Sex and the stupidity

Now that Sex and the City 2 has flopped at the box office, maybe it’s time we finally put the franchise to rest, along with the insipidly clichéd, faux-feminist culture that it has spawned over the last 12 years.

On the surface, Sex and the City is about a writer, a lawyer, a publicist and an art-gallery curator who bond over love, loss and what they wore. These are women in their 30s and 40s who tackle crazy work schedules, sexually complicated relationships, the often thorny issue of motherhood and the notion that, through it all, we can all get by with a little help from our well-groomed friends.

But dig deeper—don’t worry, you only have to scratch at the well-Botoxed exodermis—and the show reveals itself to be little more than a set of high-glossed, smoke-filled mirrors.

So, while the series and movies can arguably be celebrated for many things—showcasing independent, career-minded women over the age of 30 with healthy friendships and active sex lives—they’re also responsible for an entire generation of women fixated on an excessively girly culture, to the point wherein everything worth having must be shopped for and anything worth doing must be girled down to the lowest common dominator.

Even in the show’s most feminist moments, it still managed to celebrate all that is shallow, superficial and narcissistic. And its popularity created a culture in which fashion-conscious women must be “fashionistas” and “stylistas” (the budget-conscious—i.e., poor—are “recessionistas” and “frugalistas”), alcoholic beverages should be pink and fruity in order to be consumed, and everyone’s a goddamned princess.

Listen, I say this as a 40-year-old woman who not only watches The Real Housewives of New Jersey, but also still wears pigtails and isn’t the least bit ashamed to use a Hello Kitty notebook for work (I get the contradictions I’m setting up here, really I do). But I’d also die before I spent $800 on a pair of shoes (even if I had the means), hate the idea that every woman “deserves” to wear a tiara and, perhaps most important, I prefer Jack Daniels to cosmopolitans.

Real women drink booze, not candy.

The point is, every time I see that picture of Sarah Jessica Parker cavorting through Manhattan in a tutu, it makes me want to claw my eyes out.

This is a show, after all, that glamorized Carrie Bradshaw’s inability to buy an apartment because she’d spent the down payment on a closet full of Manolo Blahniks.

Really? How empowering.

Unfortunately, just because SATC2 fizzled doesn’t mean that its impact will lessen any time soon.

Indeed, I blame the film, at least in part, for the cultural rise of Sarah Palin, Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina and all those other female politicians suddenly claiming “girl power” and getting all “I am woman, hear me roar” up in our grill.

That’s right, now Sarah Palin is now a feminist. In a recent speech for the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion political-action committee, the moose-hunting ex-governor declared this country’s “emerging conservative feminist identity.”

What’s the difference between Sarah Palin and a feminist? It ain’t lipstick, baby.

The difference is understanding that it’s never OK to use your teenage mom-daughter as political leverage. And possessing the common sense to realize that it’s never OK to spend hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars on designer fashions—especially during an economic downturn.

Still, you can expect plenty of people to buy into this latest sociocultural circus. Media pundits from coast to coast are falling over themselves to declare the new crop of female political candidates proof that the sisters are doing it for themselves.

We might be over Sex and the City, but we’re not over the idea of packaging up concepts of female identity and success into easy-to-digest platitudes based on image, froufrou beverages and fuck-me pumps.

Goodbye Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Sam. You may be gone, but the damage is forever.