Since the announcement of the new Doctor happened today and it's a female (not even surprised) that led me to think, once again, why do characters need to be gender-swapped? I'm not a huge fan of Doctor Who, I have just recently started to get into it. Though I have heard the arguments of many long time fans, I am not exactly trying to have an opinion myself. I will agree they all have made very good points, though. I know enough about the universe of Doctor Who to understand the points they are making and understand why a female Doctor doesn't make sense. However, since I don't think I can speak in depth on that I'll talk about a show I do know very well.
In the show Hannibal there were a lot of gender swaps. Namely Freddie Lounds and Alana Bloom. Freddie was a male in the book (still named Freddy just Frederick instead of Frederica) and Alana was previously Alan Bloom. A doctor and not even that big of a character. In any case, I really love Freddie as her female incarnation. Yet, I would still say there was no logical reason to swap her gender. They didn't exactly change her so much or do anything in her role that a man could not also do. She was a very side character, as well, and since she wasn't used very much or in any capacity that would require a female to take the part of that character, why have it done at all?
I know it's weird, considering that I love her and even cosplay as her, but I will still say it wasn't necessary to do with her character. There were only really minor differences between the book version and the TV version which was female. The male version of Freddie was far more obnoxious and sleazy. That character was working for a tabloid and came across as one of those white trash or TMZ reporter types. Which I'm sure was the point. Otherwise, his personality was pretty much kept the same when he was changed into a female. Freddie, as a woman, displayed all the traits that her male counterpart did. She was a bit more classy about it, and a little less obnoxious. There still wasn't a reason a female needed play this character other than maybe because women are more sympathetic (to viewing audiences) so it gave her a bit more "forgiveness". The thing is, the fandom as a vast majority still hated her, so did the gender swap really change anything? Don't get me wrong, Freddie Lounds, male or female, is a character that is meant to be hated...but why change her if you don't do anything with her that also requires her to be a woman? There were no romantic plotlines with her, she was in no relationships (other than the implication she had sex with men to get information) and if that's the only reason you are changing her, is that a good thing?
The fact of the matter is this, it's completely unnecessary. I will say that even as a fan of a gender swap. For one, swapping a canon character's gender is flat out saying that she needs to be a male character to be even near as strong and as liked as that character than she ever could be alone. It's saying that a female of that same personality type, occupation, or genre, could never be anywhere near as successful without leaching off of the name of the MAN who came before her. If you were to take James Bond, for instance, and cast a woman in that role, what you are saying is that a female MI6 agent with her own story, designation, and missions could never be as good as a man on her own, or as popular. The problem in that really isn't with me, it's the hypocrisy of feminists, failing to see that this is literally sexism. It's saying that a woman can never be as good as a popular male character without stealing his name or position.
What would be more impressive is a new character like Jane Bond and she has her own franchise and she surpasses James. Sure it's the same basic concept, but she's not actually James Bond and she's not leeching off of his already popular name. A well written female spy character on her own is far more impressive than changing an already popular one in order to what? Please women? Feminists? Not to mention the fact that...well...why is it needed? Let's look at the flipside here.
We could take a canon female character who is already strong and swap her to be male. Lara Croft a man? Do we need that? No one would accept it I'll tell you that much but even if they would, do we need it? Isn't Lara good enough on her own? What about Captain Janeway. Swapping her to a man. Okay, why is that needed? Even if he was exactly like Janeway down to the coffee obsession, so what? Everyone would pitch a fit over this, to start with, but the point is that if ultimately they are the same PERSON with the same PERSONALITY why does the gender of the person matter? Where did this idea come from that women NEED characters to be female to like them? To identify with them? To have them as role models?
Some of the people I admire most (characters or real people) are men. It doesn't matter to me they are male. I like who they are. I like their personality. I admire their strengths and identify with their weaknesses. If they are men or women, why are we not looking at what makes them who they are instead of what the fuck is between their legs? Changing a character's gender like this somehow implies that they are better as this gender now? Were they worse before? That they cannot be a "complete whole" until they have become a second gender? This is unnecessary across all franchises in all universes. I don't know when we stopped caring about how a character behaved and what their gender was. I wish we could just go back to judging based on performance and behavior instead of genitalia.