If you were a woman on the cusp of adulthood in the late nineties, or new millennium, you probably welcomed Sex And The City (SATC) into your life with open arms, even if you weren’t allowed to watch it. Just the fact that it existed, that it was stirring things up, shifting societal perceptions of acceptable behaviour for women, was enough. And if you happened to sneak a peek when your parents weren’t watching, even better.
Growing up, sex was such a taboo subject in my culture, and while things have shifted somewhat, it still is taboo – and not just in my culture but in our society as a whole.
The Orthodox religion I was raised in informed my parents and how they raised me. Sex, I was told, is sinful or dirty unless it is with your husband. We had to be pure and we had to be good as teenagers, and before the age of 18 I was not allowed to watch sex or kissing on TV. In fact, if sex happened to appear in a show without warning, we had to look at the walls. Both a hilarious and an annoying memory!
I’d watch it upstairs on the small TV in my room, the volume turned down so nobody could hear Samantha’s loud orgasms.
The year was 1998 when the first episode of SATC was released in America. I was 19 years old, still stuck living at home and the only way out was via a big fat wedding dress and a husband on my arm. Things had somewhat relaxed and I could get away with watching SATC as long as my dad wasn’t around. I’d watch it upstairs on the small TV in my room, the volume turned down so nobody could hear Samantha’s loud orgasms. I pretended I wasn’t watching it and they pretended they didn’t know I was.
How delightful it was to see four great women dating and having sex, something I would never be allowed to do. It was so decadent and naughty to watch. Charlotte and her innocence, Samantha and her ballsy honesty, Carrie the writer and her quest to capture the heart of Mr Big, and Miranda the hard-headed lawyer. They became my best friends, the ones who understood my natural female desires and fantasies. They captured the freedom I only dreamed I could have: to live in my own place, away from the looming eyes of cultural expectation, to have great friends that were there for me, to date and have sex and be completely uninhibited – to be free.
When I was married three years later, I purchased all the DVDs and watched them over and over again. I have the entire collection. To this day, I think I have watched the entire season – every single episode – at least 30 times. Maybe even more! And I know I am not alone in this!
I studied it, I analysed it, I wanted to understand why things ended the way that they did for Carrie. Was it realistic? Could men actually change? I was fascinated by male – female dynamics. I wasn’t allowed to have boyfriends and date before I got married, wasn’t free to explore my personal and sexual identity, so in a way, SATC became the education on life lessons I never experienced. I was particularly inspired by Carrie’s writing. At the time I wanted to be a writer but I was a computer programmer after following cultural norms for a ‘safe career’.
I broke out of my marriage and culture many years later and it’s funny but today, being a writer, and having a book called Love and F**k Poems, and writing articles about relationships, I’m only just realising how much the character of Carrie inspired me. While I do think there are some problematic parts such as how she could buy so many expensive shoes, SATC, for the most part, was instrumental to women living in sexually repressive circumstances. It was a counterpoint, a far extreme which helped normalise our desires to be free women.
I wasn’t allowed to have boyfriends and date before I got married, wasn’t free to explore my personal and sexual identity, so in a way, SATC became the education on life lessons I never experienced.
You’ve probably heard by now that they’re not making a third SATC movie. And this is a good thing. While it was great seeing them on the big screen in the first movie, the second was jarring. Society had evolved but the girls hadn’t. They were stuck in a time warp when in reality they would have aged and things would be different. Maybe the second movie should have had a completely different tone. But this would have turned SATC into something that it’s not. Creating more films just tarnishes the essence of the show, the part we connected with as young, growing women.
That’s why it is time to let go and say goodbye to our four best friends, goodbye to that part of our youth. While it is sad that we won’t see the girls again, there are many of us who will remember them with love and appreciation and will continue watching re-runs for years to come.
Koraly Dimitriadis is a freelance writer and the author of Love and F**k Poems.