Dr Yes? James Bond and Consent


Bond. James, Bond.

Phwoooar. That sultry gaze. That chiselled jaw. That taste for fast cars, cocktails that look sexy AF but surely taste like pre-loading for the clubz at uni, expensive tuxedos … and sexual assault?

This week in the UK, the smooth talking, bad-guy killing, heavily eyebrowed lust-machine has come under a bit of Family Planning Association fire for his inability to obtain, and his often total disregard for, explicit consent from female characters.

Later this month, as part of Sexual Health Awareness week, the UK Family Planning Association will launch a campaign called; ‘Consent: Yes, yes, yes!’. As part of this campaign, they will be publishing some guidance for production companies. Guidance urging that characters (like big ol’ bonking Bond) should not be shown in sex scenes that involve “violence, threats, pressure or persistence – such as asking multiple times until someone says yes.”

The FPA are hoping that by examining Hollywood sex scenes a little more closely -  specifically through the use of their FPA Consent Test - “healthier depictions of consent on the big screen” will be encouraged. They figure a bit less of the pushy, won’t-take-no-for-an-answer behaviour on the big screens, may lead to less of it in real life.

Basically - if we stop normalising assault in movies, then maybe it will seem less normal.

Natika Halil, the association’s chief executive, has suggested that; “Bond in particular, famed for his prowess, should set a good example to viewers by slowing down the action and getting an enthusiastic yes before having sex.”

Not surprisingly, her suggestion has generated it’s fair share of how-dare-you, stop-ruining-everything heat, with arguments about how altering Bond’s character to show the ladies a bit of R.E.S.P.E.C.T would; “ruin the drama” and be “inconsistent with the spy’s character”.

Madeline Smith, 69 (coincidence? I think not), who appeared opposite Roger Moore in Live and Let Die, responded with a particularly eloquent, well-thought-out statement of; “Go away Family Planning Association, and think about babies”.

Thanks Madeline, some real food for thought.

Examples of Bond’s questionable encounters have been popping up all over the show, ranging from your classic, ‘off you go sweetheart, we’re about to have “man talk” (and have a nice, unwanted slap of the rump as you go – there’s a good girl)’ so often seen in old movies, to more sinister scenarios, like his forcible kiss of a nurse as she assesses his health in 1965’s Thunderball … a kiss that was swiftly followed by him blackmailing her into having sex with him.

And, examples of Bond’s consent-cockups go further than the on-screen sexy-time too. Some absolute pearlers have been found in Ian Fleming’s original Bond novels, including the ‘seduction’ of Pussy Galore in the 1964 adaptation of Goldfinger. In the film, Sean Connery’s Bond ignores the protestations of our gal Pussy, instead pinning her to the floor of a barn and kissing her. The book version of the story takes it to a whole other level, with Fleming writing that Galore was a lesbian who “only needed the right man to come along . . . to cure her psycho-pathological malady” of preferring women to men.”

Nice! Nothing like a barn-floor violation to de-lesbian a gal, am I right?

Daniel Craig has previously spoken about how he wants to move Bond away from being a womaniser, and that he’s been “trying to do that gently for the past four movies and (will) continue to do that.”

We say: Bond - keep your muscles, keep your smoldering gaze, keep your crisp white shirts and your fairly regular murdering … but maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t hurt to take a look at the rapey bits. Lord knows, we could all do with dialling back on the barn-floor assaults.

And to all the haters out there - come on now. We understand - Bond is dreamy and sexy and exciting - sure. No one wants to say goodbye to the fast cars, lush hotel suites, and gross martinis. But, if you’re so concerned about an enthusiastic yes or two ruining the mood, then maybe Bond is the least of your worries.

Yes, the stories were written in a time when women were fondled and men were untouchable. We get it. But, like so many things out there, if we stuck to the “but that’s the way it was” argument - we’d be, for lack of a better, more eloquent term (unfortunately Madeline Smith wasn’t on hand for suggestions) completely and utterly fucked.

We think, If Thomas the Tank Engine can adapt, then so can Bond.