Case Study: Pussy Galore

Fig. 1. Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore in the 1964 version of Goldfinger.

Frequently Pussy Galore is referred to as lacking feminine qualities because of her sexuality. Fleming, who viewed homosexuality as a “psychological malady,” considered Galore “[not] more than half a girl” (Letters, p.204, 207).

Fleming’s rather flippant treatment of Pussy’s sexuality was certainly the product of a more homophobic era. As Richard Maibaum, screenplay writer for the Bond films, described in a 1965 photo essay, “Pussy was a tomboy, to put it as inoffensively as possible, and Bond provides her with a kind of psychiatric therapy… Pussy is undoubtedly the better for it” [Maibaum p. 205].

The uber-masculine icon James Bond displays what Fleming calls a “blatant heterosexuality” (Manchester Guardian).

The “emergence” of homosexuality, as Bond muses in From Russia, with Love, is linked to a decline in the moral character of the United States and a rise of communism, or Soviet influence.

The issue of homosexuality in the Bond literature is confounded by Fleming’s conditioned aversion to the female intellectual and the the general prejudices of his cultural era. While in most cases the authoritative Bond girl is presented as a challenge, evidence of feminine socio-political autonomy is presented as a crisis in conjunction with deviation from gender/sexuality norms. In Goldfinger, equal voting rights for women are cited as the cause of sexual confusion. In the Bond universe, the preservation of gender roles – dominant, masculine men and submissive women – is vital to the success of Great Britain as a world power [Jenkins]. Borrowing from the popular anxieties of the Cold War era, Fleming suggests the mixture of masculine and feminine qualities is a cause of weakness and susceptibility to the enemy’s influence. Pussy was “straightened out” under Bond’s suggestion. Tilly was not – preferring Pussy Galore’s authority to that of James Bond – and died as a result.

◀ Girls, Part 2: Vivienne Michel