The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

18 May 2007

The name is Bond. Jane Bond.

British intelligence is looking for female operatives, and not everyone thinks this is a wonderful idea. Ben Macintyre in The Times:

A female officer must have all the qualities of her male counterpart — courage, ingenuity, resourcefulness — but she must also deal with the fact that in most non-Western countries she will be a woman working in a man's world. In many parts of the world a woman, especially a good-looking one, attracts attention — the last thing a spy wants. In Muslim countries this attention may be openly hostile if she is unaccompanied, and there may be other practical problems: for instance, if she is sent to Saudi Arabia, she will not be allowed to drive a car. There are also the risks of being mugged or worse, and sadly spies are not allowed to carry guns as often as the movies lead us to believe.

Still, she may have advantages. Annalisa Barbieri in The First Post:

I can say that intelligence work is, in a way, an ideal job for women. They are naturally very good at it. Spies need to multi-task, be many things at different times to different people, be good listeners. And have a great ability to recall information. (Try this: ask a man what someone said on the phone, then ask a woman, the difference in response length will be at least 1,000 words.) Also, women are cunning. So spying's not difficult — or at least, I didn't find it so.

I did some time in US military intelligence, thirty-odd years ago. If we had female operatives, I wasn't aware of them. (So maybe they are that good.)

Posted at 9:14 PM to Almost Yogurt

It's also worth noting that an Arab (or, say, Persian) man isn't likely to be concerned about what a woman overhears.

And this:

In many parts of the world a woman, especially a good-looking one, attracts attention

Not in a burqa she doesn't.

Posted by: McGehee at 10:08 PM on 18 May 2007