the-noble-rose asked: Okay, so I love your blog! I was wondering your opinion about something in his writing? It seems that almost, if not every, female main character he has written, has met the Doctor as a little girl, and then later made romantic/sexual advances. Reinette, Amy, River, Clara, to name a few. Once or twice for a storyline I'd maybe understand, but it seems to be a pattern with him. It gives off a slightly... pedophiliac vibe, for lack of a better word. What are your thoughts?
Oh, thank you! Wow!!! I love you too? Or, er, your blog. I love your blog too. :DDD
I know the pattern you’re talking about. The Doctor “imprints” on a little girl and then meets her later in life only to have become the driving force of her life and in addition to that a dominant romantic interest. Here’s my take.
(Beware for this is my own emotional, subjective opinion and deals with overall patterns instead of detailed proof from the canon - I’ll be mostly focusing on Amy Pond’s narrative. Because it’s the most developed and obvious onscreen example of this.) ((Also sorry about all the italics; I feel very strongly about this and my emotions are then expressed through italics.))
Okay. So. Where to begin.
This “imprint” is a form of control over the girl’s development. It forces her to consider the Doctor as one of her priorities in her life from a formative age. And when he shows up again, she has no other choice but to go with him and learn more about him because she has been obsessing ever since childhood. The imprint has no other real narrative purpose than to cement the Doctor’s hold over these girls’ lives.
This. Is. Problematic. If you’re discussing this with anyone and they say it’s all fine and good, look at them with new and suspicious eyes. This is a seriously problematic trope that Moffat has been cementing. Why is it problematic? Hmmm, there are so many things to talk about…
First, it’s invasive. Why? Well, let’s see. He is literally invading their lives. He is changing them just by being there. He is influencing them. He is connecting with them emotionally and learning who they are, and then - most importantly - disappearing. And then using it later to manipulate them when they’re all grown up.
Since the Doctor is not the parent of any of these girls, what he should do as an adult is be careful to be supportive without taking on the full responsibility of shouldering their emotional well-being the way a parent would.
But no - especially in the case of Amy, he grabs every single bit of the emotional responsibility that these little girls require, make them love him and feel that he is the ultimate parent, and then pulls the rug out from under them. In other words, it is invasive because he comes in but then leaves just as quickly. He invades, he strikes, he leaves. It’s like hit-and-run parenting.
It is irresponsible for an adult to behave this way. It leaves the child at a complete loss with how to deal with the absence of their adult emotional support. And, if they gain no other support, they grow up to be unhappy and directionless - except, of course, for the direction of finding that lost emotional support again… oh wait, that’s what happened to Amy and Reinette?? What??!?1!! Crazy.
Also note that when Amy mind melded with Prisoner Zero, her mental form was herself at age seven holding the Doctor’s hand. So she has not grown up at all from that time. This is definitely an example of severely stunted mental growth from a traumatic experience from childhood. And then that shit is GLORIFIED by the narrative through her tagline: The Girl Who Waited. Seriously. It’s glorification of her inability to emotionally mature into adulthood as well as glorifying her “loyalty” to the Doctor. Think about it.
If that doesn’t convince you that this is some creepy shit I really don’t know what will… (Well, maybe the remainder of this post will hit on something that resonates with you, who knows.)
That’s one reason why it’s horrible.
Here’s another - in both Clara’s and Amy’s cases, the Doctor uses what he learns from his hit-and-runs to emotionally manipulate these now grown-up girls. To bend them to his will when it’s convenient for him, he takes advantage of the fact that he is their emotional support. And he takes advantage of the information they willingly revealed to him when they were confiding in him as they would to a parental figure.
I can’t see that as anything but wrong. Like, MORALLY WRONG. It’s manipulative, it’s subversive, it’s just plain evil. Yeah, tell me the ends of saving the world again justify the means of twisting these girls around his finger with emotional manipulation. Seriously, it’s like he’s morphed into an abusive father figure, here. I can’t handle it.
There’s also this strange vibe in the course of these repeated narratives that makes it seem as if the little girl “deserves” to travel with the Doctor because of the imprint. Because this random little girl met the Doctor and became obsessed with him, she has every right to become his new companion. Basically, because she was “loyal” to his memory though obsessing over him, and no matter how painful her childhood was because of the imprint, the girl is “rewarded” with the honor of his company. This pattern is definitively in Amy’s narrative as well as River’s. And to some extent, Reinette’s.
