Pussy Galore

Feels awkward to read, doesn’t it? Certainly feels awkward to write and even more awkward to press ‘Publish’ on this post. But as I desperately hope you are aware, that was the name of the female lead in the James Bond film Goldfinger, played by Honor Blackman.

Honor Blackman is…

(By the way, do you remember her in that UK sitcom in the early 90’s with one of the McGann brothers? I do, but can’t really remember anything about it apart from the fact that they seemed to live in a basement flat and it dripped with sexual tension. Anyway that’s not important now…)

If you could put that character name to one side for a second, I think you’d agree that Goldfinger is a bloody good example of the JB genre, with Sean Connery at his louche best, a great narrative, a suitably unpleasant baddy and arguably the most memorable theme tune of all time sung by the inimitable Dame Shirley (the Unofficial Queen of Wales™).

And Pussy Galore actually kicked ass too – when Bond tried to manhandle her he ended up on his arse in a hay barn. Okay, so then she ended up “succumbing” to Bond’s dubious “charms” but by 1964 standards you could argue she was a strong female character.

But wow, how uncomfortable did I feel when my two young boys (aged 5 and 9) were watching their latest Bond film a few days back and that name came up?

I’ll tell you how uncomfortable.

THIS UNCOMFORTABLE.

Because whilst they don’t know what it means, or would understand the concept of a double entendre (or, in this case, a crap single entendre), it does show a general lack of respect for women which feels very out of place. Add into that the idea of a ‘Bond Girl’ who is there to be kissed and potentially to die horribly before Bond goes on to force himself on someone else and suddenly I’m sitting next to two young boys and it’s like 50 years of feminism never happened…

So how do I reconcile the fact that some of the old films I grew up with are horribly misogynistic (especially is you go back to the 1980s and earlier) against the values I hold today? Here I am, a proud and outspoken advocate of gender equality, not knowing what to say at that part where Bond backhands a young woman or casually smacks another on the backside?

I don’t think I can just put it down to “different times” or “different context”? Because as far as my boys are concerned, the fact that I’m allowing them to watch it means it’s all okay, right?  And I’m not even sure they realise Bond (or whatever old film or show we’re watching) isn’t current anyway, come to think of it. It’s new to them, so in their world it’s new! 

“But dear old Bartlett” I hear you cry, “why not just stop showing them crap films and shows from times of yore and show them something more forward-thinking?”

Yeah I could do that. And of course it’s not exclusive “old stuff Dad likes” on the TV. But I think just avoiding it could be kind of a cop out…?

I don’t think I can hide them from the mistakes of the past, because they will find them themselves one way or another. And let’s be honest, it’s not like racism or sexism are things of the past (I know, shock horror, right?). People just don’t always say them out loud any more.

No, I think what I have to do is hit the pause button and say, “Listen boys, what just happened is shocking, and I hope you felt as uncomfortable watching it as I did. You should know that people used to think women could be treated like that, but we know better now. Now we treat women with respect and dignity, right?”

But honestly I know that they will just nod dutifully whilst hoping I shut up and hit the play button. 

So I’m not sure about this one.

What would you do? What do you do?

One thought on “Pussy Galore

  1. Tough one. I love Bond. It inspired wanderlust in me at an early age and the rest of it sailed over my head. That’s the good thing about being a kid. Some of the darker nuances of the adult world pass you by when you focus on adventure. Maybe ask them questions: what did you think of that film? What did you like? What didn’t you? Notice anything different about now vs then? Let them suss and surface it and go from there? Then tell them Phoebe Waller Bridge wrote the latest iteration and boom!

    Liked by 1 person

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