International Women’s Day with James Bond

Daniel Craig

I don’t know what to make of the video Equals, released today for International Women’s Day. The two-minute short has Daniel Craig in a dress to publicise gender inequalities that continue to exist around the world. I understand the publicity aspect – it works. I’m writing about it. But the idea makes me uneasy. There’s an invitation here that works on a very basic level:

LOOK! (the publicity aspect) A MAN DRESSED AS A WOMAN!

From other points of view (other than the PR agency) this doesn’t seem a helpful attitude to encourage. The scripting of the text that accompanies the video, despite good intentions for a worthy cause, hardly makes up for this appeal to less enlightened urges.

Dame Judi Dench provides the voice, as if she’s narrating a children’s book with anthropomorphised animals as the characters. She is reprising her role as M, female boss to Craig’s masculine underling Bond (an anthropomorphised thug).  She asks Craig if he has ever put himself into a woman’s shoes.

‘For someone with such a fondness for women,’ she says, ‘I wonder if you’ve ever considered what it means to be one?’

Which would seem to suggest that being a woman consists of having long blonde hair, putting on make-up and wearing a dress. I wonder if this is an idea that  International Women’s Day was designed to promote?


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21 Responses to International Women’s Day with James Bond

  1. Dru says:

    Well spotted, Richard! -I feel remiss at not blogging for IWD, but I’m beavering away at something that isn’t ready to be seen yet….

    My reading of the film was that Bond metamorphoses into the sort of woman whom he objectifies, and progressively discards the signifiers of woman-as-sex-object- wig, earrings, fuck-me heels disappearing out of shot- leaving a real person. It works for me. And, reading the comments on the vid over at Yahoo, where I saw it, it obviously pisses off the troll-ish blokes, so it is obviously hitting its target 🙂

  2. Richard says:

    Er, maybe. But after he discards the signifiers of woman-as-sex-object what are we left with? A man. Where does *that* get us?

  3. Dru says:

    dunno. I think that the main difference between a woman and a man is that one is a woman, and the other is a man. I think I need a cup of tea.


    edit- meaning that, in the context of this film (for magical transformations are possible in movieland), if Bond has been changed into a woman, then she is still a woman without all the bling

  4. Richard says:

    And after your cup of tea, think of a better answer.

    (Pause – tum-ti-tum-ti-tum)

    do I get to edit, too? – nice reasoning, but it makes my brain ache.

  5. Dru says:

    I refer my honourable friend to my previous answer. Meh.

  6. Jane Harris says:

    For my tuppence worth, I think it’s a well-intentioned piece of film, and might get some people watching and listening to the statistics who might not otherwise bother. But it’s flawed, for the reasons you mention, Dru, plus some others that I’m not feeling up to articulating this morning, plus I must stop getting cross about people on Twitter who don’t seem to understand that IWD is important and get on with some work!!

  7. marie says:

    I think I’ll have tea too..
    It can’t be easily translated, but when I’m told about “la journée de la femme” I keep wondering “la femme de qui ?”

  8. I Harsten says:

    My first impression was that this was done very well. And after seeing it for the third time I really think it was done very well. The blonde wig and the (rather extreme) heels only were there in order to bring home the point.

    Impressive, IMHO.

    iharsten on twitter.
    From Leiden, NL

  9. Federay says:

    For the record: I don’t know what you mean by “less enlightened urges”. I really don’t. Horrid people who are horrid about other people whose lifestyle/job/gender/football allegiances fall outside their experience? They’re not going to go away.
    I think poor Dan looks all at sea, an image which will take some a tiny ant-step closer to the enormous leap of imagination required to understand a gender from the point-of-view of the other gender. Which is got to be worth a try.
    There are some people who will remain impervious to a New Idea (particularly if they are the oppressors or majority) no matter what propaganda or art is flung at them, and they should not dictate the level of any attempts to open up a debate – or a thought – as this video is trying to do.
    But the idea is incomplete. He remains a he. He (or the fictional character he plays, mind) listens to some not unfamiliar stats, looks gnomic and that is that. He is not cloned and made to live in a frock alongside his trousered self for a year and then put in separate rooms and asked how he feels about himselves.
    Which might be a more complete experiment and narrative.
    It looks to me like an arresting way of “illustrating” a polemic, by which I mean, adding some visual interest so we are better able to concentrate on the information. It’s not all bad.
    I thought he/Sam Taylor-Wood/ whoever wrote the script/ the director ducked something important by letting him take his wig etc off.
    Some days I’d like to take my frickin’ wig off.
    Well, actually some days I do. It’s not a gesture of strength.

    And now to make a pancake.

  10. Katie says:

    Since the filmmakers must have known beforehand that using the gimmick of a crossdressed Daniel Craig would be likely to lead a whole load of transphobic abuse from chauvinists and bigots (which it has), then they might have cared to add to the myriad of shocking statistics that statistically the group of women most likely to be assaulted and murdered or be forced to turn to sex work to survive all because of gender oppression are, in fact, transwomen.

    But they didn’t. Possibly because – despite the call for radical action against gender oppression – they might have though that being associated with us in any way, shape or form would alienate, and turn away support from supposedly ‘mainstream’ cissexual society. What a pity.

