Scottish actor Sean Connery gets a helping hand from American actress Jill St. John in a scene from the new James Bond film “Diamonds Are Forever” in November 1971. It is the first time the two stars have worked together. (AP Photo) (AP)

The James Bond films were the vanguard of the sexual revolution. Sean Connery, the suave star of six of the first seven movies, played Bond as a devilish version of elegant Cary Grant in Alfred Hitchcock’s spectacular travelogues “To Catch a Thief” and “North by Northwest.” The sexual sophistication of the witty Bond screenplays was a huge advance from the stilted smirkiness of the Doris Day era.

But Bond’s cavalier womanizing, as well as the overt sexuality of the Bond girls, rubbed second-wave feminism the wrong way. One reason I got drummed out of the women’s movement from the start was my embrace of the vampy, Amazonian Bond girls and of the spunky TV characters they inspired on “Charlie’s Angels,” a show denounced by feminists as degrading to women. But in the 1990s, both the Bond girls and “Charlie’s Angels” returned in triumph during the Madonna-inspired, pro-sex feminist insurgency that swept the puritanical old guard into the dustbin of history.

Camille Paglia is the author of “Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art From Egypt to Star Wars,” out this month from Pantheon Books

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