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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Spectre

Where Are the Women? Spectre

With the departure of Judi Dench’s M, there is no longer even a single woman in a position of authority in the current Bond series.


[no significant representation of girls/women]


Is there a woman who is kidnapped (either onscreen or off) whose kidnap motivates a male protagonist? [why this matters]
Is there a woman who dies (either onscreen or off) whose death motivates a male protagonist? [why this matters]
Is there more than one woman who is kidnapped and/or raped and/or killed in order to motivate a male protagonist? [why this matters]


Is a woman or women used as decorative objects/set dressing? [why this matters]

[no issues]


Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional and/or sexual relationship with a man or men? [why this matters]

Is a dead mother mentioned? [why this matters]
Is a dead father also mentioned? [why this matters]


Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)

Tentacle-porn imagery in the opening credits sequence? Yuck.


IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

BOTTOM LINE: With the departure of Judi Dench as M, there is no longer even a single woman in a position of authority in the current Bond series… though she continues to motivate Bond from beyond the grave, which is the opposite of positive representation of women. (Léa Seydoux’s character here is a doctor, but she doesn’t serve as any sort of authority in this story; her work is utterly irrelevant to her character and to the plot, in which she is nothing more than a damsel in distress and in constant need of rescue by the male protagonist.) Even Moneypenny, who was a field agent who held her own next to Bond in the previous film, has been reduced to little more than a secretary here. The current Bond series had been slightly better in its depiction of women than the older films, but it takes a big step backward in that regard with this installment.

Click here for the ongoing ranking of 2015’s films for female representation.

Click here for the ranking of 2015’s Oscar-nominated films for female representation.

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Spectre! It is simply an examination of how well or how poorly it represents women. (A movie that represents women well can still be a terrible film; a movie that represents women poorly can still be a great film.) Read my review of Spectre.

See the full rating criteria. (Criteria that do not apply to this film have been deleted in this rating for maximum readability.)

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posted in:
where are the women
  • RogerBW

    Does someone feel that it isn’t Bond without the old-school sexism? Got news for him: the diminishing number of people who actively want to see that already have the old films available.

  • It really makes no sense, particularly since the earlier Craig films weren’t quite as bad.

  • Danielm80

    Sadly, I bet you could sell a film–especially a gross-out comedy–by announcing that it’s full of sexism, homophobia, and other politically-incorrect behavior.

    I actually thought that the old-school sexism was an integral part of the Bond character, which is why I’ve never seen any of the James Bond films.*

    *That’s a slight exaggeration. I ended up watching the film with the invisible car on a very long international flight.

  • Owen1120

    May you please explain the wild card?

  • The opening credits animation features silhouettes of a naked woman in a sexual pose being entangled by the tentacles of an octopus (which is supposed to represent Spectre, I guess). If you don’t know what tentacle porn here, here ya go (SFW).

  • Bluejay

    The opening credits animation features silhouettes of a naked woman in a sexual pose

    Which is another way the film seems to be mired in the Bond “tradition,” I suppose. I thought the opening credits to Casino Royale were such a breath of fresh air, hopefully signalling a new direction. Too bad I was wrong.


  • Jurgan

    The only Bond film I’ve seen is Goldfinger, where he wins by “seducing” (read: almost-but-not-technically-raping) the villain’s henchwoman “Pussy Galore.” Yeah…

  • Captain Megaton

    It’s Bond, so it will be mostly about a guy. Who meets and sleeps with beautiful women. Women who tend to end up killed by the bad guy.

    If that’s old-school sexism then yes, I suppose that’s I want to see when I pay to see a Bond film along with the LeCarre-esque spy business and vintage Britishness. M has a secretary called Moneypenny who he flirts with. That’s all part of the canon.

    But that doesn’t mean the women can’t be drawn as interesting, intelligent, and realistic people. It doesn’t mean there can’t be women in authority, or in action on both teams. I think Bond films work infinitely better when women are given more interesting, active roles to play in the story.

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