The more movies I analyse from the 1960s the happier I am about not being born yet when they were made. The '60s looked particularly awful for women. The last Bond movie from that decade is On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969). Diana Rigg plays the female lead, and a lot of violence is perpetrated against her: in the opening scene a man holds a knife to her throat before grabbing her by the back of the neck and pushing her away; Bond strikes her; another man chokes her; her father punches her (rendering her unconscious); and finally she is shot dead--and that's just the physical violence.
Having already analysed roughly a dozen Bond movies I had come to expect this abusive treatment of women, but I was taken aback by the language used to encourage men's dominance over women. For instance, Rigg's father says to Bond, whom he is encouraging to marry his daughter: "What she needs is a man to dominate her, to make love to her enough to make her love him!" Later, when she marries Bond, her father says to her, "Remember, obey your husband in all things. You promise me?" This movie made US$82 million at the worldwide box office, so it's fair to say it had a pretty wide reach. The messages conveyed in it were assimilated by baby boomers--my parents' generation. The damage it did—not to mention the other Bond movies--is likely incalculable, but I'm taking a stab at it in my upcoming book on the sexualization of women in media.
© 2017 Alline Cormier
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