One of the best and most positive cannon lesbian relationships on television is Madame Vastra, a Silurian lizard woman from the dawn of time and her human wife, Jenny Flint a Victorian Ninja Maid from Doctor Who! 💚💚
LUKE DAVIS asks: What was Vastra and Jenny’s wedding like?
Victorian society reeled. Arthur Conan Doyle declined to attend but sent a hamper, George Bernard Shaw contemplated a new play, and a horse fainted. The Doctor enjoyed himself so much, he came four times, so wreaking havoc with the seating plan. A stern young woman from The Temperance League, attempted to disrupt the happy occasion, declaring it to be immoral, and got put in a headlock by Jenny. Surprisingly, Vastra was much more diplomatic about the interruption and just invited the young lady to dinner.
Fortunately, a video exists of the wedding, although the happy couple’s kiss has been edited from some copies, without the permission of the video makers. Vastra has made a list of the people responsible along with some suitable condiments.
Just imagine River
regularly stealing the TARDIS, ‘till this one time she finds Clara inside. Their traveling together becomes a tradition (but the Doctor never knows). They often stop in victorian London for a tea party with a certain lizard from the dawn of time and her wife. When Clara and Ashildr start their journey in the 50’s diner, River often joins them for long adventures. Jack shows up too, sometimes… Those nights usually end with Martha bringing all of them to her home (they are too drunk to drive a tardis). oh, and Clara becomes her second wife at some point (after a bad break up with Jane Austen).
I dedicate this post to all Moffat’s characters of his era. The Girl who waited in a garden who grew into a woman struggling to figure out who she was beyond the stories in her head that somehow became her real life, the girl raised to believe she existed only for a singular obsession to murder a man yet who ultimately learned how to balance love and a life of her own choosing, the nurse who never wanted to be extraordinary, but could always stand up for the moral decision and fight for his family, the old man in a young man’s body who just wanted to see the universe and do the right thing, but lost site of his own moral compass, the FBI agent who never let his sexuality define his life and career, but couldn’t stop others from making it define him, the queen who tried to save her people by making a choice she couldn’t live with, the woman who thought she had it all under control who could only really learn about life by losing control, the lizard woman from the dawn of time and her Victorian human wife who were the detectives that inspired Sherlock and Watson, the socially awkward soldier scarred by war who made the ultimate decision only a leader could make, the shy fangirl who was also competent and intelligent, the fallen hero who spent a lifetime at war and nearly destroyed his own people, including the innocent, to save the universe, the hero who wasn’t very good at showing affection and accepted that he would never be like the humans he worked so hard to protect yet questioned his own character, the self proclaimed queen of evil who showed no remorse for killing yet showed a misguided loyalty to a former friend, and the many others who made this era fantastic.
One other problem I have with Madame Vastra and Jenny’s relationship is that Madame Vastra is a lizard woman from the dawn of time and literally an alien. Now, I understand that Doctor Who, as a sci-fi show, has lots of aliens and that aliens are normal. However, in our current society a lot of people are against gay couples because they see them as “unnatural” or “alien” and in some ways I feel like this makes Vastra/Jenny seem even more bizarre to anti-gay people. Am I over-interpreting?
No! You aren’t overreacting at all! That bothers me a lot too, especially the way it’s portrayed. I don’t mind that Madame Vastra is a lizard, because this is Doctor Who and that kind of thing happens, although now you point it out it is odd that the only non-human romantic relationship is the queer one. Queer people often aren’t seen as completely human so for one of the only queer people on the show to be an alien is heterosexist.
But Moffat always draws attention to Madame Vastra’s lizardness and equates it with her marriage, e.g. declaring “I’m a lizard from the dawn of time and this is my wife!” It’s equating the two, as if being a lizard from pre-humanity is less shocking than being married to a woman. That’s incredibly heterosexist, because queer women exist now and fall in love with and marry each other. It’s not strange at all. It’s completely normal and nothing like lizard humans who’ve existed since “the dawn of time”. And it’s perpetuating the idea that queer couples are different from other people.
It’s also turning their relationship into a joke to shock other people, which is heterosexist.
This is easily my favorite Christmas special in all of the last seven series. It is romantic and magical; tragic yet optimistic. This episode tells a truly lovely story that stands on it’s own as a tale you could repeat every Christmas without really needing to know that this is the Doctor and his companion. It is the tale of a lonely man who lost everything and the woman who pulls him back into the world.
