Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sex and the Pity

After watching more then three seasons of “Sex and the City,” I’ve come to the realization that it is the turning point of feminism in our culture. Back in the 90’s, before Carrie Bradshaw walked down the street in her Prada shoes, women were on their way to becoming the multi-tasking leaders of modern society. We were going to be the heads of industry AND remain the heads of household that we really always were.  We were going to tackle it all by “coming out” of the closet as the brains behind almost every operation. (Come on, would you really deny that behind nearly every great “man” there is a woman in the driver's seat?)

Now shoot 10 years down the line to 2009. With six years of “Sex and the City” under her Gucci belt along with a hit movie and a sequel on the way, Carrie Bradshaw has become to our generation of women what Eve, Miriam, Hera, Cinderella, Elizabeth Bennet and Mary “Richards” Tyler Moore were before her; iconic female characters. Some of these characters have been so influential that they have millions of people today still telling the story of their lives and the choices they made. Now, I’m all for giving credit where credit is due and I think it’s fantastic that young girls have a modern fictional role model to look up to. The problem is that when people look up to biblical Miriam or fairytale Cinderella, they see women that worked through the very worst of times to achieve the very best of outcomes. When people think of Carrie Bradshaw they come up all shoes and sex.

PET PEEVE ALERT. I think its downright disgusting when people draw conclusions about a piece of entertainment or art without ever having experienced its effect first.

Because of my problem with drawing baseless conclusions, I took the time out to actually sit down and watch more then half of the six seasons of “Sex and the City.” I have to admit; the show is down right addictive. It’s fun, it’s entertaining and it’s well written. The concept is fresh, the character arches are developed perfectly over the course of the six seasons and I would even go so far as to say that it is “touching” at times. We can all agree that my problems with the show have nothing to do with the creative or entertainment aspects of the finished product. My issues are purely ideological.  Which brings us to…

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past ten years, Carrie is supposed to be the “prototypical” single career woman in modern day New York. The idea is that Carrie and her friends openly talk about sex in ways that women have thus far been denied the pleasure of doing on national television.  Each week Carrie gets together over lunch with her “lesbian” fiend (Miranda), her sexually deviant friend (Samantha) and her “housewife” friend (Charlotte) to discuss the men that they fucked that week. And it’s sextastic.  They discuss sex more openly then any show – male or female dominated - has ever really done before. In that sense, “Sex and the City” does not set the new standard for women talking about sex, it sets the standard for ALL shows on television talking openly about sex. The problem is that “Sex and the City” promotes itself as a show about “modern day career women” when it is really just a vehicle to talk about sex. Although it’s a fantastic idea to have a show that sexually liberates the population, it’s NOT a good idea for that show to parade around as if it is a feminist masterpiece.

If the writers behind “Sex and the City” really understood the difficulties of being a strong, single career woman in NYC, then they wouldn’t have their main characters sit around and talk about boys or shoes all the time! They wouldn’t have Carrie’s entire character arch revolve around whether or not she is with a man. As it stands, with Carrie and friends discussing men or shoes alone, it gives the impression that strong women can only be identified by their fashion accessories or the trail of men they leave sexually yearning after them.  I have dozens of friends that have modeled their own lives after Carrie Bradshaw and in doing so have flushed all the potential they have to give to society down the toilet. Instead, they focus their attention on sleeping with men and shopping for designer clothing. It’s as if Carrie wrote a column that feeds right into their brain saying “you’re not worth anything if you don’t have a man and 50 sets of shoes in your closet.”

Think of how much further along our society and culture would be if, as a general trend, young women (that’s more then 50% of the population) would stop focusing their attention on shopping and start worrying more about things like the environment, civil rights, the space program or medical research. Drop the old-fashioned “someone needs to stay at home with the kids” and think of how much we could accomplish if we had the entire population working and functioning together to achieve greatness.  TV shows like “Sex and the City” show our culture what the “norms” are. If the norms in our society are for strong, college-educated women to devote all of their time and energy towards men, then we are in big trouble. This show has done more damage to young women then anything else in our culture. Lets get back on track towards becoming the multi-tasking leaders we are meant to be. I implore all young people, men and women alike, to ignore the fashion propaganda in "Sex and the City" and instead focus on the message that could have been; that strong, independent and intelligent women are here to stay and are going to help make the world a better place.

No comments:

Post a Comment