Valerie Plame Praises ‘Zero Dark Thirty”s Depiction Of Women In CIA

Zero Dark Thirty, the new film by Kathryn Bigelow about the 2001 capture of Osama bin Laden in the caves of Pakistan, has been the subject of criticism of late for its "graphic torture scenes" and whether or not the film is accurate. On the other side of the aisle, however, is former CIA agent Valerie Plame. She told the UK’s Guardian this weekend she is pleased with the film for its accurate portrayal of female CIA agents. 

In Zero Dark Thirty, a CIA agent named Maya (played by Jessica Chastain) uses brains instead of her bod to seek out bin Laden. For Plame, this is a much-welcome depiction for films about female spies. She said

"In popular culture, female agents are usually either highly sexualised or hugely physical – it is either using a sequinned dress or a gun. But actually the most important weapon you have is your intellect. [Zero Dark Thirty and the TV shows Homeland and Covert Affairs] are starts to getting the public used to the idea and concept that women can be significant players in the intelligence field."

Some of Plame’s arguments for why female spies are successful are rather gender-essentialist and may piss off feminists: she describes women in the CIA as being more "attuned" to "subteties" and able to read people better. The Guardian also quoted a former CIA agent who said he deliberately would hire female agents because "have an exceptional knack for detail, for seeing patterns and understanding relationships."

In addition to praising Zero Dark Thirty, Plame also revealed she is at work on a serialized novel entitled Blowback about women in the CIA that will be released in October 2013. "I was so frustrated with how female operatives are portrayed. I thought: ‘I could do better’," she explained.

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

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