A woman named James

  • Howard Feldman 2018
Earlier this week, Pierce Brosnan, the former 007 star, announced that he believed that the next James Bond should be a woman. His comments were made at a time when femicide and gender-based violence is at its peak in South Africa, and when the #AmINext movement is gaining momentum.
by HOWARD FELDMAN | Sep 12, 2019

Given the context, remaining silent is clearly the most sensible option. But, it’s the most irresponsible one because lack of comment might be construed to mean that the choice of a woman as James Bond is a step closer to full gender equality.

It’s not.

Besides, who’s ever heard of a woman named James?

It’s not that I don’t understand the limitations that have been placed on women throughout history. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the tremendous difficulty and discrimination that women face each and every day in the workplace and elsewhere.

And this doesn’t even address the deep and relentless physical and sexual abuse that women have to deal with.

But, anyone who thinks that selecting a woman called James to play a British spy with a license to kill will further this agenda doesn’t understand the complexity and nuance of the conversation. It’s window dressing of the worst kind. It creates the illusion that we are feminists, thereby absolving us of dealing with the real issues.

The acceptance that it’s not discrimination for men to play some roles and women to play others begins with acceptance that there might be acceptable historical gender roles in society.

Little Red Riding Hood, for example, will always be female.

That story evolved around the 14th century, and tells the tale of a woman who is on the brink of “womanhood”. Her red cloak denotes the start of her menstrual cycle, and her journey into the forest is symbolic of her leaving the safety of her home.

Her mother’s warning “to stay on the path” is a metaphor, as is the warning that she shouldn’t talk to the “wolf” who symbolises predatory males. Should she not heed this warning, it is foretold that she will bring death and shame to her family.

In this context, it would be spectacularly stupid for this role to be played by Zac Efron, who would, no doubt, make the worst Little Red Riding Hood in the history of fairytales.

I can equally hardly imagine Matt Damon in the role of Cinderella, or Hugh Jackman as the Little Mermaid. Nor do I want to. Moses has always been male, and Hamlet is a prince. And, if Snow White were to be acted by Kevin Spacey, I’m certain that I would never be able even look one dwarf – let alone seven – in the eye again.

Lara Croft, played by Angelina Jolie, is a woman, and I’m prepared to join a tehillim (psalm) group to ask G-d that it remains so, should such a group exist.

The tsunami of “wokefulness” washes over us relentlessly. Some of what comes our way is valid, important, and worth noting. But some simply isn’t. We need to have the courage to discern the difference between what will further society and what won’t. What’s faux-feminism, and what’s real.

Should we fail to do so, there is a real chance we will find ourselves with a female James Bond, and that we will have drowned in the ridiculousness of our making – without having moved any closer to the goal of genuine equality.

Rolene Marks, international correspondent and outspoken feminist, had this to say about the possibility of a female Bond: “Seriously, this hyper feminism bull is starting to turn every man into the enemy, and I abhor that. If you need me, I will be increasing my carbon footprint while watching Bond [and loving it] for the rest of the day!”

Could not have said it better myself.


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