So I try to say what I have to say, here. I confess to things even when I’m worried that some members of the asexual community may not approve. I try to create a voice for the renegade. However, today, I am about to cross the line. I am about to admit to the worst crime an asexual could commit.
I ship Ten. and Liz One.
And here’s why:
(note: if you didn’t understand that sentence, this blog post may not make the most sense)
(note: actually, having now finished this, I advise you that this article (apart from the tiny history bit at the beginning) really is completely irrelevant unless you watch Doctor Who. Which you should.)
Elizabeth the First (henceforth to be known as Liz One) was one of the most powerful and iconic female leaders Britain has ever had. In her day, she was consistently thwarted by society’s perverse gender expectations. She masculinated herself, famously declaring she had the heart and stomach of a king. When she ascended the throne, she also became as contractual a virgin as the Jonas brothers. She could never marry or have sex, because both of those assumed that the man was in charge, and no man could politically be in charge of the queen of England. She wore white and pearls and fetishised her virginity, turning it into her strength.
So, an asexual icon? Well, no. If she was a virgin, it was probably only in a Clinton definition of sex. In her intact hymen rested her intact political power. But there is little doubt that the Virgin queen broke the rules. She was barely past puberty when she was rumored to engage in heavy petting with her patroness’s husband (even better, the man was her half-brother’s uncle, his wife was her father’s widow- how’s that for soap-style drama?), and the rumours kept on flowing.
Doctor Who is a nine hundred year-old Time Lord, much beloved of asexuals. Now, he really is an asexual hero. He travels round the world with lots of pretty girls and still is nothing more than a charming intellectual. He recently reacted to an indecent proposal with the same puzzled horror that I can imagine I would. He doesn’t seem to be attracted to humans. But recently, there have been some suggestions of something more.
We first met Liz One when she recognised Tennant’s Doctor. He had done something she disliked in her past, his future, but it wasn’t revealed.
Then, as Tennant’s time drew to a close, in a possible attempt to solve one of the many small inconsistencies the show creates and then forgets about, Tennant boasted idly “They don’t call her the Virgin Queen any more.” He implied that, in his loneliness and fear of mortality, he had raided history for the trickiest conquest. I was, frankly, a little disgusted. I felt they had taken the character where he never should have gone.
They haven’t dropped the idea. Liz Ten, in a far future, may have mentioned something about Liz One having been very fond of the Doctor (I’m not sure, though. The reference slid past me at the time. It may have actually been the present queen, Liz Two). And, this weekend, it was mentioned again. “Have you heard about Elizabeth the First? Well, she thought she was the first”. So there were more before her? Does our time-travelling nerd-action-hero have regular love affairs?
And that was when I realised, I am actually really happy for him if he does. True, I’m annoyed by the new phallus-wielding Dr of this series (“Yours is bigger than mine”, “Don’t start all that”. “I can’t feel my feet, or other parts”, “I can feel all my parts just fine.”), but the Doctor is meant to connect with people in wide varieties of ways. He is momentary and life-changing, and is the perfect person to challenge the stuffy sexual confinements most people throughout history have been placed in. His relationship with the Madame du Pompador was one of the most touching moments in the new programme. The reason he can’t get close to his companions is because they will age, but what makes the Doctor a person, not just a big, world-saving concept, is the fact that people can change him. A particular person in a particular circumstance can force him to embrace a relationship he’d never have considered, just like humans do. We saw this with Rose, River, du Pompador, the Master, and this is the Doctor’s greatest strength- other people define him as much as he defines them.
So the Doctor finds a woman, trapped and alone. Sexual but with an enforced virginity. So very strong and forceful, like the other people who have the power to wrap the Doctor around their willpowers. They are both all alone, with no one who will understand them. They both want just a temporary feeling of kinship, and of belonging. She can’t forsake her duty, nor he his. They connect in a way which is relevant for both of them. Even if he was asexual, he could still gain a lot from the experience. And the fact that they were probably also in the midst of an alien invasion probably helped.
I’ve not yet heard any asexuals judging their relationship, but I, for one, will stand by the right of the Doctor to enjoy sexuality (or not) in whatever way works. If we apply that right to real people, it’s got to start with fictional.
Maybe we just need to find a new asexual idol. Spongebob Squarepants, anyone?