There are many characters in Doctor Who that obsess over the Doctor after seeing him in all his glory. Jack Harkness is one prime example. Can’t forget Wilfred Mott. And there are many others; mostly minor characters that only appear in one episode. Love & Monsters is about a Doctor fan club, for example. The majority of these people never actually get to meet the Doctor at all, and if they do it’s only a rare glimpse of him. Even Captain Jack Harkness has an extremely limited screen time with the Doctor compared with the long-term companions.
My point here? Becoming the Doctor’s companion is a huge deal. It’s more than just being obsessed. And it’s more than just running into him once and having him save the day.
In RTD’s era, Rose, Martha, and Donna became long-term companions because they stepped up to the plate and saved the day in that rare event of running into the Doctor, impossible freaky alien stuff be damned. They balanced the Doctor out with their damn good sense, and the Doctor saw greatness in them that they just couldn’t see yet. They all grew up a little bit more traveling together.
Why did Amy become a companion, then? Why did the Doctor choose her when she was a kid after maybe a half hour of meeting her? Well, because she was there. Because she was scared and lonely. She hadn’t done anything yet to show her mettle before Eleven was inviting her onboard the Tardis for an adventure.
And then she doesn’t get onboard after all, because Eleven is twelve years late. Why is this? Because the writer didn’t think she deserved it yet. She hadn’t done anything to earn the position.
How does the writer then ultimately “prove” her worthiness? Is it through her bravery in fighting against Prisoner Zero? Does she save the Doctor despite her own issues? Well, no. The actual proof is in her decision to believe in the Doctor, after all this time. It’s to let him do his job. She already knows sort of who he is, she knows sort of what he does. All that’s left is for her to acquiesce to him, to “believe for twenty minutes.”
Even when she ambiguously “helps” save the day from Prisoner Zero, the way she did it was literally thinking exactly what the Doctor told her to think. She thought of Prisoner Zero’s true form because the Doctor told her to. She “saved the day” because she thought the way she was supposed to. IS ANYONE ELSE SEEING THIS? THIS IS CLEARLY METAPHORICAL EVIDENCE OF BRAINWASHING.
Basically, she proves her “worth” as a companion to the Doctor by “believing” in him. By instating her “loyalty” to the idea of him instilled in her since she was a child. By thinking the way he wants her to.
Uh, well, obviously this is just creepy as fuck. It’s brainwashing. It’s building an entire character on obsession with the Doctor, an obsession almost intentionally created by the Doctor, to form a sort of “follower” for his own saving-the-world purposes. Which is weird because instead of being an equal as a companion, she’s demoted to a subordinate role.
But that’s not all! Oh no. That was only the beginning of it. Then comes the added romantic subtext!
Urgh. I can’t even address that without thinking of a sort of messed up, abusive, pedophiliac, incestuous thing after talking about little girls and their parental figures. **throws up**
This is one of the messiest posts I’ve put together, honestly, because of how convoluted this messed up shit really is and how it fucks with my emotions. I had to stop for like an hour before continuing on this romantic subplot vein.
Okay. Okay, here goes.
So River. Canonical romantic relationship with the Doctor. Definite brainwashing. Definite obsession, literally ingrained since birth. (strongest brainwashing and strongest onscreen relationship - is it a coincidence?)
Then Amy. Canonical sexual attraction on both sides, complete with making out before her wedding. Implied brainwashing. Obsession since childhood.
(Oh and if you forgot that Amy is River’s mom? Things just got a lot more incestuous.)
Clara. Sexual chemistry, kiss. Emotional manipulation through a hit-and-run through Clara’s childhood. Slight brainwashing from memory erasure and factual withholdings leading to a forced decision (to throw herself into the Doctor’s vortex). Obsession is more on the Doctor’s side rather than Clara’s; she seems to be more interested in saving the world and doing cool shit once he shows her what’s up.
Reinette: they do the kiss kiss, make outs galore, implied pining on her part even though she’s got this other king guy on the side. Emotional manipulation is not directly related to the Doctor saving the day. Little to no brainwashing evident in her actions or speech, but there is definite imprinting.
So where exactly is the romance coming from in these cases?
To answer that, let’s examine Reinette, the first and most compact version of this trope we see in the series.
