SEX AND THE CITY (2008)
(Note: If this post is your first encounter with my Feminist Film Moment postings, kindly read the rules of engagement before reading, commenting, etc.)
Written by Michael Patrick King based on the TV series created by Darren Star which is based on the book by Candace Bushnell
Directed by Michael Patrick King
Synopsis: Big leaves Carrie at the altar, but enough about those two…
Moment: Samantha breaks up with Smith.
We can debate the overall feminist bona fides of Sex and the City. I liked the show but was no stan ‘cause I could relate to this popular foursome just so much. (Fans will say that the women on this show talk about sex and relationships like real women. Meh. My contention is that Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha speak the way wealthy White gay men think straight White women who aspire to affluence speak.) That said, the movie, and the show aren’t without moments that make me say, “Yaaas!”
This is one of those moments. Let me break down why Samantha’s break up with Smith is no little thing. Bad enough women are socialized to feel inadequate if they don’t have romantic partners, those of a middle age are particularly vulnerable to negative messages about their waning desirability. It’s the reason why they’re at once pressured to become cougars and then ridiculed if they actually succeed in sleeping with or even forging substantive emotional connections to younger men. (The many layers of fuckedupedness shrouding the term cougar is a post in its own right although I’m sure some other feminists have nailed it already.) According to these pressures, Samantha must be dysfunctional to not be happy with Smith.
But unhappy she was. Enough that she had to go. And Samantha leaves the relationship with no guarantee of what she will find. All she has is faith that who she is in her own right – that is, independent of her relationship status – will make prove the decision wise. That’s a powerful message for all people but especially women who are constantly told that being with the wrong man is better than having no man at all (shout out to the heterosexist assumption, too.)
The fact that Samantha is almost fifty when she chooses to break it off with a man who’s deemed highly desirable (on both meaningful and superficial criteria) instead of settling for less than fulfillment and sparring with women half her age to protect what’s “hers” makes it that more potent.