I’m proceeding with Season 2 of Sex + the Remix series but not without looking back on Season 1.
Below are questions I received from a student in Erin Reilly’s women’s studies class at MIT. They are working on a wiki that compares the women’s movements to the media lit movements, a fabulous idea that, once public, I’ll post here.
Why pick Sex and the City which has a few gay story lines compare to many sitcoms that are clearly only in a hetro world?
First off, having 3 gay storylines does not mean the show is queer positive. I would would even go as far to say that SATC is queer-negative – Samantha is considered not normal once she begins to date a woman. Here, the viewer is encouraged to cringe at her description of gay sex. (fast fwd. to 1:45 for the best illustration)
When a show is queer positive, queer or gay characters are complex. They have conflicts, thoughts and feelings. We see things from their perspective and are encouraged to identify with them. In queer negative texts, gay or queer characters are cast as a girl’s best friend (ie, all the joys of a male companion without the sex). These characters are not complex. Stanford is the oddball, weird or quirky stereotypical effeminate male side-kick character.
Charlotte’s fascination with lesbians furthers the concept of queer as ‘other’, a new trend, something different, exciting, and non-normative. I would even say this episode illustrates the exoticfication of queerness: the objectification and displaying of certain characteristics and lifestyle choices:
Samantha: Nobody told me it was B.Y.O. Man.
Carrie: What did you expect? It’s a lesbian art show.
Samantha: I know. But don’t straight guys follow them around to see what they’re going to do?
“By midnight, Charlotte discovered Manhattan’s latest group…
…to flaunt their disposable income:
The power lesbian. They seem to have everything.
Great shoes, killer eyewear and the secrets to invisible makeup.”
“One drink at G-Spot, the hottest new girl bar in town…
…followed by dinner and scintillating conversation at Luke’s…
…a hot new French-fusion restaurant with an even hotter chef…
…followed by late-night dancing at Love Tunnel…
…left Charlotte exhilarated and happy as she’d been in ages.
There was something relaxing and liberating…
…in traveling in an alternate universe that contained no thought of men.”
I choice SATC for a number of reasons:
1. It’s a highly gendered text: the show illustrated womens’ sexual candor and was a positive shift in cable television where women publicly staked claim to previously male territory of sexual frank-ness and sexual language. This meant I could have a lot of dialogue and images to work with and around to re-edit out of context.
For more on this concept of sexuality and confession see Confession is the basis of sexuality in Foucault’s History of Sexuality.
2. The show’s narration appropriates the language of radical feminist politics only to retell old patriarchal fairy tales of women longing to be loved by men. This popular feminine text provided an outlet for women’s dissatisfaction with male-female relationships in which they never questioned the primacy of these relationships. I hoped that they would question it after 6 seasons of dissecting their failed interactions with men. Furthermore, the voice-over provided the narrative thread to hold the story together. The use of radical feminist language only helped my new storyline.
There were a few interactions that seemed very unnatural, like the sexual encounter over a tampon. It creeped me out.
There can be 2 readings of that scene:
Essentialist/2nd wave – Carrie feels the essential female-ness and connection to the female spirit that represents menstruation.
Radical/3rd wave – Refers back to Andrea Dworkin’s Occupation/Collaboration. Women don’t reach orgasm through penetration but still “collaborate” in their own oppression by being ‘occupied’ through penetration. The tampon scene came after the heavily male beef cake scene. “My desire over came my fear” = She realizes the only penetration she’ll be participating in is through tampons.
What do you think worked or didn’t with this remix?
Where would you like to see Queer Carrie’s character go?