That question is rhetorical. Because the answer is, unless Doctor Who podcasters get their heads out of their asses: YES.
This started at the Gallifrey forum, where I saw a lots of posts from men being gross about Karen Gillan, who plays Amy Pond, the Doctor's newest companion. I think the men felt more comfortable doing this with Amy than they had with other companions because Karen Gillan used to be a model. So, there are pictures. Which I won't link here, but you can google it if you don't know what I mean. Anyway, that is no excuse for leering at her and treating her like her body is public fucking property. Which shouldn't need saying. There were also a few posts by women protesting this, particularly since Tennant fangirls were teased, if not outright rejected, because they liked DW "for the wrong reasons," and because DW isn't "about that." But as soon as Karen Gillan steps on the scene, male fans are allowed to put on their misogynist hats and gush about how! damn! hot! she is. Which isn't to say that objectifying Tennant was okay or anything, but Tennant fangirl-ism starts (most of the time) with how wonderful of an actor he is, how well he plays the Doctor and how convincingly, and ends with how attractive he is. I say this as a Tennant fangirl myself. Yes, he's gorgeous, but his attractiveness is a result of his general awesomeness as the Doctor, not his body or his hair. (He does have great hair.)
Anyway, I don't go on DW forums anymore. But, I do listen to the podcasts. I still want to be a part of the fan culture, and have my ear to the ground, so this is how I do it. I listen to the four most popular DW podcasts: DWO Whocast, Doctor Who Podshock, Radio Free Skaro, and The Doctor Who Podcast, as well as a couple outliers: Sonic Newsdriver and Tardis Tavern.
SO. I listen to a lot of podcasts. Enough for this to be surprising: there are no women on any of them. You read that right. NOT ONE. And these aren't one-man podcasts. All except Sonic Newsdriver have two hosts, and many have three. Why are there no women? I honestly don't know. Maybe men don't think women watch Doctor Who. Or they don't think women have opinions about Doctor Who. Opinions worth listening to, anyway. When I first listened to the podcasts I'm about to talk about, I twittered this:
Oh for crissake, am I really going to have to listen for the rest of Amy Pond's reign about how she's beautiful first and good actress 1/2
Second? YOU HAVE FEMALE LISTENERS Doctor Who podcasts! Women who would like to be treated like people! Craziness. 2/2Most of the DW podcasts follow you if you follow them, so I got this response from Tardis Tavern:
@cnstoker I have to admit I'm surprised at the amount of feedback we get from female listeners! But that is DW for you! :-)Which pissed me off a little. You are surprised? Why? Doctor Who has a huge female fan base. This is NOT NEWS. Are you surprised they want to listen to podcasts? Do women not do that or something? Or are you surprised that women are fans in the same way that men are fans, meaning that they want to engage with the show beyond just watching it and having sex fantasies about Matt Smith? I mean, we all know women do cosplay and silly things like that, but LISTENING to ANALYSES of the show? Did you think their TINY BRAINS might explode from the ANALYTICAL GENIUS of the DW podcast world? (As a literary critic, let me just point out: no, they would not, even if women had the tiniest of brains, because the analysis of the podcasters is usually barely above surface level.) Anyway, I didn't write that response, because I don't want to discourage them reaching out to female listeners. Instead I wrote something like this:
1/2 @tardistavern I wonder if their reasoning is anything like mine, which is going to make me sound like a grump: no matter how many times
2/2 @tardistavern the podcasts talk about Amy like that, they will never be as sexist as the forums. Maybe I need to try Livejournal.
@tardistavern Which is all to say: good for you for noticing! Ladies and DW are a natural fit. :)Needless to say, I was so proud of myself for how nice I was. As we all know, I am a grump. And DW podcasters acting SURPRISED at having female listeners makes me grumpy. But not, friends, as grumpy as listening to podcasters make disgusting comments about Amy Pond/Karen Gillan does. Not even close.
It all stared with Podshock, episode 190. Which went well. They brought on a bunch of guests to talk about the first episode of the new season, The Eleventh Hour (unsurprisingly, no lady guests). Lots of enthusiasm and excitement and love. Then came Darth Skeptical, who said this about 30 minutes in:
Certainly nothing wrong with Karen Gillan, occasional moments where I think she overacts slightly, but…who cares because she’s gorgeous and because most of the time she hits the right notes anyway.(emphasis mine)I rewound to make sure I heard that right. Oh, I did. I sent Podshock an angry response on their voicemail feedback number, but so far nothing. Here's the deal: no one said anything about this. None of the hosts, none of the guests, because no one seemed to find anything wrong with it. If Darth had said this about Tennant or Smith, had said something like "Sometimes I think Tennant/Smith overacts a bit, but who cares because he's gorgeous/he has great hair/he looks hot in that suit and most of the time he hits the right note anyway," SURELY someone would have interrupted him. SURELY someone would have said, "Gee, Darth, wait a minute. Tennant's hair doesn't have anything to do with his performance. Smith's gorgeous face isn't really relevant in this conversation." But Darth wouldn't have said that, because it sounds ridiculous when you say something like that about a man. We're all used to hearing about women as though their attractiveness comes first and any talent they have a distant second, but even with all of Darth's qualifiers, THIS IS NOT OKAY. If Karen Gillan is a good Amy Pond (and I think she is), she is so because she's a great actress, because she has good chemistry with the Doctor. Not because she looks good in a miniskirt.
