Monday, February 20, 2006

I'm Every Woman



I am an avid Sex and the City fan. I heart that show more than any other in the history of television. Boyfriend, knowing that I am a feminist, doesn't understand this ostensible paradox. "This show doesn't focus on Miranda enough [predictably, my favorite character] to make it worth watching for you. What else do you like about it? Do you see your life as like that? Do you wish your life was like that?" His questions stopped me cold. I couldn't answer, and told him I needed to think about it. I didn't need to think about why I adore the show - I know why - but I wanted to articulate it perfectly because it's something I have thought about a lot and means something to me. (I remember his sister, upon finding out that I love the show, asking how old I was. I responded, "21," and she said, "That explains it. When you get to be my age [28], you'll see how stupid it is to watch women obsess over getting married.")

Okay, so Miranda is a lawyer with a sharp wit and a smart mouth, a single mother raising her child while being extremely successful in the professional world. At times, she fears being alone, but she rarely lets her fears paralyze her. The perfect feminist character on the show. But then there is Samantha, the sex kitten, Charlotte, the 'good' one who espouses traditional gender rules and screams Jackie O, and Carrie, a woman who is obsessed with fashion and shoes and can't get over a man who treats her badly. Why should any self-respecting woman love these characters?

I'll tell you why.

The first thing to think of, when juxtaposing these characters, is that they represent different types of women. But the more I thought about it, the more I began to think that maybe they represent different aspects of all of us. Perhaps some of us lean more towards Miranda, or Charlotte, or whichever, in our personalities and every day lives. For example, I was talking about the show with two of the other fellows once. One of them, who is very similar to me, said she loves Miranda, and the other, who loves to party and date without committing, said she loves Samantha. Big surprise there. But don't we all have a little Samantha in us, no matter how Charlotte-y we seem? Why are feminists not allowed to want to get married, or enjoy shoe shopping, without it seeming like a compromise of wanting equal treatment in the workplace or equal standing in our relationships? What does one even have to do with the other?

As a feminist, I constantly find myself putting limits on what I can/can't do because of my feminism. I don't wear makeup because I'm a feminist. I don't wear dresses often because I'm a feminist. I am angry at the media because I am a feminist. When in reality, it is more like: I don't wear makeup because I personally don't like to, and also because I'm quite lazy. I don't wear dresses often because pants are more comfortable to me. I'm angry at the media because I think they set unhealthy goals for women and then make us feel ugly and fat when we don't reach those goals.

My feminism makes me want women to make the same amount of money as men for the same amount of work. (The average 25-year-old working woman will lose more than $523,000 to unequal pay during her working life.) My feminism makes me want to do something about issues that destroy women such as domestic violence and sexual abuse. My feminism makes me want to have a great career and a great kid, and not feel guilty about either. But my feminism doesn't stop me from lighting scented candles, admiring pretty jewelry, or owning way more handbags than I need. And it doesn't prevent me from watching, relating to, and absolutely adoring Sex and the City.

If Samantha wants to have sex without relationships, who cares? As long as she doesn't hurt anyone, she has that right, just as men do. If Charlotte wants the perfect proposal and the perfect wedding and the perfect husband and the perfect child, she's entitled to that as well. And if Carrie wants to obsess over Mr. Big, come on girls... we've all been there.

Besides, each woman supports herself and has a career. So there. Don't hate.

18 comments:

WOLVERINE said...

My whole problem with this feminist thing is you feel you all NEED a word fer it. Feminism. Why t'hell can't ya just call it bein' a woman? Simply? Like guys call it bein' a guy. We don't have Masculism (an' if we do I need to punch someone). You want equal pay an' to slut around withoug bein' called a slut an' all that jazz, that's fine. That's equal rights. But why do you need a fancy-pants lable fer it? Feminism.

"I want this, this and this 'cause I'm a feminist!" No. It's bein' a woman, plain an' simple.

An' if Sex is a representation of all women personified, then I'll stick with my Tomboys thankyouverymuch.

sojourness said...

Perhaps there is no 'masculism' because men didn't need to fight for equal status with women. You know, the vote and equal pay and all that silly stuff? Men didn't need a movement just to be taken seriously for more than their bodies. Women had to struggle and fight for many years, and if that fight was given a name, as other fights were (like the Civil Rights movement), then I don't see a problem.

WOLVERINE said...

Dunno, think th' constant need to keep a lable only cheapens what it's all about. Like look at all our progress but we're gonna keep ourselves separate still anyways!

sojourness said...

