Is Steven Moffat sexist? Does he find women the weaker sex that always needs a man to step in and do the hard work? Does his body of work on television reflect this?
The answer is quite simply no. But there are people out there who find some of his episodes of Doctor Who, Sherlock and other shows a wee bit tinged in male domination.
A recent post on the New Statesman website by Helen Lewis Hasteley has presented an interesting and lively debate about whether some of Moffat’s scripts bestow that the writer has a problem with women. This comes from a blog written by Zoe Stavri, who takes part in the debate, who expressed that the character of Irene Adler in the new series of Sherlock was not as strong in gender specific ways as she was in her first appearance in literature over 120 years ago.
The pros and cons of the debate are both fascinating and have some very strong points to make. Hasteley is very much in the pro Moffat camp, arguing that the writer has changed the female characters in his various scripts for the better and put them on an even keel with their male counterparts. Stavri on the other hand, who is also a Moffat fan, notes several changes in classic characters that may not be for the better including this:
“Returning to Sherlock, there were unfortunate implications to Adler being “beaten” by Sherlock, recasting an independent woman character as one who is ultimately less good than a man and needs to be rescued. This does not exist in a vacuum: it exists in a broader context wherein female characters are largely inferior to men anyway, and in the minds of many, women are still the weaker sex.”
One might argue that it’s not the fact that Irene Adler is beaten in Sherlock that should be focused on but the littler moments that empower her. She may well have been beaten by the detective but she had both Sherlock and Mycroft in her power at one point. To best one Holmes is clever but to best two at the same time is downright genius. Looking at Moffat’s other work; he gives women some of the most powerful roles in Doctor Who, elevating them higher than any male could dream to reach. Look how Madame de Pompadour takes the Doctor’s breath away in 2006’s The Girl In The Fireplace. The 900 year old alien literally sacrifices his home and his friends to be with her in the blink of an eye because he realises that Pompadour is every part his equal. Let’s not forget that this is the man who also created River Song, one of the strongest characters to ever appear in Doctor Who and certainly not someone who could ever be bested.
Moffat writes stories these days that involve male leads and so ultimately the focus will be from their perspective but that by no means is an indication that he doesn’t know just how powerful woman are. However, if we all agreed on something there would be no excitement in the world so have a read of the debate and give us your thoughts on the matter!