I’ll start off with the: “yadda yadda, I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a long time, I’ve been a) busy, b) drunk, c) lazy, d) hating the entire internet and everything that it stands for, e) all of the above” But now, finally, something has angered me for the last goddamn time: Women who complain that sex and the city projects the female sex as only existing for the purpose of meeting men, and that the women in the show come off as superficial.
I’ve had it up to here with these same complaints over and over, and I am time and time again shocked at how they always seem to come from
other women. Because the thing is: this is a TV-show about women’s relationships with men. That’s what it’s about, no more no less.
Just because we are not shown every single second of Mirandas court proceedings, or every literary edit Carrie does to her column, doesn’t mean that the writers are suggesting that these women are incapable of doing this. It’s just simply not the theme of the show. Is there a deficit in the amount of shows portraying women doing serious work, taking law degrees etc? Probably, I don’t know. But the name of this show isn’t A well-rounded picture of the 21st century emancipated female and the city. This is about sex, and halleluja for that.
What pisses me off most, though, is the fact that I think the women making these complaints know all this. They just find that a woman who cares a lot about sex and her relations to men by default is unable to do any meaningful work, and be emancipated, happy and calm in her sexuality. This is of course a relay of the constant and dominant male plot that female sexuality and female professionalism and intelligence are reversely correlated. This world view has taken so firm a hold on our society that now women who proclaim themselves feminists denounce women who do any job that relates to sexuality (it doesn’t even have to be a job, the private sphere is enough to get you judged, I’ll tell you that). This is wrong. I can’t even tell you how wrong it is.
I have a right to discuss a man’s penis at a coffee table, just as much as I have a right to get a PhD. I can take part in every crazy-ass fetich in the world, and still go to work every morning and do my job to a tee. The slut-shaming must end.
And now to the complaint that these women are superficial. It is completely true, but listing this as a complaint towards the show makes absolutely now sense. This is not a character driven show. All the girls (and yes, Carrie, too!), and especially the men, are all painful stereotypes. But there is a quaint narrative point to this: this show’s main point is that you are supposed to be able to identify with it. These characters aren’t Dostoevsky-like creations, multilayer masterpieces. And that is the shows great force: that everyone is a little bit Charlotte, a little bit Miranda, a little bit Samantha and finally a sprinkle of Carrie. The discussions these women have over breakfast could just as easily be monologues (actually the narrative tool of Carrie asking a question like “Are we sluts?”, and then discussing it with her friends bears a lot of similarity to a monologue).
You are supposed to squeal that “I’ve been with a guy who did that too!”. But everyone knows that what we see of the brief sexual or culinary encounters with men doesn’t necessarily tell us everything about them. We would never deny that. But this is entertainment, with a splash of social commentary. These aren’t well-rounded characters, but characters created to make a point in a certain situation, be it Charlotte’s right to quit her job, or Samantha’s right to blow her World-Wide Express guy.
Last but not least: of course, there are scenes in the series where these characters show emotional depth and inner conflict. One example would be Mirandas case of “yuppie-guilt” when her success becomes too much for the bartender she is dating. But this, too, I will argue, is a tool to show us the issues of being a person with a difficult and demanding job, and balancing that with relationships. You don’t recognise the character Miranda in this: you recognise yourself.