April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and everyone’s talking about rape prevention and how to support survivors — all more than worthy topics of discussion, especially given the somewhat disparaging statistics on rape: One in four women is sexually assaulted before the age of 18, and rape is the least reported and convicted violent crime in the U.S. Clearly, huge progress is needed. But I don’t think we can really raise awareness or start changing those facts with the discussion in its current state: As long as we keep framing rape as a “women’s issue” and depict survivors only as women, we’re missing half the equation and only doing half the work that needs to be done. More
Bond girls are often victims rescued by Bond, fellow agents or allies, villainesses, or members of an enemy organization (typically the villain’s accomplice, assistant, or mistress). Some are mere eye candy and have no direct involvement in Bond’s mission; other Bond girls play a pivotal role in the success of the mission. Other female characters, such as Judi Dench’s M, and Miss Moneypenny, are not typically thought of as Bond girls.
— Wikipedia entry, “Bond girls”
In our favorite espionage stories, women often play accessories to men who really drive the plot, usually adding something pretty to look at, or exposing the weak spot in a hero’s otherwise unflinching resolve. Then there are the women whose pleasant exteriors mask ugly character flaws and evil motivations (usually spurred by a male super-villain). But at the end of the day, they’re either dead at the bottom of a cliff or safely in the hero’s arms, and we don’t really need to worry about her (or the sex she’s been having with guys she’s not attracted to for the sake of her job).
In this week’s most popular tale of espionage, politics, and conspiracy, women are hardly elevated above those traditional, limiting roles: Whether you see WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as hero or villain, the stories of two Swedish women, “Miss A” and “Miss W,” are significant but vague asides to the more fascinating battle between political sides. Both of Assange’s alleged rape victims (and the rapes themselves) are interesting insofar as they compromise Assange or benefit his opponents, but hardly a headline wonders about the health and well-being of two women who’ve been molested and forced to endure non-consensual sex.
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