Week 7 Response

Chris Holmlund’s article about Hollywood’s “deadly dolls” and our class discussion about what it might mean for women to use their sexuality in terms of gender representation, reminded me of how women are used in the James Bond movies, especially the older ones. In their portrayal of women, whether as heroines, villains or side characters, these movies reflect the patriarchal system. James Bond is the alpha male, in control of his desire and strength. He is always complemented by a subordinate secretary who, if allowed, shows her submissiveness through her secret love for Bond. Whenever the villain is a woman, she is young, sexy and with daddy issues, or otherwise a simply beautiful, and necessarily sexualized, killing machine. The female villain matches Bond in killing abilities and sex appeal, but nothing more. She usually uses her sexuality to deceive or lure in Bond. Thus female sexuality is once again used as a threat to male authority. However, even this threat is eventually overcome by Bond’s intelligence and control of his desire. In the end his perfect male body must be the dominant one (here the body-nation analogy also applies). Moreover, even when the Bond character is in deed threatened or wounded (emotionally or physically) by the female villain, he always has the loyal and subservient secretary to reassure him of his masculine authority. I find the secretary an especially problematic character because her passive adoration, and servitude are shown in rosy colors. Serving Bond, and by extension the nation, she is on a morally higher ground that any of the female antagonists. Her only reward however is Bond’s nonchalant compliments or, in the later films, his recognition of her as a potential object of desire. Female sexuality can never be a virtue on its own terms; it is always defined against the male sexual agent.

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