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However I feel about Sex and the City, the thing I’ve always appreciated about it–granted, in an abstract manner because I still know very little about the show other than what I’ve ended up choking on in the face of the media onslaught heading up to the release of the movie–is the fact that it was sexually revolutionary. I am still not convinced that it is in any way feminist or deserves to be held up as an example of Woman Power, but it paved the way(as they say) for women to be able to talk about sex in public, in the media, frankly, openly, honestly and without embarrassment or shame.
The character of Carrie Bradshaw–she’s supposed to be the shining
beacon of this movement. She’s a sex columnist, in the show, right? And
she talks frankly, openly and honestly about it; each show
ostensibly revolves around her sexual musings for that week’s column.
Carrie is supposed to be a strong and positive voice for sexually
active women. She makes her living talking about sex, and she makes
women think that it is okay, and healthy, and smart to talk about these
things, and that is one hundred thousand steps forward for everyone. I
am not one to talk about celebrities as role models–the whole idea
makes me uncomfortable, because aren’t there better places to look for
someone to look up to? Yeah, there are. But Sarah Jessica Parker, in
playing Carrie Bradshaw, was enormously famous and very much an icon,
and in that fame she seemed to stand for something important,
affirmative and positive.
And then, she goes on Conan O’Brien,
and can barely bring herself to say the word sex–in fact, I don’t
think she actually ever does. She does not like to think about sex, or
talk about it, or even have it brought up in her presence. Oh no no,
it’s totally fine if other people talk about it! She,
personally, would rather talk about something like, say, the primary.
Something smart, and not dirty and impolite and in poor taste. Sex is gross,
SJP is saying. So what if she spent 5 years making her living, her
reputation, her fortune off the idea that sex could be something good
and open. She’s not like that. And right there, in that tiny
little snippet of interview, Sarah Jessica Parker just destroyed any
credibility as a role model she might have established over the course
of her show and undermined every single moment of positivity and power.