Bond films and feminism.

in Bond Movies Posts: 219
(I'm making this thread purely about the Bond series. I don't want any broader political/social debate, nor do I want to read 50 pages of social justice warriors and mens right activists throwing mud at each other)

There are some fallacies when discussing this subject. It's not fair to single Bond films out. Many films from decades ago portrayed women in a shallow and objective way. The Bond films in the 60's had more empowering female characters than many other films of the time. However, the Moore era was quite regressive. Women were largely just gags and sex appeal. I didn't feel offended - moreso that it was just cheesy and cringeworthy. The prudishness of the Dalton era was probably an overcorrection, but I think the Brosnan films handled this well by showing how times are changing while still letting Bond be Bond.

I don't think anyone (aside from a few extreme people) is asking for Bond to give up philandering and become a foot-washing feminist. But we have every reason to expect Bond films to be real films with real characters. Not every female lead has to be like assertive, agile, powerful and Bond's equal in every respect. There's nothing wrong with well-made traditionally feminine characters like Tatiana Romanova. But stupid characters like Rosie Carver and Mary Goodnight are where I draw the line.
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Comments

  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CA
    Posts: 23,766
    I prefer Goodnight to most of the others.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited March 31 Posts: 22,702
    I'm not sure I agree that the Roger Moore era had weak women. On the contrary actually, I believe the 'lead' women during Sir Rog's time were quite advanced. Anya, Holly, Melina & Octopussy were all quite capable and adept. Even Stacey wasn't a buffoon, even though she had a slight tinge of the airhead to her.

    The only egregious examples were under Hamilton's 70's direction, and arguably that was something which afflicted DAF as well (Tiffany & Plenty). Yes, there is always Bibi, but I'd say her presence showed Bond to be a gentleman more than anything, and so it served a purpose.

    I'm not sure I agree with the OP on the Brossa era being all that good either. My issue with that period is Bond's masculinity seemed to be slightly clipped to compensate, and this sadly culminated in the now legendary 'teenage-like' lover's spat breakdown at Baku.

    I think it's alright to have a balance of smart and not so sharp women in the films over the course of an actor's run imho. After all, that's the way the world is. Same goes for men too.

    More than anything, I don't want prudes in Bond films. At least show some leg.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    edited March 31 Posts: 15,731
    Birdleson wrote: »
    I prefer Goodnight to most of the others.

    I gotta love Goodnight. But Rosie? Not so much. Also, I thought Pam was a pretty tough Bond girl. I never bought Barbra Bach as in any way physically capable... my MAIN qualm was Bond slapping, choking or twisting the arm of a woman. But of course, he couldn't try that felgercarb with Pam or Wai Lin....
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CA
    Posts: 23,766
    But that's Bond.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    Posts: 22,702
    Birdleson wrote: »
    But that's Bond.
    Indeed. I don't have a problem with this character doing it when necessary. As he told Pam, "It's a tough business".
  • DragonpolDragonpol Schloss Drache.
    Posts: 12,257
    bondjames wrote: »
    Birdleson wrote: »
    But that's Bond.
    Indeed. I don't have a problem with this character doing it when necessary. As he told Pam, "It's a tough business".

    The problem with it is that he didn't do this in the books so the films rather give a false impression of Bond as a woman beater. That's what rankles with me.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited March 31 Posts: 22,702
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    bondjames wrote: »
    Birdleson wrote: »
    But that's Bond.
    Indeed. I don't have a problem with this character doing it when necessary. As he told Pam, "It's a tough business".

    The problem with it is that he didn't do this in the books so the films rather give a false impression of Bond as a woman beater. That's what rankles with me.
    But surely it's understandable given the circumstances. After all, in TMWTGG he was up against it trying to find an assassin who he thought (incorrectly at the time) was out for his head. Anders wasn't cooperating & so extreme measures were required. It all worked out in the end and champagne was shared.

