Sadly, that isn’t our world.

      “what if I liked the show, I would be sexist and a tory because doctor Who didn’t pass the test?”

      No. I like the show. I also acknowledge that there’s a problem that wasn’t there under the previous two showrunners (both of whom gave a narrative voice to women). You can like something and still admit that it isn’t perfect. You would, however, be sexist if you’re opinion is “whatever, women’s stories get too much attention anyway”.

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

      As no-one is saying “ban sexist shows” that’s a bizarre overreaction. Many people feel there’s been a recent problem. This is an objective study, using a clearly defined method, to compare showrunners and see if those feelings are justified.

      “I don’t think women aren’t respected in this show,”

      The difference between your opinion and the study is that the study provides evidence. As I have for everything above. Without that, all assertions are equally valid. “98% of men are secretly sentient rats in human suits”, for example (as far as I know it’s actually only me).

      “so end of story.”

      Ah, I had no idea your opinions were the be-all and end-all of debate!

  11. Pingback: Women and sexism in STEM | Purely a figment of your imagination

  12. “at a 2nd momenAt a 2nd moment I thought that maybe you were sarcastic in your previous message, I was right the 1st time instead, you’re serious.”

    This is a very strange sentence. Is English your first language?

    “What university produced is waste of money: militancy ; and legitimating a tv show with a chronometer on one hand and an abacus on the other, with percentages, milliseconds, equations to measure all…I see a hilarious (but yet perilous) zealotry, the umpteenth case of it, so I sounded annoyed.”

    You sound drunk.

    “Imagine if a man did this study for soap operas, complaining about not enough men in them and depicted in a positive way, wouldn’t it look ridiculous?”

    Not at all. Men appear in soap operas as well. If you conducted a survey into a soap and it turned out that none of the male characters spoke to each other except to express their feeling in how they felt about women, that would be very stange indeed.

    “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)”

    No one is asking for the show to be boycotted, that’s just something you’ve made up, also sexism can indeed work both ways. Equally, all the programme needs to do it show a bit of equality. You see equality as a political issue?

    “what if I liked the show, I would be sexist and a tory because doctor Who didn’t pass the test?“

    Does watching Doctor Who automatically make you a member of the Tory Party? Unlikely, I watch Doctor Who and I don’t vote Tory. Also David Tennant is a strong Labour supporter. Does watching Doctor Who make you an automatic sexist? I would say not, however, attacking some study simply because it indicates that Steven Moffat’s current version of the show may be sexist, could suggest that you may be sexist, alternatively, it could simply be that you are incapable of accepting any criticism of your favourite show.

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

    No, not at all, however, your use of the word “socialistic” as a term of abuse may suggest that you read the Daily Mail.

    “I don’t think women aren’t respected in this show, so end of story. “

    Just because you chose to arbitarily believe something, doesn’t automatically make it true.

    “What about movies depicting life of criminal males in prisons only for men,”

    Women prison officers also serve in male prisons.

    “or about a small troop during the WWI,”
    Women were also an active force during WW1.

    “or about robots,”

    Just robots, or is it a drama about robots and human beings?

    “ they don’t pass or shouldn’t be produced because there aren’t women there?”

    You appear to be the one who is denying there are such things as female prison officers, and women who served in the forces during WW1. You appear to have a very narrow view of history and society as a whole. Perhaps you’ve been watching too much Doctor Who?:p

    “We have to give to a percentage of robots some breasts of steel? (not over a certain cup or it would be sexist! As if I care anyway)”

    If you don’t care, why are you bothering to write is hysterical post?

    “I think that in “art” there is more than “minority” percentages and similar, it’s about creativity, entertainment and messages perhaps?”

    And what are these messages saying? That women’s interests should revolve around, and be subserviant to men. Interesting philosophy you support there.

    “For what I understand this show is aimed mainly at men,”

    Then you don’t understand. The show is aimed at a family audience, however, according to Moffat, there is a biased in favour of the female audience, although watching the show, that’s hard to believe.

    “soap operas will give more place to women and depict men in a less favourable way,”

    Not true. And if a soap opera did do this, then it would be guilty of sexism againt men.

