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

Sylvia Trench Dr No James Bond
Sylvia Trench, Dr No & From Russia with Love
  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.
Ms Moneypenny James Bond Strong Female Role Model
Ms. Moneypenny
  1. 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.
Honey Ryder Dr No James Bond
Honey Ryder, Dr No
  1. 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.

    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?
Rosa Klebb From Russia With Love James Bond
Rosa Klebb, From Russia With Love
  1. 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.
Tatiana Romanova From Russia With Love James Bond
Tatiana Romanova, From Russia With Love
  1. 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.

* 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.