    Bond only gets rough (with men or women) when he has to in the films too. Surely we don't want to alter that lest some of the realism is taken out of it.

    I recently saw Red Sparrow, and applaud them for keeping it reasonably real there when they could have easily taken the easy way out and watered it down. In a way, I wish they'd taken it a few steps further, but recognize they needed to keep bums in seats.
  • j_w_pepperj_w_pepper Hamburg, near the Atlantic Hotel
    Posts: 2,773
    Women have traditionally been "objects" for James Bond, and most of us (except those who prefer men, or whatever) will readily agree that this coincides with their own feelings. But with few exceptions, I don't think that Bond treated "his" women especially badly, nor were they portrayed in a condescending way most of the time.

    There are exceptions, of course, but possibly still showing those exceptions as being intended by the women in question, or at least not because they are women. Tiffany Case is the classical bimbo, and so is Plenty O'Toole - but isn't that due to the fact that they are both American women of the time and involved in the Las Vegas environment, rather than because they are "women"? I fail to see that Rosie Carver, apart from being a sort of double agent, is as she is because she's a woman. She may be stupid and corrupt but not because of that.

    Now I definitely agree that slapping women on their butt or wherever are unacceptable by today's standards, and I hope we're past that. But overall, I don't think the franchise has been guilty of showing women as inferior beings, even when their role had minor effect.
  • Agent_99Agent_99 Enjoys a spirited ride as much as the next girl
    Posts: 1,555
    A few thoughts:

    - I don't think about this stuff terribly seriously, because it is just fun entertainment and I doubt it harms anyone or makes little boys grow up to treat women as objects. (Last year I went to a screening of OHMSS, and it was heartwarming how the audience roared with laughter at Draco's statement that Tracy needs a man to 'dominate' her.)

    - I'd like to see 007 have a few more interactions with women that don't have a subtext of negotiating whether or not they're going to have sex. I know he's Bond but even he must sometimes get a bit tired and fed up, and just want to check into his hotel or whatever without going through the whole double entendre rigmarole.

    - I've always liked the Bond/Moneypenny relationship (especially Connery/Maxwell and Craig/Harris). Moneypenny is the closest thing Bond has to a female friend.

    - Julie T. Wallace's character in TLD is probably my favourite minor role in all of Bond. She could easily have been treated as nothing more than a joke, but although the scene is one of the film's more lighthearted ones, she does her job in an efficient, professional way, and Bond clearly likes and respects her while not hitting on her. If this sort of thing worked just fine in 1987, why can't we have more of it today?
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited April 2 Posts: 22,702
    Agent_99 wrote: »
    - Julie T. Wallace's character in TLD is probably my favourite minor role in all of Bond. She could easily have been treated as nothing more than a joke, but although the scene is one of the film's more lighthearted ones, she does her job in an efficient, professional way, and Bond clearly likes and respects her while not hitting on her. If this sort of thing worked just fine in 1987, why can't we have more of it today?
    To a degree I can see why Bond chose not to hit on Rosika Miklos.

    I'm trying to think of an instance of an attractive, capable woman in a Bond film who Bond doesn't sleep with (or want to sleep with). I suppose the only one that comes to mind is Camille from QoS.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 15,731
    bondjames wrote: »
    I'm trying to think of an instance of an attractive, capable woman in a Bond film who Bond doesn't sleep with (or want to sleep with). I suppose the only one that comes to mind is Camille from QoS.

    The atypicality of that movie is one of the things I like about it.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CA
    Posts: 23,766
    I want Bond hitting on every remotely attractive female that he comes into contact with.
  • Posts: 451
    The OP, M16_Cart (for some reason there was no quote function) said "The prudishness of the Dalton era was probably an overcorrection, but I think the Brosnan films handled this well by showing how times are changing while still letting Bond be Bond."

