So Pussy Galore was "cured" of lesbianism by James Bond? There goes my last interest in seeing Spectre

I would hazard a guess that Bond isn’t very good in bed—he’s always in a rush, he’s never held down a relationship long enough to find out where the clitoris is, and most of the time he’s stewing in about a litre of booze

Ruby Thomas
Thursday 05 November 2015 17:04 GMT
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Daniel Craig with his co-stars Lea Seydoux, left, and Monica Bellucci, at the Spectre film premiere
Daniel Craig with his co-stars Lea Seydoux, left, and Monica Bellucci, at the Spectre film premiere (Copyright (c) 2015 Rex Features. No use without permission.)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

Why are we still watching James Bond? Presumably for the same reason we still wear four-inch heels, read gossip magazines, and have one-night stands with people who only look hot after four rounds of cheap tequila. At worst it might turn out painful, boring or mind-numbingly repetitive, but it looks so damn shiny on the tin and that's what matters on a bored Saturday night.

Isn’t that what life is about? A man in expensive tailoring; a few jazzy one-liners; the “cor blimey” factor of a breath-taking car chase and some equally breath-taking breasts—and you can leave, satisfied that you’ve seen the best craftsmanship 21st century cinema has to offer.

This is what the producers of Bond would have us believe: it looks good, and it’s tradition, so it must be fabulous. But there are certain traditions that Bond – just like everybody else – could frankly do without. In a letter written in 1959, in response to a complaint from a Doctor Gibson about Pussy Galore’s transformation from ‘hard-eyed’ lesbian to adoring, magically man-loving Bond Girl in Goldfinger, Ian Fleming writes that she “only needed the right man to come along and perform the laying on of hands in order to cure her psycho-pathological malady”.

There are so many problems with this that it is hard to know where to begin. It hearkens delightfully back to the 16th century, when women were clinically diagnosed with hysteria and prescribed vigorous sex with their husbands to loosen them up (read: orgasms). But what these doctors were yet to understand, and what Fleming refuses to accept, is that the female orgasm is not man-made.

Women, including the fictitious Bond Girls, are perfectly capable of climaxing on their own or indeed with other women, without a Cosmo-recommended slinky lingerie set in sight, and without a man to help them. I would even hazard a guess that Bond isn’t very good in bed—he’s always in a rush and he’s never held down a relationship long enough to find out where the clitoris is, plus most of the time he’s stewing in about a litre of booze. Anyone who’s ever gone to bed with a man can tell you what this combination generally leads to: a mediocre half hour of thrusting (at most) with a vacant guy who’s more likely to shout out his name at the end than yours.

The sinister tone of the phrase “laying on of hands” reminds me of the scene that finally killed off my enjoyment of Bond. In 2012’s Skyfall, Severine (Berenice Marlohe) confesses she has been the victim of trafficking and sexual abuse, and Bond’s response? To immediately – and without so much as a glimmer of empathy– have sex with her in a shower. Quite apart from Fleming’s assumption that male sexual prowess is the answer to every straight woman’s problems, his sheer non-comprehension of lesbianism is yet another affirmation that Bond inherits his psyche from an emotionally immature, psychologically ignorant author.

We live in a culture that frequently appropriates female sexuality – in both its negative and positive aspects – for its own gain. We throw the word ‘rape’ around when someone hijacks our Facebook page and writes a funny status; we leer at – or verbally attack – women who express romantic love for one another in the street; we defend breasts in newspapers as if they belong to the men who masturbate over them.

I don’t have a problem with the glossy sheen, light-hearted violence or absurd bravado of Bond. Action films are meant to be fun. But the voice of Ian Fleming prescribing the “laying on of hands” to any woman who’s not keen on having sex with men does ring in my ears. Pussy Galore’s very name suggests that she isn’t exactly supposed to be taken seriously – but liking girls because you haven’t “met the right man”? That’s the final nail in the shiny chrome coffin for me.

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