  11. Martha says:

    I think Craig wigless still looks female and vulnerable even damaged

    my FB comment:

    on watching again, I see his ‘ten mile stare’ (PTSD?) after taking off the wig and earings. He still looks percentage female at that point. I think the message is ‘we are all humans but some are treated differently and this is the effect’. The characters Bond and ‘M’ where she is the boss was the starting point, then Dench’s exposition and Craig’s ‘feel’.. Ooeer Im starting to like it.

  12. Dru says:

    I’ve not read any specifically transphobic responses to this video, Katie. Just the usual suspects, trotting out their unthinking misogyny. I think I’m happy just to be lumped in with the rest of the monstrous regiment…

    I wonder why it’s singular “la journée de la femme” but plural “fête des mères”, Marie?

    We didn’t get round to pancakes- too much bean stew. I feel mildly heretical now.

  13. marie says:

    That’s a good question, left unanswered.

  14. Katie says:

    “I’ve not read any specifically transphobic responses to this video, Katie.”

    Unfortunately,there’s plenty of it in the Daily Mail, Dru.

    My main worry is the idea that maybe the filmmakers “Equals” were exploiting this as a prop for comedic value – in order to ingratiate themselves with a transphobic sexist-gendered elite – and lo and behold on the self-pulicized biggenderinequalitiezzzdebate “Equals” website the Comments Policy quite rightly states that racism is verboten; sexism ist verboten; und ageism ist verboten but transphobic hate-speak is apparently a-okay as this is a ‘family-orientated’ site – no swearing/swearbox OUT:).

    Oh well….

  15. Suzzy says:

    Well done, Dame Judi and (future Sir) Daniel for throwing your weight behind a cause and a truth even the odd Mail reader will hold to be self-evident. I find it telling and moving. There’s no trans agenda to the piece unless we viewers choose to construct one around it: the act of a man putting on women’s clothing does not a transperson make. This is surely nothing more than an elegant instance of putting oneself in someone else’s shoes, a concept that people everywhere and throughout the ages readily understand. It is important to keep listening to and encouraging the sense-talkers even though the voices of timid reactionary news hacks witter away in the background.

    @Katie. Careful with that German stereotyping! Auch Deutschen haben Gefühle!

  16. Dru says:

    OK, Katie, I started to trawl through the comments after the Daily Mail piece. And gave up. They’re pond life. You’ve just got to do the right thing and not worry about what idiots think. And jump on their heads if you feel personally attacked.
    I think that it’s a mistake to bring a trans reading into the film, as it wasn’t intended. That’s simply my take, of course.
    Oh, I see we agree, Suzzy. One for the book, then!

  17. Dru says:

    Abusive comments removed. Play nicely, please.

  18. Katie says:

    Fair enough, Dru. My comments last night were well over the top and I apologise to both yourself and Suzzy.

    In retrospect, I guess that the Equals IWD video wasn’t really that offensive – as Daniel Craig played the role seriously and as far as I can tell it was not done for cheap comic effect. I think it would have been a positive thing, though, if the Equals site had stated in its comments policy that it would not tolerate transphobia – along with sexism, racism and homophobia etc. Much of transphobia is interwoven with sexist ideas and surely any group that’s serious about challenging sexism would also see the necessity to oppose transphobic attitudes as a related cause?

    @Suzzy. When I was butchering the German language back there it wasn’t my intention to use it to stereotype Germans – just those Germans who would have strutted around telling everyone (including their own countryfolk) that everything was “verboten” back during the Nazi days. In short, it was meant to represent a stereotype of a Nazi as opposed to a German. Nazis come from everywhere – not just Germany. In fact, the ‘land of the free’ USA probably has more than most. It’s not that I was singling out the Germans for being German but in the period I was referring to Germany was ruled by a hateful regime.

    It goes without saying that I understand that “Germans also have feelings”; in no conceivable way did I suggest taht. But I do resent the pressure to sweep things under the carpet, pretend that they never happened and the growing, creeping trend towards historical revisionism which tends to downplay German culpability for the Nazi regime and World War II. Obviously “Nazis also had feelings” too – many were not the war-movie extra – cold, one-dimensional, logical automatons whose classic excuse after the war was supposedly that they were merely “carrying out orders.” No. I’ve no doubt that they enjoyed torturing, murdering and raping their way through Europe and North Africa with relish. Those who weren’t of that sadistic bent were often cultured and well-educated individuals and still more were in it for financial gain. I’ve no doubt a great many weren’t brainwashed but knew full well that what they were doing was wrong – yet they still went ahead and did it. Yep, they all had feelings alright, but had scant regard for the feelings of those they persecuted and murdered – which, in my opinion, probably makes their crimes even more shocking.

    Anyway, there was no excuse for me to react in the crazy way that I did and I apologize.

  19. Katie says:

    “It goes without saying that I understand that “Germans also have feelings”; in no conceivable way did I suggest taht.”

    Sorry for the double pose (not going crazy again), but for above, please read: “…in no conceivable way did I suggest otherwise”…or at least mean to, that is.

  20. Suzzy says:

    @Katie | It’s OK to be a little crazy. Without a few crazies around, the rest of us might never realise just how sane we really are. 😉

  21. Katie says:

    It was quite difficult to find, but there’s actually a comments section on the organisation “Equals'” (who commissioned the above video) website – open to anybody who’d like to contribute their opinion to “The Big Equality Debate”:)

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