Beyond the fact that Ian Fleming created him as a white man and that’s how he’s always been portrayed on film and TV from the very beginning, James Bond can never be a woman for a few important reasons. And that’s true of any actor who bears the title 007.
The Most Important Reason
Let’s get right to the point. Men and women are different. There’s a reason why a woman who sleeps with a lot of men is called a slut and a man who sleeps with a lot of women is called a player. I personally don’t think either situation is good, but that’s beside the point. It’s easy for a woman to have sex with many men. She is the object of men’s desire, so sleeping with lots of men is hardly an attainment. In fact, a woman who has had a variety of sexual partners will not be attractive to good men who want to find a suitable mate because those men value exclusivity. On the other hand, it’s hard for a man to have sex with many women. That’s because men are not inherently valuable in the eyes of most people. Men have to offer some value beyond their mere being, such as good physiques, wealth, possessions, high-status jobs, and ambitious attitudes. Lauren Southern explains it very well in this video.
You can’t just slap the label 007 on a woman and expect her to be a carbon copy of James Bond. She would be a completely different character. I’ve already talked before about why Bond sleeps with so many women. It demonstrates his value because he only sleeps with women who are hard to get. No other man could get them, so he’s in a special class by being the only man to do it. But it doesn’t work in reverse. The women are not elevated by being wooed by Bond. Imagine a scenario where a female 007 tries to woo a hard-to-get man who no other woman has had before. It’s a hollow victory because she’s the prize, not him. And she’s a worthless prize because she’s doing the pursuing, so she’s obviously not on his radar. There’s nothing impressive about a trophy seeking a champion. It’s the complete opposite of the way the world works.
In general, men age better than women. I’m married to a wonderful woman who I plan to grow old with, so I’m not saying this to denigrate all women. The fact remains that Daniel Craig has aged much better since 2006 than, say, Ellen Page.
You could compare all sorts of actors and actresses and find similar results. Craig is still capable of playing a secret agent who could plausibly seduce younger women while Page probably wouldn’t be given a second look by men her junior. Women lose their good looks faster than men, and (at their best) they only have a few years of physical beauty when they reach adulthood. James Bond can plausibly be played by an actor in his early-30s all the way to his early-50s. But could an actress do the same thing? A woman in her early-30s is right on the cusp of losing the best looks she’ll ever have, if she hasn’t already done so. By the time she’s in her 40s, she’s well past her prime, to say nothing about her 50s.
But even if a 20-year-old woman is cast in the role of 007 and she has a decade of good looks to go, she wouldn’t be believable as an experienced spy who’s been around the world on myriad adventures. An older actor can pull this off because he has an air of sophistication, and he’s not a baby-faced boy. A woman who is beautiful to look at because of her youth and physical fitness usually can’t be taken seriously as an action star. That’s why Ellen Ripley is such a perfect action heroine in Aliens. She’s not drop-dead gorgeous even though she’s not ugly, she’s driven by maternal instincts rather than bravado, and she’s old enough to have a sense of maturity without being over the hill. That’s a tight rope to walk, and few ever pull it off. There’s a reason why they rarely brought Bond girls back for sequels. The women get immortalized in a single film at their physical peak while the actor who plays Bond gets to keep soldiering on in future films.
A Contradiction in Terms
I intended to write this article months ago. I had it all planned out, but I never got around to writing it for one reason or another. But the news that a female actress has been cast as 007 made me realize this is necessary to discuss. A female 007 is a contradiction in terms. She would have to be so different from James Bond as to make her an entirely separate character. And I don’t think such a thing can be made to work for the reasons stated above. Now that I’ve offended everyone with my frank take on this topic, I bid you adieu.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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