I am a geek. One of my favorite things to geek out over is Doctor Who. Last weekend I had the pleasure of sharing my obsession in a discussion about the Time Lord from Gallifrey on a panel at Salt Lake Comic Con. But this was no ordinary panel because we weren’t talking about your ordinary Doctor. No. This panel was about the fact that the newest actor to play The Doctor is Jodie Whittaker: a woman. For the first time, this timeless character will be portrayed as a woman. The panel at Salt Lake Comic Con was set to talk about the new casting, and the reaction.
But I don’t want to talk about the very predictable backlash from men who worried that this was just stunt casting or a cave to militant feminists (on behalf of all militant feminists, this wasn’t our goal, but we’ll take it!). I want to talk about my co-panelist—my 11-year-old daughter, Dory—and how excited she is to have a woman take the role of The Doctor.
You see, if you’re a girl geek, sometimes it can be tough to see yourself in the things you love. We can’t all be princesses who get their PhD at 16 and then go on to become a general. And we don’t all feel comfortable in a bustier like Wonder Woman. So, it was thrilling to see a new female character for girls to look up to. Seeing yourself matters. And if kids aren’t given the chance to see women as smart, capable, leaders then what are the chances they will become adults who believe women can be those things?
As I heard my daughter tell a room full of strangers that she “hopes The Doctor has a boy companion so I can watch her boss him around for a change” I laughed along with the rest of the audience. But I couldn’t help but think of all the people who will sit down to watch general conference this weekend, seeing only men as authorities, seeing men preside. What will they learn about women and the role they get to play?