Eve Moneypenny: How She is the Most Effective Subversion of the “…Black Woman Don’t Need No Man” in Pop Culture.
I racked my brain trying to think of a current black woman character in entertainment media who has managed to be pushed, who is high-profile, mainstream visibly desirable, and emphatically pursued, without any of the typical soft swerves that can be interpreted any other way in order to placate a bigoted mindset.
In this case, even internationally (I exclude Shondaland, because she’s a black woman. It’s to be expected that we get to have rich complete black women’s lives in her programming, including being desired and centrally pursued).
The only name I could come up with off the top of my head is Eve Moneypenny.
Well, let me list the ways:
- She’s not safely black: she’s got a halo of straw curls, -not the typical and expected stick-straight weave and she has decidedly brown, not beige skin (I’d love to ask Naomie if curls was a deliberate choice on her end, if so BRAVO!)
- There is an obvious attempt at seduction, that cannot be interpreted any other way. Bond’s desire to do so is made clear. It is in no way oblique or up for interpretation, which is the usual standard.
- Bond being a ladies’ man a “raging misogynist” as Daniel Craig puts it, means that he is placed at the epitome of cultural iconography for peak masculinity. He’s smooth. He suave. He’s gets EVERY woman he wants. Except for Eve, but and THIS IS IMPORTANT. It’s not because he lacks initiative or desire, but because she sees him for what he is and does not choose him.
Eve marks Bond as a dog and chooses not to sleep with him. She has the power and choice “Haha, you’re cute, but no.”
- That facet of Eve’s personality has been changed for the better (originally she was the one pursuing Bond while he flirted and dodged her). Now, a black woman is the ultimate Bond girl, precisely because she is the only one who chooses not to fall for the schtick. Win-win.
- Her image is used to push luxury brands associated with Bond, i.e.:
in a world where blackness is often associated “ghetto” and “ratchet” to see a black woman, as the iconic character being the international face pushing these brands? Welcome progress.
- She’s not depicted as too busy, too strong, too anything, but smart, for sex with Bond. That I give a lot of credit to Naomie for her portrayal. In that gorgeous and sexy shaving scene. She’s cheeky. She smiles, she flirts, she plays the game, but she doesn’t leave the room because she lacks the time or the desire. She leaves because cute as he is, he’s fucking messy. …Not because he can’t love her, because he could and would and she’s not willing to risk ending up like Vesper. Like I said, smart. Bond is the one who you can’t just kick out bed. The point of the scene, and what makes it so much sexier than most full-on sex scenes, is Bond’s complete surrender to her. He gives her a blade, with which she could easily slit his throat (especially if she had turned out to be a double-agent!) and gives himself over to her devices. She is clothed, he is half-naked eye-candy for the viewer.
That’s a rare mainstream onscreen depiction of grown-up, het sexuality, PERIOD and for it to be in a film this popular and successful and with a black woman?! Unprecedented. Talk about a turn around from the disposable, dead and forgotten a scene later, Jezebel plaything shit that was pulled in To Live and Let Die between Roger Moore, who is hot steamy garbage, and Gloria Hendry. whose toe-clipping is better than Roger Moore’s entire being.
- She gets the show-stopping “cleans up nice” entry scene in that gorgeous golden gown. She gets the full body camera pan reveal, the jawdrop, and vocal acknowledgment of her beauty:
- And finally, she is the ONLY Bond girl who gets to endure. To continue from film to film, being not only the one who got away, but also the ONLY one who Bond got to save from himself. Bond suggested that she take a desk job, not because her mind is sharper than her sniping, but because she’d be protected from danger. Eve, went after that job, because she agreed, not that she wasn’t a capable field agent, but she’d also like to protect the beautiful brain of hers and she’d be good at it. She’s the girl, among the many; the revolving door of all matter of Bond girls that will come and go.
Moneypenny is the ultimate desirable Bond woman, too good for Bond not in the off-hand “this is how we get out of dealing with a black woman’s sexuality” Hollywood bullshit way, but genuinely, the ever pursued, always-protected, perpetually out-of-reach.