Yet it is a perfect Doctor Who Christmas special as the underlying theme of of hope that travels beneath the darkness of the Eleventh Doctor’s era is perfectly exemplified. The characters of this era are survivors against all that tragedy and time can throw at them. The governess with two lives and the Time Lord who lives on a cloud are no exception.
When the Doctor took Amy Pond in to Travel with him, he took in a girl who was confused and, like him, just wanted to run away from the future. So, together they ran not realizing they were running head first into their future as they created their own little family. The Doctor, who had lost so many before, found himself with a best friend, a wife, and in-laws holding on to a life he could pretend might last forever, but that he knew never would.
Time Lords, maybe they really do live too long because only one now remains alive of that little family. Having lost his Ponds, the Doctor hides himself away on a cloud in a depression thinking the universe doesn’t care about him anymore… if it ever did.
But he is wrong. He is loved by so many and so much and two of those who love him watch over him even as he pushes the world away because they know that deep down he is still that great man he once was. Vastra and Jenny, a lizard woman from the dawn of time and her wife, care for him unquestioning, knowing that one day he will recover and rejoin the world.
Then, Clara Oswin Oswald enters his life and with those familiar two words, it all begins again as she asks, Doctor Who?
Clara is a clever, brave, inquisitive woman who takes an interest in the man who lives alone on a cloud and together they save the day from the Great Intelligence (as was Clara’s mission when she splintered herself through time). However reluctant the Doctor was to follow Clara back into the real world, his pain begins to lessen and his personality begins to reappear as he remembers what it was like to be the Doctor, the man who puts on a bow tie and takes hold of a friend’s hand as they run into the face of danger.
Clara is everything he could ask for and so, the Doctor invites her to travel with him giving her a key to the Tardis. He takes a chance on this woman who helped him back on the path towards being the man he once was, but in a moment of tragedy taking us out of the magical story unfolding, Clara is pulled by the ice woman out of the Tardis and falls to her death. But hope remains in this Christmas tale that all is not lost. Clara Oswald, the real woman who created this echo of herself to save this man, exists somewhere in this world, alive and well.
I'm not a Moffat fan either but from what I have seen of Jenny and Vastra he didn't seem to do anything wrong there...
In The Brilliant Book 2012 - basically extended canon - it was established that she met Vastra when Vastra saved her from a Chinese gang that molested her. So basically, Jenny is a survivor of at least sexual assault, if not outright rape. But Jenny’s first on screen kiss was not a loving and tender kiss with her wife, instead it was the Doctor bending her over, kissing her against her will and making fun of it afterwards.
So in Moffat’s Doctor Who, a married lesbian, who had already been molested by multiple men and is married to the woman who saved her from these men, is sexually assaulted by a man on screen before she has her first kiss with her own wife.
Yeah, he’s not doing anything wrong there.
(Okay, it was the idea of Matt Smith to do that kiss, but honestly? Moffat and Gatiss should have stopped him or at the very least, they should have looked at the scene in the overall context of the show, then noticed how problematic it is and then they should have cut it out. But they didn’t. Because in Moffat Who that is a completely okay thing to happen.)
This, of course, isn’t even addressing other problems with their relationship, most importantly the fact that within the series it is always depicted more like a master - servant relationship than a marriage. Jenny addresses Vastra as “Ma’am” and Vastra adresses her as “Miss Jenny”. Even when Jenny thinks that she has made a fatal mistake - not closing the door -, is in extreme emotional distress and thinks that she has just been murdered, she calls her wife “Ma’am”. Only when Jenny is gone because the Doctor’s life is being reversed and she died, Vastra calls her Jenny and expresses genuine emotion.
Then there’s the lack of physica affection and genuine warmth between them. Even though one could argue that it is because they live within Victorian times, Vastra is a lizard woman from the dawn of time and Jenny regularly time travels with her. I think one could say that they aren’t a typical Victorian relationships. While they might not express emotion in public for that reason, I personally don’t find it logical that they would continue that behaviour in private, especially to the extent they do in the show.
Of course you also have to consider that Vastra is a Silurian and thus not an actual human woman. If one’s goal as a show runner was to normalize queer relationships, wouldn’t one logically choose two humans? This way, the only not heterosexual relationship on Doctor Who at the moment, the only bit of representation queer people get during Moffat Who, is a relationship between a human women and a female Silurian that is often used for jokes and witty one liners and where the married women don’t even get to be physically affectionate on screen and one of them gets sexually assaulted instead.