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…

Government denies existence of mermaids

We thought Old Palfrey had finally lost it. Came into the bar that night calling for drink and raving about having seen a mermaid. I asked him how much he’d already had. “Half a bottle of rum,” he said. “Needed it to steady my nerves. Wouldn’t you, if a mermaid came up caught in one of your lines?”

The older guys, seasoned hands, just chuckled and shook their heads. The younger ones shrugged their shoulders. “Whatever you caught, just send it to the canning factory with the rest of the catch. No one’ll know the difference.”

But he wouldn’t have it. Half woman, half fish. Nice face. Tits on it. Long blonde hair. And the clincher was this: “She’s still in the hold. I tied her hands to a stanchion there.”

“You mean you haven’t offloaded your catch?” No one keeps their catch after they’ve docked, the factory wants it fresh. “Well, in that case,” I said, “there’s one way to settle it. Let’s go see what it was you did catch.”

So we went back down to the docks. Old Palfrey, me, Jack, Jules, Ty and Brad. With torches. Made him open up the hatch.

And right there, hands tied, was a mermaid. Resting on a pile of lobster pots.

She looked at us with venom in her eyes. Slapped away questing hands with her tail. But she was weak, and we got a rope around her just above the tailfin.

“See?” Old Palfrey said triumphantly. “Told you I got myself one. Came right up with the pots, unconscious. Like she was exhausted and fouled herself on a line.”

“You gonna call the coastguard?” I asked. “This is going to make the news.”

“What’cha do with a mermaid?” Jack asked. It was a rhetorical question. “Cos I don’t see a cunt. Gotta be in the mouth, then.”

And while the rest of us were standing around he’d got his cock out, grabbed her by the hair to pull her face up and started pumping between her lips. She made gkk-gkk sounds. Her eyes were big, round, startled. She might feel venom but wasn’t exactly in a position to express it.

“If you don’t want her,” Brad said slyly, “I’ll buy her off you. She can live in my bath and soap me down when I get in with her.” Yeah. Like he ever bothered to even take a bath.

Jules fucked her, then Ty.

By the end of it her face was a slimy mess. She didn’t even seem conscious.

“You should have her, too,” Jack told me.

“Nope. You don’t just fuck a strange new species. That’s asking for trouble. And you don’t, like, fuck the other stuff that comes up in your catch, do you?”

Brad just grinned. He’s a slimy bastard but I’d never have expected that of him. That’s so perverted it’s surreal.

“Listen, you don’t know anything about her. Germs, parasites, weird stuff. And you’re lucky her tongue doesn’t have fucking spikes on it.”

Then a little voice from the darkness. “Motherfuckers.”

What?

“Hey,” I called out. “Did you just speak English?”

Her breath came in irregular gulps. “Of course I… speak fucking English. Stop me… Drying out. Water.”

Old Palfrey sloshed a bucket of slop from the bilges over her. It seemed to help. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

“What are you?” I asked.

“You don’t want to know.” Quiet voice. Dreamy. “But if you want to stay and keep me company…?”

Old Palfrey, too old and alcohol-soaked to contemplate a mermaid blowjob, had already fallen asleep. Jack, Jules, Ty and Brad were too young and alcohol-soaked to even think it was a strange idea. Or be put off by the bilge slops. For all I know Brad actually found it a turn-on. And I was too sober to know what the hell I thought. Or felt.

So I left them to it.

***

Around seven the next morning I went back to the docks to see what the score was. The dock gates were blocked, though, by a couple of black SUVs. No insignia on them. And there were plenty of guys in suits I didn’t recognize, plus a few marines in uniform. And armed.

Lunchtime, the talk in the bar was about how Old Palfrey’s boat had been seized. No one know who by, or where it had been taken. Neither Old Palfrey nor the other guys were anywhere. I’d left them on the boat, screwing the mermaid. Far as anyone knew, they were still there when the SUVs pulled up a couple of hours later.

And there was a report on the TV in the corner of the bar. The government were strenuously denying the existence of mermaids. No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found. That’s what they said.

