Larson’s Column Misjudges ‘Sex and the City’

Letter to the Editors

To the editors:

The latest column by Lia C. Larson ’05 about HBO’s hit series “Sex and the City” is misguided in its analysis and makes one wonder whether Larson has ever actually watched the show (“A Dark Side of Sexual Equality,” Jan. 26).

Larson condescendingly passes judgment on the women in “Sex and the City” in a way that exactly contravenes the very theme of the show. “Sex and the City” proves that modern women, in forging a new sexual equality, can and should provide the foundation for their own emotional support network so that their confidence and identity does not rely solely on romantic relationships. Millions of women relate to the show because the characters never do what Larson has done—judge women against some arbitrary standard for the “sanctity of sex.”

The most upsetting part of Larson’s column, though, was her contention that the show “sacrificed intimacy in an effort to gain sexual equality.” However, the women on “Sex and the City” do not define sexual equality by treating men as “disposable,” “incidental accessories,” as Larson suggests, but rather by engaging in relationships on their own terms. In fact, an episode last season entitled “Critical Condition,” specifically addressed the premise of Larson’s column: Carrie specifically says that those who characterize her attitude toward men as “disposable” are missing the point of her columns.

Rather than devaluing emotional intimacy, the show features the women’s struggles in achieving the idealized concept of the “perfect relationship” (complete with emotional and sexual intimacy). But, like many of us in real life, the women on the show often come up short. Offering a relatively realistic portrayal of the dating scene, the characters struggle with their decisions and resist settling for what society would prescribe as a superficially “successful” relationship. It is this refusal to settle that is empowering, and not the failed attempts that Larson dwells on.


And yet, Larson still watches and is entertained by the very “regressive” women whom she derides as “uncaring, unattached and unhealthy.” The show does not feature “uninhibited promiscuity”—instead it advocates a healthy approach to sex, one in which women are honest with their partners, and most importantly, with themselves.


Jan. 27, 2004