Communicator (communicator) wrote,
Communicator
communicator

Release me, and restore me to the ground

Several people have made valid criticisms of the latest Doctor Who episode, school reunion: that the 'catfight' between Rose and SJS was poorly handled, and the treatment of female aging was clumsy and sexist. It seems these are valid criticisms, though I still think this episode was a triumphant return to form. It's often interesting to discuss critical ideas, but I don't want to detract from my overall very positive response to the whole thing.

That type of 'catfighting' over a man seems to be something that men think/hope that women do - whereas real women don't, not in quite that way. Don't get me wrong - women fight - I had a row with a woman at work quite recently about the length of time set aside for a staff meeting (exciting stuff eh?). But do we fight over men in that open way? I think men would like to imagine we do, and perhaps there is a certain type of woman who would, all teeth and knickers, but I think most women find that type of thing excruciating and embarrassing.

Two of my favourite treatments of aging are by male writers, about male aging: Sailing to Byzantium by Yeats and Tithonus by Tennyson.

In fact Tithonus is a great poem about precisely the Sarah Jane Smith dilemma - what relationship can an immortal have to a decaying mortal?

How can my nature longer mix with thine?
Coldly thy rosy shadows bathe me, cold
Are all thy lights... Release me, and restore me to the ground;
Thou seest all things, thou wilt see my grave:
Thou wilt renew thy beauty morn by morn;
I earth in earth forget these empty courts,
And thee returning on thy silver wheels.


But in this episode this important theme is mixed up with another idea, that women older than their twenties should withdraw from public life, or are ridiculous and shameful in some way. grapefruitzzz said:

The story isn't gendered but it is being presented in a gendered way, specifically about female ageing. I try not to get all FemLitCrit too often, because I think it's over-used and often whiny, but seriously, would they have written the same story for Peter Purves? (if PP had been dumped the same way and had a longer history). ... Actually, imagining Peter Purves in all these scenes is very funny. Here he is, getting outraged at being left behind, bitching about school lessons with Rose and then getting a ginormous huggle. Cheering me up no end. Especially if you imagine it all in a big aran jumper.

Because it would be ridiculous to say to a man in his fifties - I had to leave you behind because I couldn't bear to see you like this. And for him to accept that?
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