For the last few weeks I’ve been doing a feminist take on the character of Clara Oswin Oswald in Doctor Who (here and here). How well does her character measure up to expectations of twenty-first century feminists?
I must admit defeat. Her character is a mystery. She is “the woman twice dead.” The Clara we are seeing now (Modern Clara) is for all intents and purposes a normal young women. However, we’ve met her twice before in other times and places (Dalek Clara and Victorian Clara). Both times, she’s died. If you put all three Claras together, what you get is an incredibly rich characterization. If you take Modern Clara by herself, though, she looks to me like the cardboard cutout of a strong female character. Too clever, too perceptive, and too fearless to be believable as portrayed. (Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying I don’t think a woman could be this clever, perceptive, and fearless. I believed Dalek Clara and Victorian Clara would be. Just not Modern Clara.)
This latest episode, “The Crimson Horror,” didn’t change my impressions of Modern Clara. It was a feminist masterpiece altogether. Bechdel wins all over the place, a fabulous critique of eugenics, a mixed-race lesbian couple, and eight strong female characters all in the space of a forty-eight(?) minute episode. The Doctor isn’t even the focus of the show: it begins with a chambermaid rescuing the Doctor and ends with a mixed-race girl confronting Clara with the results of a remarkable research project. Clara, though, stayed mainly the same.
So I give up. There’s no “Feminist Take” here. Clara’s character is clearly headed in some direction or other. I don’t know what it is. No more updates until I find out.
I do know, though, that this journey of discovery is going to be a lot of fun.
P.S. Update #3, from Series 8, is here.