Why Bond shouldn’t get a sex change

Will Saunders

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First it was Gillian Anderson, then it was Emilia Clarke, now we’re all waiting for Emma Watson to throw her hat in the ring to play the next 007. The call for a Jane Bond, for a female actress to pick up the role after Daniel Craig steps down, has grabbed headlines of late. But Bond fans are having none of it.

Nor should they. In the 54 years since Ursula Andress emerged from the sea, Bond has changed many times, from Sean Connery’s perfectly polished spy to Craig’s prickly and brooding insubordinate. But, the lamentable Brosnan era aside, the character has stayed true to Ian Fleming’s original hero – suave and womanising but utterly dedicated to queen and country.

Each Bond reinvention has remained faithful to Fleming’s original creation. A new haircut here, a bit of emotional depth added there, but the formula has remained unchanged. Indeed, when Craig was originally announced as the next 007 many asked whether a ‘blonde Bond’ would ever work. That’s the nature of the character – change has been slow, never fundamental, and has come only where necessary.

But to the media feminists, this isn’t good enough. For them, all forms of art – even unabashed macho fantasy – must bow to their diktat. Feminists first set out to tackle material inequalities. Now that there is little more than the mythical wage gap and ‘sexist’ office air-conditioning regimes to rail against, feminists have become obsessed with culture. This kind of moralistic revisionism has meant feminists hold up symbolism over substance.

Thankfully, most people recognise the clamour for a Jane Bond as the petty campaign that it is. Women, on Twitter and across the commentsphere, have been among the most outspoken critics of Bond’s proposed transition. Too right. This isn’t about empowering women, it’s about subjecting culture to a petty, right-on agenda.

Will Saunders is a writer based in Sussex.

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