I have a friend who deliberately trolls his own Facebook page. He’s like Elizabeth Bennett, to whom Darcy remarked, “you find great enjoyment in occasionally professing opinions which in fact are not your own.”*
The other day he posted “To nobody’s surprise, the new Doctor Who is a woman.”**
TWO HUNDRED COMMENTS LATER
My friend pointed out that the decision to feature a female Doctor in the upcoming season of the show is consistent with the established storyline, it was time for a change, it could be fun, etc. But one Random Internet Person came back with argument after argument. This person*** approached it from twenty different angles, all of which tended inexorably toward the conclusion that it was a bad idea to cast The Doctor as a woman.
The Random Internet Person’s last gasping attempt — or, at least, the last one I read before getting on with my life — was a classic patriarchy move: Women Cheapen Manhood
“It is bad writing and alienates female fans who liked the male archetype the Doctor filled, young male fans looking for a role-model, and older male fans who are trying to relive their childhood.”
You see what’s at stake here. Women need men to admire. Young men need men to look up to. Old men need men to look back on. Only a man can satisfy these deep desires! Set up a woman for men to admire and emulate, and manhood will suffer.
But most people who make this argument are dimly aware that it’s kind of insulting to women, maybe suggesting that they are inferior or something. So the Random Internet Person jumped to another classic patriarchy trick: Women Deserve Better Than Equality
“Women deserve strong original female characters rather than rehashes of male characters.”
See? Women are so special and so precious–so not inferior to men–that they should exist in their own specially-created sphere that doesn’t threaten the established male world.
If you spend any time around patriarchy, you’ll discover that it’s a widely-held belief that patriarchal men are extremely fragile. No one can shatter that brittle manhood faster than an incautious woman who thinks she walks on equal footing with him.
Watch any argument about women’s roles in life, and I guarantee you’ll find these two tricks played with infinite variations. So thank you, Random Internet Person, for so baldly stating what other, more polished patriarchy people manage to disguise more effectively.
*This friend, although a man, actually wouldn’t mind being compared to a sharp, witty, and honest female character.
**I’m not a Doctor Who fan because I don’t watch shows. So I honestly don’t have much of an opinion on this new development. I am, however, friends with lots of Doctor Who fans, and am interested to find out how the new season goes.
***I’m not identifying whether Random Internet Person is a man or a woman because either gender can adhere to patriarchal teachings. In fact, in my experience, it’s the women who enforce it most stringently on a personal level.