We never saw Old Palfrey, or the other guys, again. Not ever.

***

This story’s inspired by a BBC report, ‘No evidence of mermaids, says US Government‘. Apparently there was  TV show on the Discovery Channel about mythical creatures that a lot of people thought was a documentary about real ones. The US government took the unusual step of making the statement that ‘no evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found’.

Related stories: Fulani has a story ‘Andi in Chains’, in the Lucy Felthouse collection ‘Seducing the Myth‘, a selection of retellings of old myths from various cultures. ‘Andi in Chains’ is an urban punk version of the Andromeda myth, one he especially likes since it involves a nude maiden chained to a rock waiting to be eaten by a monster – very damsel-in-distress style…

E-porn and bookshops

Just come across an interesting, though I think slightly confused, piece on the BBC website about mommy porn and bookstores (the link opens in a new window).

There are three sort-of points being made in the piece, but how they hang together is a matter of debate. Firstly, and as exemplified by the 50 Shades of Grey scenario, ebooks have become a much bigger phenomenon, much faster, than the publishing industry expected – they probably account for 40-50% of books sold now. Secondly, as also exemplified by 50 Shades, only a small proportion of  sales now are through high street bookshops, whether retail chains or independents. And thirdly, many of the best sellers are now ebooks in a genre that’s come to be labelled ‘mommy porn’ – erotica aimed at women who are old enough to have school-age children. It’s spicy enough to keep their interest, occasionally a little transgressive in that it delves into areas such as bdsm, but not in a full-on sledgehammer way.

The conclusion (or maybe we should call them speculations?) are these. There’s more reading going on, perhaps encouraged by the anonymous grey cover of the Kindle that doesn’t announce to other people what you’re reading. A large proportion of the market is female, probably reasonably educated, and into erotica – though you don’t need to explore very far into Goodreads to work that out. In fact, they’re probably buying stuff online that they wouldn’t necessarily buy in print from an actual bookshop. And so, thirdly, bookshops themselves aren’t doing too well and have lost their function. And we’re going to see more bookstores closing, and the publishing industry which has already changed massively in response to ebooks will change harder and faster in the future.

My thoughts in response are scattered.

Take the bookshop issue first. The loss of function issue is probably right. But there are emerging niche markets that can likely support independent stores. About three years ago a friend of mine closed her bookstore down. She’d conceived it as a store built around several interlocking themes: radical politics, sexuality (including gay literature) and literature by emerging writers. But it wasn’t just a bookshop. It had a radical politics reading group, offered meeting space for activist groups, participated in a literary festival or two, hosted poetry readings and a Black history group and a gay group and a Bangladeshi women’s writing group, and offered creative writing sessions. It was even planning bdsm workshops. Plus there was free coffee for pretty much anyone who walked through the door. And apart from that, it ran basic literacy and computing classes in a back room and some of the people who went to those sessions ended up working in the store. I’d say it was an exciting model that was probably five years ahead of its time, because bookshops are going to have to build some kind of social function in order to survive.

Even so, they probably won’t capture a mommy porn market – unless it’s an erotica reading group!

So what do you think?

Meanwhile and in other news – I now have a Goodreads profile.  And apart from that, I’ve just thrown up a short erotic story on my other blog that’s got an urban, grungy, underclass/underworld feel to it and I’d be interested to see how people feel it works. It was, if anyone’s interested, prompted by a particular street scene of the ‘evidence’ of sex in a public place.

Have fun!

-F

 

 

Louis Theroux on pornography

At the back end of last week I caught a documentary by Louis Theroux on BBC – ‘Twilight of the Porn Stars’. It’s available until sometime tomorrow on the BBC iPlayer for those of you who have access to it, but if not it will no doubt be repeated sometime, or segments of it will wind up on YouTube or whatever.

The essence of it is that he revisited a bunch of people in the porn business he first interviewed 15 years ago to see how they’re doing. His interview style – the wide-eyed, straight-laced naive innocent asking questions that are dorky, blundering and insensitive – doesn’t sit well with me, but a few interesting propositions emerged.