    I have to disagree as the Brosnan era was the overcorrection starting right with GE, from its M dressing down Bond with the sexist misogynist dinosaur comment to the simpering evaluator to Natalya's more nagging than sexy main Bond girl. At least we had Xenia for some throwback fun to remind us we're watching a Bond film. I find GE one of the least romantic films of the series.

    TND had the forced former girlfriend Paris, and while I liked Wai-Lin, there were zero romantic sparks, and much like Pam Bouvier was more of a good ally.

    TWINE is more complicated as it features an interesting villain/lover in Elektra but gets me frustrated having Bond not seeing through her. Christmas Jones is sex appeal, plain and simple and Molly Warmflash may well be the least memorable 007 hookup in the series. Between her and the evaluator in GE, it makes you wonder why Mi6 or M didn't know better than to send women to evaluate Bond in these situations.

    If it weren't for the poor writing and acting, Jinx could've been one of the best, sexiest characters but ended up one of the worst. Miranda Frost fares much better, but like Elektra, Bond getting duped again is wearing thin.

    Toss in the horrid Moneypenny portrayal - as written, not so much Samantha Bond - which was based more on smutty double entendres than anything else, even M joining in occasionally, and it rounds it all out.


  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 15,731
    BT3366 wrote: »
    TND had the forced former girlfriend Paris, and while I liked Wai-Lin, there were zero romantic sparks, and much like Pam Bouvier was more of a good ally.
    I rather enjoy the 'friends with benefits' liaisons for Bond...
  • Agent_99Agent_99 Enjoys a spirited ride as much as the next girl
    Posts: 1,555
    chrisisall wrote: »
    I rather enjoy the 'friends with benefits' liaisons for Bond...

    I do, too. It makes it less of a conquest by Bond and more of a mutual "hey, you're attractive, I'm attractive, let's do it" arrangement.
  • 00Agent00Agent I drop in occasionally. Shoot in and out.
    edited April 3 Posts: 2,208
    003-is-a-woman.jpg

    He is a little known picture of the Thunderball meeting from the front, where you can see that 003 is a woman. Just to prove that MI6 was not sexist, even in the 60's.
    Bond himself might have some traits that can be regarded as sexist. Mainly trust issues, which i don't see a reason to change, it's just his character. "Occupational Hazard"
  • Posts: 1,668
    I don't remember there being a large table in the movie?
  • 00Agent00Agent I drop in occasionally. Shoot in and out.
    edited April 3 Posts: 2,208
    w2bond wrote: »
    I don't remember there being a large table in the movie?

    tumblr_inline_n9ain6z7Ys1rxytdk.jpg

    It blends in with the surroundings and appears invisible, but you can see the file folders laying on it, which M is also refering to, "you may now open the folders in front of you"
  • Posts: 1,668
    00Agent wrote: »
    w2bond wrote: »
    I don't remember there being a large table in the movie?

    tumblr_inline_n9ain6z7Ys1rxytdk.jpg

    It blends in with the surroundings and appears invisible, but you can see the file folders laying on it, which M is also refering to, "you may now open the folders in front of you"

    Ah, you've just blown my mind. I always thought each agent had a small table to themselves, you know, the ones that are attached to the chair.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    edited April 4 Posts: 9,117
    00Agent wrote: »
    003-is-a-woman.jpg

    He is a little known picture of the Thunderball meeting from the front, where you can see that 003 is a woman. Just to prove that MI6 was not sexist, even in the 60's.
    Bond himself might have some traits that can be regarded as sexist. Mainly trust issues, which i don't see a reason to change, it's just his character. "Occupational Hazard"
    These are 00s?

    The bloke next to the woman who looks like John Le Mesurier is about 75 and the one in the middle looks like Norman Wisdom. There's only Ray 'bloody' Purchase next to Bond who looks like he might be handy in a ruck.

