Women Are Not A Minority


It’s a pretty important week for females and fantasy. The BBC have announced that the next Dr. Who is going to be a woman. For many, this is a very welcome change. For far too long, this genre has been almost completely dominated by white men. From Superman to Wolverine, Dr Who to Thor, the faces that are seen as saviours and heroes are all too often a variation on a theme, with hair colour and beard being the only factor of difference. With the last companion being black and lesbian, they have made some headway, although it will undoubtedly be some time until we see black female heroes leading the charge against Daleks or the Green Hornet. It is, at least, a step in the right direction.

Some, of course, are less than happy. With comments ranging from the new Dr’s parking skills (oh how original) to criticism of the BBC for ruining everything by being ‘too PC.’ The thing that always confuses me about this kind of outrage is that it seems to imply that women are somehow a minority, a tiny proportion of the population that corporations like the BBC are humouring in order to keep happy.

The truth is, white men are a minority. They don’t make up the majority of the world’s population, so why should we be happy to see them dominating the representations of anything, be it romantic lead roles or heroes that are out to save the world? How casting a female in a central role in what is essentially a TV show for kids is in any way controversial in 2017 is beyond me. The character is a time-travelling alien. I don’t see anything there that prohibits the type of genitalia you have.

There are other interesting developments happening. The Handmaid’s Tale is proving incredibly popular, and opening up a wider debate about control – the worrying realisation is that we are in fact a lot closer to Atwood’s vision of a horrifying world where a woman’s body is not her own.

Writers often challenge the status quo. But let us not forget that this book was written in 1985. It’s yet another example of how laws don’t necessarily change thoughts or attitudes. Feminism is over, we have a female prime minister! Well, not quite. Sexism, racism and homophobia is systemic in huge swathes of our culture, perfectly embodied by the ridiculously over-the-top reactions to choosing one half of the species to represent a popular character. “You wouldn’t watch Jane Bond, would you?” asked one Twittering ranter. Well, yes, I would. Why wouldn’t I?

As audiences, readers and viewers, it is our place to embrace artistic freedom. As writers and creators, it is our job to push boundaries and challenge those who are comfortably sitting in their white male dominated world. It skews perceptions, it leads to bigotry, hatred and resentment. If nothing else, you have to love this girl’s reaction to the news. My niece shouldn’t have to feel that, in order to be someone in the world, she needs to change her gender. Let’s embrace the change and remind the haters that they are the minority, and perhaps the rest of the world is sick of always pandering to their needs.

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I'm a writer, teacher and drummer based in London. Short fiction and reviews are my main staples, along with some dabbling in novel writing.

5 thoughts on “Women Are Not A Minority

  1. I’ve never cared for the old stereotype of women, especially in fiction where they just stand there looking pretty and screaming.

    Maybe it’s because of my cowboy heritage. I grew up with women riding and roping, shooting rifles, and trailing cattle. These cowgirls weren’t powder puff princesses (though more than a few of them were rodeo royalty). Everyone of them was tough as nails and could hold their own. They went through the same as us guys, up before dawn, saddling horses, getting rained on, snowed on, scorched with heat. And enduring it all without a whimper.

    I served with women in the military, was under enemy fire with some, and in the cases where I had female leadership, I’m proud to have had them as my leaders and to have followed them in combat. A woman’s leadership style is different from a mans (and that’s one thing I’m excited about to see how the new Dr. Who works out), and they tend to bring out the best in those around them.

    I’ve seen two really good movies this year with strong female leads.

    Wonder Woman, well what more can I say. Tough, honorable, and a leader in every sense of the word. In Batman vs Superman, she was in many ways not only a fighter, but also the glue that was going to hold everything together.

    Another strong lead, Halle Berry in Kidnap. If she doesn’t get at least a nomination for Best Actress, I’m going to be really disappointed. We’re talking about someone who reached down deep and found the power to define the word Hero and then to face some very real dragons.

    1. Thanks for your comments, really interesting to hear your thoughts. My upbringing was much more confined to gender roles, I love the idea of being a cowgirl, I went to the rodeo once in Kansas, it was amazing! A complete cultural experience. I haven’t seen either of those, thanks for the recommendation.

  2. There was a similar ruckus when Starbuck was cast as a woman in the Battle Star Galactica reboot. I’m a genre nerd, and having characters like Honor Harrington, Susan Ivanova, and anyone played by Gina Torres serves as a buffer, for me at least, from all the dudes who think women can’t be true fans. They are characters who are powerful and competent, and their gender has nothing to do with their skills.

    The new Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff played the perfectly) wasn’t perfect, but she was beautifully written as a real person. The show went a little bananas after they decided to kill her and bring her back, just because, but it had nothing to do with her and everything to do with the silly show runners. She’s been my straight girl crush for a long time.

    Thank you for this.

    1. Thanks for your comment. It’s so important to show that gender has no limits, in whatever fashion that might present itself. I haven’t seen Starbuck but having just looked her up I can see the girl crush! Your site is great, lovely little snippets of positivity. We all need a bit of that these days! Great to have you here.

      1. Thank you for the kind response. I’m trying, in my own goofy way, to make the world a little less cruddy. Write on!

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