Friday, June 4

Seriously, MORE Feminist Analysis of SATC???: A Disclaimer

I am very well aware (lest you think that I am not--I know you and your skeptical ways) that the ground which I am about to tread has already been tread (trodden? re-treaded?) many times before me. Feminist analyses and deconstructions of SATC have abounded since the show first debuted in 1998. (At which time I myself was in high school--and to think, kids born in that year can now walk, talk, and drive their parents mad with their pre-adolescent angst. Jeepers.) Pop culture critics and academics alike have tackled SATC with aplomb and acumen over the years, musing on how the show grapples with sexual politics, notions of romantic love, and expectations of late twentieth and early twenty-first century womanhood. (Or at least, expectations of late twentieth and early twenty-first century rich, white womanhood. Which the show handily suggests is the same thing! "How does a woman struggle with the ennui she feels when wandering around her massive Park Avenue apartment all day, because she's so rich she doesn't need to pursue paid employment?" Golly, I don't know, my heart bleeds for her. [Prepares to sing "It's a Hard Knock Life."]

Why add one more voice to this discussion, then, you ask? Well... basically... because I want to. (As good of a reason as any for doing just about anything short of committing murder or acts of public lewdness, you must admit.)

When watching the show for my own amusement, I have done the obligatory, knee-jerk "Well, THAT'S problematic!" and "Ah, there's one in the eye for heteronormativity!" type analysis which all Women's and Gender Studies folks inevitably do with all of the things that they read, listen to, and see. (I defy you to say that it's not true, WGS folks. Admit it. You know that when you're at your kid sister's band recital, 90 percent of you is absorbed in her, ahem, novel take on "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," but the other 10 percent is automatically noting that all of the flautists are girls and all of the drummers are boys, and reflecting on what that signifies about contemporary constructions of girlhood and boyhood. You know you are.)

Anywhoozle, I've done that kind of casual "Isn't it interesting that they're likening bisexuality to emotional immaturity and an inability to choose a flattering hair style?" and "Huh, I think they're suggesting that people only choose to transition to another gender because they've had bad dating experiences!" muttered commentary to myself/my plants/my friends ever since I started watching the show as a wet-behind-the-ears grad student, lo these many years ago. (These were the years during which I was being assigned armloads upon armloads of books to read which were, I kid thee not, quite literally about things like religious guilds founded by nineteenth-century carpenters. Swirly, flashy dresses and bright, fizzy cocktails never look so good as they do after a day spent reading about pious rural woodworkers, I assure you.)

But I'm looking forward to being a leetle more systematic than that here--to actually sitting down, and (in a more structured way) applying my years as a feminist and inhabitant of the Women's and Gender Studies Universe to this show that I love. Will I come up with any blazingly brilliant new insights? ("Oh my gosh! It's like some of the gay male writers are using these heterosexual female characters to tacitly comment on gay men's experiences in American society! Clearly no one has ever thought that before. I am a genius.") Doubtful.

But I reckon that it will amuse me, anyway--and give me a chance to spread my Pop Culture Analysis wings a bit. After all, in recent years, I've spent more time seeking to encourage my students to sharpen their pop-culture criticism teeth ("But is the fact that Lady Gaga refuses to wear pants an explicit attack on patriarchy? Or... is it just really annoying, and rather chilly looking?") than I have in keeping my own teeth sharp.

So let's see if I can still bite.


  1. LMAO! Omg, I mean Oh my God...Holly, that was great! I LOVE your "Pop Culture Analysis" 101.

    I feel like I'm taking one of your classes on-line, and I feel very honored to do so.

    You gave me a lot to think about. That thing about "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"? Deep.

    Btw, I AM a drummer grrl. ;)

  2. Perhaps the WGS lens makes life events and experiences a wee bit more nauseating than to the casual on-looker....but we wouldn't have it any other way :)

    I second Cin's feeling about being one of your lucky pupils!

  3. Bless y'all, I doubt my actual pupils feel so fortunate! So pleased to know you defy those pesky gendered stereotypes of music, Ms. C - I wanted to play drums so badly as a whipper-snapper, but, alas - lacked the guts. And totally, Ms. L, it can be a little irritating having Gender Glasses on all the bloody time (when you start analyzing billboards while you're actually driving... dangerous!) but NOT seeing the world that way would, I reckon, be much, much scarier... as well as less fun.