In Wilson’s essay “Feminism and Fashion” the concept of the oppressive male gaze is explored. Wilson explains that because females were “admired for their looks rather than their achievements, women became passive objects for the male gaze” (Wilson, 36). Because of this, physical appearance and fashion has historically been an influential aspect of women’s lives. The male gaze is illustrated in various forms of entertainment and popular culture. Ian Fleming’s James Bond illustrates this concept as it has always been a patriarchal franchise that subjected female characters to the male gaze. Bond himself has subjected women to oppression as he is consistently portrayed discarding women as carelessly as you would chocolate wrappers the day after Halloween. Wilson argues that the male gaze is particularly evident when concerning fashion; he states that fashion is “regarded primarily as an instrument of oppression into which women were turned into passive objects…” (33). He goes on further to explain that “whereas male dress was generally intended to attract attention, female attire was designed to enhance the sexual allure of the wearer” (36). This fact lead to the creation of countless garments for women designed with men’s ideals in mind. The Bond girls have been the forerunners of these fashions as their characters have always been designed to capture male attention. The most renowned of these outfits include Honey Ryder’s white bikini in Dr. No and Anya Amasova’s diamond encrusted floor length evening gown in The Spy Who Loved Me (which features a revealing low cut V neckline). Other memorable outfits include Jinx Johnson’s orange bikini in Die Another Day, Holly Goodhead’s slimming yellow space suit in Moonraker, and Vesper Lynd’s violet gown in Casino Royal. The most modern Bond film to date, Skyfall, even portrays female characters who are draped in backless evening gowns and form fitting pencil skirts.The stylistic elements of these garments are low cut, sleek, and tight. They accentuate the feminine features of the body and are a pristine example of the male gaze in entertainment.
Wilson. “Feminism and Fashion”