    “and so, where’s the problem?”
    See above.

    “ We’re still in a democracy,”

    However, from your post, it would seem you’d prefer a male-centric fascist state.

    “so as there is space for soap operas being shifted towards women and not depicting enough men”

    No there isn’t. That kind of apartide would be wrong.

    “(as if I care),”

    Clearly you don’t care much about women.

    “even a Doctor Who, or a macho Schwarzenegger movie have the right to exist without being “unlegitimated” for what they are.”

    Sorry James, but all you’re doing to putting forward a tired old strawman argument that has been taken down again and again on this message board. The study has got nothing to do with making programmes “unligitimate,” however, if Doctor Who under Moffat is sexist, then surely that should be addressed, not shouted down and ignored.

  13. English isn’t my language and there was a bad copy paste from my .doc. Ok , now I just saw what you are by seeing the argument you had with another person above, it’s self explanatory: it isn’t worthy to waste time with trolls pedantically quoting and taking out of context on purpose quotes like “(as if I care)”, that was referred to a hypothetical lack of men in soap operas, I meant exactly the opposite, that I don’t care if there are or not (it was an example to show how goofy and pretentious these studies are and how it would be viewed sexist a study from the opposite side by everyone included me, but seems fine in this way instead) , not that I don’t care about women, “smart” con! ; maybe you did this play with other quotes of mine and far stretched other stuff to imply who knows what, but I won’t read all that long papyrus of yours, I took a peek here and there and it’s enough. Almost the last thing: you are one of those guys (or things) that like to play the fascist/writeanotherintolleranthere card and accuse in a sneaky way who doesn’t agree with you to being one of them, therefore trying to unlegitimate their right to express their opinion. Using this shortcut is like the boxer ball-busting his opponent because he lacks the skills and dignity to have a fair fight. And playing so nonchalantly the fascism card shows how disrespectful you are towards the 50 million of persons and children they killed during the war, on mass killings, camps and tortures, I hope you’ll seriously reflect on this and understand that isn’t ok towards them and their descendants (you may deal with one of them sooner or later, and for them may be grievous to hear using certain words with such ease).

    Here I leave you with the last words, feel free to talk over my shoulders, make up stories, excuses or new accusations, whatever you want, as I won’t return to read because I don’t like to deal with stupidity, I wasted too much time here.

  14. “it isn’t worthy to waste time with trolls pedantically quoting and taking out of context on purpose quotes like “(as if I care)”,

    I was neither trolling, or being pedantic, and your “(as if I care)” quote was not taken out of context. You stated your belief that men were under represented in soap operas, and that you didn’t care anyway, because you saw soap operas as something only women watched.

    “that was referred to a hypothetical lack of men in soap operas, I meant exactly the opposite, that I don’t care if there are or not””

    Then, to be pedantic, you didn’t mean “exactly the opposite,” did you?

    “(it was an example to show how goofy and pretentious these studies are and how it would be viewed sexist a study from the opposite side by everyone included me, but seems fine in this way instead),”

    Wrong again. If someone did a study and discovered that one TV show after another, in a long continual line, failed to represent men properly, then that would also be grounds for an accusation of sexism. It cuts both ways.

    “not that I don’t care about women, “smart” con! ;”

    You seem very dismissive of women. You appear to be dead against them getting fair representation. That would suggest you don’t care.

    “maybe you did this play with other quotes of mine and far stretched other stuff to imply who knows what, but I won’t read all that long papyrus of yours,”

    Again, for you to fall back on the “I’m being quoted out of context” defense is pretty stupid, when all anyone has to do, to see that I have done no such thing, is to read your original posts.

    “I took a peek here and there and it’s enough.”

    I understand where you’re coming from. You don’t want anything to challenge your privileged and dogmatic belief that women should be happy with their lot and that any attempt to redress the situation should be immediately shot down in flames.

