#MeToo and the City
In And Just Like That… Carrie Bradshaw tries to reckon with new sexual horizons. But can Bradshaw and #MeToo really co-exist?
When Sex and the City (SATC) debuted in June of 1998, the United States was in the midst of a national sex scandal: the Clinton-Lewinsky story had broken earlier that year, Bill Clinton was a few months from the grand jury testimony where he admitted to an “improper physical relationship” with Lewinsky, and sex was inarguably the most important story of the year. The show, telling the stories of four thirty-something gals trying to find love in New York, soon became a sensation, transforming HBO into a channel that tackles adult topics with frankness and humor.
According to Julie Salamon, the show’s allure has always “relied on the juxtaposition of frivolity with serious concerns” where the four heroines experiment, fail and succeed with sex, love and relationships. SATC indeed provocatively dealt with issues around modern (white, middle class, urban) womanhood: abortion (“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”, season 4, episode 11), women’s choice to work (“Time and Punishment”, season 4, episode 7), sexual satisfaction and orgasms (“They Shoot Single People, Don’t They?”, season 2, episode 4), motherhood (too many to count), ageism (“Twenty-Something Girls vs. Thirty-Something Women”, season 2, episode 17), sexism in the workplace (“Belles of the Balls”, season 4, episode 10), and much, much more. During the six years it ran, SATC’s influence on sex and gender relations was undeniable, setting the tone and dynamics of aspirational womanhood for girls and young women everywhere.
Arguably, SATC’s influence on young girls and women — today’s older millennials and Gen X — was a big part of the 90s and 00s’s girl power narrative where the condition of women was not one of submission, but a matter of choice. Feminist scholars have described the show as a postfeminist narrative, where Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her friends are constructed as empowered women, though Imelda Whelehan argues that it does so through a the specific lens of “heteronormative, white, privileged lens” women, which ventriloquizes feminism as “outdated common sense.” In short, the squad’s empowerment narratives helped normalize the idea that feminism had already…