The women of Bond

There’s a new Bond film out soon, and it’s prompted a bunch of people including the BBC to revisit the history of James Bond and aspects of the character’s life. Never mind that he was in his late 30s in 1962 (in Dr. No) and is still about the same age 50 years later, which arguably means he must be a vampire, or have sold his soul to the devil. What’s been exercising the BBC recently is how his sex life compares to that of the ‘average’ man.

We’re not sure we know any average men, but Bond is apparently several standard deviations away from any average you care to think about. He can apparently attract women merely by raising an eyebrow, which means it doesn’t matter that his chat-up lines are rubbish. He’s a sexist, misogynist dinosaur (according to Judy Dench’s M) but maybe women like a little of that in a man.

It’s difficult to count exactly how many sexual partners he’s had, because the films aren’t exactly X-rated and for all we know, he’s spent the night drinking cocoa and playing Scrabble with the women he wakes up next to in bed. But apparently an academic paper in the journal Sex Roles ascertained he had ‘strong sexual contact’ with 46 women between 1962 (Dr. No) and 2002 (Die Another Day), compared to the reported figure of 9.3 sexual partners for the ‘average’ man as detrmined by the Health Survey for England.

However, one has to question his taste.

  • Pussy Galore (Goldfinger)– the only woman in the US to run an organised crime gang, largely comrising lesbian women – and she herself is a lesbian. Until Bond comes along. Yeah, well… It was 1964. Lesbians were like that back then. Maybe.
  • Honey Rider (novel) or Ryder (film, Dr. No). Professional shell diver, orphaned at the age of 5 and brought up in a cellar until the age of 15. Suffered sexual abuse and later murdered her abuser.
  • Domino Vitali (in the book) or Derval (in the film Thunderball). Graduate of Cheltenham Ladies’ College, orphaned as a result of a train crash, actress, and lover/mistress/partner of organised crime gangster Largo, though refers to him in public as her ‘guardian’, raising some speculation about the dynamics of the relationship. Also appears in Never Say Never Again, as Domino Petachi, with a somewhat different backstory. In either case she’s handy with a harpoon gun.
  • Xenia Onatopp. Soviet fighter pilot, then member of a crime syndicate after glasnost. Femme fatale, literally, who derives sexual satisfaction from killing her lovers: kills a Canadian admiral by crushing him during violent sex. Oh, and she’s a mass murderer, especially in the scene that takes plas in the satellite control centre in Siberia (the film is Goldeneye).
  • Tracy Bond, aka Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo. Born in 1943, therefore aged 20 when the action takes place (1963) in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (novel) or perhaps aged 26 at the date of the film (1969). Only child of the head of a Corsican crime syndicate, sent to boarding school and lived an unstable life commmitting a series of scandals. Marries into nobility though her husband died in a car accident with one of his mistresses. Bond saves her during a suicide attempt. Ultimately he marries her but she’s killed immediately after the wedding in a drive-by shooting.
  • Anya Amasova, KGB operative and competitor in trying to acquire a microfilm. Also known as Agent XXX – how suggestive! Bond has previously killed her lover. At their first meeting, she has her thugs beat him up in the mistaken belief he killed her Egyptian contact. The film is The Spy Who Loved Me. The film, incidentally, bears no relationship to the novel where the love interest is supplied by a rather innocent Vivienne Michel who works at the ‘Dreamy Pines Motor Court’ motel in the Adirondacks. Vivienne’s backstory involves an abortion after being made pregnant by her former boss, and losing her virginity in a field with one Derek Mallaby following his being thrown out of a cinema for indecently exposing himself.
  • Dr Holly Goodhead (though it’s not clear if the surname refects her sexual prowess), in Moonraker (1954 novel, 1979 film). Scientist, astronaut and CIA agent. Graduate of Vassar College, New York state. It being a later film, she has a good line in sarcasm. In fact an excellent line in sarcasm.

In so far as there are themes underlying Bond’s choice of sexual partners, they’d have to be: he meets them in the course of his work, they had unstable and troubled childhoods including being orphaned, sent to boarding school and/or sexually abused, and later acquired extraordinary professional skills. They aren’t averse to killing people but nonetheless are sexually attracted to alpha males with a misogynistic and sometimes sadistic (if not psychopathic) streak – even if they’re lesbian.

On the whole, the ‘average’ man is probably lucky he hasn’t struck up a relationship with any of them. He’d have to make sure not to leave scuba equipment and harpoon guns lying around. And even then, if he didn’t die crushed between their thighs, he’d be killed by an overdose of sarcasm…

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