Saying goodbye to Martha :(

Throughout the series and episodes that I have watched during the course of this term I fell in love with Martha.  Literally from the Shakespeare episode I knew that i liked her more than Rose.  I realize that this is not a popular opinion nor realistic to many long time fans of the show due to the large role she had to follow up.  Rose was probably the best character to continually pull attention to and hook the audience due to her love for the Doctor and his eventual love for her.  The sob story stuff was a hit to everyone except me.  I hated Rose, she treated Mickey like crap, left her mom stranded alone and only cared about herself throughout time and space.  Too often she abandoned Mickey and others to follow her interest in the Doctor and would do anything for him.  Including look into the heart of the TARDIS.  Probably the worst way to end the suspenseful BAD WOLF thing they had going btw…  After she goes away (finally) they had to introduce a new female character to accompany the Doctor and continue tradition.  Luckily the producers had their heads on straight and decided to included a person of color as the main companion to the Doctor.  Martha to the rescue! In her to short of time on the show ,in my opinion, she was able to rationally change the Doctor and his perspective on many things.  Donna even says that she did him some good.  I hate Donna too by the way.  Only because shes loud and not Martha :-).  Martha brought a lot to the table and helped progress the story-line.  Most notably her addition to the racial diversity of the cast but also the long consistent flow that seemed to develop with Rose.  She loves him, he loves her but doesn’t show it well, he’ll do anything for her, has to save her… blah blah blah.

At the end of the day I feel that Martha Jones did the Doctor a lot of good and opened his eyes a little bit into how he affects the companions during and after he leaves them.  She didn’t let herself get stuck in the loop and continue to follow the Doctor like a puppy but rather made the grown up decision to help her family and stay at home.

Basically whenever a new character is introduced I am less and less excited because it isn’t Martha and all i want is for her to come back and have more adventures with the Doctor. 😦

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The Bees and the Bees

Most of us took sex education sometime between elementary and high school during the awkward years we call “the teen years”.  Most of us remember the class being uncomfortable, awkward, and even giggle worthy at times.  However, for some students the class was even more awkward and uncomfortable than for the rest.  

A lot of sex ed classrooms in the U.S. are very withholding and stingy about what information they give students concerning sex and reproduction.  Some schools refuse to teach it at all, while others give a short presentation over one class period.  Some do better, though.  They talk about the biology, consent, and how to use protection.  Still, almost all schools will only cover two topics when it comes to sex education: reproduction and heterosexuality.  And while it’s important that these subjects get covered, gay, bi, pan, ace, and trans students are largely left in the dark.  This often makes it extremely difficult for non-heterosexual/non-cis people to come to terms with their identity.  And important terms about sexuality and gender can go unknown for years, causing a lot of confusion and frustration both inside and out of the LGBT+ community.

Now, I’m not saying sex ed classrooms should introduce nsfw images and videos of different kinds of sexual situations in order to teach about these different subjects.  I am, however, saying that gay sex and straight sex should be talked about in the same manner, discussing the importance of consent and protection in both cases.  Many gay, bi, and pan relationships do not use protection during sex because they believe they don’t need it.  This is why the number of STDs in the LGBT+ community is so high.  Rape is also an underrated concern in the LGBT+ community.  Whether it’s non-consensual sex or “corrective rape” these types of sexual assaults often go unreported by LGBTQIA+ victims because they don’t understand what proper consent means for non-heterosexual relationships or situations.  These problems can help be corrected by discussing other types of sexual relationships in the sex ed classroom.  

It’s time to crush heteronormativity, and one way that can be achieved is by discussing other types of attraction the same way we talk about straight attraction in the classroom.  A half hour presentation over other forms of sexual and romantic attraction is all it would take to help normalize non-straight sexualities.  In the same way, a short presentation on the differences between gender and sex would help trans and nonbinary people come to terms with their identity, and help cis people understand what it means for someone to not identify with their assigned gender.  Simply acknowledging in the sex ed classroom that other sexual, romantic, and gender identities exist outside the cishet world we’re taught to live in can do wonders in helping achieve equality and understanding.   

Why Representation Matters

Too many times I see and hear people complain about diversity within a show, movie, or book.  Often times it goes something like this: “I don’t have a problem with (insert minority here), but I hate how (minority group) makes such a big deal about it” or “It’s fine if you’re (insert minority here), but I don’t get why it has to be in every single (movie, show, book) now days”.  Well, I’ll tell you why, and the answer really is quite simple: representation matters.

If you’re a minority, chances are you don’t see yourself represented a lot in movies, shows, books, video games, etc.  And being represented accurately or in a non harmful way is even rarer.  So for minorities, seeing themselves represented accurately in their favourite show is a big deal.  

And it’s especially important for children (minorities or not) to see all kinds of diversity on the screen from a young age.  A child who grows up watching shows with many different kinds of diversity is more likely to be more tolerant and understanding.  But the children it impacts the most are the ones who belong to minority groups.  A gay child watching a show with LGBT+ characters is taught that there’s nothing shameful about being gay.  A black child watching a show with POC characters is inspired to become whatever they want to be.  A young girl watching a show with female characters is strengthened and empowered.

