The Count told me about Greta Christina's Blog a few weeks ago, and I just started reading it regularly this week. He in particular directed me to her post grousing about the "Sex and the City" movie, and I must say I agree with everything she wrote.
I saw some episodes a few years ago, but the show did nothing for me. I have not yet seen the movie. I'm waiting for it to come out on DVD. I'm talking today about the TV show.
I certainly didn't see Carrie Bradshaw and her unmarried, whining friends as the Be All And End All of American Progressive Sexual Mores. While the show became famous in part for introducing the Rabbit Pearl Vibrator to American women, I found the Rabbit while watching the movie "Better Than Chocolate". That movie was much better, more realistic, and much more progressive than anything I saw on "Sex and the City".
I read the book when I started writing my sex column for nuts4chic. My editor wanted me to write something akin to Carrie Bradshaw's column. I did like the book. It had bite that was conspicuously missing from the TV show. It reminded me in many ways of Olivia Goldsmith's biting satire about relationships, most notably present in her book "The First Wives Club". The movie had toned down her bite and made the women a bit on the fluffy side. I saw the same thing happen in the TV show "Sex and the City". While the book was a biting satire about modern career women, their friendships, their personal outlooks, and their relationships with men, the TV show was about shoe fetishes, commercialism, and traditional male/female relationships masquerading as "progressive". I certainly didn't think the show depicted feminist progress in sex and relationships, despite being presented and commented on in that way.
Greta Christina mentioned in the complete article at The Blowfish Blog how Miranda, the character who is supposed to be the most sexually evolved, didn't even consider non-monogamy when she realized that she wanted to have sex with other men while in a relationship with one man. Here's what she wrote:
I think Samantha needs a copy of "The Ethical Slut", which is about polyamory. I was surprised myself to learn that non-monogamy didn't even cross her radar. Or her friends radar. While the man she loves might never take to non-monogamy (I'm thinking specifically of polyamory), they could have at least discussed it. I don't know how Samantha would feel about the man she loves taking on other partners. Would they be a mono/poly couple? The only possibilities seemed to be either Samantha stifles that essential part of her being, or she would leave the relationship. As if those are her only two options. There are other options, but none of them were even considered. If she was truly a sexual progressive, she would have at least been aware of non-monogamy, in particular polyamory. It might not work for them, but they could have at least discussed it.
The other thing that bothered me a great deal about the show was how commercialized it was. It was all about appearances and buying expensive, trendy things - especially shoes. Being a modern, emancipated woman isn't about how many hundreds of dollars you spend on a pair of Manolo Blanicks. I also thought the women whined too much about not meeting decent men. These are unmarried, childless, successful, financially comfortable middle class white women. They have the ability to really improve their lives and outlooks since they don't have to worry about making enough money to cover the rent or wondering how they're going to feed the kids and themselves when they run out of money at the end of the month.
So what do they do?
They complain about how their lives aren't complete because they can't find The Man. That's not progressive. That's falling back on the old saw that a woman is not complete unless she snags herself a man, preferably one who is successful and earns more money than she does. "Sex and the City" had an opportunity to show how successful, young, financially set women can make a real go of it in the world, and instead it fell back on old gendered stereotypes.
I don't recall seeing the Rabbit Pearl Vibrator episode, but I know a thing or two about sex toys, since I write for several sex toys companies. I'm glad that the show introduced women to a very good sex toy. Rabbits have come a long way since "Sex and the City" introduced American women to the Rabbit Pearl. I think that women and men can learn a great deal about their sexual likes and dislikes by using sex toys. I, for example, can't find my G-spot without using a G-spot vibrator. I own a Sunflower and a Rock Chick, and both have helped me enjoy some very hot sex. While there is debate about whether or not the G-spot exists, considering my experience and the experiences of women whose testimonials I have read, I believe that the G-spot exists, and that women would enjoy playing with it. "Sex and the City" helped to make masturbation - including masturbating with sex toys - more acceptable, especially for women. I'm also not one of those women who think that the G-spot is a male conspiracy to reduce women again to Vaginal Sex (insert penis here) = Real Sex vs. Clitoral Sex = Immature Sex. Women have both. Let them enjoy both.
Some commenters at Greta Christina's blog made the interesting observation that America is, even today, a rather puritanical country. Sex is discussed in whispers, if at all. Some states even forbid the sale of sex toys in brick and mortar stores. That's not a healthy attitude to have about sex. So, considering that kind of background, while "Sex and the City" isn't progressive to anyone who has really been writing about and investigating sex for quite some time, it did bring a lot of sexual topics to the attention of American women in a safer way. I can see that point, even though I didn't like the show and I haven't yet seen the movie.
Next on my plate, after I write my sex toys articles for the day and work on some erotic fiction, is to write a review of the new TV series "Swingtown". I watched it last Thursday. Not sure what I think yet, although I will say it did entertain me. I was a teenager in the 1970s who was raised in a conservative environment, so the sexual revolution passed me by. I didn't get exposed to it until I was in college in the late '70s, early '80s. I'm curious to see how this series pans out.