Will the Voice of Authority puh-leeeeeeeze change?

**Warning: some slight Doctor Who spoilers, up to the end of Season Three.**

It’s only taken about four years, but I’m finally catching up with Doctor Who. In (very) general terms, the newest iteration of the classic sci-fi series is really making me happy: fast-paced, witty dialogue cavorting along, effortlessly charming the viewer into following, especially in the David Tennant years. I’m now at the end of Season 3, and in spite of some minor details, I am actually quite pleased with the treatment of gender in the show. Both Rose and Martha are intelligent individuals with quite different personalities (not just a cookie-cutter “here’s your female companion”); both are a joy to watch, in spite of the occasionally typical infatuation story lines. Riffs on Captain Jack’s ‘pansexuality’ are entertaining, well-timed, and are treated at times with just enough gravity that the humor in it turns on humanity, rather than some caricature of homosexuality.

But seriously, people. Time Lords are supposed to be* the most intelligent beings in the multiverse, with impressive talents and access to advanced technology. So why is it, in all the possibilities in all the possible worlds, that ALL of the Time Lords are white men?

The easy answer is: we live in a society in which white + male is seen as the default. One could go so far as to say they are the only people who are consistently treated as full human beings. But seriously, O Writers of Science Fiction: How is it that in imagining myriad variety to existence, this old trope keeps popping up?

The Doctor is, in many ways, the embodiment of Male Privilege. He walks into situations with absolute confidence in his ability to fix it, even when he does not know how he’ll do it, or even what the situation is. He does not identify himself to the satisfaction of those who question his authority. He completely ignores many challenges to that authority. He speaks; everyone else (eventually) listens. In one episode, The Doctor must make himself human to escape his adversary, including suppressing all consciousness of ever being a Time Lord. His character is still the same embodiment of privilege, if in a slightly more day-dreaming, less self-confident package. His human persona is a professor at a boys’ school, a position of authority over lesser (in this case, younger) beings. His position has not changed much at all, even if his species has. All his behavior is, of course, treated as Right and Good, as though we silly humans should know our betters when we see them, and when we don’t, we’re chuckled at for the buffoons we are.

Members of the Time Lords’ species have the ability to regenerate their bodies when those bodies are damaged, and those bodies are ostensibly have completely different skeletons (“new teeth”) and muscular systems (“new voice”). Everything about each regenerated Time Lord is new, except his gender and skin color. If his entire body changes, why in the world wouldn’t his skin color change too? There is likely some theoretical* reason why biological sex (and, by extension, gender) is immutable in a Time Lord, but if The Doctor is going to be consistently male and functionally heterosexual (as evidenced by the constant line of female companions), then Time Lords are clearly not unilaterally asexual or non-gendered beings. Biological sex exists; gender presentation does too. So why lack the creativity to play around with those very basic human traits? Why insist on every Doctor (and Master, don’t forget!) being Male and White?

The good Doctor has only one regeneration left, if Wikipedia is to be believed. How about something slightly different for a change? The role requires a British actor; Britain isn’t just made up of the native Gauls and Norman French anymore. How about letting the next person to play The Doctor to be of Indian or Pakistani descent, or descended from immigrants from anywhere else in the world? How about letting the Doctor be a woman for once? The Voice of Authority is virtually always the old (white) man in western social reality. Why does some of our most creative fiction have to fixate on that too?

==x-posted at Gender Goggles==

*Read: bullshit

What the gov’t should look like

If the demographics of the U.S Government really represented the demographics of the U.S. Population*:

Supreme Court:

  • 5 women, 4 men
  • at least one per racial group**
    • White, non-Hispanic
    • Black/African-American
    • Hispanic/Latin@
    • Asian
    • Native American/Alaskan Native
    • Native Hawai’ian/Pacific Islander
    • Other***
  • One justice would have a disability
  • At least once justice would be LGB, and preferably another be T/I

Current gender demographics: 1 woman, 8 men
Current racial demographics: 1 African-American (a man), 8 white non-Hispanic

House of Representatives:
(Assuming 437 representatives, to amend the omission of D.C.****)

  • 248 non-Hispanic whites (124 women, 124 men)
  • 66 Latin@/Hispanic (33 women, 33 men)
  • 62 Black/African-American (31 women, 31 men)
  • 22 Asian (11 women, 11 men)
  • 31 “Other”*** (16 women, 15 men)
  • 4 Native American/Alaskan Native (2 women, 2 men)
  • 4 Native Hawai’ian / Pacific Islander (2 women, 2 men)

Current gender demographics: 75 women, 360 men.
Current racial demographics: 27 Hispanics, 5 Asian Americans, and one Native American; 402 white non-Hispanic.

U.S. Senate:
(Assuming, again, 102 senators, likewise including D.C.****)

  • 57 non-Hispanic whites (29 women, 28 men)
  • 15 Latin@/Hispanic (8 women, 7 men)
  • 14 Black/African-American (7 women, 7 men)
  • 5 Asian (3 women, 2 men)
  • 7 “Other”*** (4 women, 3 men)
  • 2 Native American/Alaskan Native (1 woman, 1 man)
  • 2 Native Hawai’ian/Pacific Islander (1 woman, 1 man)

Current gender demographics: 17 women, 83 men. Highest number of women to date.
Current racial demographics: 2 Hispanics, 1 Japanese-American, 1 Native Hawai’ian and 1 African-American (all men). 95 non-Hispanic whites.

Now, if you’re really into your number crunching and fact-checking, you’ll probably see that my numbers for white representatives (in whatever branch) are just a bit low, in comparison to the current population estimates. I started with ensuring representation for the smallest groups (Native American/Alaskan Native and Hawai’ian/Pacific Islander), rounding percentages up to the nearest percentage point, and taking those points away from the largest group, non-Hispanic whites. This is especially fair considering the historical over-representation of whites.

I also erred on the side of women for each group with an odd number of percentage points to divide, as women have also been underrepresented, especially women of color.

Thing is, this doesn’t even get anywhere near making redress for the centuries of non-/underrepresentation that women and people of color have endured in this country during its relatively short history.

As you can see from the current numbers, we have a long way to go before even reaching equal representation, let alone redress. Of course, by that time, non-Hispanic whites will no longer be a majority but a plurality, if that; maybe we’ll have a government that actually *looks* like the rest of the nation does by 2050.

* U.S. Census estimates for 2007, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_United_States, with regards to race and gender. I haven’t figured out how to account for sexuality/orientation/gender identity yet, as they are 1) complicated and 2) not all accounted for by the U.S. Census.
**As defined by the U.S. Census, which is problematic at best.
*** This is a census category. No idea what groups this includes.
**** These proportions would change even more were one to include all U.S Territories in representation. I haven’t done, but it could be accomplished.