Shaken & Stirred: The Feminism of James Bond
In what may be the first study of super-spy James Bond to include an extensive look at Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, legal scholar Caplen kicks off his Shaken & Stirred series with a fascinating look at "the most celebrated, often trivialized, but ultimately academically neglected Bondian subject: the Bond Girl." In this extensive but eminently readable study of Bond's many female partners, Caplen analyzes in detail the Bond Girl's evolutionary journey over the course of the past five decades, with specific focus on the first 11 films, from Dr. No in 1962 to The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977. The author begins with a fascinating look at how Bond creator Ian Fleming's template for the Bond Girl "explicitly reflects a desire to keep women within a sphere of domesticity." Caplen then details how the females of the first 11 Bond films were not liberated women, but were, in fact, "beautiful, sexy, good or evil, detrimental, devious or innocent, and expendable." Caplen shows how it wasn't until the 1970s that Bond Girls became "spies who reluctantly work alongside Bond but generally represent his equals"—a change that, he argues, helped preserve the hero's cultural relevance and became an essential part of the franchise's continued success. Caplen plans to investigate this development in his next Shaken & Stirred volume, The Post-Feminism of James Bond.