Firstly, the business is in bad shape (or had least has morphed in very significant ways). A lot of the market share has moved from films made by well-known production companies to webcam sessions, and to amateur porn that’s often widely available for free. In addition huge amounts of pirated material is freely available. I don’t hold any particular brief for porn production and distribution companies, and I have some nuanced arguments I could make about piracy – though as a ‘creative’ myself I do think it’s morally wrong. But the bottom line is that it’s as difficult now, if not more difficult, to generate an income from porn as it is from any other skill or talent.

Secondly, this may signal the end of certain types of job. In particular, the professional male performers (though not female ones) are likely to find themselves with less and less work – even though, realistically, very few men have the ability to have an erection more or less at will, hold it for long periods of time and come on demand. I’d venture to add that the ‘gonzo’ style of porn may well even mean far less demand for professional camera operators and post-production workers in the industry, especially since even some mobile phones (cellphones, if you’re in the US) can now produce semi-professional quality footage and editing is possible on many laptops.

Thirdly, insofar as there have been shifts in the content offered, some of those Theoroux interviewed felt that the market is now much more based around couples watching together, and some of the excesses of previous years such as de rigeur anal sex are no longer relevant – because, they said, in real life anal sex isn’t perceived as something that should and does happen at some point in almost any sexual encounter. The points were made by, among others, Rob Black (aka Rob Zicari), who comes across as not quite being on this planet but has been able to stay in the business for around two decades, so I assume he knows what he’s talking about.

And fourthly, there’s a short segment at the end where Theroux muses on the problems many porn performers seem to have with relationships, and he has an interesting proposition:

‘I’d found an industry that 15 years on was more demoralised and still taking the privacy of its young cohorts while paying them less. And yet the world of porn is also a refuge; somewhere people fleeing lives of chaos can blend in and feel valued. Though it can inflict wounds on those who work in it, it could also occasionally surprise with its tenderness.’

Hmmm. Two points there, and I suspect they both have some weight and that there are people for whom the latter is true – though I wouldn’t want to rely on it as a stereotype, and I can think of other occupational worlds in which both observations would hold up.

Any thoughts, anyone? Especially if it’s a business you know well?

On not playing nicely

OK, so I was going to do a humorous post or a story and both of those might happen sometime soon. But I got distracted, because I came across this BBC report on sexual harassment in the online gaming world.

I don’t do online gaming, and I am aware of chatrooms and places in Second Life and such where BDSM scenarios are played out and women of a submissive bent go there specifically to experience that. What I don’t get is why, in an online game that involves a team of people playing out a military combat scenario against another team, random male players will suddenly realise there’s a woman on their team and start demanding pics of their tits, offering to hook up for anal sex, disparaging female players by telling them they’re only fit to make sandwiches or the only good part of their body is their vagina, or any of the other quite surreal stuff that seems to go on.

Nor is this kind of behaviour limited to hormone driven male teenagers. The BBC report points out the average gamer (presumably we’re talking online games here) is aged 37, and 42% are women; also ‘Women aged 18+ represent a greater portion of game-playing population (37%) than boys aged 17 or younger (13%)’.

So this kind of stuff is happening even though women constitute a little under half of all gamers and the men involved are mostly (at least in a chronological sense) mature adults.

Partly, I don’t get it because if I were playing an online game, I’d be there to play the game; if it’s a shoot-em-up type scenario I’d be looking for enemies to shoot rather than hanging around offering gratuitous insults to players on my team. Especially if insulting them meant they’d lose any motivation to watch my back and stop me getting shot.

And partly, I don’t get it because I don’t see why an online environment is intrinsically different to everyday life. Do people really not get it that pretty much anything that happens online is recorded, archived, available as evidence, and rather less secure than a postcard sent through the regular mail? I’d imagine most of the guys offering this kind of harassment wouldn’t walk into a supermarket, see there’s a woman on the till and demand to see her vagina. They wouldn’t see a woman walk into a bar and instantly ask her for anal sex. They wouldn’t cruise into their workplace and tell a female co-worker to fix them a sandwich, or get out her tits. Well, maybe some of them do? But if they did, I imagine they’d end up arrested, fired or whatever on a fairly regular basis.

