James Bond is super-sketchy and homophobic toward lesbians

Quick summary of how racist James Bond is

I recently finished reading Goldfinger, which is in the Public Domain in Canada, and thus free and legal for Canadians to download from Project Gutenberg Canada. Before I get to the homophobia, I think it’s relevant to report that Bond refers to Oddjob or other Koreans as “apes” or “lower than an ape” on no less than five different occasions—for the interest of those keeping score at home.

James Bond and Lesbians

There are two female characters in Goldfinger: Tilly Masterton and Pussy Galore. Masterton doesn’t reciprocate Bond’s sexual advances, which is explained as follows.

Bond thought she [Galore] was superb and so, he noticed, did Tilly Masterton who was gazing at Miss Galore with worshipping eyes and lips that yearned. Bond decided that all was now clear to him about Tilly Masterton.

So it turns out that both the female characters are Lesbians with a capital L. (Seriously, he capitalises the L every time.) Tough luck for Bond, right? Not so fast! In my previous blog post, I consider the possible meanings of the following quote from chapter 17.

Bond liked the look of her. He felt the sexual challenge all beautiful Lesbians have for men.

Which I understand might be a reference to the rape myth—the idea that if you force yourself on someone, they’ll eventually like it.

Unfortunately, during the action scene, Masterton didn’t stay with Bond as he told her to.

The girl’s hand tugged at him. She screamed angrily, ‘No, No. Stop! I want to stay close to Pussy. I’ll be safe with her.’

Bond shouted back, ‘Shut up, you little fool! Run like hell!’ But now she was dragging at him, checking his speed. Suddenly she tore her hand out of his and made to dart into an open Pullman door.

This was a bad life-choice for her—trying to find her Lesbian love interest at a time of crisis. And we learn how much of a bad choice it was only 10 paragraphs later.

The little figure still lay sprawled where she had fallen. Bond knelt beside her. The broken-doll angle of the head was enough. He felt for her pulse. He got up. He said softly, ‘Poor little bitch. She didn’t think much of men.’ He looked defensively at Leiter. ‘Felix, I could have got her away if she’d only followed me.

If only she had stayed with Bond! The gentle but firm hand of a man was what she needed. Not some Lesbian. So I guess Goldfinger is supposed to be a cautionary tale? “Don’t be too capital-L Lesbian, or you’ll end up dead?”

Anyway, after the action is all over, Galore throws herself into Bond’s arms, and the creepiest pillow-talk imaginable happens:

She lay in the crook of Bond’s arm and looked up at him. She said, not in a gangster’s voice, or a Lesbian’s, but in a girl’s voice, ‘Will you write to me in Sing Sing?’

Bond looked down into the deep blue-violet eyes that were no longer hard, imperious. He bent and kissed them lightly. He said, ‘They told me you only liked women.’

She said, ‘I never met a man before.’ The toughness came back into her voice. ‘I come from the South. You know the definition of a virgin down there? Well, it’s a girl who can run faster than her brother. In my case I couldn’t run as fast as my uncle. I was twelve. That’s not so good, James. You ought to be able to guess that.’

Lesbianism explained! Galore’s uncle turned her into a lesbian, and now Bond will turn her straight again with the sexytimes that she always wanted. And the book ends with Bond’s “passionate, rather cruel mouth waiting above hers,” and Bond’s mouth “ruthlessly” coming down over hers.

So, there we go. Somebody wanna write some good non-racist and queer-positive fan-fiction to get this taste out of my mouth?

In other news

I think there’s a typo. In chapter 20, it should be “Cary Grant” instead of “Gary Grant.”

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The Grey Literature

This is the personal blog of Benjamin Gregory Carlisle PhD. Queer; Academic; Queer academic. "I'm the research fairy, here to make your academic problems disappear!"

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