'I was disappointed enough that in 2017, a credible actress – hell, any actress – is made to feel that she needs to address her gender as an issue'
Jodie Whittaker was announced as the Thirteenth Doctor on Sunday, becoming the first female Doctor Who in the show’s history.
The news was met by a mixed reception, with a lot of fans voicing their unhappiness with the casting, with many insisting that Whittaker wasn’t right for the role.
I was all set to get on my feminist high horse and condemn those questioning Jodie’s casting as sexist, when a friend pointed out that by doing so I was actually strengthening the divide – maybe the individuals in question just didn’t like her accent or genuinely thought that her personality wasn’t right for the role – it wasn’t necessarily because of her gender.
So I held my tongue as the negative comments trickled in, but when several British publications circulated nude photos of the 35-year-old actress in what can only be described as a smear campaign, enough was enough.
I was disappointed enough that in 2017, a credible actress – hell, any actress – is made to feel that she needs to address her gender as an issue, with Jodie announcing “I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender because this is a really exciting time, and Doctor Who represents everything that’s exciting about change. The fans have lived through so many changes, and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one.”
I was even more disappointed when the following day, several newspapers had dug through her past to find nude photos, publishing and circulating them just 48 hours after the role was announced.
Focusing on ‘her saucy screen past’ and the fact that she once ‘flashed her boobs’ in the 2006 film Venus, the publications listed the various films that she had sex scenes in, publishing the nude photos which were actually film still shots.
‘No respected actress would do that’ some online users pointed out, and they’re bang on, right? Oh except I guess if you’re counting Julie Andrews, Meryl Streep, Dame Judy Dench, Helen Mirren and most actresses to have ever taken to the screen.
So why is this happening to Jodie Whittaker? Previous Doctor Who actresses Billie Piper and Jenna Coleman didn’t face this kind of treatment, but maybe that’s because they were cast in supporting roles and therefore weren’t considered threatening. Whittaker however got the top dog role, and is now being punished for the advances that she has made. Empowering, right?
Just taking a look back at some of the previous Doctors, the double standards are laughable. Matt Smith (11th Doctor) has had his fair share of ‘racy’ scenes – have you seen The Crown? And David Tennant (10th Doctor) stripped off in some sex scenes in Casanova and Single Father.
Did they make the headlines? Of course not, and you can rest assured that if Kris Marshall (the male favourite for Whittaker’s role) had been cast, the papers wouldn’t have even thought to dig into his sex scene archives. In fact, we’d probably be reading a story about what a great family man he is or looking at photos of him holding a puppy right now.
This is happening to Jodie Whittaker because she’s a woman, and in 2017 that’s not good enough.