    “you are one of those guys (or things) that like to play the fascist/writeanotherintolleranthere card and accuse in a sneaky way who doesn’t agree with you to being one of them,”

    No, I’m not accusing you in a “sneaky way “of being a “Fascist who writes an intolerant rant,” I am saying out loud that you are a Fascist who writes intolerant rants.” And it’s pretty clear that this is a common modus operandi of yours. Oh well, let’s at lease hope your hatred keeps you warm at night.

    “therefore trying to unlegitimate their right to express their opinion.”

    You can express you opinion. Indeed, that’s what you’ve done. I’m just calling you out on it. The fact, by your own admission, you haven’t bothered to read my post, however, shows that you’re not interested in discussion, and you’re just here to make some Fascist intolerant rant.

    “And playing so nonchalantly the fascism card shows how disrespectful you are towards the 50 million of persons and children they killed during the war, on mass killings, camps and tortures,”

    First off, it’s 60 million, and what you’re miss-quoting is a total war dead figure, which also includes the Axis. Secondly, 80% of Axis forces were destroyed on the Eastern Front. There were millions of women serving in the Soviet forces, many of whom died on the ground and in the air while fighting to destroy Fascism. You, however, think socialism is a dirty word, and you’ve come on here to denigrate women. So it’s quite clear to me who’s side you would have fought on during WW2.

    “Here I leave you with the last words, feel free to talk over my shoulders, make up stories, excuses or new accusations, whatever you want, as I won’t return to read because I don’t like to deal with stupidity, I wasted too much time here.”

    I don’t need to make up anything. Your own words condemn you.

  15. 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.
    the proof in the pudding would be the replies longer than the article itself where people are attacking each other. this has turned into a brawl of feminism vs all things evil (a.k.a. men) and nothing good can come of it.
    this is the best example of yellow journalism I’ve seen all week, and I use StumbleUpon A LOT. you should not be proud.

    • “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.”

      And you clearly have come on here to make a sexist rant about a study you’re too lazy to read properly. Please tell me why you believe it is perfectly acceptable for women in drama to only talk to, or about, men?

      “the proof in the pudding would be the replies longer than the article itself where people are attacking each other. this has turned into a brawl of feminism vs all things evil (a.k.a. men) and nothing good can come of it.”

      Wrong again. What a pity that you’re someone who can’t be bothered to read the comments section, but still feels free to tell everyone else what they think it’s all about. Equally your “feminism vs all things evil (a.k.a men)” reveals your own over-privileged misogynist mindset perfectly.

      “this is the best example of yellow journalism I’ve seen all week, and I use StumbleUpon A LOT. you should not be proud.”

      As this is not a journalistic piece, and is instead a well researched University study, it clearly you’re talking out your arse.

      • flip the genders in this specific show and tell me just how horribly sexist it would be if the doctor’s male companions only spoke to/about the last surviving female member of the time lords. you know, the person that the entire show revolves around.
        hell, leave the show as-is and let’s document how many times jack, mickey, rory, or any other male supporting character has a conversation that doesn’t involve the doctor to some degree. but that’d be absurd since it wouldn’t even register on the bechdel test scale because….
        the bechdel test is sexist by nature. I dared to be born male, so I guess any complaints I have about it makes me a misogynist by default.
        if my original reply is an example of “misogyny” and “ranting” to you, then I have my doubts that you know what either of those words mean. you also don’t seem to know what journalism is. you may want to look that up and report back with your findings.
        I’m an advocate for equality for all humans*, and it’s articles like this and comments like yours that perpetuate inequality. I’m sad that we don’t share the same goals. especially since you seem to want to share my goals, but you much prefer offense and name-calling.

        *this probably makes me a speciesist by someone’s definition. really, you can’t win…

        you really don’t even want to know what my wife has to say about this matter after reading the article, the comments, my comment, and your reply since I’m not sure such harsh language is allowed here.

      • “Fip the genders in this specific show and tell me just how horribly sexist it would be if the doctor’s male companions only spoke to/about the last surviving female member of the time lords.”

        If that’s all they did, I think it would be pretty sexist, and also, once again, pretty dull. Equality doesn’t just work one way. The dictionary definition of equality is: The state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities.

