Are classic Bond films sexist?

GoldenGunGoldenGun Station B, Belgium
Classic Bond films are sometimes said to be sexist. Even in GE his boss, the new M, says he's a sexist, misogynist dinosaur. In defence of the classic Bond films, pre-Judi Dench, I suggest we take a look at the women and how they are portrayed in them.

1960's: against all odds, most Bond girls are smart and competent.

Dr. No: Honey Ryder is intelligent, courageous and resourceful. She is not too modest to tell Bond he doesn't know anything about animals and overall she knows a lot more than he does.

From Russia with Love: To be honest, Tatiana Romanova is not the strongest female around, but she does kill Klebb so she actually saves Bond here.

Goldfinger: Pussy Galore is a damn good pilot, she changed the nerve gas and she contacted Washington. While Bond is captured throughout the final act, Pussy saves the day.

Thunderball: We never get the feeling Domino Derval is a weak woman. In the end she avenges her brother and she saves Bond while shooting main villain Largo.

You Only Live Twice: Kissy and Aki are both very competent agents of Tiger and prove to be very useful in completing the mission.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service: Tracy di Vincenzo is probably the most charismatic Bond girl ever, just try not to fall in love with her yourself.

1970's: the beginning of this era might be responsible for the reputation of clumsy and defenceless Bond women however.


Diamonds Are Forever: Both Plenty and Tiffany are rather stupid throughout.

Live and Let Die: Solitaire gets tricked by Bond in a very unconvincing fashion and she doesn't do much herself.

The Man with the Golden Gun: Mary Goodnight is clumsy as hell, but Miss Anders is courageous and beautifully sophisticated.

The Spy Who Loved Me: Anya never failed on a mission and she doesn't do so this time around, though Bond does help quite a bit.

Moonraker: Corinne and Manuela are all too easily impressed, NASA-expert Holly Goodhead not at all however.

1980's: there is an exception here, but overall most main Bond women are quite impressive.

For Your Eyes Only: Melina is not to be messed with, she's good with a crossbow and therefore excellent for stealth attacks like the on in the final act. She does have to make up a bit for Bibi's spoiled child behaviour.

Octopussy: Magda and Octopussy are both competent in what they do. Octopussy saves the day too, so nothing wrong here.

A View to a Kill: yes, helpless Stacey Sutton scores very little points for her screaming. Though May Day and to a lesser extent Pola Ivanova make up for that.

The Living Daylights: a point can be made for Kara Milovy as a bit defenceless, however her romance with monogamous Bond is much more believable than anything we got since OHMSS and until CR.

Licence to Kill: Pam Bouvier helps along during the whole mission and she makes herself very useful throughout, she's a brilliant pilot and Bond falls for her instead of the less intelligent Lupe. Literally.

I didn't include female villains here, except for May Day who changes sides anyway.

Any thoughts, suggestions?

Comments

  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    Posts: 1,984
    It's not just the idea that the Bond girls are weak in the older ones, which, as you've analyzed, isn't necessarily the case. It's also some of Bond's remarks. For instance, he remarks about women driving in a negative way in The Spy Who Loved Me. Connery's Bond was clearly a misogynist in his actions. In OHMSS, Tracy's father tells Bond that he needs to "dominate her", etc. I assume this is what people refer to when they talk about sexism and misogyny.
  • Posts: 10,624
    According to my daughters, yes the early Bonds are very sexist.
    They can't believe some of the stuff Connery did. I just smile and
    say that he's just being an " Alpha Male" for the time. ;)
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 26,502
    I hate it when this discussion comes up. It's so sickingly PC and myopic an idea.
  • edited December 2015 Posts: 1,984
    There's a difference between Bond being sexist, and the Bond movies being sexist. Bond is sexist no doubt, it's part of the deal, it was even IMO a bit too much to have it spell out in GE. The Bond movies being less sexist is a theory that in the end is a bit too hard to defend , though IMO. Look at how Pussy Galore or the therapist in TB is "convinced"...

    The difference between "Bond" being sexist and the movie being less sexist is one of the basis of the OSS 117 recent French parodies : ultra-sexist hero and a movie making fun of it.
  • Posts: 10,624
    Even in the novels, like CR. Bond snaps about what the hell is a woman
    doing in this job, etc. Although it was a very different time, so in my opinion
    It's a little unfair to judge it by today's standards.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited December 2015 Posts: 23,883
    Based on today's standards, yes, I suppose the films could be considered sexist. However, women's roles were different then, and less were in the workforce, or in jobs typically (at the time) occupied by men. So it was understandable, and welcomed imho.

    There is no evidence in the films that Bond looks down on women. On the contrary in fact, as he goes out of his way to protect them. Rather, he is just an extreme personification of general male views towards women's roles (and place?) at the time.

    I wouldn't have wanted those early Bond films to be any different than they are now. For me, it's one of key reasons I find them charming.
  • TripAcesTripAces Universal Exports
    edited December 2015 Posts: 2,967
    Birdleson wrote: »
    I hate it when this discussion comes up. It's so sickingly PC and myopic an idea.

    I welcome this discussion every time.

    The Bond films, particularly the early ones, do contain quite a bit of sexism/Misogynism, as in the dialogue, though @GoldenGun brings up a good point about the strength of the women in the films.

