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Steven Moffat and gender

It's been remarked in the past by some that Steven Moffat has misogynistic undertones in his script writing. There's no doubt that gender stereotypes is something he reveled in when he wrote Coupling, but i think that that's forgivable in some ways because that's kind of what the show was about - amplifying and making humorous the differences between men and women and how that created push and pull in the various relationships in the show.

While i'm a much bigger fan of Moffat's executive decisions regarding Doctor Who over his predecessor Russell T. Davies, I can't deny the fact that his scripts can definitely have sexist undertones in a way that's more disturbing since at heart, Who is still a children's show. Moffat has strongly denied allegations that he's sexist or misogynistic and has essentially tried to pawn it off as people blowing his throwaway lines out of proportion, but i always found it difficult to ignore various throwaway lines that he would put into his scripts that to me definitely sounded misogynistic. In Let's Kill Hitler, it was the line that the Doctor said directly to Amy, "To be fair, she is a woman," followed by an immediate excuse line, "Oh shut up, I'm dying!" In The Time of the Doctor, it was the line of "Now that is a woman!" when Tasha Lem was able to fight back against the Dalek inside of her - which regardless of it being used as more of a compliment in that way still reeks of gender separation to me because it shouldn't have mattered whether or not she was a woman or not - the line would have been better delivered if it were more of a "Now that's an amazing human being!" or something that didn't try to amplify the strengths - or weaknesses - of one gender over another. There are a few other examples that i can't think of right now.

But it wasn't until I watched the most recent episode (Deep Breath) that i had to revise my opinion slightly. Prior to Capaldi's debut, i would have begrudgingly admitted that i thought that Moffat was at least mildly misogynistic. After watching it, i now think he might be merely sexist - not specifically towards women, but towards both genders. What brought this to light was a specific exchange between Jenny and Madame Vastra:

Jenny: "So humans are monkeys now, are they?"
Vastra: "No, my love. Humans are apes. Men are monkeys."

This exchange is the first that i remember Moffat ever wrote that used gender to deliver an insult to a male as opposed to all prior examples that were female, and that's what makes me think that he's merely sexist. He doesn't take a look at someone and think "person" before he thinks "woman" or "man", and that gender separation is something that he can't get out of his head, therefore it creeps into his scripts.

Don't get me wrong, i don't think that that's better. Highlighting the differences between the two in any context like that is a bad idea even as a throwaway line. Go back to the South Park episode "Cartman's Silly Hate Crime 2000" for reasoning on that. It's just interesting, and a little disheartening. Despite Russell T Davies's flaws as a script-writer, very few of his writing ever had gender banter or gender separation. I wish that Moffat would do the same.

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( read spoken (1) — speak )
Aug. 29th, 2014 03:18 am (UTC)
eh, I wouldn't say that calling men animals is a sign of not being misogynist. A lot of misogynists use the "men are more animalistic" excuse to justify rape and other violent crimes primarily committed by men. It's another double standard -- when men are called animalistic, it means they are strong and out of control, when women are called it means they are stupid and easy to use sexually.

Overall I agree with your analysis, and appreciate the window -- I've not watched the show but I have heard some of this in vague comments, but I prefer specific evidence like this here.
( read spoken (1) — speak )


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