For adult minorities it’s a bit different.  Often times seeing representation on television is a great reminder that there’s no reason to be ashamed of who you are.  Some groups of adult minorities though have never or very rarely see their respective group portrayed on television, so when a character does represent them it can be shocking and emotive.  For the first time, they finally see someone like them in their favourite show, book, movie, or video game.

If you still don’t understand why representation is so important, try thinking about it this way.  Think of the colour of your hair.  I’ll use brown as the example.  Imagine that only one or two of your friends have brown hair, maybe none of them do.  You hear and see a lot of comments that people with brown hair are mean, they say that people with brown hair are stuck up and only care about themselves.  Some people even say that people with brown hair don’t exist because they’ve never seen a brown-haired person.  But you know that’s not true.  At least you think so.  You’re not mean or stuck up, right?  You did stand up for yourself the other day, but that wasn’t being mean, right?  Maybe it was.  Maybe you are as stuck up as people say.  But you do exist.  When you think about yourself you think about your brown hair.  It’s really there, right?  Or maybe you’re just pretending to have brown hair.  Did something happen when you were younger that turned your hair brown?  Are you sure you aren’t mistaking your brown hair for black hair?   You probably just want to feel special so you say you have brown hair, but you really don’t.

Then, one day while you’re watching your favourite show, a brown-haired character is suddenly introduced.  And you’re in shock because that character is like you.  And they aren’t mean and they aren’t stuck up, and they aren’t faking having brown hair.  Can you imagine how happy you’d feel to finally see someone like you on tv, especially after hearing and seeing so many comments stereotyping who you are?  This character finally shows what it’s like to be a brown-haired person.  This character reminds you that you aren’t alone.  

This is what it feels like for many minorities to see themselves represented on the screen.  Hopefully you can imagine what a big deal this would be and why minorities demand that they see more of themselves on television.  

Lastly, diversity isn’t just about minorities.  Television shows, books, and movies that showcase minority groups help raise awareness among majorities.  For example, searches on Google that contained the word “asexuality” spiked to the highest it’s ever been after Todd from BoJack Horseman came out as asexual in September 2017.  Because BoJack Horseman decided to feature a minority many more people are now aware of a term they probably didn’t know before.  Like the asexual community, many other minority groups benefit from people actually knowing who they are and that they exist.  And all groups of minorities benefit greatly when a character representing them is not shown in a negative and harmful light.

In conclusion, representation matters.  Minority groups get so worked up because they often don’t have good representation to be satisfied with all the time.  What makes them a minority also makes them who they are.  It’s a lot easier to feel good about yourself when you’re given good representation.  

Asexuals on Television

i am asexual todd chavez

On September 8th, 2017 the hit animated TV series “BoJack Horseman” became the first ever television show to say the word asexual aloud.  At the same time, one of the leading characters, Todd, became the first ever confirmed asexual character on television.

Throughout the series, Todd seemed to struggle with his identity.  Several scenes showed Todd not picking up on sexualy or romantically suggestive situations, and in season four Todd is quoted as saying, “I’m not gay. I mean, I don’t think I am, but… I don’t think I’m straight, either. I don’t know what I am. I think I might be nothing.”

i don't know what I am Todd Chavez

This line resonated with a lot of people in the asexual community who admitted they felt similarly before realizing they were asexual.  A lack of representation hits the asexual community especially hard.  Few characters on television or in movies have ever shown asexual characteristics, making it hard for a-spec people to find themselves in popular media.  Some characters such as Sherlock Holmes, Sheldon Cooper, and Jughead have been accepted into the asexual community as a-spec characters, but up until Todd Chavez, none have been confirmed as such, much less said the word out loud.

In a heteronormative world with next to zero representation in the media, asexuals and aromantics have an extra hard time coming to terms with their identity.  For some people, Todd exclaiming that he’s asexual on television may have been the first time they had heard the word, period.  And in a sex-obsessed world, it’s no wonder so many a-spec people take so long to realize who they are.

Todd Chavez coming out on television is especially important because of who he is as a character.  First of all, he’s lovable.  He has a quirky, likeable personality, and he’s interesting; someone you’d want to be friends with.  Second, he has several close and loving relationships on the show, and he’s got feelings.  He’s not an unfeeling robot and his lack of sexual attraction doesn’t make him any less human than his companion characters.  This can’t be said for almost all headcannoned asexual characters.  Both Sherlock Holmes and Sheldon Cooper have very stiff, stuffy personalities.  They lack almost any sort of affection whether it be toward friends or romantic partners.  And for the most part, they’re emotionless shells, barely human.  But very few headcannoned asexuals are protagonists in movies or television shows.  Most are cold, unfeeling villains such as Voldemort from Harry Potter, Moriarty from Sherlock, or Dexter Morgan from Dexter.  And if they’re not villains, they’re mentally insane, or both.  This creates a toxic image of asexual people as being less than human.  Todd is one of the very few characters to portray asexuality in a positive light.  

