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