        “you know, the person that the entire show revolves around.”

        If the entire show revolves around the male lead in Nu Who, then how come some stories still pass the Bechdel Test? Why isn’t it a case that all stories are failing?

        “hell, leave the show as-is and let’s document how many times jack, mickey, rory, or any other male supporting character has a conversation that doesn’t involve the doctor to some degree. but that’d be absurd since it wouldn’t even register on the bechdel test scale because….”

        Wrong. If we did a reverse Bechdel Test, counting the number of conversations there are by named male characters in the series that do not revolve around women, you would find that the show would pass with flying colours.

        “the bechdel test is sexist by nature.”

        More likely, it is you who is sexist by nature. Indeed, from your above comments, is seems very clear that you still haven’t bothered to read the study to find out how the Bechdel Test works.

        “I dared to be born male, so I guess any complaints I have about it makes me a misogynist by default.”

        This again is buying into the sexist straw-man argument that if women on any subject challenge the current status quo between the sexes, then they must, by definition, hate men. So the fact that you are deploying this brainless argument, must, by definition, make you a misogynist.

        “if my original reply is an example of “misogyny” and “ranting”

        It certainly is. And I also say the same about the reply you are giving now.

        “to you,” then I have my doubts that you know what either of those words mean.”

        Dictionary definitions coming up:

        Misogyny: Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.

        Ranting: a long, angry, and impassioned speech.

        As I’m sure you’ll observe, both these definitions fit you perfectly. Well done. You must be very proud.

        “you also don’t seem to know what journalism is. you may want to look that up and report back with your findings.”

        Sure, and I’m happy to do so.

        Journalism: The activity or profession of writing for newspapers or magazines or of broadcasting news on radio or television.

        And again, it looks like you’re wrong. The above study was conducted by a university student as part of her course work. This is spelled out in the first line of the study. Now, if you were a sensible chap, who had read the study through before commenting, as opposed to coming on here simply to go on an ill informed, entitled, misogynist rant, then you’d already know this, and I wouldn’t have to go through the laborious task of pointing it out to you.

        “I’m an advocate for equality for all humans*,”

        No, seriously, you’re not. I’m sure you tell yourself that you’re “an advocate for equality,” but everything you’ve said here points in the opposite direction. You are a privileged white male, who wouldn’t know equality if he fell over it.

        “and it’s articles like this and comments like yours that perpetuate inequality.”

        There you go, see? You have no idea what you are talking about. You are so used to women being in an unequal position, that you don’t even recognise it as such, and, when confronted with the fact, you instead embrace victim-hood and whine on about how suggesting that inequality between the sexes exists is somehow sexism against men.

        “I’m sad that we don’t share the same goals. especially since you seem to want to share my goals,”

        I don’t want to share your goals. That would make me a misogynist and a hypocrite, who believes in the continual suppression of women, while stating that he’s an “advocate for equality for all humans”. Basically you’re a dick.

        “but you much prefer offense and name-calling.”

        And yet you are the guy who states in their first post on here that all feminists hate men. As well as correctly calling you a misogynist hypocrite, I think I can now legitimately add deluded fool. But let’s check to make sure I’ve got the dictionary definition right:

        Delusion: An idiosyncratic belief or impression maintained despite being contradicted by reality or rational argument, typically as a symptom of mental disorder.

        Fool: A person who acts unwisely or imprudently; a silly person.

        Seems to fit you, doesn’t it? If you’d like to double check the above definitions, google Oxford Dictionaries.

        “*this probably makes me a speciesist by someone’s definition …”

        I’ll just stick with misogynist, hypocritical deluded fool, If you don’t mind.

        “you really don’t even want to know what my wife has to say about this matter after reading the article, the comments, my comment, and your reply since I’m not sure such harsh language is allowed here.”

        You’re married? Poor woman. I sure having been shacked up for years with a deluded, misogynist, hypocritical fool, who is too bone idle* to even read the study before going on a foam* flecked* rant about how he’s being suppressed by castrating feminist man-haters, I’m sure she tells you exactly what you want to hear.

