A female James Bond: a feminist's view
Most of us are reluctantly accepting that No Time To Die will inevitably be Daniel Craig's last foray as James Bond. There is no doubt the age-old question will reappear: who will be the next 007?
Now in 2020, with feminism seemingly being the realised and respected position, the balance of our culture has shifted. The astonishing wave of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements in recent years have given women everywhere the fuel to fight for themselves, their gender, and their rights.
Not only are we fighting for equal pay and respect in the home and workplace, but women are marching on disproportionation within politics, business, and industry. Notably: the film industry.
At 17 years old, I sat in an English class and tentatively raised my hand when asked who in the class was a feminist. Back then, I was probably the world's most un-educated and un-knowledgeable feminist, but I knew that feminism meant equality.
Years of study, life experiences, staying up late to watch Women's March speeches, and a challenging read of Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex all confirmed the thoughts I had when I was in my late teens. Feminism is equality between the genders, and I am 100% all-in.
Since then, I have seen the incredible trajectory of female empowerment. I've thoroughly enjoyed the diversification that is happening throughout our industries, including one of my favourites: film and television.
More females are writing, directing, and leading blockbusters to incredible success. Finally, women have a more significant stake than ever in Hollywood and beyond.
Female-led casts have taken the helm of established films and television franchises with the remakes of Ghostbusters, the Ocean's films and even the British staple: Doctor Who. Now that Bond is ready for a re-incarnation, does this permeation of female-led films mean that James Bond is ready to become Jane Bond?
Should the ultimate "misogynistic dinosaur" (according to M), hang up his belt of many, many notches and join the fourth wave of feminism and regenerate into a female?
The idea of feminism in James Bond is undeniably a tricky subject. The films, since the beginning, are dripping in machismo and misogyny. They pose an issue to any feminist who calls herself a James Bond fan.
There is no possible denying that the earlier Bond films are bordering on cringe-worthy in their treatment of female characters. And yet, with some kind of charm and swagger, James Bond remains enjoyable to us all — even if the more strident of us feminists do have to squirm a little.
However, it is just that which is the essence of Bond's flawed personality. Especially in Craig's tenure as the iconic character. Bond is more admittedly, although unapologetically, damaged in his relationships and approach to women. Rightly or wrongly, it is those imperfections that somehow make Bond more relatable, appealing, and a further developed character.
I believe that the more accepting and aware we are becoming, the more we can find enjoyment in the complicated nuances of James Bond, even if in the past that has caused ill-treatment of women. As empowered women, the complexities and pitfalls of Bond's personality should add to our enjoyment and acceptance of these films and its protagonist.
The further exploration of Bond's foibles can only remain if Bond remains a man. Changing the gender of this character will change every building block on which his personality rests. It is so essential that Bond has an outdated and imperfect mind-set; it is this that keeps us gripped to his exploits. He must be damaged, dangerous, and to have grown up with a skewed view of what it means to be a man.
This doesn't mean that I encourage the poor treatment of women within these films. I emphatically do not. I am desperate for the female characters in these films to have as much depth and importance as the male lead, as it simply makes for more interesting films. As Phoebe Waller-Bridge said:
"The important thing is that the film treats the women properly".
Outside of the franchise, I am hopeful that the most interesting women are writing the most incredibly complicated, flawed, and nuanced characters that may one day rival Bond in the box office. There is a desire for female-led action films but in the wake of our developing feminism — let's develop something new.
James Bond should remain James Bond — with all that entails. The consideration of completely changing the complexities of this long-established character would be crippling, and Bond as we know it would cease to exist.
For the sake of women: JAMES Bond must return.
Liberty's always mood: Timothy Dalton using the word 'pastiche' in the Everything or Nothing documentary.