Speculative Fiction, Intersectional Feminism, and Dirty Jokes
Classic Doctor and Companions (Classic Doctor Who)
May 13, 2016Posted by on
I’m just going to have to admit to being perpetually behind a couple of days in getting these official posts up. I’m a very bad blogger, I know.
That said, this way you at least get a bit of my additional thoughts having had the episode sitting in my brain a couple of days. I’ve been thinking about exactly why so many of us in the lefty/feministy Doctor Who world have such a raging affection for Tegan, an affection that in my case feels both deeply personal and almost possessive in its intensity. More so than Barbara, or Zoe, or Ace, or even Sarah Jane Motherfucking Smith, Tegan just feels like my companion in this weird way.
And not to oversimplify, although I need to get to work so this has to be quick, but I think with the other classic Badass Female Companions, one gets the sense that despite all the issues the actresses faced, the show was more-or-less on their side. Yes, even Leela, despite Tom Baker’s asshattery and the barely-there costume and the drastic level of underwriting, gets at least some support for her basic competence and badassery from the production team. (In Leela’s case, I think it’s because they were making horribly racist points about “savagery,” i.e. of course Leela’s independent and badass; she doesn’t have those Good Moral Values that would be expected of a Middle Class British Person, but that’s beside the point for right now.)
We know that Janet Fielding fought tooth and nail for every scrap of attention she got that wasn’t devoted to her legs. We know that she was then, and is now, a great champion of the female viewer and of the feminist way of making Doctor Who in general. We know that JN-T shit all over her ideas and basically patted her on the head and told her to not worry about it. We know that she spent a year in that horrible purple costume. And she stayed with it, fought where she could, lost some battles, but on screen dialogue that –let’s face it– was likely written as “whiny” comes across as brassy and empowered.
Tegan is a badass because Janet Fielding made her a badass, in full sight of and largely against the wishes of the production team. That by itself rockets her towards the top of my personal favorite companions, and for me at least explains some of the personal protectiveness I feel towards the character. Not that Tegan would put up with me trying to protect her, of course.
Or maybe I just have a thing for women who don’t take any shit from misogynists. Who did I marry again?