The XX Factor

Sex and the City is Not a Feminst Boon

In yesterday’s Guardian , Naomi Wolf laid down the feminist case for Sex and the City (then Tracy Clark-Flory did an excellent job disseminating it over at Broadsheet .) Wolf exalts the ladies of Sex and the City as feminist icons mainly because the show centers on female friendships and it’s brutally honest in depicting how even professional females are still entirely obsessed with men.

Sounds…uh, feminist?

I still can’t fathom how Sex and the City became an anthem for the modern woman. Was it the shoes? The constant rhyming puns? It’s worth noting a 2006 UCSC animal linguistics study found that nonhuman primates use rhyme schemes in nearly all their daily communications. Surely we deserve something further up the evolutionary ladder?

It’s not that I’m totally above the joys of low-brow titillation. Sex And The City had plenty of it: fashion horrors, emotionally pornographic plot lines, and lots of full-frontal graphic sex-a common denominator-type enjoyment. But SATC wasn’t treated like trivial entertainment, instead it was often exalted by the media and the show’s own creators as some sort of signifier of fourth-wave consumer-happy feminism: The sexually liberated women exists and is thriving! And boy does she like to shop!

Liberation, indeed-two of the main ladies, Carrie and Charlotte, admittedly want to land a rich husband who can finance their extravagant purchasing habits (in the SATC movie, Carrie makes louder moans of joy upon being reunited with her promised walk-in closet than she does with Mr. Big) and, Samantha, the token slut who sleeps around “like a man”, is cosmically punished with cancer during the last season of the HBO series run. The ladies are so clichéd and one-dimensional hailing them as feminist icons is like arguing that Beavis and Butthead define manhood in all its robust glory.

And yet, despite the shallowness of the female leads, the SATC enterprise has somehow extended itself into identity politics.The show has spawned thousands of “What Sex And The City Character Are You?” Facebook quizzes, college girls all over the nation proudly identifying with their Fendi-obsessed female brethren. Their choices? The materialistic sex columnist (who is actually a really boring lay), the prudish gold digger, the emotionally reclusive smart woman, and the kinky slut who refutes relationships. But only pick one ladies, it’s not like you could be so complicated as to love kinky sex and be a high-powered lawyer. That’s just ludicrous.