Todd’s asexual announcement has made asexual history, and will hopefully pave the way for even more positive a-spec representation in all forms of entertainment.  Todd Chavez has become an asexual television idol for a-spec people to see themselves represented in.  I have no doubt that by actually hearing the word asexual on television will help many non-asexual people understand the orientation, and many a-spec people come to better realize who they are.

Asexual meet-up todd chavez

Feminism’s Issues With River Song

Warning:

 River-Song-Spoilers

River Song first appeared on Doctor Who in 2008 in the episode “Silence in the Library”.  From the very beginning we realize that River Song has known the Doctor for a long time, and has gotten quite close with him, even though this is his first time meeting her.  It’s not too long after that we learn that River Song is the Doctor’s wife.  Fast forward a few seasons and a new Doctor and River Song’s backstory becomes even more complicated.  Before she even knows who the Doctor is she’s been trained to kill him.  Before that she’s in a different body and posing as her parents’ best friend back in high school.  And before even that, she isn’t River Song at all, but Melody Pond.  

You’d think such a complicated backstory would lead to a thoroughly complex character who’s interesting and emotive, and you’d be right… for the most part.  River Song is an extremely interesting character with several different storylines and plot points.  She’s strong and as intelligent, if not more intelligent and witty as the the Doctor.   She’s incredibly fierce, but not lacking in emotion either.  

Honestly, I could go on for hours about how great River Song is and delve for eternity into her backstory and timeline.  There’s just one thing about River that makes some feminist fans shake their heads.  And that is; why River Song is in Doctor Who at all.  Her appearance in “Silence in the Library” only creates more questions about the Doctor and who he really is.  In “The Impossible Astronaut” she’s there to kill the Doctor.  Her big role in “Let’s Kill Hitler” was to poison the Doctor then revive him again.  It might start to become clear: she’s there for the Doctor.  

Unlike the Doctor’s companions, River Song’s entire life revolves around and leads up to the Doctor.  She’s there to be the Doctor’s wife.  She’s there to kill the Doctor.  She’s there to save the Doctor.  She’s never in an episode where the Doctor’s fate or love interest isn’t her.  And that’s a problem.  No matter how complex her storyline is, or how interesting she is, we can’t ignore the fact that her sole purpose on the show is to be there as a plotpoint for the Doctor.  

I love River Song’s character.  I think she’s an absolutely brilliant character.  But what I, and many other feminist viewers of the show want is for River Song to be there for herself, not just so that the Doctor has someone to save, kill, or kiss him.  River Song’s already complicated backstory is a perfect opportunity to include plot points where River is there for herself.   

Diversity in Doctor Who

Since Doctor Who rebooted in 2005 it has made strides in representing diversity on television.  Strides that can’t be said for many other television shows.  We open with episode one, “Rose” set in England, 2005, on a rare scene for television.  Rose is a working class woman who really is working class, not a dramatized version of this.  She lives in a small apartment with her single mother and wakes early every day to clock-in at her job in a department store.  She’s casual, dressing in clothes that certainly aren’t the height of fashion for the time, she isn’t dolled up in makeup only a professional could do, and what’s more; she isn’t the tiny waisted, long-legged pretty girl we’re used to seeing on TV.  Rose sets the pace for the growing diversity we’re about to be treated to in “Doctor Who”.

Not long after we get Captain Jack Harkness, the first openly pansexual in the history of “Doctor Who” who equally and openly shows attraction to men, women, aliens, and the non-gender conforming.  This was a huge leap for sexual and romantic diversity in “Doctor Who”, and one of the very first times queer people could see themselves in a character on television that wasn’t harmful.  

Next comes Martha, the first black companion on “Doctor Who”.  She’s intelligent and able to keep up with the Doctor’s rambling better, perhaps, than most other companions.  For people of colour, Martha is a big deal.  She’s a strong, woman of colour, in a leading role on one of the most popular television shows of all time.  With Martha, the television series continues to push forward for more diversity in their cast.

The next three companions, Donna, Amy, and Clara continue to portray strong female leads with diverse histories and personalities.  Along the way we meet a couple more sexually diverse characters, and characters from all different walks of life.  

Now we come to the most recent companion, Bill, who is both a woman of colour and openly gay.  She is one of the very first leading characters like this on television, a huge influence for women, people of colour, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.  We finally have a leading character that many minorities can view themselves in in a positive way.

Soon we’ll be treated with something that came unexpected: a female Doctor.  Jodie Whittaker will soon take on the role of the Doctor and make history as the first female Doctor.  Many people are very excited about this.  We get a leading female, and also confirmation that Gallifreyans, or at least the Doctor, experience gender fluidity, which could be a nod toward the transgender community.

But when it comes to diversity, is it enough?  Though Doctor Who has done a great job positively representing different groups of people, we still are left itching for more.  Several groups who wish to see any kind of representation on television have been left out.  Doctor Who has come a long way, but I believe it can, and should, go much farther.  I hope that as the episodes continue to air we will continue to see a rise in representation in the cast.