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Five Surprising Lessons James Bond Taught to be an Epic #GirlBoss

It’s International Women’s Day, and I’m sitting in a café early this morning for a change of scenery to help get into that perfect writing groove.  I need all the help I can get to explain how the James Bond franchise is surprisingly feministic that showcases incredible #GirlBoss material to appreciate and learn from.

International Women's Day - Five Lessons I Learned From James Bond

I’m currently surrounded by women, of all ages and cultures, some SAHMs, some clearly in line for that first hit of caffeine before they have to be fierce at the office, some enjoying retirement, and sadly even one obviously struggling with no money, and ultimately no home.

I’m entirely humbled by all of these women around me, and am so very awed that while all of our mornings are beginning virtually the same way, with a stop to the local café for a hot drink and a bite, and perhaps a little ironically, listening to James Blunt croon over how You’re Beautiful, it feels a little more potent this morning to know that our days will weave and spiral in wildly different ways once those last drops from our cups do drip.

Two movies into our Bond marathon and I’m surprised to find that despite the rather long stroke to the male ego (26 movies and adaptations,) and the originating perpetrator that lead to copious Pussy Galore jokes 50 years over, the James Bond franchise has an underlining appreciation for women, and their core strengths.

Thing is, my memories of the older movies in the Bond library have always been favourable.

I hearted the idea of crazy gadgets to beat the bad guys, and couldn’t help but wonder what it would take to lifehack the heck out of some of the more innocuous bits of tech that Bond films thought up (such as sophisticatedly hiding cash/jewellery in the lining of a suitcase for travel.)

Prepubescent me probably ewwed her way through the various kissy scenes, which is why I don’t remember those rather abundant moments as much. Hey, I’m more or less thinking “Ew.” for all those sorta-romantic scenes this time around too.

I get that Sean Connery as James Bond was one hot piece of tux, but still.

So, despite that one ass-hat derisively relating a Beretta as a toy meant for a woman’s purse in Dr. No, and if you can ignore the silly names some of the women had to seemingly barge through life with, and possibly forgive Bond’s superpower, which is to stare into the eyes of any female and have them want to be kissed and seduced by him within just mere seconds of introduction….

Q mocking a beretta as a toy for women Dr. No

Q mocking a Beretta as a toy for a woman’s purse in James Bond, Dr. No.

We have a series of films unrepentantly showcasing women who know what they want; proving to be smart entrepreneurs, ruthless leaders, voices of reason, and when needs be, epically dirty fighters.

What more can you really want?

Let Me Re-Introduce You to Five of the First Female Characters in the  James Bond Series And What We Can Learn From Them

  1. Sylvia Trench (Dr. No, From Russia With Love) She’s a high-stakes player at the Baccarat table that commands attention and is a total influencer over Bond. The whole, “Bond, James Bond” introduction we get from the super-spy? That all started with, “Trench, Sylvia Trench.” We learn very quickly that what Sylvia says goes. He needs to get to work? Not until she’s done with him. And hey, those locks to Bond’s home? His clothes? All her’s, don’t worry about it.
    What Silvia taught me: Don’t be afraid to take chances in life, or you’re less likely to get what you want.
    Also: Hit up YouTube to learn all there is to lock picking. YT can teach you lots.
    Sylvia Trench Dr No James Bond
  2. Miss Moneypenny (Dr. No, From Russia With Love, et al) Perhaps the only woman who can resist Bond’s charms, and sees right through his seemingly debonair demeanor. Administrative assistant to M means she’s privy to much and is probably the closest to “down to Earth” as Bond women go. While the boy’s club of MI5 are eager to have her leave during moments that they deemed as inappropriate for someone so delicate, such as the ineffective “seduction” of James Bond on tape, Miss Moneypenny has ways to push through their nonsense.
    What Moneypenny taught me: Keep a good head on your shoulders, life is better with a sense of balance in it.
    Also: Hone in my bullshit meter. People like James Bond could very well be too good to be true.
    Ms Moneypenny James Bond Strong Female Role Model
  3. Honey Ryder (Dr. No) Head-strong and stealthy, Ryder can kick ass in a white bikini with merely a hunting knife. She learned how to avoid an entire army for years while collecting sea shells (new stock to sell to idiot tourists,) on an island that countless men have been disappeared and had ultimately been murdered otherwise. While she might not know the difference between a quadrupedal mythical animal and tank tracks (neither did Quarrel, so there’s that,) she’s read almost every volume of an entire encyclopedia and is confident that she’s probably smarter than you are.
    Honey Ryder Dr No James Bond
    What Honey taught me: You can be an amazing entrepreneur doing something you love. Money can be found in the most obscure things, so don’t settle for standards and others’ expectations of normal.
    Also: We totally need more women in science and technology. She thought that was a dragon, honestly?James Bond: Dragon in Dr. No
  4. Rosa Klebb (From Russia with Love) I haven’t seen enough movies made in the 60’s to know if LGBTQ characters were prevalent in film back then, but hail the James Bond writers for adding a lesbian/bisexual woman into the mix. While From Russia with Love doesn’t outwardly point out her proclivities, they’re entirely embracing the military female stereotype, and I feel like it fits here. I love how subtly the Colonel is fighting many battles throughout the movie: her beliefs, age, gender, and passions are all on a battlefield. How do you not cringe when she punches that guy in the stomach with brass knuckles?
    What Rosa taught me: Women can be knowledgeable, effective, even ruthless global leaders.
    Also: You need a really good pair of shoes when you need to kick ass.
    Rosa Klebb From Russia With Love James Bond
  5. Tatiana Romanova (From Russia with Love) The Soviet army corporal who is tasked to seduce James Bond for her country. While this should be a laughably easy thing to do, (we’re only two movies into 26, and Bond is already shown to be somewhat of a slut*,) funnily enough, ultimate seduction doesn’t seem to be Romanova’s strong suit, but working under pressure is. This movie is largely of Bond keeping Romanova on her toes, and she rocks every moment of it.
    What Tatiana taught me: Priorities can change, don’t be afraid to re-evaluate every once in a while, and make changes when they’re needed.
    Also: Don’t sleep on the job. You might end up in a dirty bed of flowers in the back of a truck, which would suck if you have allergies.
    Tatiana Romanova From Russia With Love James Bond