This relationship is built on the same foundation as River and Amy. However, it is less fleshed out, and therefore the more problematic things are hiding under the rug. Nevertheless, let’s take a look.
So, Reinette. Of course she’s in love with the Doctor! Why wouldn’t she be? He’s only the best thing since ever! He saved her from the mean creepy-ass mask robot. He’s hot. He supported her emotionally. He disappeared. He randomly showed up again. She’s in love, and it’s the deepest love 5ever. (Sound familiar? Oh wait it’s River Song’s whole narrative summed up in one episode…)
What I’m saying here is - the romance is built out of the Doctor taking advantage emotionally and then not taking responsibility for it. He disappears. Turns into mystery man.
It creates that whole pining thing, which morphs into a sort of crazed, desperate romance on the part of the abandoned girl. It’s not true romance and love, it’s desperation on the part of the girl to assure herself that the emotional support he can give her is here to stay. Even if he’s not sticking around, she can comfort herself that he really does love her because he kissed her back that one time.
(Proof that it’s not love? Okay. How well does Reinette actually know the Doctor? How well does she actually understand his Timelordiness? How well does she know how he acts under pressure? How well does she really know him? How can she really love him even though she knows shit-all about who he really is? Answer: she can’t. She’s in love with her idea of him that she’s been imprinted with.)
Oh and the sickest thing in this case is that the Doctor goes along with the kisses and all the weird-ass romance. Because he shouldn’t. Because it is taking advantage of their vulnerable, desperate states seriously i cannot even
Does this theory check out with the others? Well… yeah, it sort of does, actually.
Except in the case of Clara. That one doesn’t totally check out.
And why is that?
Well, I think it’s because Clara wasn’t really imprinted as a child by the Doctor. She’s actually an adult when she first meets him as a companion-esque figure. And she doesn’t quite remember him from her childhood anyway. He was just kind of this random guy that talked to her about a few things in a park (though, can I have a shoutout to pedophilia here? how much more stereotypical can you get with that, seriously.) She has supportive parents that she loves. Etc etc.
So, instead of the Doctor seeming pedophiliac in Clara’s case, it’s more of a stalking problem. Which, ugh, how many creepy manifestations of “sexual predator” is he even going for?? Is he trying to win at “sexual predator bingo” or something? What the fuck.
So: the romance isn’t really romance - it’s girls who were never able to grow up clinging on to their idea of a perfect emotional support/father figure, trying to force him to stay through desperate measures that they think they want. …Except in Clara’s case. But that’s fucked up for a whole lot of other reasons that have to do with stalking rather than pedo.
The cumulative thoughts I have on this center on one thing: the sexual predation of women. Through emotional manipulation through either imprinting or stalking, the Doctor becomes a sexual predator to all four of these female characters.
And since he is so clever and has such good motives because he saves the world and all that, the narrative effectively erases the negative aspects of his predation.
And it actually has the gall to present these desperate girls’ attentions (I call them girls because of their emotional development issues, incidentally - they are well and truly women by the standard of age and I wish I could call them that without feeling as if I’ve missed the point) as incredibly flattering and the proof that wow, the Doctor is soooo sexy!
It even goes as far as erasing any blame on the Doctor making it seem sort of accidental on his side. As if it’s totally okay for him to just go along with the flow, because, well - sex and kissing, amirite? That’s a good enough reason for any of it!!! Right? (Correct answer: no.)
Basically, this whole thing. I can’t even
The biggest common denominator that I find with Moffat’s female characters that he creates is not necessarily the pedo thing, though that is certainly permeating many of his main characters.
No. It’s sexual predation as a whole.
What other female Moffat characters were sexually harassed/abused by male predators? Or, a better question: which ones weren’t?
The more I think on this… the more it makes me sick.
Sorry I can’t elucidate my thoughts on this more clearly or gracefully. I just don’t think I can be unemotional and completely logical about this particular topic.
**goes to cry and rage in a corner for the rest of the night about gender inequality and sexual predation and the perpetuation of horrific social practices and ideologies through passive media absorption**
(As always, even despite my obvious bias on this topic, please feel free to share your own opinions.)
(oh and the-noble-rose i am so sorry about this, i seem to have gotten off-topic somewhere and gone into lala land :((( I hope this sufficiently answers your question about my thoughts??)