Darth's comment was more or less innocuous, and picking it out of his commentary could be construed as nit-picking. Which is what Doctor Who fans do, but whatever. I'm over it. Until I listen to the DWO Podcast a little later, and here this horrifying conversation from episode 5.2, starting about 18 minutes in (my comments in parentheses):
Paul: I want to quickly talk about Amy, because isn't she gorgeous?In Seb's defense, he tried to shut down the conversation early. He laughed and everything, but you could tell from the beginning that this was not how he wanted to conversation to go. I don't know what his motivations for that were, because it could have just been because of podcast content and not his own respect for women, but I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt, since I don't have much evidence either way. Even given that, however, he should have spoken up more forcefully, made it clear that the things Paul was saying were NOT OKAY. You don't help women when you let people like Paul think that it's normal to talk like this.
(The tone of this is: Well, now let's talk about the important things, like how hot Amy is.)
Seb: Yeah, yeah. And a fantastic actress as well.
(You can tell he's a bit taken aback by this turn in direction.)
Paul: Yeah, absolutely.
(This tone is the most telling; he says, "yeah, absolutely" in a sort of "well, sure, but that's not really the point, is it?" way.) But, um, you know her running around in her, her nightdress and uh (both laugh)I wonder...
Seb: Get, getting wet.
Paul: I wonder how many men tried to, uh, look up her, look up her nightdress (Seb laughing) as she's (Seb interrupts, difficult to interpret)
Seb: Quickly finish that sentence.
Paul:(laughs) Come on, I reckon there's a lot of men out there who tried look at her knickers up that little dress there.
Seb:(laughing)Oh dear. You, you went exactly where I didn't want you to. (both laughing)
Paul: They wouldn't have put it in if, if, if they hadn't wanted something along those lines. Let's face it, you know, she's a "kiss-o-gram," in quotes, and that, in another language, means she's a stripper. I mean, it...I've got no doubt in my mind about that. The other thing is, you know, uh. Uh, about little Amy is, I absolutely adore her.
Seb: Yeah, the other thing about her is she's a very good foil for the Doctor.
Paul: Oh yeah. (continues talking about things that aren't Amy's body, apparently getting the fucking point)
But Paul. CHRIST, Paul. What the hell happened there? You decided that treating a woman like a person was just TOO FUCKING HARD, so instead of doing that you're going to tell everyone about how you were DESPERATELY trying to upskirt Karen Gillan while watching Doctor Who? Seriously, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU? This is Feminism 101 stuff: Don't treat women like public property. Don't insinuate that it's okay to treat women like public property if they're in sex work. Don't call grown women "little Amy." Don't act like your gross-ass sexual appropriation of said grown woman's body is appropriately labelled "adoration."
Here's the deal with Amy: she is an openly sexual character. With which I have no problem. Women should be promiscuous as they like with no judgment from anyone. But promiscuous women should not be subject to men thinking that their promiscuity gives those men the right to TRY TO LOOK UP THEIR SKIRTS. And, frankly, when normatively attractive women are on television, and written as promiscuous, it's very likely that the people creating the show had something like that "in mind," because the objectification and appropriation of women's bodies is a real, terrible thing in the world. But that doesn't excuse Paul, because he should be fucking aware of the fact that Karen Gillan is a REAL PERSON. And he has no right. None.
The kiss-o-gram = stripper comment was particularly telling, as well. Paul knows, on some level, that this would be an inappropriate conversation to have about NORMAL women, but he thinks that sex workers ARE public property, and thus he can safely talk about Amy like this if he can establish that she is in the same class as a sex worker. Aside from the fact that this argument makes no goddamn sense on its face (a kiss-o-gram is NOT a euphemism for "stripper," but an entirely different occupation), Paul is tipping his asshole hand here rather clearly. So, Paul, in case no one else tells you: Trying to look up the skirt of a stripper, unless she is clearly and enthusiastically inviting you to do so, is NOT OKAY. You have to get consent, even from strippers. Even (take a deep breath) PROSTITUTES reserve the right to tell you no. Or fuck off, if they're feeling cheeky.
So, one more time with feeling: Women's bodies are not public property, or there for your judgment and approval. Not even Karen Gillan's. So cut it the fuck out, DW podcasts.