So what do James Bond and Brene Brown have in common, you may wonder?

I’m currently listening to Brene Brown’s 2-hour audio book, Men, Women, and Worthiness: The Experience of Shame and the Power of Being Enough, and she unpacks what shame is, and discusses how men and women are shamed in different ways (the source of shame for men is appearing weak; for women, the shame is from feeling like they are falling short from doing-it-all-perfectly and being super-wife, super-mom, and super-career-woman, while being quiet, modest, and pretty), and how to become “shame resilient” (cope with and manage shame, but there is no way to become resistant to it). What struck me the most was that the men involved in Brown’s research reported that, when they opened up and were vulnerable because the women in their lives were urging them to be open, these very same women would give them crap for showing their weaknesses and shame them further. So then I surmise that the men would often close up, shut down, and turn to covering up their weakness with anger and aggression, retaliating at the women and shaming them in the areas where the women are vulnerable. So there is the vicious circle of shame between genders, and you cannot undo “female shame” without undoing “male shame”, if you will. Brene Brown realized, after 4-5 years of focusing her research on women and shame, that it was not possible to study women and shame without studying men and shame because of the deep connectivity between these two issues.

So now I’m going to get to Casino Royale. I recently re-watched it and I love the verbal sparring between James Bond and Vesper Lynd, although what they are basically doing is putting each other down with sarcastic, shaming comments. But where I feel like the real turning point of the relationship is after Vesper helps James kill two bad guys in the hotel stairwell: she’s in total shock because she has never participated in anything like that, and he finds her shaking and sitting in the shower fully clothed with the water running. This is the most moving scene for me — he then sits down next to her, in his dinner jacket and all, and holds her. He shows pure concern and empathy, and there are no sexual overtones and nothing about the objectification of women. It is a true moment of vulnerability and connection.

After James and Vesper get away from the bad guys and he’s convalescing, he falls in love with her and is totally disarmed: “I have no armour left. You’ve stripped it from me. Whatever is left of me – whatever is left of me – whatever I am – I’m yours.” He’s vulnerable. It’s really great to see how much he opens up to her and how human and loving he becomes. However, I hate the ending of this movie, because of course there is a TWIST (oh wretched twist!), and Vesper dies in the end, having deceived him. He tragically ends up bitter, dissipated, angry, and vengeful, totally cynical about life and women, as we see him brooding and dark in Quantum of Solace and Skyfall. And Brene Brown’s theory sadly plays out, even though in this case Vesper didn’t directly set out to shame him, but the pain of betrayal effectively plays that role.