His chat-up lines err towards the rubbish.
“That’s quite a nice little nothing you’re almost wearing. I approve.”
“Detente can be beautiful.”
“Well, as long as the collars and cuffs match.”
A typical man deploying these bon mots while seeking female companionship might worry about having his facial features, as well as his cocktail order, shaken, not stirred.
But not James Bond. For all his 1950s attitudes, wince-inducing “jokes” and unapologetic sexism, agent 007 exists in a world where the usual laws of romantic gravity do not apply.
Wherever he goes, the world’s most famous secret agent only has to raise an eyebrow to summon an endless array of glamorous, available women with names like Pussy Galore, Honey Ryder and Xenia Onatopp.
It’s a pattern of behaviour that, to say the least, does not tally with most of Bond’s countrymen.
The Health Survey for England, published in 2011, found that men reported a mean average of 9.3 female sexual partners in their lifetime.
By contrast, Bond – vaguely placed in Ian Fleming’s novels somewhere in his late 30s, though he has been active on-screen since 1962′s Dr No – can boast (and boast he surely would) a somewhat higher figure.
Measuring it is not an exact science. For all their suggestiveness, Bond films are hardly explicit in their depiction of sex. The most the viewer ever gets is usually Bond waking up next to a woman.
A 2009 study of the film series by a team of academics for the journal Sex Roles found he had enjoyed “strong” sexual contact with 46 women and “mild” encounters, such as kissing, with a further 52 during the first 20 instalments in the Eon Productions Bond series, up until 2002′s Die Another Day.
The Bond Girl will always be, to some degree, the archetype of an early 1960s ideal – a submissive object of affection.
She was naive (Honey Ryder), misguided (Pussy Galore), trapped (Domino) and emotionally disturbed (Tracy di Vicenzo).
Bond was her saviour, offering enlightenment via sexual conquest.
Even by the late 60s and early 70s, she was hardly a role model. Any “strong” female characters, such as Helga Brandt (1969) are predatory, unattractive and a threat. It is best to eliminate them by throwing them into water, the franchise instructs.
Then, in the late 70s, enter Anya Amasova (1977) and Dr Holly Goodhead (1979) – the first modern conceptions of Bond Girl “equality”. But even these post-feminist characters remain Bond Girls, limited by a 1960s plot formula.
She has become more independent and plausible, but the Bond Girl is still there largely to participate – willingly or not – in the chase with our hero.
As long as it remains human nature to pursue romantic interests, we will remain captivated by the Bond Girl.
Factor in the subsequent Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace movies and the “strong” figure rises by at least two. And it’s reasonable to surmise that in the forthcoming Skyfall his behaviour continues unabated.
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