Critical Analysis of Bond Girls
Feminism point of view:
The purpose of the ‘Bond Girl’ could be seen as the fulfilling the needs of the hero (James Bond) and therefore be seen as a sexist for portraying women as sex objects.
They could also be seen as portraying an unrealistic image of a woman as all Bond girls are very beautiful and have good figures that are shown off by wearing tight or revealing clothing, although some Bond girls do dress in a fairly assertive and slightly masculine way, perhaps to show the strong independent nature of some of the girls.
Another trait of the Bond girl is their somewhat suggestive and risqué names, Pussy Galore, Plenty O’Toole, Chew Mee and Honey Ryder are several examples of quite sexually suggestive names that no parents in the real world could possibly give to their own daughter. Yet other names given to Bond girls re-enforce the female image by giving strength to the character, Solitaire for example (which means alone) excludes men from her life and therefore re-enforces the image of an independent woman.
Although Bond girls could be seen as ‘damsels in distress’ this is not actually the case, most of the Bond girls are independent, tough and successful as well as being beautiful. The character Octopussy is one prime example of this, as well as being stunningly beautiful, Octopussy is also a successful jewellery thief and is therefore extremely wealthy. She lives upon her own private female only floating palace in the middle of a lake in Udaipur, India where she leads her all-female team of combat trained smugglers and assassins masquerading as circus performers to front her organization. Not only does this re-emphasise the notion that women can be independent and successful but it also echoes theories proposed by feminist authors such as Mary Daly (1928-2010) A ‘radical lesbian feminist’ believed that the male population should be drastically reduced, that men should be ruled by women and that men were to blame for the environmental crisis, as women are more in touch with nature.
Although James Bond sleeps with almost all of the Bond girls, from the Bond girl point of view this in most cases is due to desire, but stronger Bond girls such as May Day (Grace Jones) use sex and seduction in a way to either try to get information out of Bond or to get him on-side. This process usually fails therefore re-asserting the male dominance role, but it also re-asserts the male-female partnership, as May Day eventually becomes a short lived ally of James Bond. May Day is not only a Bond girl but also a Bond villain; she is both strong minded and physically strong and I think is an iconic figure for ‘girl power’ both in the movie ‘A View to A Kill’ (1985) and in her actual life as a musician, actress and model.
Psychoanalysis point of view:
Although many people would question Ian Fleming’s notion of Bond having his way with so many women and being placed in such exotic locations around the world, this was in part a true story of the life that Fleming himself had lived during the second world war as a personal assistant to the Rear Admiral Godfrey, Director of Naval Intelligence of the Royal Navy in which he commissioned and witnessed missions undertaken by counter intelligence agents (spy’s).
After the Second World War in 1945 Fleming became Foreign Manger at the Kemsley newspaper group, in which he oversaw the papers worldwide network of correspondents. This role enabled Fleming to take a three month holiday in his own purpose built house that he named ‘Goldeneye’ in Jamaica every winter, where he wrote his James Bond novels.
Fleming had a long term affair with the twice married Ann Charteris, who travelled to Jamaica to visit him; Ann Charteris was divorced from her husband in 1951 due to her affair with Fleming. Fleming and Charteris were married in 1952 but both had numerous affairs during their marriage, this could be a precursor for Fleming to design his character (Bond) to be a womaniser, and why the Bond girls were usually strong characters.
Throughout the Bond movies there is one ‘Bond girl’ that Bond does not sleep with this is Miss Moneypenny, and although Miss Moneypenny has dreamed hopelessly about Bond she has never acted upon her feelings, she gives as good as she gets in relation to flirting and even pressures Bond in sexual conversation and so could be defined as his sexual equal. Miss Moneypenny could also be considered a sister figure or indeed a mother figure to Bond.
In the latest Bond movies the character ‘M’ is played by female actress (Judi Dench) and therefore asserts herself in the role that M as the female boss of Bond, the “sexist, misogynist dinosaur” is now under the control of what he for the best part of his life as a spy has been in control of.
To draw a conclusion, I believe that Ian Flaming’s idea of a Bond girl has in general not truly labelled women as sex objects, but has re-emphasised the fact the women can, if they choose use their femininity to their own advantage and therefore be seen to be a strong individual that does not necessarily need to be reliant upon the absolute dependence of a partnership with a man.