        *Bone Idle: This is the absolute in laziness; this behavior goes all the way to the bone. A complete and utter sloth who will watch bowling rather than reach for the remote (Urban Dictionary).

        *Foam: Frothy saliva sometimes formed in and expelled from the mouth, as in rabies (The Free Dictionary).

        *Fleck: A tiny mark or spot (The Free Dictionary).

  16. This was a fascinating piece of work! I don’t actually watch Dr. Who, but it definitely does have a large presence. The comments also provided me with lots of entertainment, thank you Alan Stevens! Your arguments were very sound, and I appreciated your use of frequent paragraphs and impeccable grammar.

  17. Pingback: Séries: Doctor Who | Malfeito feito

  18. Pingback: A New Doctor, a New Day, a New Way for Moffat to Ruin Doctor Who | pop.junk

  19. Pingback: How sexist is Doctor Who?–50 years of sexism in statistics | Simon's incoherent blog

  20. I am a fan of this show and was hoping for an elderly female Doctor after Smith.

    I found this article to be eyeopening. I have not heard about this test before and I wonder how it would compare to the same test based on male companions.

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  22. In “The Girl Who Waited” Amy was alone for 36 years. In that time she fought off robots, built a sonic screwdriver and hacked the mainframe. How is that not a pass? Oh, yeah, the test doesn’t account for content of a discussion outside of gender. As a woman who loves science fiction I’d rather have Moffat write any day.

    • “In “The Girl Who Waited” Amy was alone for 36 years. In that time she fought off robots, built a sonic screwdriver and hacked the mainframe. How is that not a pass?”

      If you had bothered to read the study before constructing your stawman argument then you may have noticed that the “The Girl Who Waited” doesn’t get a pass or a fail, because it couldn’t be decided if Amy talking to herself counted or not.

      “Oh, yeah, the test doesn’t account for content of a discussion outside of gender.”

      And this statement makes even less sense. Clearly Amy fighting off robots and being industrious would not be classed as a content issue that existed outside of gender. How could it be?

      • “I read the study, that’s how I know it’s not a pass. The lack of a “fail” is not the same as a “pass” in this context.”

        The lack of a “pass” and a “fail” means the story was excluded from the study. Therefore you cannot accuse the author of unduly failing the story when it neither passed or failed. Personally, if it had been up to me, I would have fail “The Girl Who Waited” on its title alone.

  23. May I simply say what a comfort to discover an individual who
    truly understands what they’re talking about on the net.
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  24. Hello, my response to this all is…. The show is called Doctor Who .. not The Companions. It is irrelevant as to if females are there or speaking or love interests. The main character is called The Doctor and it is him who should be in every scene or most of them and should do most of the talking too.
    Thanks Valentina

    • “Hello, my response to this all is…. The show is called Doctor Who .. not The Companions. It is irrelevant as to if females are there or speaking or love interests. The main character is called The Doctor and it is him who should be in every scene or most of them and should do most of the talking too.”

      That’s like saying Dixon of Dock Green should only be about George Dixon, and not his family, his work colleagues or any of the criminals he might happen to encounter in his capacity as a policeman. Clearly you are an idiot, and the lie is given to your argument by the fact that the Steven Moffat era isn’t just trailing Russell T. Davis in its Bechdel Test scores, but also previous Doctor Who producers, Graham Williams, John Nathan-Turner and Verity Lambert. The sad fact is that Doctor Who is more sexist today than it was during its first season in 1963.

      • Alan Stevens, if the Moffat-era annoys you so much because it’s sexist, then just don’t watch it. Problem solved. There doesn’t need to be a discussion on this. I understand that you are very, very, very feminist and that’s great, but this is a TV show… maybe you should try and use your skills in the real life, not fictional stories on the telly.

      • “Alan Stevens, if the Moffat-era annoys you so much because it’s sexist, then just don’t watch it. Problem solved. There doesn’t need to be a discussion on this. I understand that you are very, very, very feminist and that’s great, but this is a TV show… maybe you should try and use your skills in the real life, not fictional stories on the telly.”

