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Sexual Freedom In A Shopping Bag: “Sex And The City”: The Blowfish Blog

Sex-and-the-city-movie-posterI have a new piece up on the Blowfish Blog. It’s a review of the new “Sex and the City” movie… if by “review” you mean “vituperative tongue- lashing of the movie’s retrograde attitudes towards sex.” It’s called Sexual Freedom in a Shopping Bag: “Sex and the City,” and here’s the teaser:

I should tell you right now: I am not a fan of the show. At all. I’ve seen roughly a dozen episodes, and every one made me want to throw the remote through the TV screen. So I did not come to this movie with the proper, unbiased film- critic attitude. I came thoroughly prepared to despise it and everything it stood for.

But I’ve come to movies before with that attitude, and have found myself pleasantly surprised.

Not this time.

And so we come to the problem at hand. The attitudes about sex in the “Sex and the City” movie are deeply conventional, as facile and unimaginative as anything else in the movie… and yet it presents itself, in this smug, self-congratulatory way, as an example of brave, ground- breaking, “I am woman watch me fuck” sex- positivity for the modern age. It offers glib platitudes as if they were profound insights, and its approach to sex is as consumerist and status- oriented as its approach to… well, everything.

To find out more, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!

Comments

  1. Joe says

    Excellent, as always. I particularly enjoyed, “if that’s your idea of cutting-edge modern sexual adventure, you need to go someplace where they’re doing flesh-hook suspensions and anal fisting.”
    Good thing I didn’t read that while in the office. I’d hate to have to explain my laughter to my cube-mates.

  2. Rebecca says

    Not surprised about Sex and the City, but I’m really hoping to hear what you think (speaking of non-monogamy) of Swingtown. I wasn’t impressed with the quality of the writing or acting, but the sex politics seemed reasonably interesting, for a TV show. (And the sets and costumes were so right-on-1976 that my wife jumped my bones the moment it ended — she has weird fetishes.)

  3. says

    That cheating situation makes me think of a double-standard we have when it comes to cheating in film/TV. When a man cheats, he’s a bastard, whatever reason he may have had. When a woman cheats, she’s shown as sympathetic, and it’s understood that she must have had some good reason; there must have been something missing in her relationship.
    The case here just makes this double standard more blatant. We have a man who cheats, but it’s made clear that he has a damn good reason for doing so. If this were a woman in that situation, it would be the perfect setup to show her as sympathetic. But it’s a man, so his reason doesn’t matter. It’s almost the perfect setup for satirizing this trope… if only they thought of it.

  4. Nancy says

    Flesh hook suspension? Aahhh. That’s what I was watching as I visited an S&M club w/ my husband. I didn’t want to stare at the guy but, he was putting these hooks through (looked like his achilles area) and was about to hoist himself up by a chain. I was like WTF. I just went downstairs, where a nice young man asked me if I would like to pee on him. Gotta love it.
    About Sex In The City movie. I saw it w/ my 18 yr. old daughter (mother/daughter bonding). After all, I can’t take her to the S&M club.
    But, I liked the movie. Yeah, certain parts were ridiculous. Sam should definitely be able to “do” non-monogamy. And, what did Miranda think would happen if she ignored her husband for 6 mths.
    Total escapism for me….unlike the S&M club..which, I sought to escape FROM.
    Truth be told, I could have come up w/ a bette script/screenplay.

  5. says

    Totally fair. Poor Mr Shoes. I’d say the thing about Sex and the City is that it’s not actually about sex. It’s about fashion. Sex is an accessory.
    Fashion started flirting with fetish some time ago, and if you’re trying to be fashionable, you need to at least give the impression that you’re sexually liberated. But there are different kinds of cutting edge. What you’re talking about is cutting edge politicallly, socially: the principle that a wide variety of behaviours are acceptable. Sex and the City is about cutting edge fashion – and fashion demands exclusivity.
    The hooks and fisting thing is unlikely to happen, not just because the show is aiming for a mainstream audience, but because there’s an element of skill in those things that demand commitment. Commit enough, and you’ve changed your social group: now you hang out with the BDSM crowd, or the transgender crowd, or whatever non-authorised-by-Vogue crowd does things that happen to float your boat. They also involve a willingness to be humiliated, overwhelmed, silly, or otherwise lose your poise, which is the antithesis of fashion. And that means lowering your commitment to the fashionista crowd, and that crowd is a full-time job. You can’t just own the right accessories, you have to avoid the wrong ones, and there’s no middle ground. That doesn’t sit well with the willingness to defy convention that genuine sexual freedom demands: fashion is all about convention. They pull in different directions.
    Hence, to stay fashionable, your attitude towards sex has to remain pick-n-mix. Get too into it, and you might find yourself enjoying something that will ick other members of the in-crowd, because that’s how sex works: one man’s kink is another man’s poison. And an ‘ew’ from a fashionable friend is the beginnings of expulsion from the group.
    I watched Sex and the City on TV, and found it depressing: to keep the cast turning over, the stories had to be a catalogue of disasters. The characters would dump perfectly nice men for peeing with the door open, or having a mouse phobia. The interestingly un-feminist thing about that was their total conviction that a woman can never speak up to a man: it’s easier to dump him than to say, ‘Please close the door, you’re grossing me out.’ Similarly, they kept breaking up with men who saw them embarrass themselves – message: no man will love you unless you’re perfect.
    It was never very liberated in its gender politics. Their sexual landscape was always full of horrors. Alternative sexualities being shocking is completely consistent with that. In the end, it’s much more about the fear that you’ll do something wrong than about freedom and fun.

  6. Elin says

    Right on! I saw this movie last night and I wanted to barf all over those $525 shoes.
    I did not understand the Samantha/Smith breakup at all. I mean, Smith has been with Samantha for 5 years, and he loves her, and one would think that at least a good part of what he loves is Samantha’s love for sex. And yet, it never even occurs to her to even mention to him that she’s thinking about having sex with someone else. She could have at least suggested a three way.
    But I guess if the movie had allowed Samantha to “cheat” with Dante, while maintaining the completely judgmental attitude towards Steve, the hypocrisy would have been just too glaring.

  7. says

    My husband is a regular reader of your blog, and he told me about this post. He knows how much I disliked the TV show “Sex and the City”, and he knew I’d like your review. I started reading you about a week ago, and now I’m hooked.
    I disliked the show for many of the same reasons you did. I haven’t seen the movie, but I might anyway once it comes out on DVD just to complain about it. I might be a bit on the vanilla side, but even I know about non-monogamy. Why it didn’t even cross Miranda’s mind makes me wonder how sexually “progressive” she really is.

  8. says

    I’m curious to read your take on “Swingtown”, too. I was a teenager in the 1970s raised in a conservative family. Never even heard of swinging or key parties. I thought that the show had the ’70s stuff down pat like Tab and Pudding Pals (God, I remember that!), but it seemed to be a little embarrassed to be showing swinging as it was. I’m curious to see where the show goes.

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