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Sex and the City — The Politics of Women’s Genres

The text focuses on the category of women’s genres, first established in film and television studies, as particularly appropriate in analyzing television serials such as Sex and the City. Annette Kuhn and Charlotte Brunsdon define women’s genres as »mass cultural fictions of femininity« or »images for women« instead of media produced »images of women«. Kuhn insists on the political usefulness of women’s genres because of their ability to transform the universal, homogeneous and androgynous spectator into a gender specific spectator, while Brunsdon’s argument stresses the importance of power relations present in the feminist desire to regulate all discourses on femininity. In these terms, though they are often dismissed as personal, private, and therefore automatically apolitical forms, the political quality of women’s genres can be recognized in this struggle to control the representations of femininity.

The text also states the significance of the changes within the politics of the popular, visible in the emergence of new representations of femininity in women’s genres such as Sex and the City. Such changes, according to David Glover and Cora Kaplan, depend on the relationship between the aesthetic and the political, because »the intersection of sexual politics with other pressing social concerns has been the site of the most significant ideological shifts within the genre«. Representations of femininity present in Sex and the City reflect the differences between traditional and contemporary images of women: while their goals are still based on the pursuit of meaningful emotional relationships, they don’t necessarily imply marriage or children. Also, the serial not only takes feminism as its starting point, but insists on showing the ways in which the heroines enter into negotiation with feminist ideas, as well as their ambivalence toward new feminine identities. Problems discussed in Sex and the City aren’t presented as individual since every episode shows the heroines struggling to resolve similar issues which are then transfigured into common, shared women’s problems through their mutual conversations and Carrie’s voice-over commentary. The show’s political character isn’t just a consequence of taking feminism for granted but an inevitable result of its formal structure: Carrie, as a sex columnist, generalizes the individual experiences of her friends, transforms their particular personal problems into a collective discussion of feminine identities.

Maša Grdešić

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