"Scandal in Belgravia" OR How not to handle criticism, Mr. Moffat

I was thinking of writing a rant myself but this is so perfect (especially the last couple of paragraphs are brilliant and completely on point!) I already feel a little better having read it. not that I feel less angry. Just better because I don't have to go in search of words that will only elude me because of my anger.

I did rant on twitter though. And did some googling on how Steven Moffat writes women. Because, to be honest, I haven't been too happy with Doctor Who's portrayal of them in a good while. I came across a quote attributed to Moffat:

"I don’t know how well women come out of Coupling," says Moffat, the son of a headmaster, who taught English in Greenock before following his original writerly instincts and scoring his first success with Press Gang. "There’s this issue you’re not allowed to discuss: that women are needy. Men can go for longer, more happily, without women. That’s the truth. We don’t, as little boys, play at being married - we try to avoid it for as long as possible. Meanwhile women are out there hunting for husbands."
So I tweeted this:

I wasn't expecting a reply since it's well known he doesn't reply to criticism. And he also hadn't replied to my earlier tweet in which I had simply asked him why he made Irene gay. (Because I was actually genuinely interested in his reasons.) But lo and behold I actually got a pissed of @reply from Mr. Moffat himself:

"Boy, that guy really can't take criticism", I thought, "but hey, getting misquoted by journalists really fucking sucks, I get that." So I wrote back. I was actually very calm and collected and objective:



But thus he has disqualified himself. It is actually quite hilarious to me because thankfully I've gotten to a point in my life where I don't take these things personally but exactly as what they are: The answer of a troll.

Btw: It seems Moffat has deleted the post, because Finn can't access it and now neither can I. Thank the gods for screenshots, right? ;)

edit: It doesn't matter whether you want to call it misogyny, sexism or just plain bad writing of female characters. What matters is that it is there. And no one has tried to refute that yet. All people are doing is split hairs about the definitions. Which are academic. Which this blog (nor my twitter account) is not.

So if you want to actually have a discussion about Moffat's writing with me - go ahead. But if you just want to split hairs you must do it elsewhere and know that your comments of that kind here will be deleted.


  1. He has had this for months and months and quite frankly I am surprised he can put up with any of it! I would have snapped if I was him too... and in a much bigger way!

  2. The fact Moffat bothered to interact with a so-called writer who can't even spell misogyny means he wasted more time on your views than I would have.

  3. Ok so I mistyped misogyny. it's one of my trip up words when agitated. big woop

    Also: english is not my native language.

  4. You might want to re-read the definition of 'troll' that you linked to. You successfully trolled him, he then thought the better about it and deleted his reply. But thank the gods that your screen-shot preserved the evidence. How else could you boast about your victory?

  5. What's surprising me the most is that not even one commenter here tries to pretend that they've actually read the blog post. Not one adds to the topic of feminism, sexism or the lack of conversational skills. Not one can offer a well-formed counter argument on why the author of this blog post is wrong and they are right.
    One can spell.
    One can use the dictionary.
    And one's just being cute.

  6. While I do agree with you in that Moffat was unnecessarily immature in that reply, he does make a good point (although, again, it could have definitely been worded better). Misogyny is (generally) defined as the hatred of women, and I haven't actually seen that in his work. Yes, there is extreme belittlement. Yes, there are terribly dependent characters. But while I was dissatisfied with the writing of both River Song and Irene Adler, I don't believe it is misogyny. I think that women are just horribly misrepresented in his work, which I believe we do share some feelings on.

  7. Keep in mind that I'm not going at this from a scientific POV or background, so I guess it's a matter of definition. Is it belittlement? Is it hate? What I meant by misogynist is definitely closer to "belittlement" and "misrepresentation" than to "hate".

    So we do, in effect, seem to share feelings of unhappiness over the treatment of women in his work, Anonymous :)

  8. Hello. When I first read your exchange with Moffat I sympathized with him because a lot of people have already brought this up to him and he had already addressed the exact quote. Your accusation of misogyny surprised me but I dug deeper because I always like to see things from both point of views. Since English is not your native tongue, I can understand how the spelling and exact definition of misogyny escaped you. It really does mean hatred of women, which is a strong word that I wouldn't use lightly. I think you really meant his writing is sexist?

