I've done a lot of things in my life I'm not proud of. Time has been wasted lying on couches and beds, mindlessly clicking between the same five websites, watching whatever comes on TV as my eyes slowly tear from the strain of looking at the screen, eating whole jars of Nutella with a spoon. For a while I had a job that lent itself perfectly to these situations, one that gave me two weekdays off to ensure my free time would be spent alone, as all of my other friends were at work. I watched a lot of TLC during this time. I got feelings about things like "Sex and the City".
I had never seen the first Sex and the City movie, but that didn't stop me from watching the second one when it came on HBO one Thursday afternoon. I was pretty positive I wouldn't be missing any information covered in the first movie. So I watched, expecting a stupid romp with lots of ridiculous clothes and an unsettling sense of racism when the ladies went to Abu Dhabi. And I got that, but I also got this pang of disappointment. Because between the designer skirts and the sex, they actually made a really good point about relationships.
Let's start with Stanford and Anthony's marriage, which kicks the movie off. Firstly, the movie includes a gay marriage, and stereotypes about Liza Minelli aside, this is pretty big for a blockbuster picture. And as Carrie preps Stanford to walk down the aisle, they talk about how Anthony cheats. Except it's not cheating, because he is allowed to do it. Stanford accepts that Anthony sleeps with other men, and is confident in their relationship otherwise, so within their marriage it is accepted. They set the rules of their relationship, say their vows, and by all accounts live happily ever after.
Then there's Carrie and Big's relationship. Married in the first movie (I assume), they're now relatively old for being newlyweds (40s? 50s? Something like that), and have decided that having children is not for them. They spend a good portion of Stanford and Anthony's wedding explaining this to other couples, who seem to think that marriage is just a precursor to parenthood and not a lifestyle in its own right. Carrie spends the rest of the movie fretting over them becoming old and boring without a child or some other goal, but by the end they've made up and seem confident in their future with each other, and no one else.
This. is. HUGE. Most of SATC's fan base consists of middle-American women who are totally the "Samanthas" of their friend groups or young writers who wind up mad at the city when they realize they can't afford Carrie's apartment on Carrie's salary. Meaning a lot of these people are from areas where an idea of a man-and-woman monogamous marriage is the only option. And for a vast, vast majority of people, even sophisticated New Yorkers, that is what marriage means. Even if it's between two people of the same sex, it is monogamous and generally exists to give some legal structure to future parenthood. This movie could have very well been millions of Americans' introduction to the idea that a relationship doesn't have to be monogamous or produce children in order to be loving and strong.
Though same-sex marriage has, for the first time, majority support in this country, the arguments tend to focus on how it can be like the "traditional" form of marriage we already know. Which is fine enough, since that's what plenty of same-sex couples are looking for. Most couples I know -- gay or straight or anything in between -- actively enjoy monogamy and someday want children, if they don't already have them. But for every few couples who want those things, there is a couple that wants something different. A couple who are committed to each other emotionally but allow each other different sexual partners. A couple who brings other sexual partners into the bedroom, or into their relationship. A couple who wants to spend the rest of their lives together, just maybe without children.
I'm not Dan Savage. I don't believe that monogamy is something modern society is better off without. I don't think we'd be "better" either way. For some people, including yours truly, monogamy works. For other people, it doesn't. Ideally everyone would take a good long think about their stances on the issue before getting into relationships, and wherever they landed would be accepted and encouraged.
Actually, it would be great if everyone had a much more fluid idea of monogamy and sexuality, realizing that their stances could change over time. However, that's not how we live. We live in a world where monogamy and the production of children is the norm, and there is a reason things are called "norms." It is what we were designed to do. A man and a woman come together to make kids, so the relationship structure was built around that.
But the problem arises when people think they are slaves to those instincts. They're not. We're a species whose success depends on our ability to adapt. If monogamy is truly what makes you comfortable, seek out monogamous relationships, but not because you think that's the only way a relationship can be. And if it's not for you, don't cave because you think it's what people are "supposed" to do.
A movie like SATC 2, or really any movie, could have raised these issues to countless people; brought them out of the realm of kinks and taboos and made people realize that you don't have to be into S&M clubs to enjoy an open relationship. That the first reaction to a childless couple shouldn't be pity, but the thought that it may very well be a choice. But no, it buried the good points (and other good points about the hardships of parenthood, possible slavery in Abu Dhabi, and sexual liberation) under designer clothes and high-tea in the desert and a belief that Cosmo is what brings women of all cultures together. Because it is the worst.
Those are my Feelings.