This past week, actresses Gillian Anderson and Priyanka Chopra have expressed interest in playing James Bond. I mulled over the idea of a female James Bond for a few days, wondering why I didn’t like the idea. I’m all for female action heroes. I’m all for seeing a badass female superspy take over the silver screen. But ‘female James Bond?’ I didn’t like it. (Personally, I really like the idea of Jamie Bell as 007: I think it would give him a chance to really prove his acting chops, and a younger Bond would be a fun deviation from the typical middle-aged slot. That being said, Idris Elba and Tom Hiddleston are also amazing choices.)
It took me a while to figure out why the idea of a female James Bond didn’t sit well with me. Women are angry, as they have every right to be. Female characters are often reduced to love interests or eye candy. That’s extremely aggravating. However.
James Bond is a male role. 007 might be a role anyone could fill, but James is a man. If you put a woman in the role of James Bond, two things happen:
- You lower the importance of men. Men and women enjoy James Bond. He’s basically a tradition by this point. It’s not the idea of a female 007 that irks, me, but the idea of a female James, of taking over a well-loved character and fundamentally changing them in the name of gender equality. (Do I like all incarnations of James Bond? Ugh, no. I can’t stand most of them. Pierce Brosnan was the first I didn’t loathe, and Daniel Craig is the first I love. I can barely stomach Sean Connery in the role.)
- You lower the importance of women. Really, you want to settle for replacing the gender of a fictional character? Come ON! Demand your own movie franchise. Having a female James Bond is a fairly petty victory, if you want to call it that. It doesn’t lift women up or promote their importance – it says we’re insecure and demanding. Insecure isn’t how we want to be portrayed. Don’t just give us a female James Bond. Give us a brand-new character (played by Natalie Dorm— I mean, whoever) with her own story to tell and her own villains to defeat.
I dislike the idea of a replacing a well-known, well-loved, traditionally male fictional character with a female for ‘equality’ because it isn’t equality. It’s settling for far less than we deserve – but it’s also making a subtle statement that men don’t matter to the franchise or the viewers. Men and women both deserve better than a female James Bond.
I’m not saying I’d be done with the franchise if a woman played 007, but…I want a movie starring a woman in her own role, not stealing a man’s. I want to see more female characters who aren’t just kicking men out of the picture or attempting to out-do them: I want to see them in their own element, as different as those elements might be depending on the character. I want to see women being themselves, not being ‘the female version’ of a male character. What a radical idea.