* I abhor “slut-shaming” of any kind, this point isn’t an attempt to demean Bond’s promiscuity.

Honorable Mentions

Annabel Chung (Dr. No)

The freelance photographer, when backed into a corner she’s not afraid to get stabby with a broken light-bulb (at least I think that was a light-bulb.)

Miss Taro (Dr. No)

While I didn’t add her to the strong character’s list, I maybe probably should have. She proved herself to be entirely cool under pressure, while henchmen simultaneously proved to be bested by 007’s driving skills. The man that SPECTRE is beginning to fear is unexpectedly on her doorstep, and she invites him into her home, and then into her home all in the name of what she believes in. And when she’s taken into custody soon after? No tears from her, she literally spits in the face of her adversaries.

Gypsy Mudfighters (From Russia With Love)

Albeit, they’re fighting over a man, but they’re fighting for what they want and are not afraid of a little bit of dirt, and sharp nails to become the victor. And when their home burns down? They shrug it off and continue to fight for their desires, even if by less destructive means.

As you can see, my examples only come from the first two movies, as they’re the only two I’ve seen in a few years now. If you have any examples from these two movies or others in the Bond library, I would love to hear them!

Happy International Women’s Day!

Do me a solid, and take a minute to reflect and remind yourself exactly why you, like a Bond woman, are so full of awesome.

Living in Superman’s Metropolis (aka Toronto, Canada), Aeryn Lynne found a way to entirely over-share everything she loves, and make a career out of it! Ultimately a geek, she waxes poetically over technology, squees over comic art, hunts down the nerdiest places to visit and literally sparkles, thanks to her makeup addiction. Read More…

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25 Comments on “Five Surprising Lessons James Bond Taught to be an Epic #GirlBoss

Heather Lynne
March 8, 2016 at 3:47 pm

I love the internet.. else how would I even know that it’s international women’s day? I love it! 🙂 And we do need to remind ourselves sometimes about why we’re awesome 😉 Sometimes we’re too busy focusing on reasons why we’re not.

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Robin Rue (@massholemommy)
March 8, 2016 at 4:51 pm

I never really thought of it like that. I always thought of Bond girls as pieces of meat for 007.

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Aeryn Lynne
March 10, 2016 at 11:20 am

Oh they’re very much pieces of meat for 007, but its remarkable how much strength these women have altogether for a series that’s supposed to merely vaidate the male ego. It might be a byproduct, just so there’s a way for Bond to meet countless women in these movies, but we wind up with characters like Pussy Galore, who’s a highly skilled pilot with her own flight training school. Bond even remarks that “those lads are truly talented” (paraphrased) that she had trained, and then we’re supposed to all be shocked that those lads have breasts, haha.

(Oops, this is what happens when I marathon something… I get wordy, lol.)

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Scott
March 8, 2016 at 9:47 pm

Interesting take on Bond movies. I guess I never looked at them quite so deeply.

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Aeryn Lynne
March 10, 2016 at 11:23 am

LOL, I sort of blame the comics analysis course I took at YorkU years ago. Can’t watch a movie, read a book or appreciate a comic without finding at least 7 layers of subtlies within them. 😉

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Crystal
March 8, 2016 at 10:50 pm

I wouldn’t have associated strong women with James Bond movies, but you’re so right. There’s inspiration in the most unexpected places sometimes.

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Olivia
March 9, 2016 at 3:46 am

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen one James Bond movie (shocking, I know), but I love how you can find inspiration anywhere! Happy International Women’s Day to you too!