        Elizabeth Ding, if the above study annoys you so much because it points out that the Moffat-era is sexist, don’t read it. Problem solved. However, I do believe this issue should be discussed, because to ignore it is to tacitly approve of it. You don’t need to be an ultra-feminist to object to a situation where women characters in fiction are severely restricted in the subjects they are permitted to talk about, however, I think you’ve got to be a pretty weird person to find such a situation perfectly acceptable. I also find it strange that you don’t consider sexism in Doctor Who a real world issue. However, thank you for your post as it has contributed two more items to the list of things future posters to this comments section should try and avoid. Please see below.

  25. I think that your study is flawed in several ways. Firstly, the test you conducted only talked about the companions. Steven Moffat gives far more leading roles to women. Only the other night we saw the debut of the guardian of the nethersphere, and if she was anything it would probably be a feminist.

    He’s also had a male companion which Russell t Davies could only stand for three episodes on the whole.

    Thirdly, your analysis of river song and rose could be seen completely differently in that river doesn’t need the doctors approval , a rose does, often in a way that means she whines and whines until the doctor says yes, and then the last thirty seconds of the episode are them “running out of time” and rushing to save the zombie/ people/ planet/ anything.

    And finally, you neglected to think of the sole most important thing. It’s a show called doctor who about the doctor with plot points that are fixed around the doctor. Of course Amy’s not going to babble on about how she left the oven on a she just must pop back to leadworth, will the doctor just wait in a coffee shop.

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

    And no, I was not hired by the bbc.

    • “I think that your study is flawed in several ways. Firstly, the test you conducted only talked about the companions. Steven Moffat gives far more leading roles to women.”

      You’re wrong. If you had bothered to read the study properly, you’d see that all the named female characters are subjected to the Bechdel Test. Also, according to another recent survey, the Matt Smith era trails the David Tennant, Christopher Eccleston and Sylvester McCoy eras for gender balance equality. Which is pretty amazing when you consider that the McCoy era of Doctor Who ended 25 years ago. See:

      http://incoherent.net/2014/08/how-sexist-is-doctor-who50-years-of-sexism-in-statistics/

      “He’s also had a male companion which Russell t Davies could only stand for three episodes on the whole.”

      Which is totally irrelevant to the about study.

      “Thirdly, your analysis of river song and rose could be seen completely differently in that river doesn’t need the doctors approval,”

      Well, she does. Indeed as the author of the study points out, ‘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.”

      “a rose does, often in a way that means she whines and whines until the doctor says yes, and then the last thirty seconds of the episode are them “running out of time” and rushing to save the zombie/ people/ planet/ anything.”

      So, basically then, you’re saying that Rose doesn’t actually seek the Doctor’s approval, and instead nags him into doing what she wants, which is the complete opposite to River.

      “And finally, you neglected to think of the sole most important thing. It’s a show called doctor who about the doctor with plot points that are fixed around the doctor.”

      But it’s also about the people the Doctor encounters, and yet although male characters are given agency and are allowed to talk to each other about issues other than the Doctor, or how they feel towards the opposite sex, this is something which is generally denied to the woman characters. How can that ever be fair or justified?

      “Of course Amy’s not going to babble on about how she left the oven on a she just must pop back to leadworth, will the doctor just wait in a coffee shop.”

      Funny how the only example you can give as to what you believe would interest Amy, other than talking about men, is cooking!

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

      So your saying that writing believable female characters for Doctor Who is immoral?

      “And no, I was not hired by the bbc.”

      No, but you have brainlessly styled yourself ‘Defender of the Tardis’.

  26. Peoples of the internet, please attend carefully. The message that follows is vital to the future of your post.

    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 it 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/ And finally, 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.

  27. Pingback: Doctor Who 08:01 | Todd O'Dowd

  28. UPDATE:

    Peoples of the internet, please attend carefully. The message that follows is vital to the future of your post.
    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 it 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.

