Pop culture made me a feminist. As a suburban girl in the early 90s, I picked up my beliefs about equality from some books at the library and a copy of Cyndi Lauper's "She's So Unusal." After no one at my elementary school opted to join my "Gender Equality Club," I looked back to pop culture to find others of my kind—and I found the most feminists were on network TV.
Ever since The Mary Tyler Moore Show debuted in 1970, young, independent single women on TV have flocked to the cities to pursue their careers. But Mary Tyler Moore made it big in Minneapolis. In more recent single lady sitcoms—Cagney & Lacey, Living Single, Friends, Felicity, Sex and the City, 30 Rock, Ugly Betty, Don't Trust the B----- in Apt. 23, Girls, and The Carrie Diaries— storylines emphasizes that, for young, unattached, career-minded women, New York City is the only place to be. These shows suggest that, if you take your career seriously, you simply must move to Manhattan.
But conflating ambition, glamor, and New York City is has a major drawback: Living in New York is a lot easier for people who come from money. For working class girls like the title character of Ugly Betty, the dream will, more often than not, remain out of reach. If you have no trust fund, it will be hard to pay tuition to earn the "University of New York" diploma seen on Felicity's wall. If you need to support your family, there will be no hanging out at Indochine, like in The Carrie Diaries. If you need to pay off over $25,000 in student debt, Sex in the City's Fifth Avenue professional-outfit shopping sprees will remain a Manhattan myth.
Cocktail culture began in the home and broke down norms around who socialized with whom, gender-wise, and I certainly know people who assume all cocktails are sweet and sugary (and therefore feminine), or that any drink with more than two ingredients is a "girly" drink. Neither of those things are true, of course, as anyone with an alcoholic grandfather or an even passing familiarity with James Bond can attest. And, I mean, Ernest Hemingway drank mojitos and daiquiris (albeit not the frozen, flavored concoction usually called a daiquiri these days).
Also, tiki drinks – usually mixed on rum, and full of sweet ingredients that will charm the teeth straight out of your mouth! These are drinks people like Howard Hughes used to love in the postwar period, and that have become popular among lovers of craft cocktails in the last few years. Tiki drinks, as far as I can tell, are largely detached from "girly drink" stigma, possibly because most of the classics are so full of booze that their moribund names (the Zombie, the Corpse Reviver, the Suffering Bastard) should serve as a warning, a kind of macho throwdown: "Just because I am full of fruity, tropical flavors and rum does not mean I cannot kill you dead, sir!"
Of course, the fact that a fictitious jerky, misogynistic spy likes something or an actual jerky, misogynistic writer liked something does not automatically make that thing good. Or bad. (Let's not even mention Don Draper and his old fashioneds.) Nor should we assume any correlation between urine-hoarding and knowledgeability about cocktails. And while I'm still snobbish enough to make faces when I walk into a bar and the drink menu includes things like appletinis (or, really, anything that's just vodka and flavored syrup in a martini glass), it stands to reason that not every drink pegged as a "girl drink" tastes like a blue Slush Puppy.
Sex and the City broke serious ground in the late '90s when it was lauded for its frank and open discussions of sex—by women, no less!—without taking itself too seriously. But did it ever manage to move beyond the media's often cartoonish portrayals of BDSM?
Yes, I said Samantha from Sex and the City is a Size Queen. But I'd never call Samantha a cougar.
Neither would Kim Cattrall--and she refuses the label for herself. To the point she refused to pose with an actual cougar on a highly popular magazine aimed at women over 40. (Just watch the first 40 seconds. The rest of the interview is standard feature-writing 101, ice-breaker questions.)
At the end of last week, New Line Cinema made it official: a sequel to Sex and the City is on the way. Although no script has been developed yet, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis have all signed on for the film, and Michael Patrick King is back to write and direct.
The sequel is further confirmation that studios are really starting to bank on the box office power of women audiences, yet I know many people have mixed feelings about the success of the first film. Ready yourself now for a fairly endless amount of speculation and would-be spoilers as the film moves closer to shooting, but in the meantime, I'd like to hear your take on it...