OK, so the internet isn’t policed the same way as real life; people can and do have flame wars and engage in harassment and bullying. And some of them let rip with their misogyny. But I’d imagine the numbers are against them, with forty-plus percent of female players and a proportion of men who pitch in against misogynistic behaviour online. I’d imagine they have persistent negative experiences when they try this kind of tactic, and others work out who they are and actively shun them, like they do in many chatrooms.

However, I’m probably making the mistake of thinking that the kind of people who engage in this behaviour learn from their experiences, and/or that they’re acting in any rational manner. After all, it’s still common in places like Fetlife for women to get ‘chatup lines’ that are essentially demands for naked pics or, alternatively, receive unsolicited penis pics – though it’s easier to ignore or block such people since it’s not a real-time interactive environment.

A defence of sexually aggressive language has been offered in terms of the combat-driven nature of many games and the casual use of terms like ‘bitch’ to describe opponents, and ‘rape’ to mean defeating another character. And this is stuff you can hear on the street: I’ve heard young men talking about someone being ‘raped’ when what they meant was that they’d been (for example) short-changed in a shop. But while such phrases are, like it or not, used indiscriminately now, if you listen to the audio captures of the level of abuse and the specific things said to female players, it’s pretty clear that defence doesn’t stack up. How often does anyone, talking to a stranger, male or female, say something like Show me your titties or your family dies?

If you want to know more – including audio recordings of some of the harassment that prove it’s as ridiculous, idiotic and yet offensive as the BBC report indicates – have a look at the sites of these two female gamers who blog about their experiences:  Jenny Haniver’s Not in the Kitchen Anymore, and Fat Ugly or Slutty.

Enough said. Humorous and/or erotic posts will resume shortly…

Sexual slavery and prostitution in the news

While we write predominantly about fantasy, sex, erotica and occasionally humour, we do recognise there are serious social problems around sexual coercion and exploitation. One such problem is that there are women who are trafficked as sex slaves. The latest news report on this comes from the BBC – ‘Trafficked – sex slaves seduced and sold‘, a piece about the sex trafficking trade in Mexico where women from all over Latin America are recruited and sold on, often into the US. One place in particular, the semi-rural small town of Tenancingo, is reputed to be based almost entirely on the economy of sex trafficking.

The BBC site has a series of short video news and interview items and is tagged ‘Viewers may find some of the video content disturbing’. Yeah. And not in a good way.

If the content isn’t available where you are, the story’s been reported by a number of other sources: in the US, try The Takeaway and Jezebel.  The same story, in Spanish, is at BBC Mundo (the BBC Spanish language world news site); also in Spanish, it’s in Vanguardia,  La PoliciacaAnimal Politico and Zolaco Saltillo.

This isn’t, obviously, the only place where sex trafficking happens. And if you look back at news sources over the last couple of years you’ll also see that in some parts of the world, young boys are similarly treated.

Much as people have fantasies and act them out, and much as fantasies can be extreme and involve sex slavery, the actual slavery of unwilling victims is evidently more common than any of us might like to think, and a serious social problem.

In the news – SlutWalk!

If you haven’t spotted this yet, it’s a movement not just to relaim the word, but as Boston organiser Siobhan Connors says, “is in protest of a culture that we think is too permissive when it comes to rape and sexual assault. It’s to bring awareness to the shame and degradation women still face for expressing their sexuality… essentially for behaving in a healthy and sexual way.”

It came about as a result of a senior police officer in Toronto advising female students to “avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised.” (Yes, he’s since been disciplined).

I’ll hold off on a long moral rant about how something like SlutWalk shouldn’t even be necessary in today’s society, because evidently it still is necessary.

Links: BBC website report and SlutWalk Toronto Blog Page.