Dr Who – sexism and bad maths

is-doctor-who-sexist-01-2I came across a couple of interesting articles on Dr Who recently. The first covers The Doctor’s assistants and how they fare against the Bechdel Test. 

For those who haven’t heard of it, 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. Now I have an ongoing debate with my partner about this test because I feel it’s a quantity not quality test and a poor point of judgment of how a film depicts women. But it is a pretty fair test and one that can be objectively applied.

Anyway, Rebecca Moore applied the Bechdel Test to Dr Who and the results are interesting, not least because she did it to contrast Russell T Davis and Steven Moffat as writers. She created a nice infographic summarising the results.

DocWho-624x326The other article looks at the first episode of the new series. After landing on Earth the doctor engages in intellectual graffiti and covers the floor of a room with equations. The article goes through the equations and works out what they are, or are not. The author argues that it is important to do service to science and use sensible equations rather than gibberish.

At one level we’re talking about a show and none of this matters. But when you have an iconic show like Dr Who, one with strong female characters, one where the protagonist uses his brains rather than his brawn then perhaps it does come with obligations. It is certainly important that shows like Dr Who, or maybe just important that Dr Who because I’m not sure there are shows like it, pays attention to the subliminal messages it is sending out. It costs little to get the science consistent or to preserve the strong female characters. It costs little but there are real benefits.

Images: Rebecca Moore, BBC.

Leave a Reply