Firstly, sometimes separatism is necessary in order to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. For example, during the abolition days, there were plenty of white abolitionists. They helped at a time when black abolitionists were quite limited, but my former Af-Am History prof asked us to think about the ramifications of a movement for blacks that was led/controlled by whites. In the 20th century, people like Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X stressed that blacks needed to do it for themselves, without the help of whites. I think that in the beginning, it was important for women to liberate themselves. The support of/help from men is nice, sometimes essential, but women had to be in the driver's seat because women know what the priorities and needs are more than men could.

Secondly, there are male feminists today, so it's not even about separatism anymore. The label is about letting people know that you believe in something. I have spoken to women who are not feminists, who feel that women should not be leaders, but only housewives and mothers. The definition of a 'feminist' is not 'a woman,' it but rather someone who cares about women's equal rights whether that person is male or female.

WOLVERINE said...

Separate but equal, eh? Where have I heard that before...

WOLVERINE said...

And I got a problem with all these movements. They all start with th' best of intentions an' then grow into a perversion of themselves. People like Al Sharpton or Jesse James takin' th' plight of th' black man to extremes, findin' racism where there is none.

Just like I've read in all those feminist essays, they find male oppression in THE most RETARDED places. Somewhere along th' line, th' focus is lost an' a monster is born.

A. Estella Sassypants said...

Right on! I lean toward the Miranda with leanings toward Carrie.

A. Estella Sassypants said...

Too many leanings. But you know what I mean.

sojourness said...

Separate but equal doesn't mean you are relegated to inferior facilities in public life, as you refer to. If I were going to launch a battle about a wrong that has been done to me, would I want someone else's support? Sure. Would I want that person taking control of the battle, telling me the best way it should be fought, doing what they think is appropriate even though it's my battle? No.

And yes, things can get ugly, but I also think that people don't want to admit that racism and sexism exist on the large scale that they do. They are so ingrained into social customs and every day life so that we are affected by them all the time, perhaps without realizing it. And I don't like when people deny their existence or trivialize them, especially people who don't suffer under them. Of course that's easy to say!

Anonymous said...

u know i love you, right? kick his @$$.

I think i'm samantha/ carrie or and charlotte/miranda--in that order. would u have guessed that?

btw, Luke and I spoke last night, he wants to drive up to help me pack.
and damnit, why do i still check X''s profile on FB (he's single now, lol)

WOLVERINE said...

Well, I ain't doin' neither, but I know how things end up and in th' end ya got whole new problems to replace th' ones ya just got rid of is all I'm sayin'. What these people have is a weapon, an' this weapon goes from bein' a benevolent thing to bein' used in hold-ups. Of course I'm talkin' about th' ever famous race-card an' th' like

An' everyone goes through somethin' in this life. There's discrimination on a variety of levels that people truly DON'T address, that there ain't been no movements fer. Hell, a lotta 'em don't even realize it neither. But, that all goes back to one simple fact: People are stupid. An' th' only movement that's really gonna change that is chromosomal...meanin' after we're long dead an' humans get to evolve a bit more in a few more generations.

See, gotta come OL more...I miss th' debates.

An' who th' hell is anonymous? Someone wants to have beef they should ID themselves.

sojourness said...

Anon,

I forget who Luke is. Should I start calling you Samantha? lol j/k

And you keep checking it so you can fully enjoy the information you just found out ;)

sojourness said...

Wolvie, I definitely think you have a point. I just think that it's more complicated, and oversimplifying it means slower progress for people who need it. Yes, it is because of humanity's stupidity that these things have occurred, but let's be honest... historically and currently, do white people suffer for this stupidity as much as colored people? do men suffer as much as women? I don't think anyone needs to walk around crying victim all the time, but if there is a legitimate issue that needs to be dealt with, brushing it off with a 'no one's perfect, everyone has problems' attitude is, in my opinion, worse than the alternative you mention of going to an extreme.

And yeah, I miss debating too! I love this, people are actually talking on my blog, people other than me. I'm tired of the sound of my voice :P

Sorry I didn't come back online when I said I would, I started reading and... you know the rest.

WOLVERINE said...

Yeah yeah. Still not brushin' it off. Just when people start cryin' victim to get their ways it pisses me t'hell off, especially when they always get it! When people are asked what they mean when they say "Hello", you know it's time to rethink things.

fp said...

"Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man's belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman.
The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift." Catechism of the Catholic Church 2337

Anonymous said...

This is Anon, again. Luke is weird christmas candle and bday gift guy.

sojourness said...

Ooooh Mr. Invite-Himself-Skiing-Guy? lol

Commodore said...

For the record Wolverine. "You" do have masculism.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masculism But please don't punch me :(

Oh and why not just call it being a woman? Because being a woman and being a part of a movement to improve women's lives are very different things. I am a woman. But I'm also a feminist. Women can be anti-feminists. And feminists can be men. Thus, the need for some distinctions...