Queer Representation and Visibility in Doctor Who - Vastra and Jenny

We are introduced to Madame Vastra and Jenny in A Good Man Goes To War. Vastra is a Silurian living in London, working for Scotland Yard and she employs Jenny as her maid. The Doctor recruits them both to help him rescue Amy and Melody who are being held captive on Demon’s Run by The Silence. 

It is debatable whether or not Vastra and Jenny’s relationship can actually be considered canon as it is never explicitly mentioned, rather it is alluded to through small looks and innuendo. They are, however, an incredibly popular ship and the implication that they are together is strong enough that I feel their inclusion in this series is justified.

There are only a few moments in the episode which imply that these two women are in something more than a professional or platonic relationship. The most overt of which takes place whilst Vastra and Jenny are holding some marines captive. The two share the following exchange:

Vastra: [referring to The Doctor] And rather attractive. 

Jenny: You do realise he’s a man, don’t you, ma’am?

Vastra: Mammals. They all look alike. 

Jenny: Oh. Thank you. 

Vastra: Was I being insensitive again dear? I don’t know why you put up with me.

Vastra then turns and lashes one of the marines, who was attempting to escape, with her extendible tongue. When she turns back to Jenny the two share a very pointed look.(x)

This scene includes small moments which hint at their relationship, such as Vastra calling Jenny dear. The biggest reference, however, is the giant innuendo, something which I’ve personally had many mixed feelings about. 

A big part of me finds this moment problematic. There is the fact that, yet again, we have two queer characters being used as the basis for a joke. More than that, though, this joke is about sex. 

There is, of course, nothing inherently wrong with sex, or characters being sexual. It is, however, a common and long standing trope in popular media that, when queer women appear, they are overly sexualised and fetishised in an effort to appeal to the straight, male gaze. As a result, actual queer women have their sexual identities co-opted and their experiences erased. 

Overall I feel that, whilst Vastra and Jenny were undoubtedly badass, the depiction of their relationship was far from positive. I personally feel these characters and their relationship falls into the realms of queerbaiting. Admittedly queerbaiting occurs more commonly between (white, cis) male characters, however, it is strongly implied, yet never explicitly stated, that these two are a couple and their sexual identities are completely fetishised. 

That being said, given recent rumors and set photos, it seems Madame Vastra and Jenny will be returning to our screens for series seven. Hopefully their relationship will continue to be explored and we’ll get to see them develop into an interesting, multi-dimensional characters. 

Queer Representation and Visibility in Doctor Who - Vastra and Jenny

We are introduced to Madame Vastra and Jenny in A Good Man Goes To War. Vastra is a Silurian living in London, working for Scotland Yard and she employs Jenny as her maid. The Doctor recruits them both to help him rescue Amy and Melody who are being held captive on Demon’s Run by The Silence. 

It is debatable whether or not Vastra and Jenny’s relationship can actually be considered canon as it is never explicitly mentioned, rather it is alluded to through small looks and innuendo. They are, however, an incredibly popular ship and the implication that they are together is strong enough that I feel their inclusion in this series is justified.

There are only a few moments in the episode which imply that these two women are in something more than a professional or platonic relationship. The most overt of which takes place whilst Vastra and Jenny are holding some marines captive. The two share the following exchange:

Vastra: [referring to The Doctor] And rather attractive. 

Jenny: You do realise he’s a man, don’t you, ma’am?

Vastra: Mammals. They all look alike. 

Jenny: Oh. Thank you. 

Vastra: Was I being insensitive again dear? I don’t know why you put up with me.

Vastra then turns and lashes one of the marines, who was attempting to escape, with her extendible tongue. When she turns back to Jenny the two share a very pointed look.(x)

This scene includes small moments which hint at their relationship, such as Vastra calling Jenny dear. The biggest reference, however, is the giant innuendo, something which I’ve personally had many mixed feelings about. 

A big part of me finds this moment problematic. There is the fact that, yet again, we have two queer characters being used as the basis for a joke. More than that, though, this joke is about sex. 

There is, of course, nothing inherently wrong with sex, or characters being sexual. It is, however, a common and long standing trope in popular media that, when queer women appear, they are overly sexualised and fetishised in an effort to appeal to the straight, male gaze. As a result, actual queer women have their sexual identities co-opted and their experiences erased. 

Overall I feel that, whilst Vastra and Jenny were undoubtedly badass, the depiction of their relationship was far from positive. I personally feel these characters and their relationship falls into the realms of queerbaiting. Admittedly queerbaiting occurs more commonly between (white, cis) male characters, however, it is strongly implied, yet never explicitly stated, that these two are a couple and their sexual identities are completely fetishised. 

That being said, given recent rumors and set photos, it seems Madame Vastra and Jenny will be returning to our screens for series seven. Hopefully their relationship will continue to be explored and we’ll get to see them develop into an interesting, multi-dimensional characters. 
Posted on 19 July 2012
Tags: #Madame Vastra  #Jenny  #a good man goes to war  #queer representation and visibility in Doctor Who  
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  15. kyrilu reblogged this from feministwhoniverse and added:
    yes yes yes THIS! I hope that there will be so much more of these two for the next season, and that they’ll be treated...
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  17. somekindofblogthing reblogged this from feministwhoniverse and added:
    YEAAAH! Everything Moffat writes is problematic as fuck, and he has such a horrible tendency towards queerbaiting, but I...
  18. lesmisloony reblogged this from feministwhoniverse and added:
    Except it won’t be.
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