  29. What is the mean speaking time of the doctor in an episode? Of other male characters?
    It is kind of hard to get at grasp of how much speaking time a female character has over all if those numbers are not known. We can see that the mean speaking time has decreased between the two writers, but if the speaking time was very small from the begining, the difference might not be as big as it seems (I have no idea how long a character normaly speaks in an episode, but 3 minutes out of 40 seems quite litle, although I have never measured it myself).
    I understand that this was a brief study and did not intend to measure that, but it would still be interesting to know.

  30. This is very interesting and I understand that sexism is an important issue but surely I’m not the only person who honestly couldn’t care less if the show doesn’t pass some test and that makes it sexist. In my opinion River, Amy and Rose are the best characters, whereas Martha and Donna, the two companions that passed the most, were people I found quite annoying. I’ve never once watched/read/listened to something Doctor Who related and thought about how it could seem sexist. Just seems a bit silly, picking at little things like how many times they speak alone with another girl without it being about boys and stuff. Just enjoy the show.

    • “This is very interesting and I understand that sexism is an important issue but surely I’m not the only person who honestly couldn’t care less if the show doesn’t pass some test and that makes it sexist.”

      You do realise this sentence contradicts itself?

      “In my opinion River, Amy and Rose are the best characters, whereas Martha and Donna, the two companions that passed the most, were people I found quite annoying.”

      If you had bothered to read the study properly, you would know that it’s not there to determine whether or not you personally find a character likeable or annoying. Equally, it also doesn’t suggest that all women characters in a programme have to be nice, some of them can be villains, or annoying, or whatever, the only important issue is equality.

      “I’ve never once watched/read/listened to something Doctor Who related and thought about how it could seem sexist.”

      No, clearly you haven’t, indeed, sexism is so endemic in our society a great number of people just accept it as the normal run of things and even when presented with the evidence they react like you and say they “honestly couldn’t care less.”

      “Just seems a bit silly, picking at little things like how many times they speak alone with another girl without it being about boys and stuff.”

      And now you are calling equality “silly” and a “little thing.” But if it’s so insignificant, why are you bothering even to post a comment here?

  31. I only just came across this study today, and it is certainly eye opening! I, like many, have not been happy with Moffat’s beating-a-dead-horse writing and yet-another-plucky-English-girl characterizations, but seeing the dialgue of female characters dwindle (and Donna was by far the chattiest of all the companions), is amazing. It is very clear (to anyone unbiased and with a few active brain cells) that this study accurately points out that there is an increasing sexist trend in the recent seasons of Doctor Who that needs to be examined.

    I am more shocked, however, by the idiotic vitriol I saw in the comments. I suppose I shouldn’t be; it seems that anytime anyone points out that something beloved like Doctor Who (despite the *thousands* of fan posts complaining about the poor writing the last 2 seasons) might be imperfect and require some rethinking, then the senseless anger comes out. Still makes me sad though, but I am bellied by the fact that you responded to each one of these buffoons critically and without malice. I would not be capable of that myself!

    I do have a couple of questions though:

    1) Now that we are on season 8, can we get numbers for Clara for season 7 added?

    2) Since most of the companions’ conversations revolve around the doctor, if the doctor were female, that would mean that the Bechdel numbers would skyrocket, yes? Unless of course Moffat then makes a hot (in his opinion – I don’t find Matt Smith or Benedict Cumberbatch hot in the slightest) companion/villain/whatever and all the conversations revolve around him instead. :p

    Anyway, great work! It’s nice to have some numbers to back up arguments!

  32. Pingback: For Moffat, the truly “impossible girl” is one who passes the Bechdel Test. | I was a high-school feminist

  33. I usually do not leave a comment, however I browsed a few responses on University Study on Sexism In BBCs Doctor Who (Infographic) |
    The Life and Times of an Exceptionally Tall Mormon. I actually do have 2 questions for you if you don’t mind.
    Is it simply me or do a few of the responses come across as if they
    arre left by brain dead individuals? :-P And,
    if you are writing on other sites, I would like to follow you.
    Would you list of the complete urls of all your social community sites like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

  34. Pingback: Doctor Who: 2005 – | The Geek Registry

  35. Pingback: WWRTD: What Would Russell T Davies Do? | Adventures in Alex

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