    Sean would batter the lot of them, but then I guess that's why he's Bond and they're not.
  • Posts: 11,406
    00Agent wrote: »
    003-is-a-woman.jpg

    He is a little known picture of the Thunderball meeting from the front, where you can see that 003 is a woman. Just to prove that MI6 was not sexist, even in the 60's.
    Bond himself might have some traits that can be regarded as sexist. Mainly trust issues, which i don't see a reason to change, it's just his character. "Occupational Hazard"
    These are 00s?

    The bloke next to the woman who looks like John Le Mesurier is about 75 and the one in the middle looks like Norman Wisdom. There's only Ray 'bloody' Purchase next to Bond who looks like he might be handy in a ruck.

    Sean would batter the lot of them, but then I guess that's why he's Bond and they're not.

    I always understood that they were all 00 agents. And next to Bond is either Trevelyan or Trevelyan's successor or predecessor as 006.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    Ludovico wrote: »
    00Agent wrote: »
    003-is-a-woman.jpg

    He is a little known picture of the Thunderball meeting from the front, where you can see that 003 is a woman. Just to prove that MI6 was not sexist, even in the 60's.
    Bond himself might have some traits that can be regarded as sexist. Mainly trust issues, which i don't see a reason to change, it's just his character. "Occupational Hazard"
    These are 00s?

    The bloke next to the woman who looks like John Le Mesurier is about 75 and the one in the middle looks like Norman Wisdom. There's only Ray 'bloody' Purchase next to Bond who looks like he might be handy in a ruck.

    Sean would batter the lot of them, but then I guess that's why he's Bond and they're not.

    I always understood that they were all 00 agents. And next to Bond is either Trevelyan or Trevelyan's successor or predecessor as 006.
    Well yes they are clearly all 00s as MP says 'Every 00 man (and one woman) in Europe has been rushed in'. But apart from goatee guy they all look too shit to be 00s was my point.
  • j_w_pepperj_w_pepper Hamburg, near the Atlantic Hotel
    Posts: 2,773
    Ludovico wrote: »
    00Agent wrote: »
    003-is-a-woman.jpg

    He is a little known picture of the Thunderball meeting from the front, where you can see that 003 is a woman. Just to prove that MI6 was not sexist, even in the 60's.
    Bond himself might have some traits that can be regarded as sexist. Mainly trust issues, which i don't see a reason to change, it's just his character. "Occupational Hazard"
    These are 00s?

    The bloke next to the woman who looks like John Le Mesurier is about 75 and the one in the middle looks like Norman Wisdom. There's only Ray 'bloody' Purchase next to Bond who looks like he might be handy in a ruck.

    Sean would batter the lot of them, but then I guess that's why he's Bond and they're not.

    I always understood that they were all 00 agents. And next to Bond is either Trevelyan or Trevelyan's successor or predecessor as 006.
    Well yes they are clearly all 00s as MP says 'Every 00 man (and one woman) in Europe has been rushed in'. But apart from goatee guy they all look too shit to be 00s was my point.

    Do you expect a secret agent to look like a secret agent? Or wouldn't that make them not-so-secret agents?
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    j_w_pepper wrote: »
    Ludovico wrote: »
    00Agent wrote: »
    003-is-a-woman.jpg

    He is a little known picture of the Thunderball meeting from the front, where you can see that 003 is a woman. Just to prove that MI6 was not sexist, even in the 60's.
    Bond himself might have some traits that can be regarded as sexist. Mainly trust issues, which i don't see a reason to change, it's just his character. "Occupational Hazard"
    These are 00s?

    The bloke next to the woman who looks like John Le Mesurier is about 75 and the one in the middle looks like Norman Wisdom. There's only Ray 'bloody' Purchase next to Bond who looks like he might be handy in a ruck.

    Sean would batter the lot of them, but then I guess that's why he's Bond and they're not.

    I always understood that they were all 00 agents. And next to Bond is either Trevelyan or Trevelyan's successor or predecessor as 006.
    Well yes they are clearly all 00s as MP says 'Every 00 man (and one woman) in Europe has been rushed in'. But apart from goatee guy they all look too shit to be 00s was my point.

