Sex and the City and feminism(54 Posts)
Ok, I will admit that despite it's flaws I love SATC. It was a background to my time at university and a bonding thing between me and my girlfriends.
But I don't deny it fails in the feminism stakes a lot of the time. It's very of the 'choice-feminism' school of thought. The women are all supposedly empowered by sleeping with lots of men, being slaves to fashion and consumerism, and are defined by their sexual archetype.
However, they women get their strength from their friendship which tends to come first before men, they are all professionally sucessful (and mysteriously wealthy!) and it does deal with misogyny and double standards, the idea that men can be promiscuous but not women, the looks Miranda faces when she buys a house on her own.
What do you all think?
Look at me using the word 'archetype' on the feminism board <feel like I may have graduated to the next level!>
I think the trouble with SATC is that it's in essence a princess story. Once each one has found her Prince Charming, she goes off to live happily ever after.
I wish your thread luck and hope it doesn't go the way of my Friends one.
As a feminist I felt more uncomfortable watching SATC tha Friends but maybe because it was broadcast after my feminist enlightenment.
Anti- Feminist aspects IMO:
- the women not seeming to be able to be happy to be alone
- Carrie and Samantha rejecting single motherhood (they said they had abortions previously)
- Charlotte changing her religion to satisfy a man's wishes
- Carrie ending up with a man who had treted her badly
- Samantha was portrayed as quite masculine, the subtext being that you cant be feminine woman and want to have sex with lots of men with no strings attached
- Samantha was very negative about Miranda having Brady and didn't want to be around him (noy very sisterly)
- there's another 'rich parents buy poor person's baby' storyline, because only rich
married women deserve babies
- Carrie's shoe obsession esp the one with the baby shower where she demands her friend replaces her overpriced shoes
Feminist aspects IMO:
- women supporting each other
- women who are sexually liberated
- women who are financially independent
maybe i should get my box set out?
I never watched it. But I remember reading about Noodle's take on S&TC on the female masturbation thread. It seemed that she felt its influence had been really sexually liberating for her and her peers.
Noodle - where are you??
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Why was Carrie and Samantha rejecting single motherhood by having abortions anti-feminist?
Not trying to start a fight, just curious.
I thought that Zachary.
Another positive is that there aren't many series on TV where the four main characters are women. Highly unusual (I can't think of another one although I am sure someone else will be able to).
It is just a pity that so many stereotypes were used in the making of the program. The shoes thing particularly annoyed me (as a person who has never had more than a practical interest in shoes).
What really annoyed me is that at the end of the last series they were all 'happy' because they were in relationships after years of searching. It would have been more feminist if at least one of them had been happy, content and single. It certainly seemed to suggest that the root of happiness was a man in your life.
Oh yes dittany. Good one! Older women too.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
I've been watching a lot of repeats lately, and although heaven knows it's not perfect I think it deserves a lot more credit than it gets for raising some serious feminist issues in a popular context. The fact that the last half series was a bit princessy/domestic doesn't cancel out all the good work that was done over many years.
In particular the abortion episode was excellent. Samantha, who had never wanted to have children, has had two abortions, and has no qualms about her decision. Carrie, who is unsure about children, decided to have an abortion on the grounds that she was too young and the father is completely unsuitable to share parental responsibility - she reconsiders her decision in retrospect and decides that it was the right thing to do. Miranda initially thinks that single parenthood is not possible, but when she considers her age and fertility issues she decides that it's the best thing to do (a conversation we hear on MN all the time). And Charlotte has serious fertility problems but still finds the strength to support Miranda through an abortion.
Oh, and though Aidan puts the case that the father should be involved in the decision to have an abortion (or not), neither the women nor the show validate his argument - there is no "Oh Steve, I can't do this without you!" moment to suggest that it's not Miranda's decision alone.
For me, the most 'feminist' aspect of SATC is the way in which the female leads were given genuinely funny dialogue. I think one of the most sexist ideas perpetuated by mainstream entertainment is that women aren't funny (eg the male domination of stand-up comedy). The SATC scripts were often characterised by whip-smart one-liners, witty repartee, extravagant swearing and clever wordplay, and the best jokes were usually given to the four main actresses rather than their male co-stars.
There is much that is unfeminist about the show, and I thought the last series did pander to 'princessy' stereotypes, both in terms of the rampant consumerism and the pairing off of the main characters at the end. It is interesting, though, that none of the characters ends up in a conventional 'nuclear family' setup (I guess Miranda and Steve are the closest, but they conceived Brady when not together and got married later). There's also a humorous rejection of women's traditional roles throughout (eg Carrie's admission that she uses her oven for storage). I agree that Samantha's rejection of Brady is unsisterly, but equally it seemed quite brave at the time to portray a woman as being unmaternal and totally uninterested in children, rather than cooing over babies the way women are 'supposed to'.
The episode in the fourth series in which Charlotte gives Carrie her engagement ring as a downpayment on her flat is quite interesting from a feminist perspective, particularly the row they have about it, which I find quite difficult to watch. You see the downside of Carrie's materialism in her realisation that she has nowhere to live because she's spent all her money on shoes, and the tension between depending on male 'providers' and drawing on the support of female friendship and loyalty.
There's an interesting book of essays called Reading Sex and the City which look at the impact of the show from all kinds of perspectives (cultural, feminist, political). Would recommend it if you're a SATC
geek fan like me.
I agree Dittany, there's a handful (literally, it's about 5) of "Carrie spends too much money on shoes" episodes, and the frankly indefensible "Charlotte becomes a shoe prostitute" episode, but apart from that they discuss clothes much less than most women I know IRL, including some very feminist women.
Maybe it is that the media writes about it in terms of fashion so that is somehow seen as the main point of it? I loved the series but always cringed at the way the women were with any new men, particularly Charlotte and Carrie. Just desperate prom queen flirting and trying to please behaviour even when the man was clearly not worth their while. LIke that awful man Carrie was with, who was jealous of her writing success. She just contorted herself to make him feel better by playing down her own achievements.
I think one of SATC strong points was that the female leads were genuinely good friends. A lot of main stream TV seems to depict women as "frenemies" and that secretly all women bitch about their friends and are plotting to steal each others boyfriends.
OK Charlotte was a bit of a deluded idiot but Miranda and Samantha both had kick ass, highly well paid jobs.
I loved the show but i too felt really flat at the end when they were all paired off - even Samantha! It was like a 'happy ever after'. Life just isnt like that.
I think it would have been stronger to have ended the series with at least one of them single and happy about it.
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