So word is out that the 13th incarnation of Dr. Who is in a female body. And with this announcement came the oh so predictable shit-storm. Dr. Who – a woman? The outcries reverberate through servers worldwide, make the guts and brains of the internet shiver with an overload of (mostly misogynist) opinion.
But why, if I may ask. Let’s put all agenda-driven bias aside and do what’s best in such moments: peel the onion to reveal the core.
Dr. Who is an alien! What in the name of Taranis do we know of the sexes and genders of his species? Who says they have the same genetic code as terrestrial mammals such as homo sapiens sapiens? For all we know, “it”, the real Dr. Who, could be totally grossed out when assuming any human-gendered body, male or female! It may have just chosen the male version in the 1960ies because it has learned that (back then more so than now, but still pretty much) the male sex has a slew of advantages in the world.
You see, for some reason, we just assume that this possibly gender- and sexless alien is male because that’s how the series started. And also because, well — except for my daughter, who once asked, when she saw a male doctor for the first time, “Men can be doctors, too?” — most just have it stuck in their heads: doctor = male.
Yet, just to stick with the logic within the realm created in the Dr. Who series: it is absolutely not logical that this alien must select one sex over the other. That it chose males in it’s first twelve incarnations may just have been totally arbitrary. It might even hated it from the very beginning. Who really knows?
But that’s not what is so fascinating about this discussion. We get to a way more interesting level of depth when we consider for what Dr. Who is a metaphor: Re-incarnation. And some, again, assume that whatever “it” is that time and body-travels must be male because it started as male. Yet, what is this “it”? What is actually travelling? Especially when we don’t stay within the context of Dr. Who and “it” being an alien there, but if we cast a wider net and ask ourselves: If there was re-incarnation factual, what is reincarnating?
To approach an answer to that question, we need to first ask ourselves: What actually determines our “I”, our “Self”.
Is it our physical body, this blob of cells that is from it’s very first formation guided by one of two combinations of chromosomes, xx or xy?
Is it our mind, our ability to form thought – more or less rational? And which determines our gender, the way we consider ourselves in relation to our biologically determined sex. May that be in line with traditional association xx = female and xy = male, or not.
Or is the Self our spirit, our soul, the energy of our consciousness? Which typically cares about other things than sex and gender, even though it thrives on sexuality as much as on other forces.
Well, a good way to look at these question is to ask ourselves what happens with these three – body, mind, and spirit – when we die. Clearly, the sex-determining body seizes all functionality and decomposes. Even Dr. Who leaves the body of its previous host behind. And we clearly see the parallel here: the body with its xx and xy chromosomes is nothing but a host for the mind and spirit. Which pretty much rules out that it can influence the gender of those two, and what the destination of the reincarnation can be. Think about that for a moment if you ever ask yourself why sex (biological body) and gender (mind) do not necessarily have to follow each other.
So that leaves us with the mind and the spirit. But when you think about it, the mind is very much dependent on the host as well. You can tell during your own lifetime when observing what your mind does when your body sleeps. It just turns off. Or something. A couple of times during your sleeps some synapses fire away randomly, aka dreams. But other than that, your mind is gone. And so it is when you die. Not a reliable resource for transmitting your previous gender to the next reincarnation either, I would say.
So we arrive at the spirit as the remaining – and only possible – force that can travel from one body to the next when reincarnating. And here you have to ask yourself if it makes any sense, at all, that our spirit, our soul, has a sex or a gender. And that our souls would choose the same sex and gender of its previous incarnation for the next one.
Personally, I deeply hope that my spirit has better things to do than being concerned with the sex and gender of the host of my current incarnation. I happily leave those worries to my mind and body. And, how would my spirit ever get the “whole picture” if it were to only reincarnate in one particular sex? I – as in my soul – would never be done!