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The Feminist Side Of Sex And The City

19/09/2015 8:25 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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U.S. actresses, from left, Kim Cattrall, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon, wave upon arrival for the Japan Premiere of the film "Sex and the City 2" in Tokyo Tuesday, June 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Recently I watched some reruns of Sex and the City (SATC), the hit HBO sitcom that aired for six years from 1998 to 2004. For me, it makes for perfect viewing at the end of the day, when all I want is for my ever-ticking mind to switch off.

The widespread success of the book, the series itself and the two movies that ensued is telling of how relatable SATC is, as well as the influence it has had on shaping the image of a modern woman. The plot analyses and deals with women, their life choices, relationships and of course, fashion. SATC has also been slammed by critics and many viewers for its morally irresponsible portrayal of womanhood and sex, considering the kind of reach and popularity it has had among young women and adolescents. It is not always easy to relate to the characters and their often selfish and immature tendencies, but still the seamless ease with which the story unfolds gets you easily hooked.

Putting these issues aside, what SATC also highlights is our perennial obsession with the fairy tale romance, the happily ever after. The common emotion that runs through all the seasons is the feeling of yearning, the need to be rescued, to belong to someone, although the main characters in the series are independent, successful, strong-willed women. When you ignore the superficialities and explicitness to focus more on the underlying message it is apparent that there is more to it than meets the eye. To take one instance, when Charlotte York, a successful art dealer, proudly decides to quit her career to play the role of a homemaker she justifies her decision by relying on the ideals of feminism -- the movement that is all about empowering women and giving them the right to choose. This is when it hit me -- SATC is about more than just fun, friends and fashion. Shockingly, it is also about choices and, might I say, feminism.

The mainstream stereotypical vision of feminism and the one depicted in SATC don't really gel well together. Imagine a woman who refuses to graduate from her high-school idea of what love is, who dresses like a fairy, sports pink clothes and Cinderella shoes (albeit Louboutins) as a feminist! As a writer what I find most enviable about Carrie Bradshaw's character is her career and her laidback style of working as she taps away on her MacBook with the New York breeze running through her hair.

Like with everything else in life, the view completely depends on the perspective. It is apparent that feminism holds a different significance for different people, but since the feminist movement is really about choices it is fitting that we are free to choose to interpret it as we wish.

In light of the above, SATC may well be about feminism and choices; about fighting for the happiness that is yours for the taking, instead of settling for the rigours of reality and compromising. Yes, the show could have done a better job of making the protagonists less annoyingly desperate and over-the-top in their naivety, but nonetheless it uniquely deals with some of our common insecurities about love, life and singledom without being clichéd. Underneath it all SATC endorses that yes, a woman can wear pink, love fashion, need a man to complete the picture and yet be a feminist.

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