naked: sarah jessica parker thinks you’re dirty

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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.

8 Replies to “naked: sarah jessica parker thinks you’re dirty”

  1. Ok, whoa. First of all, I have never seen one single SATC episode, so I’m sorry if I’m way off base here. But! She’s an actress! She’s not playing herself. Can’t she be personally shy about discussing sex and still be admired for choosing to so ably represent this icon of unfettered womanhood?
    I’m fine with people talking openly and frankly about sex, and I will defend your right to do so. But if I personally blush and decline to add my .02, does that mean I should be painted with the same brush as someone who would seek to censor you?
    Isn’t the point supposed to be freedom? To participate OR not?

  2. I agree with the above poster. As an actress I have been cast to portray characters that I am not at all like. It’s part of the job. If she doesn’t want to talk about it I don’t think she’s saying it’s bad, just that she is more shy or private. And just because she isn’t her character doesn’t mean she’s a hypocrite who deserves to lose credibility as a strong woman. But then, I have also never viewed HER or her character as a role model. So, it’s aboslutely fine with me if she doesn’t want to talk about sex as herself and not as a scripted character, on national television. And actually, as was pointed out by other commenters on other Sex and the City posts, the show (Carrie’s Column included) was and still is more about relationships than it is about sex.

  3. Well, one could also make the argument that you blog on a site about ‘accepting the size of your ass’, yet you’ve undergone weightloss surgery — isn’t that kind of the same? Performing in and promoting a forum that champions a certain kind liberation for women, but eschewing that same liberation in your own life?
    I’m not saying that as a criticism, just an observation. I guess what I AM saying is I don’t really think it’s fair to judge women for not being able to do all the things we *think* they should.
    Anyway, I certainly appreciate that Sex And The City allowed women to start speaking more frankly about sex — but I don’t think it should COMPEL them to do it. Especially not on an (arguably male-dominated) late night talk show.

  4. As much as I heart your blog, Anne, I have to go against you on this one. As previously posted in the comments, she’s an actress and she’s acting. It is ridiculous for society, the media, whomever, to make role models out of actors, much less out of ficticious characters. I enjoyed SATC as an entertaining program and like SJP as an actress.

  5. Yeahhh, I’m going with the other folks who posted.
    But then, I tend to get so caught up in actors being who their characters are, I was genuinely disappointed when Kim Cattrall said she wasn’t outspoken (and therefore unsatisfied) in bed – until she played Samantha. She did such a good job as Samantha. How could she not be like her?
    But as a society, for some unknown reason, we look to actors for social and political guidance. Why? They’re actors. What do they know about social and/or political issues that we don’t know? Have they exhaustively studied these issues? The answer is no, probably not. And yet, we still look to them to deliver messages and educate us because the people who really do know about these things are not pretty to look at.
    Actors, models, dancers, and others in that line of work have a job; to look good and bring life to a character with a written set of traits. SJP, Kim Cattrall, and many others are incredibly talented at doing just that. I couldn’t do what they do, and for that I admire them. Obviously, they have opinions, thoughts, personal experiences, etc. that they bring to a given issue, but so do all of us. Talk to Candace Bushnell or Michael Patrick King to find out why those characters behave a certain way. They’re the ones who wrote them into being. The actors just did what they were told.
    Is SJP a role model? For someone who does not fit the cookie-cutter image of beauty and wants to be a leading lady, yes, she absolutely is! She went from portraying incredibly awkward goofy-looking characters to Carrie Bradshaw. But for feminists? I’d question Candace Bushnell and Mr. King instead of SJP. Parker is still herself at the end of the day. And kudos to her for being real.
    Anyone remember the episode where she walks in on Samantha giving a blow job to the delivery guy in her office? This discussion is the same thing… ;)
    (Sorry about the rant!)

  6. I agree that SJP can have her own views contrary to her character’s, but that’s not even actually the case. Carrie was the most conservative of all the characters on the show when it came to their baudy discussions. And in the movie, when they were talking about how many times a week they had sex with their partners, she wouldn’t even say.
    While Carrie was always viewed as accepting of those with out-there sexual proclivities, her character was downright buttoned up in that department. Heck, Charlotte even almost had a threesome once and considered anal sex, Carrie would *never*!

  7. While I agree that she is after all just an actress and was playing a role, I totally see Anne’s point.
    The show was considered to be revolutionary in that women were talking about sex. And having sex and loving the sex! Because sex is natural, and fun, and it can be silly, or confusing sometimes too. And can’t we please just talk about it openly because this is not the old days where sex was a shushed topic. And only men enjoyed sex and had orgasms. Everyone is having sex, so let’s talk about it and learn from each other.
    So the whole idea was to make sex for women not taboo anymore. Don’t be embarrassed or shy. It’s okay because there is nothing to be embarrassed or shy about. It’s just sex and we can talk about it! Girl power! Rock on!
    So to turn around and see one of the show’s stars not able to talk about the S-E-X because it embarrasses her. And oh goodness, we cannot even say the S-E-X because that is just too much and I am dainty woman who doesn’t discuss such things. Does seem to cancel out what the show was trying to achieve.

  8. I have to still respectfully disagree. Her deciding to keep a thing in her private life actually private, is her choice and it shouldn’t cancel out what the SHOW was about. And the point is that we CAN talk about sex, not that we HAVE to or SHOULD with everyone and anyone.
    And I agree with Sarah that Carrie was not always talking about sex. She talked about relationships but she didn’t always open up about the details of her sex life on the show. So, it really isn’t all that contrary to the character.

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