    Do you expect a secret agent to look like a secret agent? Or wouldn't that make them not-so-secret agents?
    A 00 should have the appearance of being able to snap your neck not someone who's flogging Werthers Originals which the bloke far right looks like.

    Shame they didn't go with the original idea of having famous actors like Richard Burton doing cameos.
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe S.A.R.A.H.
    Posts: 9,872
    00Agent wrote: »
    003-is-a-woman.jpg

    He is a little known picture of the Thunderball meeting from the front, where you can see that 003 is a woman. Just to prove that MI6 was not sexist, even in the 60's.
    Bond himself might have some traits that can be regarded as sexist. Mainly trust issues, which i don't see a reason to change, it's just his character. "Occupational Hazard"
    These are 00s?

    The bloke next to the woman who looks like John Le Mesurier is about 75 and the one in the middle looks like Norman Wisdom. There's only Ray 'bloody' Purchase next to Bond who looks like he might be handy in a ruck.

    Sean would batter the lot of them, but then I guess that's why he's Bond and they're not.

    Leave it out. Have you seen Norman Wisdom in action? His demotion skills are second only to Frank Spencer.
  • edited April 6 Posts: 219
    BT3366 wrote: »
    The OP, M16_Cart (for some reason there was no quote function) said "The prudishness of the Dalton era was probably an overcorrection, but I think the Brosnan films handled this well by showing how times are changing while still letting Bond be Bond."

    I have to disagree as the Brosnan era was the overcorrection starting right with GE, from its M dressing down Bond with the sexist misogynist dinosaur comment to the simpering evaluator to Natalya's more nagging than sexy main Bond girl. At least we had Xenia for some throwback fun to remind us we're watching a Bond film. I find GE one of the least romantic films of the series.

    TND had the forced former girlfriend Paris, and while I liked Wai-Lin, there were zero romantic sparks, and much like Pam Bouvier was more of a good ally.

    TWINE is more complicated as it features an interesting villain/lover in Elektra but gets me frustrated having Bond not seeing through her. Christmas Jones is sex appeal, plain and simple and Molly Warmflash may well be the least memorable 007 hookup in the series. Between her and the evaluator in GE, it makes you wonder why Mi6 or M didn't know better than to send women to evaluate Bond in these situations.

    If it weren't for the poor writing and acting, Jinx could've been one of the best, sexiest characters but ended up one of the worst. Miranda Frost fares much better, but like Elektra, Bond getting duped again is wearing thin.

    Toss in the horrid Moneypenny portrayal - as written, not so much Samantha Bond - which was based more on smutty double entendres than anything else, even M joining in occasionally, and it rounds it all out.

    I do agree with a lot of these points. Some aspects of the Brosnan films were overcorrections. I don't want a perfect political correct Bond film. However, I think the Brosnan era was able to balance Bond both being a womanizer without any of the creepery that some of Moore's and Connery's films had. It's the execution that's the issue with Dalton. Sometimes it's best to make a statement without trying to make a statement. If Dalton's libido was like a 5/10 (instead of a 1), it would've been more believeable and nuanced; we would've still seen the improvement. But almost near completely discarding an element of a film to try to make a big change seems like it's moreso trying too hard for a reaction than reasonable fixing the problem. IMO, Bond can sleep with as many ladies he wants as long as he doesn't do nonsense like blackmailing nurses.

