Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Men v Sex and the City - proof that we still inhabit different planets

The time has come again for female friends to get dolled up and slip on their sexiest heels for a special visit to the cinemas. As you can imagine, we're not just talking about any old rated R film, its nearly time for us to laugh, cringe and sob over the much anticipated Sex and the City 2. Whether you're in Jo'burg, Paris, New York or Madrid, most women with access to American television will have heard of the dynamic foursome known as Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha. Two years ago I went with my girlfriends to see the first installment in West London and was able to discuss the tear-jerking and downright hilarious parts with friends who lived way across the pond in New York. We could all relate and whilst we didn't think it was a Oscar worthy plot or performances, we still loved every minute of it and saw it several times. Like Jimmy Choos, SATC seems to unify women, regardless of colour or financial means, we love the celebration of femininity, friendship and general fabulousity. So why does this US export cause so much disdain, dismay and irritation among men folk? Why, I wonder are men so averse to Sex and the City?

Yesterday as I savoured my copy of my favourite bite size magazine ( ), I decided against my better judgement to read what four male writers had to say about the women of Sex and the City. It took some courage and tongue biting as each one analysed a different character with comments like 'Women realise ditsy in a woman over the age of 33 is unbecoming but they forgive all this because she' - no prices for guessing who the Shortlist magazine's editorial director is referring to there. Another writer comments that Miranda who is apparently 'exactly the kind of woman decent men like' (which makes me think there cant be many of these decent men out there as I know an awful lot of single Mirandas) is portrayed as selling out as she settles for 'bored domesticity with a man not fit to clean her shoes'. As if we hadn't been insulted enough, Samantha, who many of us believe epitomises female strength and sexuality is dubbed as a single man's dream because she is willing to and encourages single women to have non committal sex without the promise of  a ring or expensive gift. Perish the thought that a woman would actually enjoy sex and engage in it for her own pleasure. And so these four masculine 'thinkers' go on, pulling apart the women and the series as little more than a disgrace to feminism. Carrie is apparently the least attractive to men because aside from being 'ditsy' she 'works from a rule book made from princessy-ness and insecurity'. But before you rush out to buy yourself a cat and resolve to live a life of singledom, there is hope for the single woman; writer Chris Bell gives us all a little encouragement  by encouraging us to look to Charlotte who he describes as 'perfect wife material - formal and reserved in public; a 'goer' in private, as our role model. So all is not lost, if we all strive to be 'Park Avenue Polyanna(s)' we could land ourselves husbands and have our very own happily ever after - apparently Charlotte's character is the one who 'wins' - true love, marriage and kids! Talk about hitting the jackpot.
If on the other hand you prefer to make feminists lament all over the world by having 'free' sex with men then you'll only have yourself to blame when you can't even find a boyfriend let alone a husband! Tut tut tut Samantha.
Now if you go for option no. 3 a la Miranda, be prepared to settle for table scraps - according to Justin Quirk, what stands out most about Steve is not his unconditional love for Miranda or his willingness to put up with her at times 'difficult' and domineering ways but that he is a 'not good looking semi-literate barman'. Take note those of you who have looked for substance over style in a partner.
Whatever you do, do not and I repeat do not accumulate shoes, no matter how beautiful you find them and how they make you feel and how much disposable income you have, because if you do, you'll simply be expressing everything that is 'shallow and materialistic about modern womanhood'.

I confess that I wasn't under any illusions about men being thoroughly different from us but I think having lived with one for a number of years, I came to believe that there can be common ground even if the fundamentals differ. Yet after reading these four accounts, I can't help but conclude that when given the opporunity to truly express themselves without fear of reproach, men confirm that they inhabit a planet that is light years away from our's. If we consider that these men are supposedly the intelligent, well-read and presumably 'exposed' minority and yet they spout such sexist tosh where everything we do is in relation to their world and their being, then what hope is there for the not so smart ones.
Samantha cannot simply have a high female libido, nor can Miranda genuinely love her family and her career because the two must cancel each other out. I can honestly say that pieces like this give me a whole new level of a lack of respect for men. It's unfortunate that we live together, work with each other and yet so many of them still find it hard to see us as equals. The usual misogynistic stereotypes still pervade where women are only defined by their ability to bag a husband. Likewise when they do choose a career, it has to be all of nothing, they cant be mothers, wives and career women too.
Note to the opposite sex - yes we do like shoes what? - you like football, we like shoes, atleast they make us look and feel sexy.
If these men are a representation of what the majority of men think, then I'm glad that most of my friends are female and I cant wait to hit the town with them for our Sex and the City 2 night out so we can raise a glass to four fabulous ladies who remind us quite a bit of ourselves.


ssanyu said...

Thanks for this Hibiscus. I think you hit the nail on the head in regards to many men feeling uncomfortable with Sex and the City. It seems quite difficult for them to look at and/or be entertained by multifaceted women characters who are beautiful (yet not young), intelligent, successful and sexually emancipated. The four main characters in SATC are a great contrast to the objectified or two dimensional characters that mainstream media often presents as its status quo.

Irene said...

Firstly I love the blog.

My shoe loving, strong willed and yes SATC loving self cannot wait for next Friday to go see it. I feel no shame in that. Pity I don't have you girls here to see it with.

Here's my thing with all these macho 'how good women should be' types of men; your opinion counts for naught. I am comfortable in my own skin and have many sides to me and there's a time and place for all these different facets. I don't have any interest in explaining or even justifying myself to you or anyone.

Sadly though that comfort with showing one's many facets comes with age for most women. Most women (especially in their twenties) really just want men to like them and think highly of them in the hope of quickly finding a husband.

So yeah a toast to the women of SATC who indeed remind us of ourselves.

JBH said...

I thought of you when i heard there was a sequel to the SATC movie. Wish i lived close so we can go watch it together with a bunch of other girlfriends.
Not so excited about SATC2 because to be honest, SATC 1 (movie) kinda dragged on and on for me and was sort of a let down. I remember when SATC was so exciting and all i ever wanted to be. Maybe i'm just getting older but i'm not falling for the hype this time. I'd probably just watch it with a bunch of girlfriends juts because... but i have a feeling i'll be waiting for it to come out on DVD, just like i did the first. Wonder if i'm turning into an old frump?

JBH said...

Have you read the reviews yet? Don't want to be a "spoiler alert" person but so far - not so good. Oh well. SATC did have it's good days. I know that's not what your blog is about but just thought i'd mention it. For the record, the hubs had a "oh-no! WTF! Not again!" reaction when he learnt that there would be a SATC2! LOL! Don't know what freaks them out about this show.