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 , 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.