My name is Emma. This is my feminism.

Sex And The City

on May 20, 2012

Overall, I think Sex and The City is really good.  It has its problems, but I like that it’s basically about their friendship more than their relationships with men and that there’s a huge focus on their sexual desires.  There have been times when I felt automatically ashamed of my own sexual desires, and then thought of the Samantha, Carrie, Miranda, and even Charlotte, and realized that there is nothing shameful about wanting sex.  I feel like that is not a message we get too often from mainstream media; we’re supposed to be sexy to look at, but we’re never supposed to actually want it, that would be slutty. 

So I’m glad that there’s a show all about women’s subjective sexualities, where they talk about what they like and what they don’t like, and there is very little judgement about it.  I like that Sam is so open and willing to try anything, and is proud of it.  My goal is to be as comfortable with myself and my sexuality as she is.

Sadly though, at this point I think I am actually more similar to Charlotte.  Also like Charlotte, I want to be a mom more than anything, and that has often stifled my sexuality.  Moms are supposed to be sweet and loving and nurturing, and I see myself being all those things.  And in my mind – at least in the past – those things were not conducive to sexual desires.  “Bad girls” are supposed to want sex.  Sweet, loving mothers can maybe want to ‘make love,’ but it has to be about the love and not the sex.  Just wanting sex because you’re horny is only for ‘bad girls.’

Of course, I know this is really not true, but it has taken a lot of work to create an idea of myself that can include both of those identities without feeling ashamed of one.  So I found it really interesting when, in one episode, Charlotte decided not to have anal sex because she didn’t want to be “the up-the-butt girl” because nobody marries her.  “Whoever heard of Mrs. Up-The-Butt?”  Charlotte says she wants children and nice bedding, and therefore can’t have anal sex. 

Obviously there is a parallel here between the way she thinks of mothers and therefore herself and the way I do.  It made me feel better to know that I’m not the only one limiting my sexuality to ‘nice’ things so that I can still be a good mother one day.  But at the same time, when Charlotte says it, it really sounds a little ridiculous.  If, in her bedroom, alone with her partner, she had anal sex, of course that wouldn’t change who she is.  It wouldn’t actually make her “the up-the-butt girl” at all because our sexual acts do not define us.  This wouldn’t be something that she would have to share with every man she ever dated,* so why would it limit her ability to find a husband?

These judgements are not really coming from other people, but from within ourselves.  They are no doubt influenced and encouraged by our culture, but we are the ones inflicting this judgement and shame on ourselves in many ways, because we are the only ones who know our entire sexual history.  If we gave ourselves permission to want what we want without editing and censoring our desires to fit cultural ideals of feminine sexuality, then we wouldn’t ever have to be ashamed of those desires, regardless of what the culture or other people think of them. 

When Charlotte is explaining to her boyfriend why she won’t do anal, she starts by saying “I want to, but I can’t.  I mean, actually no, that’s not true, I don’t want to.  Or maybe I do.  I don’t know what I want, but I’m afraid if I don’t then you’ll dump me, and if I do, then I’ll be the up-the-butt girl.”  And I think that might be the worst part about it.  That it is so hard to separate what you want or don’t want from what you think is socially acceptable or not socially acceptable.  And that we substitute social judgement for our own desires in many cases.  Charlotte doesn’t know if she wants to try anal or not, but she knows that she is not supposed to, so she doesn’t.  That’s really sad, ’cause who knows what pleasures we are depriving ourselves of because of the stupid voices in our head passing judgement all the time.

I’m working hard on shutting them up.

*like you have to with herpes.  And maybe my desire to be married (which is actually steadily decreasing) and have children made my herpes diagnosis even harder to accept.  Because who ever heard of Mrs. Std?

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