Skyfall Fail: Why the “Step One – Be Attractive” Meme is Wrong

Posted in Editorials on November 27th, 2012
by Elizabeth
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This post contains spoilers!

Skyfall was mostly enjoyable, but there was a scene that left me feeling very uneasy.

Bond meets Sévérine in a swank casino and tells her that “it takes a certain type of woman to wear a backless dress with a Beretta 70 strapped to her thigh.” Through their conversation it is revealed that she was kidnapped into the sex trade as a young girl. Bond promises to help her escape if she will lead him to her boss. She tells him to meet her on her boat. The appointed time arrives and he is not there.

Sévérine appears to be taking a shower of angst when he steps into the shower, naked. He tells her “I like you better without your Beretta.” “I feel naked without it,” she replies.

The scene was disturbingly creepy on several levels. Forbes (to my suprise) and The Vagenda point out how the power dynamic here makes it questionable as to whether or not Sévérine could consent. This is important, but not the first thing I thought of.

Even if we grant that Sévérine wanted to have sex with Bond, why would someone supposedly as skilled at getting laid as he supposedly is SNEAK UP ON A RAPE VICTIM IN THE SHOWER?!. He couldn’t have waited for her in her room, in his infinitely flattering swim trunks? Or left her a note that she could meet him up on deck for a nightcap in the moonlight?

Could he have refrained from commenting on and eroticizing that she was now disarmed and could not escape?

There was an SNL skit once where it is explained that a man can avoid being accused of sexual harassment by

Be Handsome..

Be Attractive..

and Don’t Be Unattractive.

Dudes on the internet are especially fond of this and have narrowed it down into a constant drumbeat of “Step One – Be Attractive, Step Two – Don’t Be Unattractive” whenever a woman complains about a man’s creepy or boundary crossing behavior.

But the feminist critique of Bond’s behavior in Skyfall is evident as to why this is really poor reasoning. No one is denying the hunkiness of Daniel Craig. It’s just incredibly unsettling that the movie portrays sneaking up on sexual assault victims in the shower as the height of romance, or at all acceptable with anyone you don’t already know very well.

I’m not totally sold on the argument that Sévérine wasn’t capable of consenting at all. And as last nights on Earth go, she didn’t appear to have a bad one. But creepiness isn’t sexy, and Sévérine’s apparent consent isn’t a pass for Bond or the movie’s creators. James Bond – symbol of sexual prowess – should probably know better. Master of seduction doesn’t mean master of the implication.

One Response to “Skyfall Fail: Why the “Step One – Be Attractive” Meme is Wrong”

  1. Lee Says:

    I didn’t find “SKYFALL” enjoyable. Not one bit.

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