    I am reminded of the furor over the "Blurred Lines" song and music video, both of which I loved. Like the song, Bond plays on many male fantasies, and the treatment of women is one of them. This is NOT to say that men wish to treat women like second-class citizens; rather, there is a deeper, psychological need for men to be in control, and this is ever so the case in a post-feminist world. Bond speaks to these fantasies. Reportedly, women sometimes have "rape fantasies" though they would never, ever want to play upon those fantasies. Bond operates in the same manner here.

    Bond films tend to portray strong women, but in scenarios in which they are still subservient to men.

    I hope this makes sense.

  • Posts: 1,475
    Yes, extremely so. And let's keep them that way.

    The 'PC'ness' of our modern society is driving me nuts. I'll have plenty of racial stereotypes and scantily clad wenches in my escapist entertainment, thank you very much.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    Posts: 23,883
    TripAces wrote: »
    Bond films tend to portray strong women, but in scenarios in which they are still subservient to men.

    I hope this makes sense.
    It makes perfect sense to me. My type of woman actually.
  • GoldenGunGoldenGun Station B, Belgium
    edited December 2015 Posts: 3,476
    AceHole wrote: »
    Yes, extremely so. And let's keep them that way.

    The 'PC'ness' of our modern society is driving me nuts.
    I'll have plenty of racial stereotypes and scantily clad wenches in my escapist entertainment, thank you very much.

    I agree. It's nevertheless an aspect that always comes up when the old films are being analyzed, especially when compared to the recent ones.

    That's why I thought it would be interesting for a discussion. ;)
  • Posts: 582
    No they are not sexist. That is thrown around too much these days.
  • Posts: 1,475
    GoldenGun wrote: »
    AceHole wrote: »
    Yes, extremely so. And let's keep them that way.

    The 'PC'ness' of our modern society is driving me nuts. I'll have plenty of racial stereotypes and scantily clad wenches in my escapist entertainment, thank you very much.

    I agree. It's nevertheless an aspect that always comes up when the old films are being analyzed, especially when compared to the recent ones.

    That's why I thought it would be interesting for a discussion. ;)

    It is a worthy discussion, no doubt. The crux of the problem, for me, is that the patronizing PC-brigade in our society seems to think we are all utter morons who cannot differentiate between reality and escapism.

    We should be concentrating on getting rid of such actual behavior in our society, rather than trying to make all our entertainment overly PC.

    Just as women enjoy READING about Christian Grey doing nasty things to his female conquests, men should be allowed their bit of fun as well when it comes to such things as WATCHING overtly sexist depictions of Bond girls.
    In neither scenario does the consumer of this entertainment actually act on these fantasies. Which is, incidentally, why they are called 'fantasies'.
  • edited December 2015 Posts: 1,984
    Have a look at the #Gamergate, a bunch of male game players who want "PC" to be out of their video games and who claim not to be misogynistic despite loving misogynistic games. Trouble is, they only harass women who disagree with them, not men who disagree with them...

    I think it is a bit hypocritical to think there's a watertight separation between representation of misogyny in fiction, and misogyny in actual behaviors. I find it's easier to talk about this when discussing rap music videoclips rather than Bond, but well...

  • edited December 2015 Posts: 11,168
    The "man talk" scene could be viewed as pretty sexist by todays standards, although I personally like it.

    I'd say they are maybe more politically incorrect than sexist though. You would NEVER get away with a name like Pussy in a mainstream Bond film today. For a start, kids would know the innuendo.
  • RC7RC7
    Posts: 9,902
    AceHole wrote: »
    Yes, extremely so. And let's keep them that way.

    The 'PC'ness' of our modern society is driving me nuts. I'll have plenty of racial stereotypes and scantily clad wenches in my escapist entertainment, thank you very much.

    Yeah, when I go and see a new Bond film and it isn't teeming with racial stereotypes it really pisses me off.
  • edited December 2015 Posts: 11,168
    we really need a big eyed dopey black servant in one of today's films
    *joke*
  • DaltonCraig007DaltonCraig007 They say, "Evil prevails when good men fail to act." What they ought to say is, "Evil prevails."
    edited December 2015 Posts: 13,212
    I wonder how a 2010's version of JW Pepper would be like.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 26,502
    I'm with @AceHole .
  • Posts: 1,475
    RC7 wrote: »
    AceHole wrote: »
    Yes, extremely so. And let's keep them that way.

    The 'PC'ness' of our modern society is driving me nuts. I'll have plenty of racial stereotypes and scantily clad wenches in my escapist entertainment, thank you very much.

    Yeah, when I go and see a new Bond film and it isn't teeming with racial stereotypes it really pisses me off.

    Passive agressive PC..? :)
  • edited December 2015 Posts: 1,475
    Have a look at the #Gamergate, a bunch of male game players who want "PC" to be out of their video games and who claim not to be misogynistic despite loving misogynistic games. Trouble is, they only harass women who disagree with them, not men who disagree with them...

    I think it is a bit hypocritical to think there's a watertight separation between representation of misogyny in fiction, and misogyny in actual behaviors. I find it's easier to talk about this when discussing rap music videoclips rather than Bond, but well...

    Bollocks to that my dear fellow - I have no problem at all thrashing hookers on GTA V one minute and then arguing the inequality of female employment opportunities the next.

    And nobody should be making excuses for people who hide behind the 'mysogonistic nature' of the media or videogames as a reason for antisocial or discriminating behavior.

  • Posts: 11,193
    All the films were made of their time so people nowadays are educated enough to surely make this recognition? Their are things maybe in the films now or any film that could be frowned upon in 20 years time? We will have to wait and see?
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