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Should the next Doctor Who be a woman?
Matt Smith is hanging up his bow-tie, creating speculation that a female Doctor could soon be stepping into the TARDIS
 
Could someone like Emma Watson step into Doctor Who's bow tie?
Could someone like Emma Watson step into Doctor Who's bow tie? Facebook.com/BBCAmerica, Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Over the weekend, Matt Smith announced that he was leaving the BBC's Doctor Who after four years of traveling around space and time in a bow-tie.

Now comes the non-stop speculation over who will replace Smith. The tried-and-true Doctor Who formula involves pairing a male Time Lord with a plucky female companion. For next season, however, executive producer Steven Moffat has hinted that the reincarnated Doctor could be a woman.

That possibility isn't sitting well with all Doctor Who fans. Ever since the show premiered in 1963, the lead has always been played by a man. There are male fans out there who want it to stay that way.

"Why must the Doctor fall victim to a politically correct trend for 'gender neutral' childhoods?" asks Christoper Stevens at the Daily Mail. "It may come as a surprise to many in these liberated times, but most little boys still grow up wanting to be men. And what finer example of a man — brave, reflective, with a keen sense of heroic duty — is there than Doctor Who?"

That argument doesn't hold water with The Guardian's Naomi Alderman:

Are the qualities of the character "fundamentally male"? No. For one thing, there's no such thing as a fundamentally male personality. Women can be hard and men can be soft. Women can be combative and men can be nurturing. For goodness' sake, this isn't the 1850s. [The Guardian]

Picking a female Doctor would also counter the show's "recent regression into tiresome stereotyped sex roles," write's Slate's Laura Helmuth. That's a reference to the increasingly young and doe-eyed female companions of the Doctor, played recently by Karen Gillan and Jenna-Louise Coleman — a far cry from season four's brass companion played by comedian Catherine Tate.

Who would make a good first female Doctor? A few names that have been thrown around: Helen Mirren, Tilda Swinton, Peep Show's Olivia Colman, Jennifer Saunders from Absolutely Fabulous, and Harry Potter's Emma Watson.

Any of them would be fascinating to watch as the Doctor, perhaps with a comedic male companion at her side.

Even if it would be fun to watch, it might not happen, mostly because producers wouldn't be able to resist tinkering with the traditionally asexual Doctor, argues Tom Hawking in Flavorwire:

It’s an interesting thought experiment to consider whether the character would remain like this if played by a female, or if the show’s producers would find it impossible to resist the possibility of sexing up the Doctor somewhat. It would be fascinating to see what would happen if they did manage to avoid it — after all, when was the last time you saw a female character in a sci-fi show who wasn’t in some way sexualized, or at least defined largely by her gender? [Flavorwire]

Hawking is perhaps forgetting Star Trek: Voyager's Captain Kathryn Janeway, played by Kate Mulgrew, but he has a point.

Even if there haven't been many female characters like that, male fans should just get over it and embrace something different, writes Bitch Media's Alley Pezanoski: "There is a certain amount of heartbreak in change, in watching the characters you love evolve. But Doctor Who is a strong enough franchise to weather the shock of a woman Doctor."

 
Keith Wagstaff is a staff writer at TheWeek.com covering politics and current events. He has previously written for such publications as TIME, Details, VICE, and the Village Voice.

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