He has forged a career out of keeping the British end up and earned a reputation as one of cinema’s most notorious womanisers.
But the near insatiable sexual appetite of James Bond has been singled out for criticism by new research which highlights the secret agent’s refusal to use contraception.
For years, there have been questions over whether Ian Fleming’s most famous creation should be held up as a 21st century role model, a debate that has intensified in the #MeToo era.
Now, in a distinctly offbeat academic pursuit, a Dutch physician has pored over every entry in the Bond canon’s 56 year-long history, producing the definitive account of 007’s promiscuous ways.
The study, published in the Scottish Medical Journal, points out that contraception was neither discussed nor referred to in any of Bond’s sexual encounters.
It also points out that close to a quarter of those women who slept with the fictional spy did so after consuming alcohol.
Its authors say that the producers of the blockbuster franchise could yet change Bond’s stripes and ensure he plays an “important role in sex education” for younger generations of filmgoers.
And in a stark rebuttal of the character’s entrenched – and, some might argue, toxic – masculinity, they suggest the numerous injuries sustained by Bond in the service of his country would have rendered him infertile.
The study, entitled “(Un)safe sex in James Bond films: what chance for sex education?”, was carried out by Richard Zegers, a consultant ophthalmologist at Diakonessenhuis Hospital in Utrecht, alongside his teenage daughter, Lara.
The two avowed film buffs watched all 24 Bond films over a five month period, tallying up its protagonist’s 58 sexual liaisons.
Zegers said that Bond’s reckless attitude to sex meant he was “very prone” to being contaminated with one or more sexually transmitted diseases.
He explained: “The world has changed a lot since the first Bond movie was released during the sexual revolution of the Swinging Sixties, but the films have not moved along when it comes to STD prevention. STDs seem not to exist.”
Their research also found that some 22 per cent of those women who slept with Bond had consumed alcohol, while nearly one in three of the female characters (28 per cent) died by the time the credits rolled.
“Both pregnancy and STDs would seem the least of the women’s worries,” Zegers reflected.
The body of films, he said, “encourage stereotypical, sex-typed male attitudes, especially when interacting with women”, who are repeatedly “taken for granted” by Bond.
However, Zegers admits that there is nowadays less casual sex in Bond films compared with Sean Connery’s heyday, and he stressed that there was a “great opportunity” for the character to emerge as a positive role model by being seen to practise safe sex in future films.
In a lighthearted suggestion involving Q, the long-serving head of MI6’s research and development division, he added: “Q could provide Bond with a gadget that contains condoms, perhaps a smartphone containing the world’s smallest 3D printer, which can print on demand as many condoms as needed.”
Zegers said that he and Lara, 16, decided to embark on their analytical study of every entry in the Bond franchise was due to the spy’s “unfriendly” behaviour towards women – a trend they refer to as #MeT007.
He added: “The study could lead to parents addressing the subject of sexual health once more with their children.”