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Steven Moffat Insists There Was No Sexist Backlash to New Doctor Who, Wants Us All to “Shut the Hell Up”

Good news, everyone! We were just imagining things!

When Jodie Whittaker was announced as taking over the first woman Doctor on Doctor Who, the response was generally positive. Ecstatic, even. But as we know by now, that feeling was not unanimous. While they didn’t seem to be anywhere close to the majority, the detractors were there, and their complaints about the casting were largely rooted in sexism. They were on Twitter and in the comments of the announcement articles, decrying the idea that a woman could play this role, and blaming “PC culture” for caving to women.

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Except if you ask Steven Moffat, none of that happened. According to him, everyone was happy, sexism doesn’t exist, and we’re all imagining things.

At Comic-Con this weekend, he insisted that all fans everywhere responded to the casting news with perfectly unified “huzzah!”

According to The Daily Dot, he told the crowd, “There has been so many press articles about a backlash among the Doctor Who fandom about casting a female Doctor. There has been no backlash at all. The story of the moment is that the notionally conservative Doctor Who fandom has utterly embraced that change completely.”

Yes, truly, this is the moment that united humanity as one. All the commenters calling it a “gimmick,” saying they won’t be watching the new season, and of course the oh-so-creative trolls making “Nurse Who” jokes–good news, everybody!–apparently, we made them up.

“There’s been no backlash at all,” Moffat says. “I wish every single journalist who is writing the alternative would shut the hell up.”

I’d guess most women are familiar with the experience of having men tell them the sexism they experience isn’t real, or that theirs is a unique, individual experience rather than part of a misogynistic culture.

At this point, I don’t expect Steven Moffat to actually try to understand women or the relationship they have with his work and the larger Doctor Who community. But what does he stand to gain by straight-up gaslighting the women who see this sexism, who live in it? How does it serve him to ignore this:

Women who are active in geek communities are frequently, if not constantly, subjected to varying levels of pervasive sexism. It’s a part of the culture. We fight it, we call it out, we learn to live with some of it–but we remain fans. By ignoring that reality–or worse, telling us to “shut the hell up”–Moffat isn’t strengthening his show’s fan base, he’s belittling and disparaging half of it.

(via Daily Dot, image: BBC)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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