Why You Should Stop Talking Sh*t on Sex and the City

I know what you’re thinking. OF COURSE we should be scrutinizing a show that is undeniably homophobic, transphobic, fat-shaming, and classist. I get it. I really do. Are these narratives of sexual escapades ultimately catering to the male interest and male sexual pleasure? Absolutely. Is there sex-positivity ridden with internalized misogyny? Of course. Trust me, I know this girl gang is ultimately a product of their own white privilege, and their stories rarely, if ever, adopt an intersectional lens. Instead, the show follows four white women in their pursuits of brunch, sex, boyfriends, and New York City apartments. And while we might not want to admit it, oftentimes the only thing our dear Carrie Bradshaw has to worry about is what outfit she’s going to wear on a date with Mr. Big. She doesn’t have to worry about being racially-profiled. She doesn’t have to worry about living below the poverty line. She doesn’t have to worry about keeping a job (in fact, she seems to have the greatest job security in the world, even after missing all those deadlines).

Not only is it whitewashed, but it’s extremely heteronormative. Besides Samantha’s exploration with her sexuality after she dates Maria from the art gallery, Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte seem to stay on the “straight and narrow” path for the ten-year period the show covers. Remember when Carrie said that bisexuality is a just a “layover on the way to Gaytown?” We do too. Besides that, it also utilizes the infamous “gay best friend” trope, where a gay man’s value is derived in relation to the white women that love them.

Let’s not forget that it’s also incredibly classist. Every episode, these women seem gallivant around the town, with an infinite supply of cash at their disposal (how Carrie makes her name-brand obsession and Manolo Blahnik addiction happen on a journalist’s salary, the world might never know.) Whether they’re buying an unrealistically glamourous apartment, or splurging on the latest strappy sling-back, financial status and privilege is the highlight of every Sex and the City montage.

As the raging feminist that I am, I am certainly not suggesting that we overlook where and how  Sex and the City falls short in terms of gender, sexuality, and racial equality. What I am asking, however, is that we take a second to remember that this series is a little like second-wave feminism. Yes, it focuses on the narratives of upper-middle class, white women. No, it doesn’t take an intersectional approach like it should. But it was a much-needed first step in the journey towards the gender equality, LGBTQ+ awareness, and sexuality liberation we know and love, today. So, with that, here are 10 reasons you should stop talking sh*t on Sex and the City.

1. It normalized marriage in your 40s.

Spoiler alert: Both Miranda and Charlotte don’t end up married until their late thirties. No surprise that Carrie also follows suit, and doesn’t marry Big until her early 40s, where she is featured by Vogue as the “Fabulous at 40” bride.

2. It glamorizes and empowers the career woman. 

All four of these best friends have a career in some form or another: Miranda is a successful lawyer, Samantha heads her own PR firm, Charlotte for the majority of the series holds a leadership role in a popular art gallery, while Carrie is known across the city for her racy sex column. It is only in later seasons that Charlotte decides to quit her job at the gallery to become a stay-at-home. Other than that, this girl gang often prioritize their careers above all else (except maybe for each other). Miranda successfully juggles life as a working mom, where her family takes an unconventional matriarchal form when Steve becomes the primary caretaker. Let's face it,  we all need some Miranda energy in our lives. But let's forget that Samantha is arguably the greatest feminist powerhouse of all, where her no-frills, corporate attitude brings some much-needed attention to the career women of the world. With all of this in mind, emphasizing material wealth and status in the show absolutely essential in reiterating that women can be successful, high-achieving, and (you guessed it), wealthy on their own accord. 

3. It encourages women to claim their own sexuality 

We can mostly thank Samantha for this one. Her hyper-sexual, "bang and bounce," attitude may be a lot to handle, at times. But the show had to be extreme in its portrayal of female sexuality, otherwise they likely wouldn't have had even a fraction of the success it did. Samantha HAD to be sexually promiscuous to end slut-shaming. She HAD to embrace radical kinks, so that female viewers could embrace their own sexual fantasies. Samantha had to be sexually-aggressive to remind women that they don't have to maintain docile and supporting roles in bedroom performances. We love you Samantha, jizz-talk and all. 

4. It de-stigmatizes discussions about sex 

You'd be hard-pressed to find an episode that doesn't feature an over-brunch discussion of blow jobs, boners, and one-night-stands. While this may sound like trashy gossip, moments like these were actually paving the way for women to openly discuss their sex lives, without feeling the shame patriarchy wrongfully imposes on us all. 

5. The show covers issues of abortion, and highlights the rights of a woman to her own body 

Not only does Sex and the City advocate for a stance that allows women to claim their sexualities, and use their bodies for whatever sexual purposes they see fit, the show also devotes an entire episode to the topic of abortion. When Miranda finds out that she is, unexpectedly, pregnant with Steve's baby, her knee-jerk reaction is to terminate the pregnancy (not incredibly shocking given Miranda's pro-choice views shown earlier in the series). In this particular episode, viewers follow Miranda's pregnancy story, Charlotte's anger over Miranda's decision, along with Carrie's own abortion story. As the episode proceeds, despite initially being initially set in her decision to terminate the pregnancy, Miranda decides to keep the baby. But that isn't before we witness the beautiful moment of Charlotte bringing Miranda flowers, after what she believes to be her post-operation recovery. This episode, as a whole, is a reminder that women should support the choices of other women, despite overt political and religious differences. 

6. It reminds us that sexual relationships can be casual

In light of the stigma against pre-marital sex (that still exists today), women, especially during the time the show was debuted, often felt pressured to search for Mr. Right, in fear of being the sexually-cooped up Old Maid. All four women (even Charlotte, who can be a bit of a prude), have quite the extensive sexual history. Remember when Miranda drafted a list of her sexual partners, and asked the gang how she could have possibly finished law school AND slept with all those men? And all I have to say is power to them. The show’s creator even dedicates an entire episode to f*ck buddies. Truly, what could be more applicable to the hookup culture of 2018 than that?

7. Samantha encourages young women to recognize the importance of their own orgasm

Though the show’s sexual encounters usually cater to male sexual pleasure, after Samantha “loses” her orgasm, she explains to Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte, that when she “RVSPs to a party, she expects to cum.” In narratives where women and their orgasm are ignored time and time again, this is nothing short of a refreshing change. Not to mention, Sex and the City works to de-stigmatize female masturbation. Vibrators, on more than one occasion, make a guest appearance on the show. They are mentioned so many times, that they could be considered the honorary fifth member of this famous clique.

8. Most importantly, Sex and the City re-emphasizes the importance of female friendships.

Despite popular belief, a woman’s first priority does not have not be a man, no matter how many times society tells us that it should be.  A woman’s identity, especially in the world of Sex and the City, is not reliant on marriage or romantic relationships, but acts as its own separate entity. And when a woman, like Carrie, does need a shoulder to cry on, or support or through life’s hardships, she can always depend on a group of her closest girlfriends. After all, who needs men anyway? And in the words of our dearest Charlotte, “maybe we can be each other’s soulmates, and then we can let men be just these great, nice guys to have fun with.”

Tune in to this classic favorite on Amazon Prime or HBO! Because good, empowering sex looks good on all shapes, sizes (and ages.)

All gifs sourced from Gify.com