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Aeryn Lynne
March 10, 2016 at 11:29 am

OMGosh really?? Not one?! WOW! They’re fun if you’re into crime/spy, thrillers and gadgets, but probably ultimately boring otherwise. And you definitely need to ignore the sexism to enjoy the earlier movies for sure. I’m itching to watch Skyfall again, which was one of my favourite iterations made only a few years ago now, just to see if its even slightly sexist, but my marathon rules state that I can’t jump through titles, ergh.

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valmg @ Mom Knows It All
March 9, 2016 at 6:25 am

I grew up on James Bond movies, and love most of them. You make a great point that I had never really thought about.

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Michele
March 9, 2016 at 7:38 am

James Bond–I loved all those movies but never actually thought about how really strong the women were. You are correct–I concur totally!! I still like to watch all the films–but will always love the earlier Bond movies the best! As the song goes “I am woman-hear me roar!” (or something like that)

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Nicole Escat
March 9, 2016 at 2:29 pm

I never thought it before, you’re so amazing, and this gave me an interesting in James Bond movie.

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Ickle Pickle
March 9, 2016 at 4:46 pm

Love this post, and how you portray each of these women – I am not a James Bond fan, I always thought it a bit sexist – I really enjoyed reading your thinking, thank you. Kaz

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Aeryn Lynne
March 10, 2016 at 11:33 am

Oh the earlier works were *definitely* sexist for sure; horribly so. I can’t remember if the most recent movies were just as bad, but I’d bet they’d have a ton of flack if they were… *shrugs*

Thanks for reading! 🙂

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Margarita Ibbott
March 19, 2016 at 9:06 am

Not as sexist for sure. You’re going to love Scepter. Elevates woman power to a 2016 level…

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William Sweeney
March 9, 2016 at 4:54 pm

I never thought about James Bond like this! I love that international womens day has helped to raise awareness on so many issues for women.

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Jennifer
March 9, 2016 at 4:58 pm

lol Gypsy Mudfighters! Bond girls had the strangest names! I don’t think I’ve seen many Bond movies, so thanks for the recap on the leading ladies

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Aeryn Lynne
March 10, 2016 at 4:41 pm

Oh I know I haven’t seen all of the Bond movies, I’ll be shocked if I’ve seen even half of the 26, so am eager to find out what’s in store for 007, heh. 🙂

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Ladena
March 9, 2016 at 7:29 pm

Wow, you are a huge Bond fan. I’ve never analyzed the women of James Bond before but I like what you’ve come up for each character. I think I like Honey Ryder’s character the most. I’ll have to watch Dr No now!

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Aeryn Lynne
March 10, 2016 at 11:42 am

Heh, I think I’m more of a huge scifi/fantasy/spy movie fan over a Bond fan. Totally learning as I go with this marathon. Marathoning something I haven’t seen in ages (or not at all) is an activity both Jay and I enjoy. Just last night we watched half of Thunderball (4th Bond movie) and spent most of the time heckling the movie for its inaccuracies and plotholes, lol. 😀

Thanks to an analysis course I took at YorkU, I can never not analyse the heck out of a movie, book, or comic… its got to the point where its just part of the entertainment. 😉

Honey Ryder is definitely awesome, and is considered the first actual Bond-girl. So that leaves a huge standard the next 20+ Bondgirls to “compete” with!

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Dawn @Simple & Savoury
March 9, 2016 at 7:31 pm

I really didn’t think about Bond Girls in that perspective but you do have a point! Great post 🙂

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Aeryn Lynne
March 10, 2016 at 11:42 am

Thanks! 🙂

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nicole
March 10, 2016 at 6:01 pm

So awesome! what a great perspective. The women are powerful and I love how they all played different rolls but the same kind of character. I was always so intrigued by the action and the story line. Women rock LOL, I have to watch again and pay closer attention. Thanks for the fab info.

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Cyn
March 16, 2016 at 7:42 pm

Oh my goodness how I love this! I have always loved James Bond movies and one of the reasons – the strong female characters! (The other two reasons – the cool gadgets and Roger Moore. I’m a Moore kind of woman 🙂 ) This post needs to be shared far and wide!

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Aeryn Lynne
March 17, 2016 at 11:41 am

Hee, thanks Cyn! 😀 We’ve just finished watching Moonraker with Roger Moore which has become one of my fave Bond films and gave me a new appreciation for Jaws, awwwwwh ( I hadn’t ever seen it before, whoa!) Three more Moore films to go and then we’re on to Dalton, which was the Bond I was more familiar with growing up. I can totally get being a Moore kind of woman, he certainly got more interesting with each new film, and didn’t have the creepy factor that Connery brought to the character, LOL. We’ve read that Moore was “phoning it in” with his earlier movies, but I can’t help but wonder if Moore was playing a genius bit of underlying emotion, since Bond’s utter loss a couple movies earlier. Why would Bond be his usual jovial social self with women while in mourning right?

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Margarita Ibbott
March 19, 2016 at 9:00 am

OMG… THAT POST WAS AWESOME. You have now thrown down the gauntlet and I must watch all those bond movies with my daughters… with a me discerning eye.

I am so sharing this post.

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