  9. My understanding of why they decided to make Addler gay was to underline the relationship between her and Sherlock as not being a romantic one but something far more interesting - referece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVWi5oJxhoM

    There is belittlement of both male and female characters in this episode. Addler is rather cruel in how she treats the men in the show, in particular the way she physically assaults and then humiliates Sherlock which is absolutely horrid. Sherlock in return is verbally just as cold towards almost everyone.

    The quote without proper context from the Scotsman would upset anyone, especially when you've had to correct people over it for years.

  10. There is a difference between a poor representation of women (arguable) and misogyny. The more you use that word rather than, oh I don't know, taking the time to form a proper argument, the less power it has when used in the context of something that matters.

    Maybe Moffat was immature in his reply, but it's a legitimate and human reaction. I don't think he needs to act "professional" and courteous to someone who is clearly not acting in such a way themselves.

  11. copied from my edit in the blog post:

    It doesn't matter whether you want to call it misogyny, sexism or just plain bad writing of female characters. What matters is that it is there. And no one has tried to refute that yet. All people are doing is split hairs about the definitions. Which are academic. Which this blog (nor my twitter account) is not.

    So if you want to actually have a discussion about Moffat's writing with me - go ahead. But if you just want to split hairs you must do it elsewhere and know that your comments of that kind here will be deleted.

  12. I agree with Moffat. I don't see sexism in his version of Irene Adler, and I do thing misogyny and sexism are different enough to point out that difference when necessary.

    The portrayal of one female in a show cannot be used to define the writer's views about all females, especially when there are other clear examples of a variety of female personalities in that same show.

  13. 1) Sherlock is not the only show he is writing for.
    2) what other examples are you talking about? Those that aren't representations of a trope.

  14. I can pity Moffat a bit, I'm not blaming you but there was a lot of outcry on his portrayal of Adler, and it's bound to end up annoying. Anyone would snap out.
    I think the point is just his writing style: yes, Adler was openly sexual, nude, and made one (uncontrollable) mistake towards the end. His male characters do it too (Captain Jack Harkness, his creation, sexual, and made a whopper of a mistake, which he should have noticed. Ok, it's Doctor Who, not Sherlock, but still him). Not to mention, again on Who as it's the one with more of an available female cast (Sherlock, right from canon, is focused on two men), it's worth pointing out that it's been a female character that's saved everything in every single episode he's written, except for one: and on that one occasion, there was no real danger.
    It's just how Moffat writes. Many of his characters, male and female, transgress gender boundaries, are comfortable with their sexuality (save for the asexual ones), and sometimes forget their clothes.
    Sexism is defined as treating female characters as inferior to male characters: whatever he does to his female characters, it's not sexist, he treats the male ones the same way.

  15. I would like to hear Moffatt more on why he chose to portray Adler is such a sexist, sensational fashion.He makes her dependent, cruel, and selfish.
    The nudity and disturbing use of sado-masochism is not about being comfortable with sexuality. The lesbian bit was not pro-feminist either, but an odd choice that in fact could be Moffat's sexism. He misses the point of the original - a woman beats Holmes. See my blog for more http://cialuna.blogspot.com.

  16. Definitions time:

    misogyny - hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women.

    I'd say it matters VERY much if you're going to use that word in the context you just have. What could easily be explained as a writer's blindspot you've interpreted as a deliberate hatred of a gender... be VERY careful.

    I think you've got more of a case for arguing sexism but I still think that requires some degree of deliberate belief. I think it's more likely that this is simply a blindspot.

    I think it's somewhat akin to Joss Whedon. He's constantly lauded for writing strong female characters but receives very little criticism for the fact that the vast majority his male characters fall solely into the "badass" category or the "comic relief" category (with arguably the exception of Angel and Giles.) Pick a quote from a badass Joss Whedon character and you'll find it could probably come out of the mouths of any of them.

    All writers have blindspots. RTD's was plotting endings effectively and the inability to tell the difference between funny, annoying and stupid, Joss Whedon's is male characters, and I think Moffat's may be women.

  17. Superb post about 'A Scandal in Belgravia'.

    I have voiced similar thoughts in my review .


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