Oh, the reach of Carrie Bradshaw. The fictional protagonist of the epic HBO show sure taught women a thing or two about sex. But, there are times Sex and the City got sex wrong. Like totally, 100 percent wrong. Sure, the show was groundbreaking in the sense that it started a mainstream cultural dialogue about the sex lives of single women. The show wrapped over a decade ago and people are still obsessed with the fab four and the men (and woman or two) they took to bed. You don't need me to convince you that the show has become part of pop culture, and isn't going anywhere, despite its flaws.
But can I pause for a moment to talk about its flaws? Because some of them are more than just moments; they're entire movements. And the popular series totally misrepresented a couple things I'd like to point out. As a total fan of the show, I'm not hating on the Sex and the City. I'm simply pointing out the things the show got wrong about sex to pat culture on the back for evolving. After all, some of these things would never fly on HBO airwaves today. For all of the sex-positive lessons on Sex and the City, there was a lot of finger wagging going on, and the show presented viewers with a set of limited sexual experiences. In other words, it tried its best to be inclusive and sensitive about sex, but had some epic fails. In fact, there were some specific things the series got wrong about sex that I'd like to discuss.
1. The Idea That Bisexuality Is A Lifestyle Choice
Carrie decides she's too much of an "old fart" to be bisexual, which, as Cosmopolitan noted, was misrepresented as being a "crazy, young boho lifestyle!" That's not really how bisexuality, a distinct sexual orientation, works. In another article, Cosmopolitan noted that bisexual women often feel isolated because of this incorrect notion that bisexuality is a phase, which is how the show presents it. Not great, guys.
2. The Idea That "Having Sex Like A Man" Is A Thing
Wait, are people supposed to believe that only men can have casual sex? Isn't this entire show based on the opposite premise? Just sayin'.
3. The Idea That Anal Make You Undateable
Remember when Charlotte freaked out that "no one marries up-the-butt girl?" This is just not true!
4. The Idea That Trans People Are Horrifying
Oy. Samantha is the only character who interacts with trans people, and she seems horrified by them each time. Although she finally makes peace with the trans prostitutes (as an aside, why are trans people often represented as streetwalkers?) in her meatpacking hood, surely a woman as sex-positive as Samantha would've been more sensitive to trans people from the start.
5. The Idea That You Shouldn't Get An HIV Test
Another thing the show got wrong about Samantha? Her reluctance to get an HIV-test. She was in New York in the 1980s, when the club scene was hit hard with AIDS. Savvy Sam would know to put herself, and her health, first.
6. The Idea Of The Power Lesbians
You know, power lesbians know the "tricks to invisible makeup" so they're basically ready to take over the world. Yeah, no. Cynthia Nixon, however, is a power lesbian IRL, as Nixon advocates for childhood education reform in New York City. I'm pretty sure she cringes over the misrepresentation of lesbians in the episode when Charlotte finds some new friends.
7. The Idea Of What A Lesbian Relationship Means
Remember when Samantha and girlfriend Maria are in a longterm relationship? All they do is take baths, talk about their feelings, and smash China ("You want fireworks?! I'll give you fireworks!") Yeah, not so much.
8. The Idea Of F*ck Buddies
When Carrie has a relationship fail with her f*ck buddy, she jumps to the conclusion that f*ck buddies can never turn into relationships. Well, that's limiting. I know for a fact that they can, and sometimes they do.
9. The Idea That Size Matters
Body shaming is never cool.
10. The Idea That You Have To Order A Threesome
Threesomes are also misrepresented on the show, which is odd, because group sex has been around since... forever. Remember how the ancient Greeks threw orgies? The show runners didn't. In the episode when Miranda (Harvard-law graduate, aka no dummy) wants to have a threesome, she searches the back-pages of the personals and meets unsavory characters. Because only freaks have threesomes.
11. The Idea That You Shouldn't Shower After Sex
OK, Miranda, again, you're the brains of this foursome. Yet, you get mad when a dude wants to shower after sex. That's just good hygiene.
12. The Idea That New Yorkers Are Always F*cking
As a native New Yorker, I can say with confidence that no one is having as much sex as the people on the show, even if it is the city that never sleeps.
13. The Idea That You Wear Clothes To A Brazilian Wax
Although I agree with Carrie that a Brazilian wax can make you feel like "walking sex," when Carrie gets her first one, she's fully clothed and has one leg up in the air. When I get a Brazilian wax, I'm naked from the waist down, and am spreading my legs like a frog. But I guess that's not as glam.
14. The Idea That Guys Must Be Circumcised
I don't doubt that Charlotte had never seen an uncircumcised penis before. I hadn't until I was in my early 30s. But there's so much body shaming in this episode, it borders on cruel. Especially when you take into consideration that according to a report by CBS, many people consider circumcision a human rights issue.
15. The Idea That Rim Jobs Can't Be Sexy
Miranda was too grossed out to perform a rim job, though viewers learn in later episodes that Charlotte regularly licks Trey's bum. Still, what's not so cool here is that the show sends the message that certain types of sex are "sexy," while others are "gross." Again, that's pretty limiting.
16. The Idea Impotence Is Cause For Alarm
Um, you're a sex columnist, Carrie. You should know that research suggests erectile dysfunction can be caused by relationship anxiety, as noted in Psychology Today. Don't let your friend walk down the aisle now! Major red flag.
17. The Idea That You Have To Swallow "Funky Spunk"
When did swallowing become standard? And why on earth would Samantha intentionally swallow "funky spunk," especially given her reluctance to take an HIV-test (see list item number five).
18. The Idea That It's Gross To Taste Yourself
Remember when Miranda dates a guy who slobbers when he goes down on her, and then wants a kiss? All the women agree that this is disgusting. Not such an empowering moment for women's sexuality, guys.
19. The Idea That Slut Shaming Is OK
Though slut-shaming has recently become a buzzword, cultures have been doing it for centuries, so it's not cool that the show seemed to legitimize the use of the word "slut." The word's anti-woman connotations have been around forever, and the show runners should've known better.
But hey, despite these flaws, bear in mind that the show was meant to entertain, and that it did. Just remember that it shouldn't serve as your sex bible. You're more evolved, ladies.