Someone buy Carrie Bradshaw the Communist Manifesto

important note: i actually really liked the SATC book. much darker than the movie or tv show.

Ada, those SATC girls should totally go read some Judith Butler, and perhaps some Karl Marx. I mean, I like shoes as much as anyone–I used to work at fashion magazines!–but the movie is really a perfect example of what happens when feminism meets rampant capitalism.

And you are right, I feel like my life was filled with SATC types sometime in the early 2000s. I remember sitting in my office at Conde Nast with a publicist who was going to St. Barthes with her boyfriend for a long weekend. She told me that she had packed 12 bikinis—3 for each day—then leaned over my desk and half-whispered, “This better be the weekend he proposes.”

Well, yes, he obviously owes her an expensive ring, given to her on an expensive island, since she was so considerate as to work out, diet, and make a lot of money at her glamour job, enabling her to buy a whole bunch of bikinis and therefore look hot in a way that will surely increase his status. Fair trade!

GROSS. And I used to have to have conversations like this EVERY DAY.

Anyway, I want to hear more about what you have to say about men being 100% projection. Because I think what bugs me the most about SATC is not the girls’ interest in real estate—which really, really bugs me—but the way in which their acquisitiveness extends to relationships. It’s the focus on getting the husband and the princessy wedding and the ring and the way it is all articulated in a language of female empowerment—“deserving the best,” “winning the guy”—that is so super-gross to me that I just can’t get as excited as I’d like to about the show’s much-lauded feministy focus on female friendship.

Meanwhile, I like to think about what a female friendship movie would look like if we made it. The main characters would hang out in their Brooklyn apartments, which they most definitely do not own. During the day they would work and during the evening they would post to their blog, watch Clueless with friends, show each other dresses bought at American Apparel (though everyone would agree that Dov Charney is sexist and gross) or the local thrift store, and discuss Karen Finley’s performance art. Some of the friends would make more money than their male partners; some of them wouldn’t have or want male partners. The climax wouldn’t be a wedding, but a feminist media conference, where everyone is flouting gender norms. Wait, that’s too serious. How about  a Beyonce-Taylor Swift-Lady Gaga triple-headliner show? With all the money donated to feminist causes, obvs.

One last thing: a lot of the stuff we’ve been talking about with 90swomen is definitely particular to white, middle-class women—from SATC to Bridget Jones to riot grrrl. I’m glad we’re starting to talk more about class, particularly since I think our generation has a very particular relationship to class. (Have you read The Rise of the Creative Class? A flawed, but interesting, and relevant book…. And maybe it’s almost time to discuss Lisa Carver? Because no one talks about sex and class and the 90s better than she does.

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7 Comments

Filed under Kara

7 responses to “Someone buy Carrie Bradshaw the Communist Manifesto

  1. Lisa Carver on chicklit, which she says is “about and for today’s lukewarmest girls”! There is a lot to parse in here. As with everything Lisa, it’s way more complicated that it reads:
    http://www.nerve.com/screeningroom/books/chicklit/

    –k

    • I agree w/ most criticism about the SATC TV show and movies, but I recently re-visited Candance Bushnell’s original columns, and was surprised by how much I like them.

      They’re unsentimental, cold, nihilistic, and delicious — a bit Bret Easton Ellis, honestly. That might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but just wanted to point out that the columns and the show are two very different things.

      I’d be interested to hear what critics of the show think of the columns.

  2. Ling, I totally agree with you! I read the book a long time ago–maybe 2001 or 2002?–so I don’t remember the specifics, but I do remember that I really liked it and was really surprised by it. It was much smarter and, as you note, darker than the show (which I didn’t watch that much) or the movie. If I get a chance this weekend I’ll find my copy and take a closer look…–Kara

  3. Marko

    I love both the book and the show. And movie as well. I don’t see the connections to feminism in the slightest. I think that a lot of people don’t get what the show is supposed to be, it’s a consumerist dramedy about, but not necessarily for, women. It’s the best portrayal of female friendships I’ve ever seen on telly.

    A lot of episodes have been written by (gay) men, so I wouldn’t agree that men are necessarily projection (if I got what you meant right).

    I just wanted to point out that it’s not a show everyone can stomach because people have different expectations from shows, especially shows with leading female characters. Too much of it turns into simple trashing obnoxious misogyny.

  4. jrussell2

    I’m with Ling. Would love to hear thoughts on the book. I do think it’s a shame that the cultural legacy is the show, rather than the actual columns. And I’m not sure I can even talk about the movie. Utter sentimental and consumerist schlock that makes no real narrative sense. (Come on, after 9 years together you throw a tantrum and don’t talk to your fiance about the fact that he was late to the wedding for a whole year?)

    I think Marko makes an very important point: this was a show almost entirely crafted by a gay man. The movie even more so. I find myself wondering more and more if gay men are the new misogynists. Or if we always have been and no one’s been bold enough to really examine it. Most fashion is dictated by gay men. We put women into those insane shoe and make the starve themselves to meet the aesthetic (non-sexual) beauty standards that we set in fashion magazines. I mean, I have never met a straight guy who was actually attracted to super skinny, model thin women. Am I off base here?

    • Marko

      I would love to hear the thoughts on the book as well. I wouldn’t go as far as Russell in implying that gay men are the new misogynists (or have always been). If anything, a lot of gays worship women and most gay icons are females. The beauty standards really are an issue, but I still think that people have a problem with consumerism in the show. The point was that women were not subdued by their families and their marriage and therefore they can spend their incomes how they choose to.

      If you’re interested in something more resembling the columns, I suggest the first season of SATC, it was much more similar to the book/columns in the narrative style.

      Mind you, I’m not having a bickering tone in my writing, we’re just conversing about our different points of view. This is not the first time I had to defend the show, so I know how people usually react.

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