    And for that matter, I don't mind if 90% of the women are naked FWB's. There's nothing sexist about philandering around. However, if there's a female character that's a CIA agent, or a scientist, or a spy, or a doctor, etc., don't trivialize that role. It's sexist because if the film had male scientists that were in the lab wearing a speedo, fans would write 10x as much hate mail.
  • 00Agent00Agent I drop in occasionally. Shoot in and out.
    edited April 20 Posts: 2,208
    starting from 8:40


    I think we can close this Thread now, as this is pretty much all that ever needs to be said on the issue lol.
  • Worth transcribing (and yes, I think it could be the final word on the topic):

    Gemma Arterton

    "What they tend to do is put, like, a really strong female character in and then they put, like, the one that he sleeps with in. And I was that one actually—the one that he sleeps with in. But I was also funny, which is okay. I don't know if they can even do anything about it. I mean, it's so... I'm a feminist and yet I quite enjoy watching, like, films like James Bond. There's this really great podcast called The Guilty Feminist and every single week they do this, like, "I'm a feminist, but..." and then there's one of them that says "I'm a feminist, but after my friend told me about her science, um, project degree blah blah blah, all I could remember is which mascara she preferred." Like, things like that. "I'm a feminist, but I have a crush on Don Draper from Mad Men who's a massive chauvinist. It's like there's certain things that are just in the world and you kind of got to decide what to choose your, you know, which battles you want to fight. Like, Bond films—they're Bond films. They are what they are. We can make other stuff that's, like, challenging the genre."

    Her statement distilled without all the likes: "I'm a feminist and yet I quite enjoy watching James Bond films. Feminists objectify each other and enjoy chauvinistic entertainment too. There are certain things that are just in the world and you've got to choose which battles you want to fight. Bond films are Bond films. They are what they are. We can make other stuff that challenges the genre."
  • Posts: 11,406
    Ludovico wrote: »
    00Agent wrote: »
    003-is-a-woman.jpg

    He is a little known picture of the Thunderball meeting from the front, where you can see that 003 is a woman. Just to prove that MI6 was not sexist, even in the 60's.
    Bond himself might have some traits that can be regarded as sexist. Mainly trust issues, which i don't see a reason to change, it's just his character. "Occupational Hazard"
    These are 00s?

    The bloke next to the woman who looks like John Le Mesurier is about 75 and the one in the middle looks like Norman Wisdom. There's only Ray 'bloody' Purchase next to Bond who looks like he might be handy in a ruck.

    Sean would batter the lot of them, but then I guess that's why he's Bond and they're not.

    I always understood that they were all 00 agents. And next to Bond is either Trevelyan or Trevelyan's successor or predecessor as 006.
    Well yes they are clearly all 00s as MP says 'Every 00 man (and one woman) in Europe has been rushed in'. But apart from goatee guy they all look too shit to be 00s was my point.

    Maybe they're crack shots but not necessarily great fighters. I'm surprised there is a woman there, given the time the movie was made. The Sandbaggers make a huge point of how controversial it is to have a woman in the team and that was in 1978.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    Posts: 22,702
    Worth transcribing (and yes, I think it could be the final word on the topic):

    Gemma Arterton

    "What they tend to do is put, like, a really strong female character in and then they put, like, the one that he sleeps with in. And I was that one actually—the one that he sleeps with in. But I was also funny, which is okay. I don't know if they can even do anything about it. I mean, it's so... I'm a feminist and yet I quite enjoy watching, like, films like James Bond. There's this really great podcast called The Guilty Feminist and every single week they do this, like, "I'm a feminist, but..." and then there's one of them that says "I'm a feminist, but after my friend told me about her science, um, project degree blah blah blah, all I could remember is which mascara she preferred." Like, things like that. "I'm a feminist, but I have a crush on Don Draper from Mad Men who's a massive chauvinist. It's like there's certain things that are just in the world and you kind of got to decide what to choose your, you know, which battles you want to fight. Like, Bond films—they're Bond films. They are what they are. We can make other stuff that's, like, challenging the genre."

    Her statement distilled without all the likes: "I'm a feminist and yet I quite enjoy watching James Bond films. Feminists objectify each other and enjoy chauvinistic entertainment too. There are certain things that are just in the world and you've got to choose which battles you want to fight. Bond films are Bond films. They are what they are. We can make other stuff that challenges the genre."
    I've always liked that Gemma. Insightful. She knows where it's at. Nice legs too, which is a welcome bonus.
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